Today's Quote

  • The World The GLBT Worldwide Flag Alternative GLBT Symbol
  • Tuesday, June 19, 2007

    Changing Attitudes Toward 'Curing' Gays?

    Read the LA Times Story

    From the Los Angeles Times
    New ground in debate on 'curing' gays
    Christian ministries who see homosexuality as a treatable disorder are starting to think that choice may not be a factor.
    By Stephanie Simon
    Times Staff Writer

    June 18, 2007

    Alan Chambers directs Exodus International, widely described as the nation's largest ex-gay ministry. But when he addresses the group's Freedom Conference at Concordia University in Irvine this month, Chambers won't celebrate successful "ex-gays."

    Truth is, he's not sure he's ever met one.

    With years of therapy, Chambers says, he has mostly conquered his own attraction to men; he's a husband and a father, and he identifies as straight. But lately, he's come to resent the term "ex-gay": It's too neat, implying a clean break with the past, when he still struggles at times with homosexual temptation. "By no means would we ever say change can be sudden or complete," Chambers said.

    His personal denunciation of the term "ex-gay" — his organization has yet to follow suit — is just one example of shifting ground in the polarizing debate on homosexuality.

    Despite the fundamental gulf that divides them, gay-rights activists and those who see homosexuality as a sinful disorder are starting to reach agreement on some practical points.

    Chambers and other Exodus leaders talk deliberately about a possible biological basis for homosexuality, in part to explain that no one can turn a switch and flip from gay to straight, no matter how hard they pray.

    A leading conservative theologian outside the ex-gay movement recently echoed the view that homosexuality may not be a choice, but a matter of DNA. To the shock and anger of many of his constituents, the Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote that "we should not be surprised" to find a genetic basis for sexual orientation.

    That's heretical to many conservative Christians. But it's a view increasingly embraced by the public at large; a Gallup Poll last month found that 42% of adults believe sexual orientation is present at birth. (Three decades ago, when Gallup first asked the question, just 13% held that view.)

    Mohler's willingness to discuss the issue was welcomed by Dr. Jack Drescher, a New York psychiatrist who advocates for gay rights and has been a vocal critic of the ex-gay movement. "I saw it as a sign of openness," Drescher said.

    "Something's happening. And I think it's very positive," agreed Michael Bussee, who founded Exodus in 1976, only to fall in love with another man — a fellow ex-gay counselor.

    Now a licensed family therapist in Riverside, Bussee regularly speaks out against ex-gay therapies and is scheduled to address the Ex-Gay Survivor's Conference at UC Irvine at the end of the month.

    But Bussee put aside his protest agenda recently to endorse new guidelines to sexual identity therapy, co-written by two professors at conservative Christian colleges.

    He and other gay activists — along with major mental-health associations — still reject therapy aimed at "liberating" or "curing" gays. But Bussee is willing to acknowledge potential in therapy that does not promise change but instead offers patients help in managing their desires and modifying their behavior to match their religious values — even if that means a life of celibacy.

    "It's about helping clients accept that they have these same-sex attractions and then allowing them the space, free from bias, to choose how they want to act," said Lee Beckstead, a gay psychologist in Salt Lake City who uses this approach.

    The guidelines for this type of therapy — written by Warren Throckmorton of Grove City College and Mark Yarhouse of Regent University — have been endorsed by representatives on both the left and right. The list includes the provost of a conservative evangelical college and the psychiatrist whose gay-rights advocacy in the 1970s got homosexuality removed from the official medical list of mental disorders.

    "What appeals to me is that it moves away from the total polarization" common in the field, said Dr. Robert Spitzer, the psychiatrist.

    "For many years, mental-health professionals have taken the view that since homosexuality is not a mental disorder, any attempt to change sexual orientation is unwise," said Spitzer, a Columbia University professor.

    Some therapies are widely considered dangerous, and some rely on discredited psychological theories. "But for healthcare professionals to tell someone they don't have the right to make an effort to bring their actions into harmony with their values is hubris," Spitzer said.

    Activists on both sides caution that the rapprochement only goes so far.

    Critics of Exodus note the group still sponsors speakers who attribute homosexuality to bad parenting and assert that gays and lesbians live short, unhappy lives.

    And though Chambers has disavowed the term "ex-gay," his group's ads give the distinct impression that it's possible to leave homosexuality completely behind.

