Thursday 29 September 2011

Presbyterian Church to Ordain Gay Minister, Scott Anderson

"The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) plans to ordain the first openly gay candidate for ordination since the denomination struck down barriers this year to clergy who have same-gender partners.
Scott Anderson will be ordained as a teaching elder on Oct. 8 at the Covenant Presbyterian Church in Madison.
The new policy won approval from a majority of the denomination's 173 presbyteries, or regional church bodies, and took effect on July 10.
The denomination eliminated language in the church constitution requiring that clergy live "in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness." The new provision instead requires ministers to "submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life."
Since 2003, Anderson has been the executive director of the Wisconsin Council of Churches, a public policy organization. He is a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary He and his male partner have been together for about two decades.
The 2.1 million-member denomination is based in Louisville, Ky. The much smaller Presbyterian Church in America, a separate denomination, bars ordination for women and openly gay clergy candidates.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Openly Gay Mormon Leader, Mitch Mayne

The progress to LGBT equality in the mainline Protestant churches, and in Europe, should by now be familiar. The Anglican communion and the Swedish Lutherans have openly gay and lesbian bishops; the Methodists in the US and the UK are freely discussing recognition for out and partnered queer clergy, a move already agreed by US Lutherans and Presbyterians, and practiced for years by the United Church. What has been less widely reported, has been progress also in some more unexpected groupings, including Evangelicals - and Mormons. Mitch Mayne, for instance, was recently elected at a Mormon leadership post in San Francisco:   

Early on in life, Mitch Mayne knew exactly who he was.
He would race home from school to watch reruns of “Star Trek” and swoon over his crush, Captain Kirk. At 8, after his parents converted, he was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a faith he embraced. Even after he drifted away from the LDS Church following his parents’ divorce, he came back to Mormonism on his own in his mid-20s.
It is where he feels spiritually at home, irrespective of the fact that, for the past 10 years, he’s been openly gay.
“I’m a man that lives in two worlds that a lot of people don’t think intersect,” Mayne said. “Both sides of myself exist in me. It’s part of my DNA, part of my makeup.”
Actively Mormon and openly gay: It's the sort of combo that might leave people wondering. After all, the LDS Church teaches that homosexuality, specifically if same-sex attractions are acted upon, is a sin. And the church has actively backed measures to ban same-sex marriages.
-full report at  CNN Belief Blog 
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Religious groups call for gay marriages in Scotland

"Five religious groups are joining together to call for same-sex marriage to be allowed in Scotland.

The Unitarians, Quakers, Metropolitan Community Church, Pagan Federation and Liberal Judaism are backing members of the Scottish Youth Parliament in their campaign on the issue.

Ministers are currently holding a consultation on same-sex marriages.

At the moment gay couples can have a civil ceremony but it cannot take place in religious premises."

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Sunday 25 September 2011

Beyond Male and Female: Gender Trouble, Biology Trouble |

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
- Galatians 3:28
In the context of religion, we are familiar with the quotation from Galatians, even if in the Catholic Church we are unwilling to take the words literally, and apply them to ordination. From the world of science though, it is becoming clear that there is a truth in the words that goes way beyond a theological concept, and is instead, a substantial measure of quite literal truth. It may well be that there really is “neither male nor female”, at least not in the absolute binary sense that modern Western culture assumes. This has major implications for Christian sexual and gender theology."

Judith Butler’s “Gender Trouble” was a seminal work in the early development of feminism and queer theory, and later of queer theology. Butler’s central achievement was to demonstrate the fluidity of gender, which she described as “performance”. The fluidity of gender however, also extends to biology. Far from a simple binary world composed of biological males and females, with perhaps a smattering of people with indeterminate gender (once described as hermaphrodites), modern science has shown that there are a far greater range of conditions that may be loosely described as “intersex” than previously realized – and that there are a surprising number of these people, some of whom will not even know of their true sex until they meet a need for some kind of medical testing (as with the case of the South African athlete Caster Semenya, who had no idea she was not fully female until she won a medal at the Beijing Olympics, competing as a woman). The same problems beset Sally Gross, who was raised as a male and ordained a Catholic priest, until the discovery that biologically she was in fact primarily female.

What is a Male?
To illustrate some of the complexities around biological sex, I want to share with you some extracts from two books that I have found helpful in extending my own understanding, Brian McNaught’s “Sex Camp”“, and Virginia Mollenkott’s Omnigender.

