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I tolerate Christians, really I do

My friend had this quote from Dan Savage up on her AIM away message today. I thought it was funny… and so true:

Oh, Dan Savage…
Joking about Christianity isn’t evidence that I’m intolerant. Hell, I’m perfectly willing to tolerate Christians. I have never, for instance, attempted to prevent Christians from marrying each other, or tried to stop them from adopting children, or worked to make it illegal for them to hold certain jobs. I don’t threaten to boycott companies that market their products to Christians, and I don’t organize letter-writing campaigns to complain about Christian characters on television.

Great quote. :)Â LOL

An editorial published in The Edmond Sun in Edmond, Oklahoma, bashes Soulforce and the Equality Ride, saying that the group and the Ride “confuses Scripture”.

The writer says that Soulforce is nothing but the “pot calling the kettle black” because of a quote attributed to a Soulforce spokesperson: “This is a reflection of how closed-minded ORU is. ORU is using religion to exclude and condemn gays and lesbians.” The writer claims that Soulforce is using Scripture to justify their cause just as much as anti-gay Christians.

I would have to take issue with that position. The anti-gay Christians misuse Scripture and their positions within the Church to teach bigotry and prejudice. Soulforce and the Equality Ride are using Scripture correctly… they are using it to further God’s love, acceptance and mercy. In my opinion there is nothing wrong with what Soulforce is doing.

But, heck… read the editorial for yourself. No need for me to tell you what it says, lol:

Soulforce seems to confuse Scripture on homosexuality

Soulforce homosexuality

Anita Fish
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — People rarely investigate controversial issues that do not directly impact their lives. Therefore, at first glance, it is easy to dismiss news headlines as someone else’s problem. However, in this case, passivity could blindside us if we refuse to take a stand. The lyrics of the Lee Greenwood song, “you’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything” were meant for these times.

I’m talking about an organization known as Soulforce. It is taking the homosexual issue to the next level; hoping Christians and non-Christians alike will not notice a tweaking of the Bible to fit its agenda.

For those readers unfamiliar with this organization or its mission, Soulforce is a group of homosexual activists, targeting religious schools with the purpose of challenging adversaries to end what Soulforce sees as discrimination. This past week, the gay/lesbian organization visited two of Oklahoma’s privately funded Christian universities.

The group found Oral Roberts University unwilling to allow demonstrators on its campus, drawing harsh criticism from Soulforce’s spokesperson stating, “This is a reflection of how closed-minded ORU is. ORU is using religion to exclude and condemn gays and lesbians.”

To this I say apparently Soulforce does not recognize it is using religion to justify its cause as well. This is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. As Oklahoma Baptist University’s President Mark Brister expressed in the Baptist Messenger, “If you deem something to be outside of God’s design for His creation, you may hear from people who consider you to be intolerant.”

The crux of Soulforce’s debate is that homosexuals cannot be changed. The truth is no one wants to change, but God is the only One who doesn’t need remodeling. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. God has laid out His plans for our lives. In fact, a total transformation is what can be expected if you declare yourself a Christian.

Max Lucado writes in his book “Just Like Jesus,” “God loves you just the way you are, but He refuses to leave you that way.” God wants you to “think and act like Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2:5) This of course requires sacrifice — a mandatory component in every success story.

It appears a fierce need for approval spurred a literary resource available through Soul-force’s Web site. In defense of the homosexual lifestyle, Mel White, co-founder of the organization, has authored a 17-page document accusing several denominations and religious organizations of committing “spiritual violence,” and discriminating by wrongly using Scriptural passages. White somewhat holds himself out to be the ultimate authority on the Bible, then proceeds to dismember Scripture (i.e. Lev. 20:13, 1Tim 1:10, 1Cor. 6:9, Rom. 1:26-27) implying the Bible was not written to apply for all times — at least where homosexuality is concerned.