    The Irvine conference, for instance, is being promoted with radio spots that talk of "sudden, radical and complete" transformation. (Chambers apologized for those ads in a recent interview, saying they were meant to urge church leaders to radically change the way they treat gays and lesbians, not to imply that conference-goers would magically transform their orientation.)

    The American Psychological Assn. set up a task force this spring to revise the group's policy on sexual orientation therapy. The current policy is a decade old and fairly vague; it states that homosexuality is not a disorder and that therapists can't make false claims about their treatments.

    The new policy, due early next year, must help psychologists uphold two ethical principles as they work with patients unhappy about their sexuality: "Respect for the autonomy and dignity of the patient, and a duty to do no harm," said Clinton Anderson, the association's director for lesbian, gay and bisexual concerns. "It's a balancing act."

    Wednesday, May 16, 2007

    Peter Akinola, Archbishop in Nigeria Continues Defiance Toward ECUSA-

    Despite requests by our Presiding Bishop and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Peter Akinola plods along, disrupting our churches ...

    Anglican church turmoil over gay issues deepens
    By Michael Conlon

    An African archbishop's defiant intervention in the U.S. Episcopal Church has sent new shock waves through a global Anglican church already badly divided and facing possible schism over gay issues.

    Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria kept up his high profile attack this week, saying the leadership of the U.S. branch of the Worldwide Anglican Communion was
    "insulting and condescending" to the church at large.

    "The decisions, actions, defiance and continuing intransigence of the Episcopal Church are at the heart of our crisis," he told Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and titular leader of the 77-million-member global church.

    "They are determined to pursue their own unbiblical agenda and exacerbate our current divisions," he said in a letter to Williams, who had asked him to stay out of the United States and not participate in a ceremony last Saturday in Virginia.

    Akinola ignored the plea from Williams and an earlier one from the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori. He carried out the ceremony in which Bishop Martyn Minns, an Episcopalian, was installed as head of a new Nigerian-based church branch designed as a refuge for orthodox American believers.

    The 2.4 million-member Episcopal Church has been splintered since 2003, when it consecrated Gene Robinson of New Hampshire as the first openly gay bishop in more than 450 years of Anglican church history.

    Some congregations have already placed themselves under the jurisdiction of conservative bishops in Africa and elsewhere. The Episcopal Church has said that only 45 out of more than 7,400 congregations have voted to break away.

    Akinola is a defender of traditional Christianity and a leader of the Anglican Communion's "Global South," churches in Africa, Asia and Latin America that now account for half of the world's Anglican church membership.


    Akinola's action "seems to lay out a claim that he has a better sense than the Archbishop of Canterbury, and that's a bold claim," said Mark Sisk, the Episcopal Bishop of New York.
    Last week's events are more than just another tremor on an existing fault line, Sisk said in an interview, and what may be very significant is that the Archbishop of Canterbury tried to stop Akinola.

    His is "a new public voice in this and welcome from my prospective," Sisk said.
    Williams earlier agreed to come to the United States in September to meet with the Episcopal bishops when they again meet to wrestle with such issues as gay bishops and the blessing of same-sex unions -- both of which are opposed by the Anglican church at large.

    Unlike the Roman Catholic Church, Anglicans are organized more as a federation of national churches without hierarchical lines of authority. It would be hard to say that Akinola's action is unprecedented, added the Rev. Ian Douglas, professor of world mission and global Christianity at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass.

    Over the years, he said, bishops have often taken "personal initiative" trying to balance "the relation between their own church and their roles and responsibilities, interests and concerns in the wider Anglican Communion," he told Reuters.

    "That's not an easy negotiation," he added. "We're trying to hold together two realities that just by definition have tension -- the local and the global."
    There is no "strong central agency that has the authority and the power to compel anything across the Communion. ... We are neither as centralized as the Roman Catholic Church nor as de-centralized" as some others, he added.

    The conservative American Anglican Council called last week's development "a high point in North American Anglicanism."

    "The energy and zeal of the Church of Nigeria have come to the U.S. ... and we pray that the result will be a re-strengthening of the historic, biblical Anglican faith in this nation after decades of accelerating moral and theological decline in the Episcopal Church," said Canon David Anderson, a leader of the group.
    Copyright © 2007 Reuters Limited.

