According to polls (H/T), Catholics are more supportive of gay rights than the general public:
• Nearly three-quarters of Catholics favor either allowing gay and lesbian people to marry (43%) or
allowing them to form civil unions (31%). Only 22% of Catholics say there should be no legal
recognition of a gay couple’s relationship.
• Nearly three-quarters (73%) of Catholics favor laws that would protect gay and lesbian people against
discrimination in the workplace; 63% of Catholics favor allowing gay and lesbian people to serve
openly in the military; and 6-in-10 (60%) Catholics favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to adopt
• Less than 4-in-10 Catholics give their own church top marks (a grade of an A or a B) on its handing
of the issue of homosexuality; majorities of members of most other religious groups give their
churches high marks.
• A majority of Catholics (56%) believe that sexual relations between two adults of the same gender is nota sin.
<Snark> Perhaps this data came about because Catholics are more likely than the general public to know a gay man: their local priest. </Snark>
In all seriousness, this is probably further confirmation that Catholics look to their own consciences rather than to the teaching of their church when deciding what’s right and wrong. In other words, they’re effectively Protestant.
This is a peculiar solution for gay men and lesbians who wish to be married and have children:
Rabbis from the religious Zionist community have launched an initiative to marry gay men to lesbian women – with some surprising successes.
So far, 11 marriages have been performed. Haaretz conducted an email interview with one such couple, Etti and Roni (not their real names ).
Etti and Roni, both religious, were married five years ago. Though they were honest with each other about their sexual orientations from their first meeting, to the outside world, they portray themselves as a normal heterosexual couple. Today, they have two children, and are thrilled with the results.
This might work for some gay people, but perhaps not most. One of the unsurprising problems that arises:
“Most of the couples agree not to have relationships with members of their own sex, but if there are ‘lapses’ once every few years, they don’t see this as a betrayal,” he said. “Generally, it’s between them and their Creator.”
It seems to me that it would be easier just to marry someone you genuinely love—perhaps I’m too old fashioned.
Over at First Things, Ron Sider discusses the evangelicals failures regarding gay issues:
Tragically, because of our own mistakes and sin, we evangelicals have almost no credibility on this topic. We have tolerated genuine hatred of gays; we should have taken the lead in condemning gay bashing but were largely silent; we have neglected to act in gentle love with people among us struggling with their sexual identity; and we have used the gay community as a foil to raise funds for political campaigns. We have made it easy for the media to suggest that the fanatics who carry signs announcing “God hates fags” actually speak for large numbers of evangelicals.
Worst of all, we have failed to deal honestly with the major threat to marriage and the family: heterosexual adultery and divorce. Evangelicals divorce at the same rate as the rest of the population. Many evangelical leaders have failed to speak against cheap divorce because they and their people were getting divorced just like everyone else. And yet we have had the gall to use the tiny (5 percent or less) gay community as a whipping boy that we labeled as the great threat to marriage.
What a farce. It is hardly surprising that young non-Christians’ most common perception (held by 91 percent) of contemporary Christianity is that we are “antihomosexual.” Even more disturbing is that 80 percent of young churchgoers agree.
We did not need to do this. We could have preached against hatred of gays, taken the lead in combating gay bashing, and been the most active community lovingly caring for people with AIDS. We could have taken marriage more seriously. We could have shown the world that Christians could defend marriage while loving those who wanted to live a different way.
Hubbard posted this at 4:05 PM CDT on Sunday, November 28th, 2010 as Faith
The American experiment was based on mutual respect, acceptance of differing religious beliefs and common decency. Burning anyone’s sacred scripture is an affront to all of these.
The world needs more voices not fewer. More faith not less. It is not God that tells man to hate, kill or stifle thought. It is a fringe understanding of religion. God beckons us to seek His face. I refuse to believe that a loving Father would punish honest and bold questions. But I do believe there must surely be eternal consequences for those who hate or kill in his name.
Let us not fail to recognize that this week we witnessed Christian extremists behaving in ways made infamous by a monster fascist. The reactions by Muslim radicals only mirrored the minds of those in Iran who currently stone people to death for what they call the “sin of homosexuality.”
The world has once again come to a point where it cowers at best and, at worst, appeases crazy and dangerous men of all philosophies of God and man. We must again link arms and unite despite our differences against evils that only wish to destroy or enslave no matter the god they hide behind. “The truth shall set you free” is more than a phrase — it is a universal principle that cannot be changed by a bonfire or suicide vest.
History teaches us what happens to those who not only burn books, but also to those who do not respect freedom of speech — especially when most find it vile and offensive.
Perhaps it’s my naturally laissez-faire attitude combined with a Western tolerance for others, but I simply cannot imagine anything that a church, of any size, in Afghanistan could do that would cause me wake up 5 minutes earlier on a Saturday, much less march in the streets. Or make a sign. Or burn another religion’s book. I might toast their ill health and eternal damnation, but only if I was drinking anyhow.
