Monday, January 23, 2006

PHOTOS W DOESN'T WANT YAWL TO SEE

It just keeps getting better.

Won't we all have fun when we see those enlightening photos of George W. Bush with Mister Abramoff?

This could get interesting to say the least.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

LETTER FROM THE BISHOP: Gays and Lesbians, Go To Hell

I recently had the "pleasure" of finding the folloeing missive on the dining room table of a close friend. It was written in October 2005 by the Right Reverend Koloman Karl Ludwig, who is a Bishop in the Calvin Synod of the Conference of the United Church of Christ.
This is rather ironic, because one of my dearest friend has been actively coaxing my partner CJ and I to try the United Church of Christ. After my deconversion to atheism, I had missed the atmosphere of a loving, involved congregation, and I had actually considered going to church with my partner CJ, if only to experience the emotional satisfaction of getting involved with a caring congregation. And I had assumed that the United Church of Christ was more or less free of the kind of lunacy that you will read in the missive that I have mentioned above.
Had we actually joined, CJ and I, as a partnership, would have contributed anywhere from $750 to $850 per month. I am a not too sloppy instrumentalist, singer, and music arranger. I had even done a spot of choral directing when I was in my late teens. CJ is a fabulous cook/chef, and between the two of us we would have brought a tremendous amount of energy to a congregation which we thought and hoped would be accepting of Gay marriage. Hell, I might have even rethought my deconversion to atheism. I'm the type of person who will gladly evangelize for any organization that I believe will promote a more just and equitable world for gays and lesbians, religious beliefs not withstanding, but this foolish, foolish letter has made all of that impossible.
To be honest, I'm a little disturbed by the fact that I found this kind of sugar-coated homophobia in a supposedly open-minded denomination like the United Church of Christ. I'd like to believe that the Bishop is merely an exception to an otherwise humane and progressive rule, but until such time as I can tell whether he speaks for a majority of the UCC members, or if he's just a deservedly lonely voice in the wildnerness, the best I can do is counter is homophobia with a few choice counterpoints of my own.
The Bishop's missive is printed below in black. My counterparts are printed in blue and appear in brackets. Links appear in red. For those of you who are interested, the Biblical quotes are from the Revised Standard Edition.
LETTER FROM THE BISHOP:
GAYS AND LESBIANS GO TO HELL


At the recent United Church of Christ General Synod 25, approximately 80 percent of the Delegates representing the 39 conferences of the UCC voted to pass a resolution which includes the following two paragraphs:

THEREFORE LIT IT BE RESOLVED that the Twenty-fifth General Synod of the United Church of Christ affirms equal marriage rights for couples regardless of gender and declares that the government should not interfere with couples regardless of gender who chose to marry and share fully and share fully and equally in the rights, responsibilities, and commitment of legally recognized marriage and...
LET IT BE FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Twenty-fifth General Synod calls upon congregations, after prayerful, biblical, theological, and historical study to consider adopting Wedding Policies that do not discriminate against couples based on gender .
This resolution has caused a great deal of difficulty for our Church and its members and is a dangerously divisive issue. There are two very serious problems with the resolution.
[Okay. Stop right there. From the tone and content of this sentence, I think we can all guess what's coming next. So let us repeat the key phrase: "to consider (emphasis mine) adopting Wedding Policies that do not discriminate against couples based on gender." Note the opportune words "to consider." This is not a mandate, and yet the Bishop is outraged by the idea that gay marriage should even be discussed. Am I missing something here, or is the Bishop contradicting himself? In a few sentences he will complain because individual congregations were not consulted, and yet he is complaining about a resolution which which openly asks a congregation to consider the issue. It reminds me of that classic like from Inherit The Wind. To paraphrase, does the Bishop ever bother to think about what he does think about?]
First, it does not reflect the thinking or theological convictions of the members of the local congregations [What did I tell you?] of the United Church of Christ. In spite of the vote of the delegates local congregations were not asked their opinion on such a weighty issue. Was your congregation asked for its input on this issue by those delegates from your Conference?[Would it make a difference to the Bishop if they had?]