    Tuesday, April 10, 2007

    2 Former Youth Officials Arrested

    Now, don't you know if you or I, or any two just regular faggots had been 'abusing' these boys, _WE_ would have been hauled away, arrested, held up to scorn by police, and certainly not just allowed to 'resign quietly' as these guys were. And the real kicker: some of the kids there in this pornographic made for Hollywood 'reform school' were there because of sexual offenses. And in case you were thinking Texas is the exception ... well .... how about sexual abuse of inmates is more the norm all over the United States! Because the faggots in this instance _were part of the corrupt system of justice in the United States_ their sins have been mostly overlooked by the same police who would persecute you and me!


    2 former youth prison officials arrested
    By ALICIA A. CALDWELL, Associated Press Writer

    The former principal and assistant superintendent of a state juvenile prison were indicted Tuesday on charges that they sexually abused teenage inmates in their care.

    The charges are the most serious to emerge from the youth prison scandal that erupted after news accounts revealed a 2005 report by the Texas Rangers alleging rampant sexual abuse at the remote facility languished without any action.

    Ray E. Brookins, former assistant superintendent at the Texas Youth Commission's West Texas State School, was indicted on two counts of improper relationship with a student and two counts of improper sexual activity with a person in custody.

    Former Principal John Paul Hernandez was indicted on one count of sexual assault, nine counts of improper sexual activity with a person in custody and nine counts of improper relationship between a student and educator.

    Improper relationship with a student is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

    Hernandez was arrested at his parents' home in Fort Stockton and Brookins was arrested at his Austin residence. Bail was set at $600,000 for Hernandez and $100,000 for Brookins. The Ward County clerk had no records of attorneys for either men. Hernandez has denied the allegations and Brookins has not been reached for comment.

    The indictments were issued more than two years after a lengthy Rangers report detailing abuse allegations at the school was handed to a local prosecutor who has since come under fire for not acting on the allegations. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has taken over the case.

    Since the scandal broke in February, the Texas Legislature has pushed for a complete overhaul of the Texas Youth Commission. The executive director and the board resigned. The agency was put into receivership and a conservator was appointed to overhaul commission.

    Former inmates and their parents have brought other allegations of sexual and physical abuse in facilities around the state. The commission also pledged to release more than 550 inmates who have served their minimum sentence and stayed out of trouble while in jail.

    Brookins and Hernandez were accused of sexually abusing six inmates ages 16 to 19.

    According to the indictments obtained by The Associated Press, Hernandez is accused of giving oral sex to two teen inmates on the same day in May 2004. Hernandez is accused of having oral sex or fondling several inmates over the course of 10 months from May 2004, to Feb. 23, 2005, the same day Texas Ranger Brian Burzysnki launched his investigation.

    Brookins was also accused of having oral sex with inmates and molesting them. He was charged with abuses from two days in October 2004.

    Brookins and Hernandez were allowed to quietly quit their jobs amid the Ranger investigation in early 2005.

    Also on Tuesday, a former teacher at the school filed a petition to oust the local prosecutor, Randall W. Reynolds, on grounds of incompetence and official misconduct. According to an Associated Press analysis of state court filings, he declined to prosecute most cases about the school that were sent to his office in 2005 and 2006.

    Reynolds, who recused himself after media began covering the scandal, filed his own petition Tuesday to remove a county attorney who is among his critics. Reynolds issued a news release saying he found it ironic that the state attorney general's office had apparently assigned five to 10 attorneys and staff to the grand jury investigation, while he, "as a part-time country DA," was criticized "for not doing it all in the time the media deemed appropriate."

    Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press.

    Friday, February 23, 2007

    What Did You do in Your Bedroom Last Night?

    Let's be honest: This is about sex

    By Lauren R. Stanley

    McClatchy-Tribune News Service


    So what did you do in your bedroom last night?

    For all the wrong reasons, that question seems to be at the heart of the disputes that are threatening to tear apart not just the Episcopal Church of the United States, but also the worldwide Anglican Communion, of which the Episcopal Church is a part.

    Anglican leaders from around the world met last week in Tanzania, and their final communique signals a huge, continuing fight over, yes, sadly, what people are doing in their bedrooms.

    Of course, the communique certainly doesn't ask that question; its focus is on power and authority and who can tell whom what and, most confusing of all, claims about respecting traditions and defending orthodoxy.

    Many of us in the Communion are confused, and we want to ask two questions of our leaders:

    Exactly WHICH tradition are you defending?