Still, this Terry Jones character is being burned in effigy in a country where not one person in a million has a clue what he looks like. C’est fantastique! We should all aspire to be so despised by the enemies of religious liberty, if only we could do so without being total jerks who need to be denounced by the greatest American general in 60 years.
Over at The Anchoress, her commentators are vigorously tearing into Barry Petersen. For some reason I cannot embed the video, so here’s the story.
Mr. Petersen’s wife, Jan, suffers from early onset Alzheimer’s disease. She’s only in her mid fifties and can no longer recognize him when he comes to visit. He has since moved in with a widow who helps care for Jan.
Most of the commentators over at the Anchoress seem infuriated about Mr. Petersen, while Rod Dreher’s seem more understanding. I’ve no idea what I’d do in if in Mr. Petersen’s shoes. But if I ever become crippled with Alzheimer’s, my future spouse has my permission to move on. When seeing me causes those who love me pain, they are free to stop seeing me. With improvements in technology, Jan Petersen could well be alive for another three decades. That’s a long time to be such a cross to bear. Were I in her shoes, I would not wish to be such a burden on somebody.
I believe, pretty firmly, that people shouldn’t be polled in detail about religious matters. This poll reinforces my belief.
80% of Americans believe that prayer is effective, no matter what a person believes. I don’t like to get into theology, here or anywhere, but that’s preposterous. If I believe that my cat is some sort of two-faced god who can see both the past and future, and that she will give me her vision if I offer up wine as a sacrifice and then drink it during my prayers, I’m not sure of any Christian denomination that believes my prayers will be effective. My knowledge of other religions is broad and shallow, but I certainly don’t think that the main non-Christian religions in America (Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam) would believe that me drinking wine in honor of my cat would allow me to pick tomorrow’s lottery numbers.
I will be charitable and reword the pollster’s question so that it resembles what the pollees heard: “If someone prays to your god in the manner you are accustomed to, do you believe that that person’s prayer will be answered in accord with how you believe prayers are answered, regardless of what that person believes?” I’d be among the 80% of people who answer yes to that, regardless of what my cat does when I drink wine.
Apollo posted this at 1:43 AM CDT on Thursday, May 6th, 2010 as Amer-I-Can!, Faith
Christopher Hitchens might be misstating the church’s position on contraception and homosexuality—I’m not enough of an expert on Catholic dogma to know the exact teachings here—but he’s very much right about the problems of pedophile priests:
Almost every week, I go and debate with spokesmen of religious faith. Invariably and without exception, they inform me that without a belief in supernatural authority I would have no basis for my morality. Yet here is an ancient Christian church that deals in awful certainties when it comes to outright condemnation of sins like divorce, abortion, contraception, and homosexuality between consenting adults. For these offenses there is no forgiveness, and moral absolutism is invoked. Yet let the subject be the rape and torture of defenseless children, and at once every kind of wiggle room and excuse-making is invoked. What can one say of a church that finds so much latitude for a crime so ghastly that no morally normal person can even think of it without shuddering?
It’s interesting, too, that the same church did its best to hide the rape and torture from the secular authorities, even forcing child victims (as in the disgusting case of Cardinal Sean Brady, the spiritual chieftain of the Catholics of Ireland) to sign secrecy oaths that prevented them from testifying against their rapists and torturers. Why were they so afraid of secular justice? Did they think it would be less indifferent and pliable than private priestly investigations? In that case, what is left of the shabby half-baked argument that people can’t understand elementary morality without a divine warrant?
For the record, I believe that the Catholic Church is one of the great forces for good in the world, but unless it cleans house, whether it will so remain is an open question. I realize that Hitchens is hardly a friend of religion, but some things are true about the church even if he says them.
This list of people banned from the UK for their extremist views is up on Drudge. I guess if you’ve got your own country and you want to keep Michael Savage and Fred Phelps out, that’s your prerogative. It just seems like more trouble than its worth in their cases.
What’s interesting are the people about whom this list reveals precious little information. Putting out a list of people banned from your country seems like a worthwhile occasion for specifying what, exactly, is so unacceptable about their behavior. While it’s fairly detailed about the reasons for banning people with Anglo or European style names, the reasons for banning people with more interesting names is more opaque.
Preacher. Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by fomenting terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs.
WADGY ABD EL HAMIED MOHAMED GHONEIM
A prolific speaker and writer. Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by seeking to foment, justify or glory terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs and to provoke others to commit terrorist acts.
ABDULLAH QADRI AL AHDAL
Preacher. Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by seeking to foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs and fostering hatred that might lead to inter-community violence.
YUNIS AL ASTAL
Preacher and Hamas MP. Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by seeking to foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs and to provoke others to terrorist acts.
Television preacher. Considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by glorifying terrorist violence.
Preachers, you say. What church has such “particular beliefs”? Are they Methodists?