-read the full article at Queering the Church

Friday 23 September 2011

The Inevitability of the Rise of Progressive Christianity |

"It is inevitable that Christians who would now be described as “liberal” will be the overwhelming majority of Christians in America. That sea change, the waters of which we already feel swelling everywhere around us, can no sooner be stopped than can the moon passing across the night sky. Today’s conservative evangelical Christians who are rallying against “postmodern relativism,” “revisionist secular theology,” “a naturalistic doctrine of God,” or however else they might label the theology of the left, are like yesterday’s horse-and-buggy owners rallying against the newfangled automobile.

The future of transportation was obvious then; the future of Christian theology is obvious now."

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Wednesday 21 September 2011

Father Alberto Cutie: Missing, Gone or Disappeared by the Church: Where Are These Priests?

With compulsory celibacy for the Catholic Church back in the news, it is pertinent to consider once again the example of Father Alberto Cutie, who responding to a public outcry when he was seen on a public beach with a woman - and on terms that were obviously more intimate than simply pastoral - by quitting the Catholic Church and joining the Episcopal Church instead, where he now continues to minister.
His case is obviously not unique: the Catholic Church has quite needlessly lost any number of good and valued priests who have found themselves forced by Vatican rules to make an artificial and entirely unnecessary, unscriptural choice between their vocation to ministry, and their human desire to live in a close relationship with a loving partner (male or female). In this piece at the Huffington Post, Fr Cutie asks the very important question: where are all these priests, "missing, gone or disappeared by the Church?"

One of the issues I address in my personal memoir, "Dilemma: A Priest's Struggle with Faith and Love," which has caused a significant degree of controversy among certain Roman Catholic circles, is the way the institutional church deals with priests. I highlight especially those moments of personal crisis when priests need the most support, from everyone in the spiritual family they grew up in and gave their lives to, and often find everything but support.
Recently, I read "The Unexpected Life," a book by Monsignor Dale Fushek of the Diocese of Phoenix. The charismatic founder of Life Teen and organizer of Pope John Paul's 1987 U.S. visit describes his work with youth, shares his stories of the priesthood, his attraction to figures like Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa (an admiration we share) and provides a unique perspective when he refers to his work as Vicar General (a bishop's right hand) and pastor of one of the most prominent parishes in his local church. He served Bishop O'Brien of Phoenix, who also was ousted after a hit and run incident where a man died after being accidentally run-over by the bishop. I found it interesting that Father Dale avoided telling many of the "difficult" and "painful" stories in his life and in the lives of his brother priests, yet anyone who has been involved in the Roman Catholic Church, at any level, can certainly read between the lines.
-read the full article at  Huffington Post.

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Sheffield synod votes in favour of women bishops

In the Anglican communion, the squabbles over gay bishops and women bishops are closely linked. The threats of secession,  and calls for special treatment for priests and parishes who dissent on women bishops, have been widely reported. It is worth noting therefore, the less widely reported, slow and undramatic progress of the diocesan votes to ratification of the synodal decision to approve women bishops. 

In the latest vote, the Sheffield diocese has joined those voting in support of the proposal. I do not have an up to date tally of all the diocesan votes so far, but the last time I saw one, the total number of votes against was - nil.

The simple fact is, that at least inside the UK, the opposition to women bishops is a distinctly minority position. There will in the relatively near future be women bishops, selected from the large pool of excellent women priests, and those few who remain opposed will quickly get used to them - just as after initial misgivings. most Anglicans quickly got used to female priests. 

In the same way, there will also quickly follow widespread approval for gay or lesbian bishops. It's only a matter of time.

"REPRESENTATIVES of the Anglican Church in the Sheffield region have voted in support of women bishops.

A motion was carried by 37 votes to 28 with six abstentions. The Bishop of Sheffield, the Rt Rev Steven Croft, voted in favour at a meeting of the Sheffield Diocesan Synod last Saturday.

The outcome indicated the laity was more convinced that the clergy. Laity voted 23-16 in favour with one abstention, clergy 13-12 with five abstentions."

Church in Wales looks at pension rights for clerics’ partners. - Wales News - News - WalesOnline

THE Church in Wales will next week consider taking a further step towards equality for gay clerics by providing improved pension rights for their civil partners.

But progressive elements in the Church remain uneasy that while there is an acceptance that priests can have a monogamous sexual relationship, the same tolerance does not extend to Bishops.