    Exactly WHICH orthodoxy do you wish to uphold?

    The more conservative Anglican leaders claim that homosexuality is sinful, specifically anathemized in the Bible, and that anyone who engages in homosexual activity is a sinner of such great import that he or she can not be either a priest or a bishop of the Church. This, these leaders say, is so important that it is worth breaking up the centuries-old Anglican Communion.

    But which doctrine, which principle that forms the basis of our belief in and understanding of God, is challenged by sexual orientation? The Church has no doctrine on sexuality because we do not know God through God's sexual orientation or God's sexual activity. So to make sexuality a primary reason for breaking up the Episcopal Church in this country, or the worldwide Communion, makes no sense to many of us; for us, sexuality is NOT a doctrinal issue, it is a CULTURAL issue. And if sexuality is not a doctrinal issue, it cannot represent orthodoxy, so what is being defended?

    Some congregations and dioceses in the United States have said that the argument over sexuality is so important that they no longer wish to be under the authority of bishops in this country with whom they disagree on this issue. Those congregations and dioceses have asked for, and in some cases received, different leadership from outside the United States.

    Those actions also are confusing. It has been the recognized tradition throughout Christianity since the 4th century that bishops are limited by their own geographical boundaries. This limit was so important in the early Church that bishops at first the Council of Nicea (325 AD) and then the Council of Constantinople (381 AD) said that "bishops are not to go beyond their diocese to churches lying outside their bounds, nor bring confusion on the churches; ... and let not bishops go beyond their diocese for ordination or any other ecclesiastical ministrations, unless they be invited." That last part, about invitation, is important, because it has been understood since those two Councils that the invitations could come ONLY from the area bishop, and not from any other leaders.

    Again, many of us are confused: If the communique truly represents tradition and orthodoxy, how is it that both tradition and orthodoxy can be overturned so easily? Respect for geographic boundaries is one of the oldest tenets of the Church; overturning it now seems arbitrary at best.

    Then there is the issue of communion, of the Lord's Supper, which Anglicans call Eucharist, meaning "thanksgiving."

    One-fifth of the primates, the provincial leaders, present at the Tanzania meetings refused to share in the Eucharist with American Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, claiming that to do so "would be a violation of Scriptural teaching and the traditional Anglican understanding."

    In refusing to share the bread and wine together in the service, those seven primates actually BROKE traditional Anglican understanding, which says that the efficacy, the effectiveness, of the sacrament does not depend on either the person administering it or the person receiving it. That understanding began with Augustine of Hippo in the 4th century and was refined by Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century. The former wrote that the sacrament does not depend on the righteousness of the person distributing it. The latter wrote that the sacrament "is not wrought by the righteousness of either the celebrant or the recipient, but by the power of God."

    Which is why so many of us are confused. By refusing to take communion together, the primates overturned centuries of tradition as well as doctrine.

    Leaving many of us to ask, again: What is being defended here?

    And finally, many in the American church are wondering about the ultimatum that has been issued by the primates, an ultimatum that basically orders American bishops to reject gays and lesbians, as well as orders congregations and dioceses in dispute over property issues to end all litigation.

    The confusion here has nothing to do with the sexuality dispute. Our confusion is over those geographic boundaries, the ones that have been so important to the historic Church for 16 centuries (well preceding the founding of the Anglican Communion). When bishops from other dioceses and provinces tell bishops here that the latter must do what the former says, it breaks all traditions, all doctrines and all orthodoxy.

    The ultimatum also presents the American Church with a huge problem: By demanding that American bishops make these decisions, the primates ignore the fact that the American Church is governed NOT by the bishops but by the General Convention, which is made up of laity, deacons, priests AND bishops. The latter cannot decide unilaterally for the rest of the Church. For the primates to ignore this fact is to ignore, once again, the Councils of Nicea and Constantinople, which proclaimed that "it is evident that the synod of every province will administer the affairs of that particular province."

    This is why so many of us are confused: Everything we have been taught over the centuries about tradition and orthodoxy and doctrine is being overturned by this worldwide dispute. We no longer know WHICH tradition to follow, WHICH orthodoxy to defend, WHICH doctrine to believe. Our international leaders are offering us conflicting instructions, and we in the pews are left to figure it out on our own.