Second, this is a serious theological issue in the Universal Christian Church--it is not an issue of "policy" or "procedure" [In what sense is it not?] to be decided by one Church body. The definition of marriage in Christianity and the Biblical context has a specific meaning: it is a relationship between a man and a woman. There is no deviation from this understanding in the Bible. [Are we to assume then, that the Bishop would approve of polygamy because it was mentioned in the Old Testament? Are we also to assume that he would embrace the practices of the Catholic Church on issues of divorce and remarriage, or could it be that the issue is a little more complicated than the Bishop would have us believe? Views on marriage are not as universal as the Bishop would have us believe. Not everyone takes a literal interpretation of the Bible. There are still many of us out here who accept the Bible as the inspired word of God. In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that something has gone very wrong when a Bishop in a progressive denomination like the United Church of Christ is spewing the kind of rhetoric that we would expect from Pat Robertson and other deranged individuals on the Radical Christian Right.]
With this resolution the Delegates of GS25 have denied an understanding of marriage that is 3,000 years old--dating back to the roots of our Christian faith, the Old Testament understanding of the covenant.
The rationale for the decision is that "God is still speaking," saying something different than he had throughout Christianity, telling us that the word has been misunderstood by all our Christian predecessors throughout the ages. [Of course, if there were a God, it could just be that God really is still speaking but that certain church leaders can't hear him because they won't shut to hell up long enough to listen.] Our current UCC Leadership has decided in the past 30 years that they understand the meaning of God's scriptures
better than Jesus himself
better than all the authors in the New Testament
[Contrary to the Bishop's very narrow-minded opinions, the Bible was written by primitive people in primitive cultures, with personal and cultural prejudices. The fact that some people on the right think we need to accept an ancient religious text at face value without recognizing the ethnocentric values of the Old and New Testament authors, and without recognizing modern advances in science, technology, sociology, and psychology, only tells us that we have a lot of primitive people on the rampage in our society today.]
better than the leadership of the Catholic Church for 2000 years.
better than the Orthodox Church for 1,200 years
[Will someone please explain why a UCC Bishop, who has just complained because a group of delegates, would then turn around and use the dictatorial Catholic Church to support his arguments? Does this mean that the Bishop is also willing to accept Catholic teachings on contraception, the status of the Virgin Mary, praying to Saints, communion, confession, and submit himself to the authority of the Roman Catholic Hierarchy? Or does he just have a fetish for the same organization that gave us the Crusades, The Inquisitions, uncountable witch hunts, religious war, and centuries of antisemitic Popes? Similar arguments might also be made about the Eastern Orthodox Church. With which Eastern Orthodox Church does the Bishop propose that the UCC merge? The Greek Church? The Russian Church? He really isn't very clear on this matter, but then again, he doesn't seem to be terribly clear on anything, does he?]
better than the Reformers and and all our Reformed Protestant ancestors for the past 500 years
[Does this mean that we should abolish representative government because Martin Luther was a raving anti-semite who cuddled up with the ruling, German princes? Should we dispense with democracy because John Calvin established a rigid theocracy in Geneva? Should we limit religious freedom to right wing Calvinists because the Early American Puritans limited freedom of religion--and freedom in general--to their own kind? Or would the Bishop like to hear Thomas Jefferson's take on John Calvin? You know, the one that began: "I can never join Calvin in addressing his god. He was indeed an Atheist, which I can never be; or rather his religion was Daemonism. If ever a man worshipped a false god, he did..." and ended with the wonderful phrase "It would be more pardonable to believe in no God than to blaspheme him with the attributes of Calvin."
On a broader note, the early Protestant reformers were not proponents of representative government. Our Puritan ancestors only believed in freedom of religion for themselves, which raises a rather important question: Shouldn't someone remind the Bishop that his Puritan ancestors were nothing less than ruthless in their persecution of Quakers and Baptists? In fact, the more that I think about it, I'm kind of glad that the Bishop reminded me about this.
Do I really, really want to join a denomination that is descended from the witch-hanging, Baptist-whipping, Quaker-flogging Puritans? Do I really want to associate with a denomination which, despite a reputation for progressive theology, is plagued by group of whiny, self-centered malcontents who seem to mourn the fact homosexuals can't be treated in the same way that their barbaric ancestors treated religious dissidents in Colonial America? I really don't think so.]
better than their own parents
[I couldn't stop laughing when I read this one. Just where in the Sam Hill does the Bishop think gays and lesbians come from any how? I'm adopted. My adoptive grandparents have no problem with my homosexuality. My natural grandparents have no problem with my homosexuality. My adoptive mother and birth mother do not see it as an issue. My natural and adoptive siblings do not see it as an issue. All of them support my relationship with C. J. and approve of gay marriage. The only people in both of my families who have problems with gay marriage, are my blood father, and my adotpiove father, both of who can only be described violent, unashamed racists and homophobes.