White believes the Bible’s mention of homosexuality had connotations different from how we understand it to be today. Conveniently left out of the equation are Scriptures directly related to God’s covenant design for marriage — man and woman becoming one flesh for God’s ultimate purpose. In other words, White appears to slough off Scripture that doesn’t serve his purpose in getting the religious sector of the American population, to put their stamp of approval on harmful behavior in the name of love.

Whether God loves us is unquestionable. Homosexuals are not excluded from His love. The fact that God can do what man cannot — love unconditionally, is not our permission slip to avoid coming under His authority. Can you fathom a world without discipline? Parents who love their children set boundaries on their behavior. Soulforce is having a bit of a problem swallowing this pill. God’s parental guidelines on sexuality are for our own good. Like children, Soulforce may be confusing acceptance with love. The question is, do we love God enough to follow his gospel plan to abandon fleshly desires in pursuit of being more like Him?

Rebuking the accounts of those who’ve overcome the stronghold of homosexuality on the grounds it is not a choice, denies the fundamental truth that God is sovereign. What is the point of the gospel if it cannot transform a life?

Using force to insist every soul accepts what the Bible refers to as an abomination is not about loving. It is about destroying religious freedom, as we know it. An anything-goes mentality isn’t about loving God or having freedom, it’s about selfishness and a self-serving attitude.

A gross misuse of Scripture will not justify behavior. Coming face to face with our sin is mandatory if you’re a Christian and conviction will have its day.

Click here for the most up-to-date Equality Ride news on MattHillNC.com.

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UNCG PRIDE! Week April 3 – 7

PRIDE! Week Logo

UNCG PRIDE!, the campus Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning and Straight Allied Student Association will hold its annual PRIDE! Week April 3 through April 7, 2006.

A list of events is below and be sure to check out http://pride.uncg.edu for more information:

Monday – Movie Showing, “Common Ground” with special guest Jerry Meek, Chairman of the NC Democratic Party, 7pm, EUC Cone Ballroom B

Tuesday – LGBT Politics Panel featuring Ed Farthing of EqualityNC, Gary Palmer of GSAFE, Alyson Meiselman (TG activist/advocate, Attorney) and Linda Stroupe of PFLAG Greensboro, 7pm, EUC Cone Ballroom B

Wednesday– Concert on the Quad w/ queer singers Kate and Sarah and local Greensborian’s “The Arrival” 7pm on the Quad

Thursday – “GLBTQSA… Huh?!” Weekly PRIDE! Meeting, 7:30pm, Faculty Center, College Ave.

Friday – PRIDE! Prom, hosted by the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Greensboro. Directions to church at http://pride.uncg.edu. Free for UNCG students, $3 at the door for Non-UNCG Students.

Information tables will be out all week in the EUC, Atrium and Fountain (Times and places on website).

Remember, check out http://pride.uncg.edu for more information and we hope to see you at all of the events!!! All events are open to the public and, with the exception of PRIDE! Prom, free of expense.
This year’s sponsors, partners, supporters and participants include: Allen Broach and Bob Weston, EqualityNC, the UNCG Student Government Association, the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Greensboro, OutGreensboro.com (Alternative Resources of the Triad) and the Queer College Youth Network of the Triad (QCYNT).

UNCG PRIDE! logoUNCG PRIDE! is the campus Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning and Straight Allied Student Association. Established in 1974 as one of the oldest GLBTQA student organizations in the nation and the oldest in the State of North Carolina, UNCG PRIDE! continues its strong tradition of providing a safe and welcoming social atmosphere for students of all sexual orientations. We also work to educate the University Community on LGBTQA issues and concerns, helping to create awareness, acceptance and diversity.

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Hate and prejudice at UNCG

Phillips-Hawkins Residence HallAccording to the latest gossip circling around my residence hall (Phillips-Hawkins Hall, pictured right), there was supposedly a hate incident that occured last week. From what I have heard a girl had a swastika and the word “nigger” written on her door.