    That this dispute within the Anglican Communion is huge and of great importance is obvious. The issue of sexuality looms large over all that we do, and there is severe disagreement on what God wants us to do, because sexuality, with all its permutations, goes to the very heart of who we are as human beings.

    But if we are going to argue over it, could we at least be honest and admit that the real question here is not about the orthodoxy of the faith, it is not about the tradition of the faith, it is not about the doctrines of the faith?

    Could we at least admit that this is, indeed, a cultural dispute? This is about some people who believe there is nothing wrong with homosexuality, and some who believe that it is a sin. This is about who will lead a Communion that for centuries was dominated by Westerners, who tend to be seen as liberal, and non-Westerners, who tend to be seen as conservative. This is about territory, history, culture and personal beliefs.

    It is not, in the eyes of many of us, both in the United States and overseas, a dispute about God or our faith.

    When spiritual leaders get together and focus almost exclusively on issues of sexuality, practically ignoring the needs of the millions in this world who are starving spiritually, physically and emotionally, it is obvious to the rest of us that our leaders really only have one question in mind:

    What exactly did you do in your bedroom last night?

    Copyright 2007, McClatchy-Tribune News Service

    Friday, February 09, 2007

    Is Rehab Replacing Jesus as America's Favorite Vehicle for Instant Forgiveness?

    A note from Ms. Betty Bowers, America's Most Fabulous Christian

    Is Rehab Replacing Jesus as America's Favorite Vehicle for Instantaneous Forgiveness?

    This hasn't been a particularly good week for crazy people and their malodorous fluids, has it? First, Astronaut Lisa Nowak is found diapered in her own filth trying to end a life. Next, Space Cadet Anna Nicole Smith is found covered in her own vomit after ending her own.

    According to the 4,598 breathlessly urgent news reports last night, Anna Nicole's nurse found her employer unconscious. How she was able to tell is anyone's guess. Truly, it makes one despair for the state of health care in this country when a 39 year-old traveling with her own private nurse can't get a simple heroin dosage right. But we shouldn't be too quick to impugn the no doubt frazzled nurse's skills. After all, it must have taken a trained eye to discern that Anna was actually unconscious instead of just giving another cataleptic interview to Entertainment Tonight.

    Between a baby-talking Anna in Hollywood and a diaper-wearing astronaut in Orlando , Florida has, once again, shown its knack for taking an unfair share of the available crazy. As my dear Sister-in-Christ Mrs. Patsy Ramsey, formerly of Boulder, CO., once authoritatively opined:

    "A smart killer will take that extra effort to dress up and run a brush through her hair, lest someone recognize the handwriting on the ransom note and she winds up stuck with an unflattering mug shot on That's the type of heat of passion that can make you regret the whole thing."

    I realize that lady astronauts don't tend to dress any snappier than lady golf pros, but Lisa Nowak (verily the Capt. Alex Forrest of NASA) inexplicably completed her stalker/killer ensemble with a very-hard-to-pull-off pair of government-issued diapers. Frankly, I would never have confronted a younger rival with such an unseemly panty line!

    As Laura "Pickles" Bush remarked to me at breakfast this morning:

    "The killing? Now, that I can understand. Trust me. But the not stopping five minutes for a poop and a ciggy? Why, that's a big ole batch of bug-eyed crazy!"

    I find myself reveling in the novelty of agreeing with our First Lady. While the bathrooms at Texaco stations tend to look like something you might encounter upstairs at one of Whitney Houston's repossessed homes, you'd nevertheless think a woman used to peeing in zero gravity would be adroit enough to navigate her lower lady parts to hover without actually docking with the filthy cigarette-burned, yellowed-plastic of a public toilet seat. Instead of even trying such acrobatics, familiar to any Christian lady who has ever used facilities available to strangers, she wore diapers all the way from Houston to Orlando . Frankly, outside of Iraq , it's difficult to imagine a more unnecessary, stinking mess!

    After all, if Lisa Nowak had simply sprung for the drugs, cash and constant media attention it apparently takes to engage the resourceful services of Howard K. Stern, her rival would now be slumped over a steering wheel in the cheap parking at Orlando Airport . And Lisa would have been sitting pretty in her lovely home in Texas instead of sitting soggy in a jail cell in Florida .