How, exactly, can the living forgive great mass murderers? Those who live weren’t wronged so grieviously as the murderers’ victims. These thoughts came as I read this article (H/T):
LaPel—a serious man who divides his time between his native Cambodia and a church in Los Angeles that is part of the Purpose Driven network of churches—stood in the middle of the Sangker River and baptized Hang Pin in the muddy runoff from upstream clothing factories.
Hang Pin embraced his new life. “He was the most astute Bible student I have ever had,” LaPel remembers. Soon Hang Pin was a lay pastor.
Four years passed. In the middle of the night, back in Los Angeles, LaPel got a phone call from a man he had never heard of. The man’s message was simple: “Hang Pin is Comrade Duch.”
LaPel fell to his knees in shock.
“I hit myself in the head,” he says.
He had recalled instantly that Duch—the nickname of Kaing Guek Eav—was the warden of the Khmer Rouge’s notorious Tuol Sleng prison. The meek, depressed man who had become a diligent minister was one of the bloodiest mass murderers the world has known.
A few excerpts from the article about Comrade Duch’s conversion, with my thoughts:
“Once the Khmer Rouge come to Christ, they are committed,” LaPel says. “They were fanatical Communists, and now they are fanatical Christians.”
Anyone familiar with Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer should not be surprised. Fanatics need a cause, and when one cause burns itself out, they substitute another. We can be grateful that he became fanatically meek and humble, but he could easily have become a different (and more dangerous) kind of fanatic.
Did his daughter ever see a sign of the brutal man he’d been? “He was strict,” she says. “But not really a tough guy. He made us do chores, but he never touched his children. He was mostly strict towards himself.”
A Hoffer quotation comes to mind: The remarkable thing is that we really love our neighbor as ourselves: we do unto others as we do unto ourselves. We hate others when we hate ourselves. We are tolerant toward others when we tolerate ourselves. We forgive others when we forgive ourselves. We are prone to sacrifice others when we are ready to sacrifice ourselves.
“What created the Khmer Rouge is a mystery,” his sister says. “It was like everybody faced the same circumstances. You were either beaten or you were a slave or you were killed. Everyone just tried to survive.”
Now things are different for her brother, she says. “He has a commitment. He always tells me, ‘Accept the Lord. Only Christ has the answer.’ His faith is very strong.”
But Youk Chhang, the investigator who has helped the prosecution, has a different point of view. Whether Duch’s conversion is sincere or not, Youk says, justice demands that he be judged in court.
I must agree with Youk. We don’t know the state of Duch’s soul. But we do know what he has done. Perhaps one day, God will wipe the slate clean. But here on earth, the laws of men must be upheld, and Duch’s evil deeds must be punished.
Conor has thrown out a question: will same-sex marriage undermine religious liberty? My answer: Very possibly.
Catholic charities in Massachusetts once handled many adoptions, and they refused to place children in the homes of same-sex couples, which got them sued. When they lost the lawsuit and the court said they could not “discriminate” against same-sex couples, the Catholic charities shut down rather than be forced to go against their faith.
Hypothetical question: could a same-sex couple get married in a Catholic church? The church would argue that since they don’t recognize same-sex unions, they could not. Quite a few gay Catholics would love to pick a fight over this. As surely as George W. Bush will mangle the English language, someone is going to file a lawsuit about this.
[T]he churches should reconsider their roles in authenticating marriage. Governments issue birth certificates; churches issue baptismal certificates. Governments issue death certificates; churches pray the funerals. Governments issue divorces; Churches annul. Both work within their separate and necessary spheres, serving the corporeal and the spiritual. It is only in the issue of marriage that church and state have commingled authority. That should perhaps change, and soon. Let the government certify and the churches sanctify according to their rites and sacraments.
Given that expensive litigation is as American as arrested development, we probably won’t do it her way. Let the ugly begin.
It’s long been noted that those who have no qualms at offending Christians frequently have qualms when faced with the prospect of offending Muslims. I think, excluding fear of retaliatory violence, this is merely a subset of the patronizing views of the American left toward the spirituality of non-white peoples.
Does anyone seriously think that Playboy would apologize if a similar image had caused offense in America? I normally hate arguing with hypotheticals, but if Mary appeared on the American edition and some American Christians got cranky, we’d almost certainly get lengthy discussions about the First Amendment, and how important the right to offend is, and how complaining Christians are a threat to free speech. Moreover, we’d get a Saturday Night Live skit about evangelicals being a bunch of prudes. This ritual has been repeated so many times, it’s impossible to not see it happening.
But a darker skinned people has their religion offended, it’s time to apologize!
Apollo posted this at 9:29 PM CDT on Saturday, December 13th, 2008 as Faith, Race
Hurricanes and Hitler are often cited as the most difficult challenges to the belief that God is good. A more compelling question is why He has allowed a world where its possible that Clint Eastwood will never play President Andrew Jackson on the big screen.
Why, God? Why???
Tom posted this at 2:00 PM CDT on Thursday, November 20th, 2008 as Faith, Film Rants