The rumors are backed up with posters about a “Stop the Hate” hall program, stating “Did you know that a hate incident occured in Phillips-Hawkins last week?” Although the posters do give credence to the fact that something happened, it just doesn’t say what happened. I’ll bring more information on the incident when I find it out.

And since I don’t have all that much information concerning the hate incident, now is the time for me to rant:

The “Stop the Hate” Program is one run, I believe, primarily through the UNCG Office of Multicultural Affairs. Although the brochures on it include sexual orientation in list of categories that are sometimes used as biases or prejudices in hate crimes or incidents, I haven’t seen much work on LGBT issues by the “Stop the Hate” program or by our Office of Multicultural Affairs either.

UNCG LogoUNCG PRIDE! has tried to work with them before and while some of the responsibility of working with the office does lie on the shoulders of those of us who are working in the group, I really do think the ball has been tossed to the other team now. LGBTQA students have been working on this campus for going on 32 years. UNCG PRIDE! was started as the Gay Student Union in 1974 and although we have had many name changes, we are still here. UNCG PRIDE!, as far as we know, is the one of the oldest LGBTQA student groups in the nation and is the oldest LGBTQA student group in the State of North Carolina.

UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke and even NC State offer some sort of official recognition of LGBT issues: all three have some sort of an LGBTQA student center, office or program department. At Wake Forest University, the school gave their Gay-Straight Student Alliance their own lounge in the student center.

I don’t know what it is about UNCG. There has only been one event that I can remember doing with an official University office/department. I just really wish we had more support and I really, really wish we could have an office of LGBT students or an LGBTQA resource center like some of the other schools around our state.

Another thing I want to rant about is the difference between the University’s reaction to the hate occurence in my residence hall this year compared to my experiences last year in Weil-Winfield. I was a freshman last year and almost every day… sometimes more than once or twice a day, the white board on my door or the door itself would be covered in hate messages based upon my sexual orientation. Many times, some of the materials I placed on my door (bumper stickers or smalls signs and such) were ripped down or defaced. When I complained about it the only thing the staff was willing to do was talk to the residents during a hall meeting. At one point I was even told that I was making the situation worse (a sort of “You are creating your own problem” statement) by having the pro-LGBT materials on my door.

While the hate incident based on race in Phillips-Hawkins has received immediate reactive efforts from the University’s Housing and Residence Life and Office of Multicultural Affairs officials, my experiences were largely ignored. Where’s the justice in that?

UNCG is in grave danger of losing its title as an accepting and comfortable place for LGBT students and other minorities unless University officials step up now and start to recognize some of these issues.

Many people say that UNCG is UNC-Gay… my response to that: Not really.

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Greensboro high schooler makes his mark

The Greensboro News and Record has an article today on Page High School senior Dax Hill (no relation, I’m sure, lol), a student who is making his mark on the world in a positive and forward-moving way.

Dax is involved at school, the leader of his Gay-Straight Alliance, serving in other diversity groups and competing on the swim team. He is also active in the community working for groups like the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ).

Congrats Dax… it looks as though you have found the meaning of service, leadership and community involvement early in your life. Many people don’t learn those lessons until college. Keep up the good work!

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GLSEN director cancels school appearance

According to an article on 365gay.com News, Kevin Jennings, the Executive Director of GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network) and Winston-Salem, NC, native, has cancelled an appearance at a New York high school’s human rights club after mounting pressure from parents claiming the visit added up to nothing more than “propaganda for the gay agenda.”

Jennings was scheduled to speak to the Human Rights Club of Somers High School after several students invited him after hearing him give a speech at another school.

According to the article:

A group of parents organized Concerned Citizens and demanded the school cancel the invitation.

“Our issue is whether or not their personal choice of private sexual behavior should be publicly promoted as an equally valid option for our children,” Judy Birdsall, the mother of a ninth-grader told the Journal News.

“We do not believe this should be sanctioned by the school in a daytime school assembly.”

As the pressure mounted, Jennings decided to cancel his engagement at the school – something other parents and Principal Linda Horisk said they regretted.