    In fact, I told President Bush this morning:

    "Instead of sending tens of thousands of new troops to Iraq to kill time -- and, well, them -- until you are out of office, why not just send Howard K. Stern, the Dr. Kevorkian of the Bar Association? Just tell Howard that he stands to inherit every mullah's moolah and Muqtada al-Sadr's will be found on a sidewalk with a needle up his arm by weekend. Besides, what better way to put a perky spin on a losing war than have Mary Hart giddily reporting on Howard's latest victim each day from Baghdad ?"

    Helpful Howard probably needs a new purpose in life anyway -- especially since he is the only person left in his circle of friends who still has one. After all, he can't be feeling too secure right now. He must be rather cognizant of the Ed McMahon Rule of Celebrity: Parasites are at risk once the host dies. And I'm sure Howard will be no exception. Yes, he might be able to assuage his grief in that quintessentially 21st century American way -- by selling video of his loved one's dead body to the tabloids -- but with Anna Nicole gone, he must feel like a ship without a rudder. Or, rather, a pimp without a whore. At least he can take comfort in the wholly coincidental convenience of having the only witness to what Howard did moments before Anna Nicole's son died now gone. But how long before even the fawning Mark Steines finally asks: Who was supplying these dead people with their narcotics?

    The thing that strikes both Jesus and me about this whole sad mess is this: Why are all the people who don't need rehab taking up spaces that Anna Nicole Smith could have used?

    Frankly, I'm beginning to think that there is no room left in rehab for people who actually need it. Mark Foley. Isaiah Washington . Miss USA , Tara Conner. The Mayor of San Francisco . With press releases replacing Catholic confessional booths as America 's most painless form of pardon, everyone who gets caught doing something embarrassing makes a perfunctory pilgrimage to a rehab facility. These are really just lushly landscaped, deluxe resorts for celebrities who've found yet one more excuse to gather and talk about themselves. How long before "Rehab!" is the standard reply to the question: "You've just won the Super Bowl, what are you going to do now?"

    Television's smarmy entertainment hosts nod hosannas when celebrities and politicians use a quick stay at rehab as a cheap, insincere ploy for secular absolution, but don't even suggest an involuntary trip to rehab when a drugged-out celebrity they want to retain access to nods off in the middle of an interview.

    E! and the producers of the voyeuristically enabling "The Anna Nicole Show" knew Anna Nicole had a drug problem. But it made for good television to watch her slur her words and be so out of it she hired Bobby Trendy to festoon her bedroom with tufted pink satin until it looked like the inside of Barbie's coffin. Similarly, Fox currently knows that Paula Abdul gobbles down enough OxyContins before each broadcast to make Rush Limbaugh twitch with covetous envy. But a messy Paula makes for more entertaining American Idol than an overweight geek atonally caterwauling Barry Manilow. And judging from the coverage last night, a dead Anna Nicole is a bigger ratings winner than even the almost-dead one.

    Here is an idea: Why don't culpability-avoiding public figures like Isaiah Washington skip the expensively scripted pantomimes of penance and rehabilitation to clear up space for people who really need it? Like Paula Abdul. Or Britney Spears. And the next new surrogate for Anna Nicole Smith that US Weekly, et al, creates and destroys.

    Oh, and save a spot for Reverend Ted Haggard. After the quickest rehab on record, he's supposedly now "completely heterosexual." But, between us, I fear he is only a lingering handshake away from a meth-fueled relapse and a weekend in a sling.

    Your Christian Friend,

    Betty Bowers

    Wednesday, January 24, 2007

    Police Officer Rapes Transgendered Person, Gets 24 Year Prison Sentence

    [Note: It is always good to see a police officer go to prison ... and I do not have a bit of sympathy for this man ... consider how often police officers have framed innocent homosexuals in the past, and threatened them by announcing that 'when you get to prison we will make sure all the other inmates know about you and how you are and what you are ... well, now turn about is fair play, in my opinion, and I trust that when the man gets out of prison in maybe 12 to 15 years, he will be forced to be on the sex offenders registry for the rest of his life, like 'sex offenders' he and other officers have arrested and hassled in the past. PAT]

    Ex-cop's plea for probation denied

    Guillermo Contreras
    San Antonio (Texas) Express-News

    The 12 minutes former San Antonio police officer Dean Gutierrez spent with a transsexual will cost him more than 24 years in prison, a federal judge decided Friday.

    U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez sentenced Gutierrez to 24 years and four months for the aggravated sexual abuse of Gabriel Bernal, 23, formerly referred to as "Starlight."

