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Friday, December 30, 2011

All the (LGBT) news that's fit to print

This time of year, the media works over time to bring us the Top Ten "Whatevers" of the past year.

There are various retrospectives on a variety of topics. To my mind, it's sort of a back-handed thank you from the News Media to everyone who "made the news" for "making the news" - and sold their newspapers, magazines, air time and generally increased their market share.

Religion has its own Top Ten.

Time Magazine listed Mormonism as it's top religious story, in a list that included the Beatification of Pope J2P2 (John Paul II), the indictment of Kansas City Roman Catholic Bishop Robert Finn on misdemeanor charges for not telling the police of a likely case of abuse of minors, and the death of Sathya Sai Baba, the most famous guru in India.

The Religion Newswriters Association voted Osama bin Laden’s death (and the faith response to it) their number one story in a list that included Harold "Don't They Know It's The End of the World" Camping, Rob "Love Wins" Bell, and Mississippi’s Personhood initiative.

Interestingly enough, no one in the thirty year history of the RNA was named "Religion Newsmaker of the Year" because there was a virtual three-way tie between Harold Camping, Pope Benedict XVI and Texas Governor Rick Perry.

I mean, really! Could you pick a "winner" from that list?

Never mind. Don't answer that.

Religion Dispatches ran an interesting list of the "Top 2011 Religion Stories That Weren’t".

Author Peter Laarman, former senior minister of New York’s Judson Memorial (UCC) Church and present executive director of Progressive Christians Uniting, made a list of the stories that should have been more in the news, but weren’t.

Two of the ten stories were different sides of the same LGBT Christian coin. Here they are:
4. Identity Crisis Within a Queer-Positive Christian Denomination

The Metropolitan Community Church came into its own in the ’70s and ’80s when most other denominations were distinctly unwelcoming. Now that so many mainline churches are totally okay with gay people, the MCC is losing members in some locations and wondering about its raison d'etre. The 2007 defection of the huge Dallas-based Cathedral of Hope to the UCC may have been a sign of things to come: the 88% who voted to leave felt that the MCC’s gay-friendly platform was simply too narrow; they wanted to be a full-spectrum progressive congregation. As the MCC begins to wane in the U.S., however, it continues to grow rapidly overseas—in countries where established Christian groups remain consistently hostile to queer people.

5. Latino Catholics Distinctly More Gay-Friendly Than Latino Evangelicals

A too-little-noticed 2010 poll by the Public Religion Research Institute found that a majority of Latino Catholics in California (57%) said they would vote to allow gay and lesbian couple to marry, compared to just 22% of Latino Protestants. This same Catholic-Protestant divide within the Latino community was evident across a wide range of public policy issues related to gay and lesbian rights. The Latino Catholic latitudinariansm on marriage tracks another almost-unreported finding, to wit: that the single most gay-friendly religious body in the U.S., bar none, is the lay Catholic community. Bishops, are you listening?
Admittedly, Story #4 does not come as a huge surprise to many LGBT Activists. It never surprises me that, once LGBT people become more assimilated into congregations and communities, they turn the efforts of their activism to broader issues of justice, working to right the wrongs of economic, ecological and racial injustice.

Which is really where most of us would rather be, as a matter of fact. Indeed, it's where most of us started and learned how to organize and work for justice until we began to realize that no one was going to work for full equality for LGBT people if we didn't begin our own movement.

I don't think that's an "identity crisis". I think that's an affirmation of the fullness of our identity as religious human beings who love God and seek to serve the people of God through our faith and love in Christ Jesus.

The fact that MCC - and other LGBT Christian organizations like Integrity and Dignity - are growing in countries where there is open Christian hostility to LGBT people says a great deal about the nature and identity of faith-based communities that serve oppressed minorities.

Neither am I surprised - but I admit that I am fascinated, however - by Story #5.

The single most gay-friendly religious body in the U.S. - "BAR NONE" - is the lay Roman Catholic community?

Who knew?

Well, I suppose other non-ordained Roman Catholics - and, probably some ordained ones as well - who, no doubt, are the same ones who support (and exercise) reproductive rights (including being pro-choice on abortion), work for economic justice, advocate for the abolition of the death penalty as well as the abolition of mandatory clerical celibacy, and promote the ordination of women.