And now, with a little help from Trevor (AKA "Enlightenment"), I would offer the following critique of the Bishop's thought process--or lack thereof.
America has made beneficial progress on those occasions when it has interpreted The Bible to mean the opposite of what it actually says, when we adopted an inspired, not a literal interpretation.
European monarchies, including Great Britain, once maintained that The King ruled by Divine Right. That may sound repugnant to our readers, but it can actually be supported from a Biblical point of view. The primary forms of government which are mentioned in the Holy Bible are theocracies, monarchies, and military dictatorships. Christ may have reached his highest degree of eloquence in the two great sermons, but he never really endorsed a specific form of government, representative forms included. In addition, the Bible is replete with commands to obey the repressive governments which were in power at the time. That more or less flies in the face of the American system which is based on the premise that the people have the right to question or even change their elected government. The Bible maintains that the right to govern flows down from God. This of course, is not the American model, because the Founding Fathers believed that the power to govern originates with the American people. To be succinct, the Bible quite literally endorses repressive, non-representative government, and yet we had a revolution to free ourselves from a corrupt monarchy with an established (Anglican) church.
Slavery is another troublesome issue. Anyone with a conscience and an IQ above 60 knows--or should know-- that slavery is wrong, and yet the culture which produced the Old and New Testaments openly endorsed slavery as a viable and honorable practice.
If we take a literal interpretation of The Bible, slavery is instituted by Noah in Genesis 9:20-27. The American Abolitionists maintained that God disapproved of slavery based on the events described in the Book of Exodus, the freeing of the Hebrew Slaves, but what the Abolitionists ignored, and what the dyed in the wool Southern racists did not, was that the Hebrews then turned around and re-instituted the same practice under which they had suffered in Egypt.
Even the 10 Commandments make a reference to slavery. In Exodus 20:17 we read "you shall not covet your neighbor's house, you shall not covet your neighbors wife or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbors." Note also that this particular interpretation equates human beings--wives and slaves--with animals such as ox and asses.
Only a few verses later, in Exodus 21: 1-11 we find guidelines for the conduct of the slave trade; and in Exodus 21:20-21 we find this peculiar tidbit: "When a man strikes his slave, male or female with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be punished for the slave is his money." So much for the sanctity of human life.
As a matter of fact, the Old Testament is littered with references to slavery and the New Testament is no better. In 1 Timothy 6:1-2 we read: "Let all who are under the yoke of slavery regard their master as as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be defamed. Those who have disbelieving masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brethren, rather they must serve all the better, since those who benefit by their service are believers and beloved." In 1 Peter 2:18-20 we find the following: "servants be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to the kind and gentle, but also to the overbearing. For one is approved, if mindful of God, he endures pain while suffering unjustly." Similar passages appear in Ephesians 6:5, Colossians 3:22, and Titus 2:9.
Despite the fact that Christ traveled in a society that was populated by servants and masters, he did very little--as in nothing-- to outlaw the barbaric practice of slavery itself. Rather, His Apostles not only refused to condemn slavery, they required slaves to be obedient--even to cruel masters. And if the Bishop wants to talk about the morality of the early church fathers and Protestant reformers, I would remind him that St. Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, and John Calvin had all been slave owners at various times in their careers.
And yet we had a civil war which was based on the premise that slavery was wrong. We interpreted the Bible to mean the opposite of what it actually said, and a great scourge was cleansed from our country because we refused to adopt an evil interpretation, of an archaic text. Putting it another way, we made progress for the good when we interpreted the Bible to mean the opposite of what it actually says.
Shall we talk about women? After Eve tempts Adam in the Garden of Eden, we get the following rant against females in Genesis, Chapter 3: "I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." With the only a few exceptions, women are treated like property throughout most of the Biblical text. In 1 Timothy 2:8-15 we read: "I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling, also that women should adorn themselves modestly and sensibly in seemly apparel, not braided hair or gold or pearls, or costly attire, but by good deeds as befits women who profess religion. Let women learn in silence with all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or have authority over men; she is to keep silent. For Adam was created first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived and became a transgressor. Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty."