During a two-day meeting starting on Wednesday of the Church’s Governing Body, it will be recommended that surviving civil partners of retired clerics should receive a pension based on the priest’s entire working life. Until now, the rate of pension has only been calculated from 2005, when civil partnerships were first allowed."

Friday 16 September 2011

Church of Ireland split fear over Irish cleric's civil partnership

"The Church of Ireland row over gay clergy is unlikely to diminish, despite the warning by the Primate Archbishop Alan Harper that the furore could lead to " significant division" within the Church.

Major divisions with the Church of Ireland on this issue have been there for some time, but the news that the Dean of Leighlin Tom Gordon entered into a civil partnership has brought the issue into much sharper focus."

Separation of church and state in marriage?

"It isn’t exactly a movement — more of a blogosphere hubbub.

In solidarity with his gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, one well-known evangelical pastor in Minneapolis is taking a stand. As long as his state won’t confer upon homosexuals the legal right to marry, Tony Jones won’t sign a marriage license. He will officiate at a Christian ceremony, what he calls the “sacramental” part of marriage. But he refuses to act as an agent of the state.

“Will you join me,” he asked colleagues online last year, “and refuse to legally marry people?”

In July, Jones made his point personally. He remarried, but this time only sacramentally. “I consider my marriage 100 percent valid,” he told me.

-read the full report at  The Washington Post
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Tuesday 13 September 2011

Upon Return From Vatican, Mexican Bishop Vows To Continue Gay Outreach

"Raul Vera Lopez, the Catholic bishop of Saltillo, Mexico has vowed to continue his outreach to the gay community.
The Vatican had summoned the bishop to Rome to inquire about a gay-inclusive group of Catholics headed by Noe Ruiz.
Vera publicly affiliated his diocese with the group and sponsored its film festivals, which lead to harsh criticism from the Peru-based Catholic news agency ACI Prensa.
Vera told El Universal on Sunday that the Vatican had not reprimanded him.
“It is no surprise that the Church supports sexual diversity because there are at least 50 diocese in the United States serving gay communities,” Vera said."
-read more at On Top magazine

'via Blog this'

Walter C. Righter dies; Episcopal bishop played role in gay rights in church

Walter C. Righter dies; Episcopal bishop played role in gay rights in church "Walter C. Righter, an Episcopal bishop whose victory in a 1996 heresy trial played a key role in the push for gay rights in the church, died Sept. 11 at his home in Export, Pa. He was 87.

He died of heart and lung ailments, said his wife, the former Nancy Tolbert."

“I look around the Episcopal Church today where there are no impediments to the ordination of gay or lesbian members.  . . . None of that would have happened without Bishop Righter’s leadership,” said the Rev. Susan Russell of All Saints Church in Pasadena, Calif., former president of Integrity USA, a group that promotes inclusiveness in the church.

In 1990, Bishop Righter ordained Barry Lee Stopfel, a non-celibate gay man, as a deacon. Ten bishops brought charges against Bishop Righter, alleging that he violated the doctrine of the church and his ordination vows by ordaining Stopfel.

When asked after the trial to speculate on the future of homosexuality in the church, Bishop Righter told the Times, “I think we’re making too much out of the bedroom.”

Saturday 10 September 2011

Hundreds of Clergy and Faith Leaders From Across North Carolina Call on General Assembly to Oppose Anti-LGBT Amendment — Equality North Carolina

Equality NC today released the names of nearly 250 clergy and faith leaders from across North Carolina who have, in the past two weeks, signed on to a statement publicly denouncing a proposed anti-gay constitutional amendment and calling on state lawmakers to join them in opposing the legislation. The clergy join over 500 additional people of faith every corner of the state who have also signed a public declaration against the amendment.

Spanning the mountains to the coast, the geographic list of clergy and faith leaders in opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban all legal relationship recognitions for North Carolina’s same-sex couples, represents a number of denominations including Lutheran, Episcopalian, Methodist, United Church of Christ, Presbyterian, Baptist, Reformed Church in America and Reform and Conservative movements of Judaism.

The list of signatories also includes influential faith leaders like Stan Kimer, President of the North Carolina Council of Churches (Raleigh, N.C.), Dr. Sam Roberson, General Presbyter/Stated Clerk, Charlotte Presbytery (Charlotte, N.C.), Rev. Dr. T Anthony Spearman, Chair, Religious Affairs, NC-NAACP and Senior Pastor, Clinton Tabernacle AME Zion Church (Hickory, N.C.), the Rt. Rev. Michael B. Curry, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina (Raleigh, N.C.), the Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina (Kinston, N.C.), The Rt. Rev. G. Porter Taylor, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina (Asheville, N.C.), and Bishop Tonyia M. Rawls, Prelate of the Southern Jurisdiction, Unity Fellowship Church Movement (Charlotte, N.C.).