Horisk and the Human Rights Club had been planning the event for more than a year.

“We aren’t trying to promote anything, except making our school a comfortable community for all our students, regardless of their race, religion or sexual orientation,” said 16-year old Jacqueline Palumbo, the club’s president.

Earlier this month the principal of a Vermont school cancelled an anti-bullying presentation by a local LGBT group after some parents objected. (story)

Outright Vermont co-executive director Kate Jerman and volunteer Connor McFadden, a gay Burlington High School student, were turned away when they arrived to speak, despite having an invitation from the school.

I really wonder if this is the event that Mr. Jennings had scheduled when I invited him to speak at UNCG PRIDE!’s LGBT Politics Panel next Tuesday. If so, then this situation really sucks because now that he has cancelled his appearance there, he definitely could have come here. But… oh well, he’s a busy guy. I’m sure he’ll find something worthwhile to do (either that or maybe he should just go home and take a well deserved break).

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Another sponsor for MREA and DADT repeal

Yesterday on March 28th, another member of the US House of Representatives signed on to be an official co-sponsor of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act (House bill 1059).

According to an article published by the Southern Voice Online House Armed Services Committee member, US Representative Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.), has signed up to co-sponsor the MREA, which would repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue” policy:

Representative McKinney’s decision to sign onto the bill, however, has not been without controversy. Her father has chastised gay voters for not supporting her in her recent campaigns for office.

According to the SoVo article:

McKinney’s chief of staff, Warren Miller, and her father, Billy McKinney, met with local gay activists March 18 at her district office in Decatur. The meeting may have prompted her decision to back the military bill after months of lobbying from national and local gay rights organizations, according to Danny Ingram, a member of the local chapter of American Veterans for Equal Rights.

At the March 18 meeting, Billy McKinney chastised gay voters for allegedly not supporting his daughter in 2002 when she lost her congressional seat to Denise Majette. McKinney regained her seat in 2004 and, until this week, had not signed on to co-sponsor any of the pro-gay measures tracked by the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay political group that endorsed her in 2002, but not in her comeback bid.

During the meeting, Billy McKinney suggested that gay groups needed to endorse his daughter to ensure her support for repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” “I want your names saying you support her campaign right now and I’ll make it public,” he told attendees.

As of right now, the MREA is sitting in the Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Military Personnel. For more information on the bill see THOMAS.

In related news, check out PageOneQ’s post on the Log Cabin Republicans DADT lawsuit, which has been thrown out by US District Court judge in the Ninth Circuit of central California.

P.S. – I’m also really happy to see that Representative Brad Miller (D-NC-13) is a co-sponsor also. He signed up on October 28, 2005.

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Teen activist to appear on OutQ radio

Tully Satre, a teenaged LGBT activist and executive director of Equality Fauquier-Culpeper (an LGBT equality and advocacy group in rural Virginia), will appear on Michelangelo Signorile’s radio show on SIRIUS OutQ Satellite Radio (Channel 106) at 4:30 (EST) on Monday, April 3, 2006.

The two will discuss Tully’s recent exchange with Senator George Allen and his comments regarding LGBT equality.

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Equality Ride stops at Abilene

Equality Ride at Abilene Christian University image copyright the OptimistThe Soulforce Equality Ride made its stop at Abilene Christian University on Monday, March 27, 2006. There has not been a lot of coverage on the stop by any major media, most likely due to the fact that the university’s administration allowed the Riders on to the campus.

(picture right: Equality Ride co-director Jake Reitan (on left in blue shirt) speaks to a group of ACU students)

According to an article in the ACU Optimist, the student newspaper, many students felt as though the panel (which was put together through a joint effort between university administration and Soulforce) did not offer enough time for students to have an open discussion with the the Equality Riders:

After the panel discussed prepared questions moderated by Cukrowski, only two questions were allowed from the audience before Dr. Dwayne VanRheenen, provost of the university, closed the forum with final thoughts and prayer.