In 1 Peter 3:1-6 we read this. "Likewise you wives, be submissive to your husbands, so that some, though they do not obey the word, may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, when they see your reverent and chaste behavior, Let not yours be the outward adorning, with braiding of hair, decoration of gold, and wearing of robes, but let it be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable jewel of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. So once the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves and were submissive to their husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham calling him lord..." And if you want a real hoot, I suggest the following snippet from 1 Corinthians, Chapter 11, where the author sounds like the Prophet Mohammad: "Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head because of the angels." Then there's the old time classic from 1 Corinthians, Chapter 14, which reads: "As in the churches of the saints, the women should keep silence in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate as the law says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home, for it is shameful for a woman to speak in church."
Today we recognize this for what it is--overt sexism. Instead of embracing a literal interpretation of the text, we passed a Constitutional Amendment, gave women the right to vote, and have, on the whole, embraced the idea of equal rights and equal opportunities for women. Women are free to speak in American churches, while some denominations embrace the idea of female pastors. Unless of course Bishop Ludwig wants to take the hard line on women as he does in gay marriage, in which case he would almost undoubtedly ban female pastors and require UCC women to wear veils and remain silent during church services.
In each of these cases we, as a society, agreed that The Bible and the early Church fathers had it wrong; we eased the obvious cognitive dissonance by interpreting the Bible to mean the opposite of what it actually said, and society made tremendous advances. The same thing will almost certainly happen when we grant equal marriage rights to gays and lesbians.]
Our current UCC leadership has decided that all who came before them were WRONG.
[Jeeze--do you think that might be because they, like the Bishop, were and are wrong?]
The main reason given for the necessity of this "resolution" is summed up in this paragraph, contained in the "Background" section of the introduction of the resolution.
"Civil/legal marriage carries with it significant access to institutional support, rights, and benefits. There are more than 1,400 such rights and benefits in the federal statutes alone. Efforts to ban civil marriage to couples based on gender denies them and their children access to these rights and benefits, and thus, undermines the civil liberties, putting them and their children at risk."
Recognizing that there are "same sex" couples in our society in long term, committed relationships, a substitute motion was introduced which would not have used the word "marriage," but terminology which would have extended legal protection to same sex couples. The motion was soundly defeated. [ As well it should have been! Unless you give same sex couples the same rights as married heterosexuals you will almost certainly create a situation in which the Radical Christian Reich--ur ah--Right--would try to whittle away at those provisions which protect Civil Unions. By granting full marriage rights you create a situation in which the Theocratic Right can't mess around with marriage rights without offending straight couples as well.] With this motion, while same sex couples would have gained the support of the Church for their civil rights, they would not have gained the "sacrament of marriage," the second portion of the resolution which is quoted above. So, the issue seems not to be about "civil rights" it is about "same sex marriage" in the church.
[Again, the Bishop has no idea as to what he is talking about. Here in Wisconsin, the Republican State Legislature has introduced a State Constitutional Amendment which would ouotlaw, both gay marriage and civil unions. When the Bible-thumping reactionaries in your state legislature are attempting to ban both alternatives your civil rights and financial security are in danger.]
And on this issue the Bible, church history, and world wide Christianity [ which have been proven wrong or even malicious on other issues in the past] are in consensus. "Marriage is between a man and a woman." [Sorry, I just can't resist it. He keeps saying "between a man and a woman." Which man and woman is he talking about? It sounds like we're running a marriage lottery and two lucky people will be chosen and subsequently united in some kind of state sanctioned relationship.]
From our Christian [?] perspective, we need to realize that God [God? Or superstitious men who believed in a nonexistant being?] gave us laws for our own good--and in addition to purposely breaking His law (devastating in itself), we do damage to the Christian understanding of what God gave us--in the family--and destroy something which is the very basis of God's understanding of how we should relate to each other. [Again, we need to remind the Bishop that I was the product of heterosexual families, although I'm really very curious as to what he thinks should happen when a gay male, who might be in denial about his sexual orientation, fathers a child and then realizes at some laer point that he is gay. Does this father stop being a part of a family? Do we deny the child a right to know his father? Do we encourage the child to hate the gay or perhaps bisexual father? I would suggest that it is the Bishop who is more interested in destroying something--i.e. gay families--which do not fit into his very anachronistic world view, than homosexuals who are merely trying to obtain equal treatment under the law.]