    Gutierrez, who turns 47 today, begged and pleaded for probation while his attorneys painted him as a good family man and officer whose actions on June 10, 2005 were out of character.

    "He (served as a police officer) responsibly, but for the 12 minutes of the 25 million minutes that he's lived," said Eddie Garcia, one of his lawyers. "He's not only a good officer, but a good man."

    In a lengthy and emotional statement, Gutierrez said he comes from a churchgoing household and asked for a chance at redemption.

    Dressed in a white jail top and white-and-black striped pants, Gutierrez told the judge he lost his mother when he was 10 but helped raise his four siblings with the guidance and faith in God. Gutierrez said his conviction made his life, marriage and family suffer.

    He also said he served his country during six years in the Marines and had an unblemished record during his 16 years with the police force. He said he now does not leave his jail cell because he is terrorized by inmates who have threatened him.

    "If you send me to any prison, anywhere, I will not survive," Gutierrez said, tears streaming down his face. "I plead to you, please release me. ... I'm asking for just one chance. ... Please consider probation — 20, 30, 40 years. I'll do that."

    His statement never directly mentioned remorse for the victim, who urged the judge Friday to give the officer a life sentence.

    "When I cried and begged him to stop and told him I had HIV, he kept going. He didn't care," Bernal, who lives as a woman, told the judge. "You should have no pity for him because he had no pity for me."

    At trial in August, federal jurors convicted Gutierrez of willfully violating the civil rights of Bernal resulting in bodily injury, and also found that the conduct involved aggravated sexual abuse.

    According to testimony, Gutierrez forced Bernal into his squad car at Zarzamora and Laredo streets, and took Bernal to a dark, secluded area. Bernal said the officer then struck her in the face with his hand and on the leg with his police baton as he raped her.

    Gutierrez did not testify at his trial. But his lawyers claimed in closing arguments that Gutierrez admitted having consensual oral sex with Bernal, but denied sodomizing her.

    The judge noted Gutierrez has not been remorseful in the eyes of the judicial system. Letters mailed to the judge by Gutierrez's supporters, the judge said, show Gutierrez asked his church for forgiveness for his "moral transgressions," but denied that he committed a crime.

    The judge told the audience, which consisted largely of Gutierrez's family and friends, that the evidence showed Gutierrez broke the law.

    Federal sentencing guidelines — which are based on a point-scoring system — recommended Gutierrez's punishment at life in prison.

    The judge, however, found that some of the calculations appeared to count double against Gutierrez for the same activity, and Rodriguez determined that the applicable guideline range was 292 months to 365 months instead. The judge then opted to sentence Gutierrez to 292 months.

    Gutierrez's lawyers said they plan to appeal the conviction and sentence.


    Tuesday, January 16, 2007

    Meet Your Meat: A Look at Modern Day 'Factory Farms'

    Today I have a video for you which is, frankly, one of the most horrible I have ever seen. It shows in graphic detail how today's Factory Farm in the USA operates. See if you can watch it all without being dismayed and frightened by the situation the animals are in. When you spend your money at McDonalds for example, you are supporting this kind of activity. Now, let's get on with
    Meet Your Meat

    Saturday, December 09, 2006

    Christianity is so Gay ....

    It is if you read the news, and 2000 years, a certain way.

    By Shannon Rupp

    In all the excitement over the Democrat triumph in the U.S. midterm elections, no one seems to have noticed the change in scandal standards. Suddenly, the Republicans, who used to prefer financial corruption, have replaced their liberal brethren as the guys who can't keep their flies zipped.

    Blame the Republicans' unholy alliance with fundamentalist religion. When they "opened up the tent" as they like to say, they got into bed with the very people who have fostered and preserved gay culture for centuries: Christians.

    Just look at the naughtiness leading up to midterms. There's Florida Congressman Mark Foley who took the advice to turn over a new page literally. Gay hooker Mike Jones revealed that homophobic, family values, no-gay-marriage pastor Ted Haggard was a regular recipient of the rentboy's "massages." Then there are the long-running rumours that Bush-the-latter did the wild thing with a college roommate and fellow "Bonesman" (are they kidding?) in Yale's not-so-secret society, the Skull and Bones.

    While there was plenty of reason for schadenfreude, there was no reason for surprise. Christianity, from its inception as an organized religion, has been about men carving out a unique place for themselves.