It's the other side of the "seamless garment ethic" of "support of all life".

It's a little messier and not all the threads are tied together but I suspect it's more solid and united (57% !!) as the side the RC priests and bishops present to the rest of the world.

That's because many priests and bishops aren't listening to their own people.

There are none so deaf as those who hear but refuse to listen.

All that having been said, my curiosity is also peaked by the term "Latino Protestants". I suspect that's too broad a term. I'm thinking the more accurate term would be "Latino Evangelicals / Pentecostals". That would be more consistent with my experience.

Which should provide activists for Marriage Equality with a plan and strategy for their efforts.

I think a little "face time" with some "Latino Protestants" is in order. I'm not talking about "in your face" face time. I'm talking about being more like a "Stealth Queer for Jesus".

Let's put some of that LGBT "full-spectrum progressive platform" into action in faith-based Latino service agencies. Let's invite some of our RC allies to work along side us so the Latino Evangelicals can see that "all things work together for the good for those who love God" (Romans 8:28).

Let's learn to become bilingual - I'm talking both Spanish and the love of Jesus in action - in these communities.

Let's let them know that we are Christians by our love of all God's people - even when "people may hate and revile you" in the name of Jesus.

That's not going guarantee that we will receive love in return. Neither is it going to sway votes in 2012 - but it may begin to have an affect by 2015.

We'll be the progressive tortoise to the evangelical hare.

Slow and steady wins the race.

With any luck - and some continued hard but strategic work - we may not take issues like Marriage Equality and the ordination of LGBT people completely out of the Religious News headlines, but I think we've got a good shot at making it "old news".

Here's a headline I'd love to see: "Homophobia: SooOOoo Yesterday's News". 

Now THAT would be news that would be fit to print!

P.S. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the "Top Ten Stories of 2011 from The Episcopal Church / Anglican Communion."  Send them on in the Comments Section and I'll post the Top Ten before December 31st.


Peter Reilly said...

Hope you don't mind a follower engaging in a bit of self promotion but I published a list of the top 10 LGBT tax developments. A couple were not very well publicized.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, Peter. This is very helpful.

Anonymous said...

Nobody for you to work with in the "lay Roman Catholic Community." What the pollsters detected was the large non-practicing CINO population.

That 57% is mostly comprised of non-practicing Catholics whose number are legion in this state. Most of the people actually in the pews express concern about the ever-increasing LGBT agitprop in the public schools their kids attend. A rainbow flag would have about the same attraction to them as a swastika or the hammer-and-sickle.

As for listening to the people, slack non-practicing Catholics mean absolutely zip to me and other orthodox Catholic priests I know when it comes to deciding what to believe and preach. We know by dint of their habitual absence at Mass that they are in mortal sin, so it is not surprising that many of them hold evil moral positions at varience with Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition, and the natural law.


Elizabeth Kaeton said...

I am fascinated on several levels by your comment, Michael. A priest with such vitriol for his flock - one you are quick to claim when the numbers come out - is a poor evangelist, indeed. I was told by the priest at the church of my childhood that I am still on the books as an RC because I was baptized there. I have been divorced for 36 years and an Episcopal priest for almost 26 years. How ridiculous is that?

Even so, if the RC church counts 'em, and they consider themselves RC, then they have the right to answer the question and be counted.

I think you ought to unplug your ears, Michael. There's an awful lot to listen to besides what comes out of Rome. God is still speaking. The revelation is ongoing.

As Gracie Allen once said, "Never place a period where God has placed a comma."

Anonymous said...

I am not surprised that the lay RC are the most accepting. In fact, as you most likely know, there are RC priests that openly welcome gays and lesbians and perform marriages off of RCC property. They privately tell us that sin comes in degrees and that being in a committed relationship is best. Our children are baptized into the RCC. As you know, we take them to CCD. But the problem comes into play when our children hear in the news that the RCC opposses gay marriage or gay adoptions. Our children then begin to question whether they are truly welcome in the RCC.
Lay RCs tell us to ignore the Vatican and the RC priests that are not supportive of g/l-after all they could not understand. They have taken vows. Besides whoever takes a marriage problem to a priest? What could a RC priest know about marriage or raising children. In short, the laity, tell their g/l children just ignore the Vatican and this teaching-It is out of date and backward. God created us all-In God's image of love.
My prayer for Father Michael is that he may receive Christ's peace. He is unlike the RC priests I have encountered in the south and southwest.