In response to the negative reception of ths resolutiuon by local congregations [some might say homophobes], the UCC Leadership responded by emphasizing that the UCC does not speak for the local congregation, in fact local congregations do not have to follow the lead of the national church, a basic part of the UCC polity. So there should not be a problem with this divergent view. But this calls into question, "what does the UCC leadership and administration do with those issues passed by the General Synod?" Are these issues implemented? The answer is "Yes, they are, but the local congregation is not bound by them." But if issues of this magnitude are not expected to be implemented by the local congregations, then why did we spend several million dollars at the biennial Synods passing such resolutions. And why spend millions of dollars at the national level of the UCC implementing issues to which we are in opposition. [The Bishop may not realize it, but the question can just as easily be turned inside out. If the Congregations have the right to reject these resolutions, as the Bishop openly admits when he quotes the General Synod, why is the Bishop expending all this time and effort? Is he truly interested in the will of God or is he merely trying to impose his very repressive will on others? I can excuse a lot of abnormal behavior, but not megalomania wrapped in a cloak of Christian hypocrisy. That is a dysfunction that I will not tolerate in anyone. Read on, because the Bishop is about to reveal his true, homophobic, and I would add, power-hungry nature.]
It is time for the local congregations of the United Church of Christ to respond.
We need to remember that "Evil [read Herr Bishop Ludwig] only triumphs when good people do nothing." It is time for "good people" [Pass the Kleenex, I'm laughing so hard that I'm crying] to take back [read "take over"] the leadership of their church. First, because it is the right thing to do. [I would remind the Bishop that the warning about evil triumphing when good people do nothing is used in conjunction with the people who did nothing while Hitler rose to power. I would also remind the Bishop that Hitler and his Nazi goons sent thousands of homosexuals to their deaths. But then again, I suppose that with a name like Ludwig, the Bishop is probably quite familiar the history of Nazi persecutions.]
Second, if we do not, we leave the older generation, who built the churches and the Church, without their own place of worship, since they will feel absolutely uncomforatble in the setting the UCC now encourages. [Okay. This has to be the lamest excuse for homophobia that I've read about this issue in months. I don't know if the Bishop understands this or not, but this is a largely generational issue. Older people, who were raised with hateful attitudes towards homosexuality and homosexuals, are certainly going to feel uncomfortable with the idea of granting civil liberties to the people they have been trained to despise. But by the time you get down to the younger gerneration, those between the ages 18 and 35, this isn't even an issue. They were raised with the Gay Rights Movement; they saw respectable gay roll models in the media and in their personal lives. They simply aren't buying the knee jerk scare tactics that the homophobes had tried so maliciously to install in them. Translated into modern English, the Biship is saying that we have to cave in to obstinate, professional haters Chrsitian clothing because we might make them feel uncomfortable. Well you know what? Homophobes should be made to feel uncomfortable. They should be shamed on a regular basis until they realize how dangerous and hurtful their sociopathic delusions really are. At the same time the Bishop has unknowingly admitted that this is an aging denomination with a low birth rate. In other words, he is perfectly willing to kill the entire UCC to make homophobes comfortaqble while he alienates the younger generation. And while we're at it, just how appealing does the Bishop think he and his aging homophobes appear to a more enlightened, a more open-minded and more tolerant generation? Does he really think they're going to waste their time in a church that has the proverbial words "gays need not apply" written symbolically over the front door of the church? In other words, the Bishop is quite literally protecting the hate-mongers who will eventually die off and leave the church with no replacement members. Real intelligence there.] If we do NOT take back out churches and begin to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ we are conspiring all future generations to a twisted, warped, understanding of God and Life. [Terms such as "twisted" and "warped" were frequently used by the Nazis against Jews during the 1930s. See my previous post titled "Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause."]
We encourage your congregation to voice its disapproval to your local church board and pastor, expressing dissatisfaction that your church is associated with this type of scandal and repudation of the over 3,000 year understanding of God's Scripture as the result of our current UCC leadership.