Dittemore said he was disappointed the forum seemed more like a lecture than a discussion.

Jason Drysdale, sophomore Christian ministry major from St. Louis, agreed.

“What kind of open forum is it when no one can ask questions or talk with panelists where everyone can hear?” Drysdale asked.

Other students, including Chris Ford, sophomore youth and family ministry major from San Antonio, wanted to know more about why Soulforce came to campus.

“I’m glad they were able to come and that there was no hostility or ideas pushed on anyone because that is what Christianity is about,” Ford said. “I really wanted to hear why they are here to begin with. I wanted to hear more about their beliefs.”

Abilene officials said that the event went well. Dr. Wayne Bernard, dean of Campus Life commented on the panel’s inclusion of a discussion on how the media portrays LGBT people:

“I enjoyed how Soulforce members explained what they liked and didn’t like about how the media portrays homosexuality because it does or doesn’t reflect who they are,” he said. “I don’t think we realized that what the media portrays is not true about homosexuals; I think it was an eye-opener for students.”

Some students who attended the event, however, aren’t so happy. Freshman Adam Dittemore (who, in the excerpt above, said he felt the event was more like a lecture) also said, “The whole night was basically a movie review” and “They didn’t talk about the issues that people wanted to hear”.

One student wrote an opinion piece, published today, with the headline of “Visit rouses questions, not answers.” In the opinion piece, student Sarah Carlson, states:

Each hour brought with it more unanswered questions, and when people occasionally asked how my day was going, I probably unnerved them when I relayed my ensuing existential breakdown before moving to the next event.

My confusion probably mirrors many students’ with Soulforce’s visit producing more questions than answers. Aside from our now-permanent red handprints from self-congratulatory pats on the back on how we handled the situation, th repercussions of this visit are far from over and the journey ahead for the university in regards to its discussions on sexuality remains unclear.

It’s easy for a group of straight Christians to come to a conclusion on homosexuality, but when you’re looking a gay man, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered person in the eye, you’re forced to reconsider the lessons you’ve been taught.

The most telling conversations during the visit occurred in closed sessions, mainly during small groups’ discussions during meals or in invitation-only forums where students were allowed to ask Soulforce members anything they wanted. Yet even these conversations were stilted to a degree, and upon reflection of the day’s events, neither ACU nor Soulforce truly engaged in an open dialogue with the other.

One good thing about the visit at ACU is that both the University and the Riders were able to show people that dialogue is indeed possible (although it is pretty clear that it could have been improved upon at ACU). There was no need for the Riders to be kept of campus and no one was hurt. People listened (maybe) to each other even though they might have disagreed. It is called love… and maybe, just maybe, it was shown from both sides on Monday at ACU.

The Equality Riders were scheduled to stop at Texas A&M University today to speak out against that school’s military program. According to the Equality Ride, Texas A&M has the largest number of uniformed students outside of the US service academies.

Click here for the most up-to-date Equality Ride news on MattHillNC.com.

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Radical Christians & Charlotte Pride

A news article and video from News 14 Carolina (Charlotte, NC) covers the recent news that Charlotte Pride has been cancelled for this May. As I posted yesterday, a group of radical, anti-gay Christians have taken the credit for the cancellation.

Click here to see the article and the video (video only works in IE).

The most shocking part of all this is what the Reverend Flip Benham, the leader of these radicals, had to say to the news crew:

“For the past five years, Charlotte Pride has been parading its sin, like Sodom, right here in this public park,” said Flip Benham, the leader of the group. “When Christianity comes out in the streets, homosexuality has to return to the closet. And I pray that it will return to the grave from which it came.

While Charlotte Pride organizers say Benham had nothing to do with the cancellation of the event, he continues to see it as a victory:

“This park is going to be free from homosexual sodomy taking place right here in the purview of everyone who comes by,” he said. “It isn’t going to happen this year. But believe me, it’ll come back next year and we’re going to have to deal with this issue again and again and again.”

I have to wonder… what is his obsession with homosexuality?