JCF said...

I'm ironically grateful to FrMichael. I know he is working hard to make more Episcopalians!

[That is, if we Episcopalians do OUR jobs of evangelism, to angry&hurting "Ex-Catholics", scarred by the emotional (if not physical) abuse of the FrMichaels of the RCC. Healing Lord Christ, help us be your servants of mercy...]

"We know ... they are in mortal sin"

Kind of takes your breath away, though huh? With a stench of sulfur? I think if I *heard* someone say to somebody else "I know you're in mortal sin!", I'd be tempted to whip out a crucifix at the speaker. Get back, fiend! In the Name of Jesus Christ, COME OUT!!!!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Maria - Fr. Michael breaks my heart. Such a very sad person. He's exactly the kind of person Jesus came to transform. I'm sure he makes Jesus weep.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

JCF - I gasped when I read that "they are living in mortal sin". OMG. What a totally spiritually arrogant thing to say, right? Makes me feel so sad and breaks my heart. More importantly, I think it breaks the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

You may be onto something. I do believe the man doth protest too much.

Anonymous said...

Hey Maria:
Kindly share the names of the RC priests who are conducting marriages away from their churches with their bishops. My erring brothers know they are doing wrong (else why the secrecy?) and in fact those putative weddings are invalid. They are as wicked as those priests with concubines or male lovers and for the good of the People of God should be disciplined.

A slothful Catholic too lazy to celebrate the Lord's Day at Mass obviously does not put God first in his life: the very essence of mortal sin. No RC priest of integrity could base his belief system on the unfounded religious opinions of such people. What they need is evangelization. NB: I am not referring to folks who miss Sunday Mass for a legitimate reason. Alas in our working-Sunday society, their numbers are also vast.

We're in agreement about the bogus 70M RC in US number. Each diocese determines the number of Catholics in its own territory using its own methodology. Mine uses religious survey responses: that is, how many self-report as Catholic. It is backed up by registration and sacramental data, but the fact is that we can only account for about half the people in my diocese who claim to be Catholic in surveys.


Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Michael - It must be wonderful to know you are "a sinner" who is - because of his perfect, pure "orthodox" religion - himself, perfect and pure and can sit in judgment on everyone else.

JCF said...

HOW IN THE WORLD can you, FrMichael, know WHY someone misses Mass? Sloth, lazy: as if YOU can see into their hearts?

Ever think "Maybe it's me? Maybe I, Fr Michael, am getting in the way of the Gospel? Maybe my personal sin *blocks out* a few/some/MANY lay Catholics from seeing Christ in their priest?"

Your PRESUMPTION in judging what is supposedly "obvious" of "such people" is BREATH-TAKING in its self-absorption (at the least!).

What they need is evangelization.

You can't share what you don't have---and I've never heard what I could remotely call "Good News" from you (OCICBW). In all due respect, Fr Michael, I suggest YOU need to LISTEN.

A blessed 2012 to us both---that we both may be more conformed to Christ.

JCF said...

[Fr Michael: "Kindly share the names..." Inquired the KGB?!]

HOW IN THE WORLD can you, FrMichael, know WHY someone misses Mass? Sloth, lazy: as if YOU can see into their hearts?

Ever think "Maybe it's me? Maybe I, Fr Michael, am getting in the way of the Gospel? Maybe my personal sin *blocks out* a few/some/MANY lay Catholics from seeing Christ in their priest?"

Your PRESUMPTION in judging what is supposedly "obvious" of "such people" is BREATH-TAKING in its self-absorption (at the least!).

What they need is evangelization.

You can't share what you don't have---and I've never heard what I could remotely call "Good News" from you (OCICBW). In all due respect, Fr Michael, I suggest YOU need to LISTEN.

A blessed 2012 to us both---that we both may be more conformed to Christ.