We cncourage your congregation to voice its disapproval to your Association offices that this policy, counter to God's will and commandments, and counter to stability and order in the family, should be endorsed and propagated by your church leadership using your financial contributions offered in good faith for the mission of Jesus Christ. [You know, I'm getting a little sick and tired of taking thye blame because heterosexual couples can't make their dysfunctional families operate the way they should. If you have a problem with your unstable family situation, work on it. If you're a rotten parent or a neglectful or abusive spouse, grow to hell up and take responsibility for your own irresponsible actions, but please, please, be so kind as to stop blaming gays and lesbians for your woefully inadequate parenting skills. For more on this particular topic, see my prevous post titled "Get Off The Chest of Drawers Already: Gay Rights and Pecksniffian Voyeurs ."]
We encourage your congregation to begin witholding ALL financial contributions to your Association and your Conference if they do not abandon implementation of this resolution as part of their ongoing work. [Pretty big talk from the same anal retentive Bishop who was worried about the divisive nature of the issue.]
We encourage your congregation to begin withholding ALL financial contributions to the UCC until the current direction changes, Please continie to forward Designated Mission donations!
We encourage your congregation not to be run out of your own church by those who have performed a "coup" and hijacked the UCC. The heritage of the Congregational, Christian Evangelical and Reformed Churches is in no way represented by those who now "claim as their own" this heritage.
[Of course, you can always leave the homophobes to wallow in their own ignorancre and hatred, OR you can stay in your church and cause the kind of trouble that their hurtful attitudes and actions have so openly invited. In this scenario you would donate no time, effort, nor financial support in any way at all while you send checks directly to a UCC church which embraces a more humane and more enlightened version of Christianity. You can become such a vocal pain in the ass that your congregation will curse the day the day this misbegotten Bishop was born. You can speak the truth to power, even when the ower is hiding a clergy person's robes. That might or might not sound harsh, but so is the Bishop's unique form of financial and emotional black mail, and as my birth mom likes to say, "sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander." In fact I would go so far as to add that since the Bishop and his ilk insist on behaving like bullies and thugs, they should be exposed as and treated like bullies and thugs.]
If local congregations do not speak up, if we vote with out feet and leave the FCC, we will be making a terrible mistake. We will be leaving a fellowship of Christians who have served the Lord for hundreds of years [Meaning what? That religious gays and lesbians are "biological mistakes?"] We will be leaving behind small congregations that are unable to determine their own future (s). We will be abandoning the wonderful, rich heritage of the Congregational, Christian, Evangelical, and [De] Reformed Churches, leaving it in the hands of persons who are "proud to claim as their own" the heritage on paper, but not in practice [Talk about self- judgement!] And we will be leaving the resources, the generous gifts of our ancestors, to be used by the current leadership to promote an issue that is absolutely contrary to what our forefathers believed and stood for, what we still believe today, and the beliefs of the Christian Church throughout the ages.
[Someone should tell this apostate that the ministry of Jesus Christ was about love, tolerance and forgiveness--not using force, blackmail,and coercion to enforce a very narrow agenda.]
Yours in Christ's [Yeah, right] service
The Right Reverend Koloman K. Ludwig, Bishop
Conference Minister Calvin Synod
October 2005
This may come as a shock and a revelation to the Bishop but not all practicing Christians accept the Bible as the literal word of God. Many accept it as the inspired word of God. The Christian community must recognize recognize that the Bible, like so many other religious texts, was written during a brutal, violent, time when neighboring nations were competing for military and religious supremecy. Its many authors all too often held violent , enthnocentric beliefs, which common sense should reveal as both self-destructive and injurious to others. To accept these violent beliefs at face value today is both foolish and dangerous. If the religious community doesn't understand that it has a duty to separate the wheat from the chaff, the hate and violence from the pearls of wisdom, then others, such as myself will almost certainly step in to do the task for them. If harmful ideas from the past cannot stand up to the scrutiny of logic and reason then they must be amputated from the religion they infect before their gangrenous influence destroys the entire faith .
As for CJ and I, we will not be contributing between $750 and $850 a month to a denomination which refuses to recognize our civil and economic rights. Nor will we contribute our musical, culinary, artistic, and organizational skills to any denomination which hates the gay and lesbian community. Nor will we be using our energy and enthusiasm to evangelize for a church which expresses open hostility towards homosexuals.
But we will be using that $750 to $850 to support organizations which advance Gay Rights and which strengthen the wall between State and Tax-free Superstition.