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Thursday 8 September 2011

"We, Together, Are the Church": A Response to Archbishop Nienstedt

Chuck Pilon responds to Archbishop John C. Nienstedt's July 18 letter in which he cautions the priests of the Archdiocese and the Catholic faithful against attending the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform's September 17 Synod of the Baptized:
I wish you well, Archbishop Nienstedt. You are a man dedicated to the Church – the institutional, Roman Catholic version of Church.
Based on my understanding of Church as clarified by the Second Vatican Council, in my opinion, Archbishop, in your way and your style of being a bishop you have betrayed the Catholic Church – which is to say you have betrayed us, the People of God – ordinary people, baptized into the Body of Christ."

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Kristen Chenoweth on being a Christian and a gay rights supporter -

Kristen Chenoweth says she is a liberal Christian

"US singer and actress Kristen Chenoweth has described how she balances her Christian faith with support for gay rights.

The West Wing and Wicked star has been praised for supporting equality and last year, defended her Promises, Promises co-star Sean Hayes after an article said he couldn’t play a straight man.

She told The Advocate: “I read my Bible and I pray and all of that – I really do. But at the same time, I don’t think being gay is a sin. Period"

Monday 5 September 2011

Texas Gays, lesbians find a home at Harlingen church

"HARLINGEN — Kaya Candia–Almanda says no one can truly understand what it’s like to be a gay or lesbian person living in a conservative community unless they are one.

Sometimes, in passing, negative whispers, jokes and ridicule about identity and sexual orientation are murmured by acquaintances, family members and friends, Almanda said.

The 18-year-old, who says she is a lesbian, doesn’t let that bother her.

The Harlingen High School senior says what really bothers her is being told by fellow Christians that she is going to hell for what they say is the unforgivable sin of homosexuality.

She says she is more concerned about the comments she gets from congregations across the Rio Grande Valley than comments in the classroom or out on the streets.

But, Almanda says, she has found a place of belonging. That place is a church in Harlingen tucked away in the city with a small congregation."

- full report at

Saturday 3 September 2011

Gay Christian Network provides safe harbor

"In 2001, little did Justin Lee, a recent graduate from Wake Forest University and 23 at the time, realize what a monumental contribution he would make to LGBT Christians around the globe."

Born in Marietta, Ga., his family moved to Raleigh when he was four. He came from a loving and supportive Southern Baptist family. When he was 19 he came out, but felt confused and tried to go straight. He had felt for years that gays should be straight and took a sojourn in the “ex-gay” movement, but felt it was alien to his upbringing. He shared that the “ex-gay” leaders’ stand was that kids who came from overbearing parents were more inclined to be gay or lesbian. This was totally not true for him. His were the complete opposite. He had tried to get answers from his church and friends. His background had been along the evangelical lines. So, he abandoned this ship and set sail for other ports. He began to write on the internet about issues. He wanted to make sure that there was a place that was welcoming and provided a sense of community for gay and lesbian Christians and their allies. And, this grew into a worldwide attention-grabbing phenomenon.

Thursday 1 September 2011

Religious presence at Manchester Pride 2011 stays strong

"Despite Christian protestors heckling the Parade yesterday, religious groups still remain a key element of Pride 2011.

Many have attended the festival for years, practically since it’s creation in 1990, and will not be leaving any time soon.

The Pride Expo area is littered with medical and ethical support groups there to help and advise LGBT members who need it.

Regular attendees include the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) and The Manchester and Warrington Quakers."
- Mancunian Matters

Reverend Says Gay Rights Movement Is the Black Movement | News | BET

"Earlier this year, after coming out as gay in his memoir, Transparent, African-American CNN anchor Don Lemon told the New York Times that being gay is “about the worst thing you can be in Black culture.” You're taught you have to be a man; you have to be masculine,” he continued. “In the black community they think you can pray the gay away.”

I’m not sure how accurate Lemon’s assessment is—no one group in America is especially welcoming of homosexuals, and it remains to be seen whether being gay is some sort of cardinal sin in the Black community. That said, data from the Pew Research Center says African-Americans do disapprove of homosexuality more than other groups, perhaps because religion is such a major part of the typical Black experience."