    Big guy on top

    Let's start with the supremacy of a male creator. Previous pantheist religions had gods of both sexes, and creators were female or couples. But the desert religions, Islam, Judaism and Christianity, embraced the solitary-guy-god.

    Then Christians took it a step further: they worshipped a man with an unconventional lifestyle. If we're to believe the Jesus mythology, we have to accept that he was hanging out with his buddies on an extended roadtrip in an era when a man his age should have been married and raising a family. Ditto the apostles, who may or may not have been married depending on which historians you believe.

    "The last supper: that's a gay guys' dinner party," says my pal Laura, who is prone to thinking about the patriarchy.

    "Wasn't Mary Magdalene there? Does that make her a fag-hag?" I asked naively. (Given that she was at the cross when Jesus died and witnessed the resurrection, I assumed she was invited to the farewell dinner. It only seems polite.)

    "She was a prostitute?" Laura replied. "In guy-think, that makes her an honorary man."

    Turns out Laura has a point, although not quite the way she meant.

    Officially, Mary wasn't at the last supper, but scholars of the Gnostic gospels argue that "John," who was, is just a stand-in for the woman apostle. Yes, Mary was given a sex change to make her teachings more acceptable to the early church, which was promoting a boys' club.

    While there's no evidence that The Magdalene was a prostitute -- that's just woman-hating propaganda -- she and the switch-hitting saviour were a couple by some accounts. This pissed-off more than one apostle, including Peter, who sounds like a petulant lover in the Gnostic Gospel of Philip. He's miffed that Jesus and Mary are locking lips.

    "Did he really speak with a woman without our knowledge? Are we to turn about and all listen to her? Did he prefer her to us?" Peter says, throwing a hissy fit. Talk about a drama queen.

    Michelangelo's proclivities

    Jesus, whether real or a concept, obviously attracted a significant gay following. That's the cult that triumphed, in no small part due to the competing gospels being buried, literally, in the early 4th century. Around about the same time, Pope Constantine came to power and decided to incorporate Christianity as part of the Roman Empire's campaign for world domination. The Romans had a patriarchal bent and apparently they missed the gay-centric undertones in the guy-centric religion, and the internal conflict we see today was born.

    Try as they might, Christians have never been able to disguise their fundamentally gay culture. Look at monasteries. What is that but a safe forum for boy-on-boy action under the guise of "celibacy"?

    And where do you think contemporary visual and performing arts originated? As any red-blooded North American father who forbids his son to take ballet lessons can tell you: that's just gay.

    For centuries, the visual arts were all about religious devotion, and look at the artists themselves. Ever wonder why the statue of David is so beautiful? It's because Michelangelo was a connoisseur of beefcake.

    When it comes to gay icons, few are as well known as the Catholics' St. Sebastian. The Roman soldier who defended Christians is featured in several famous Renaissance paintings as man-candy tied to the thick trunk of a tree and experiencing some sort of (religious? erotic?) ecstasy as his fellow soldiers pierce him with arrows. He was used as codespeak for homosexuality in contemporary art too: in Tennessee Williams's Suddenly Last Summer, the murdered Sebastian is a tip of the hat to the pin-cushion saint.

    Look at the lavish design and decoration of churches. All the gilded this and that. Not to mention the elaborate rituals, the incense and the great dress-up. Even today's pope, "Joey Ratz" as my friend Chris refers to him, is known for his stylin' clothes, including red Prada loafers and Gucci sunglasses.

    And we all know what it means when guys dress a little too flashy...

    Repressed longings?

    No doubt this was the real tension that led to Protestantism -- the sort-of-straight guys felt threatened. What's the first thing most of the protesting sects did? Got rid of the frou-frou: pomp, ceremony, saints, fancy dress, music and all the stuff that made religion a party. In the extreme form, you got the Puritans (in drab clothes) who killed Christmas as the rowdy pagan bacchanal it was and put the kibosh on art.

    But straighten-up religion as they might, it remained attractive as an outlet for gay cultural impulses. John Wesley, the 18th century Anglican minister who founded the evangelical Methodist sect that George Bush prefers, certainly has a suggestive bio.

    An Oxford grad (and we all know about British private schools), he remained a bachelor until 48 and then had an unhappy marriage to a widow who eventually left him. He had no children. Kind of odd for a guy who devotes his life to a church that supposedly reveres family life.

    I'm just sayin'.

    For something to be elevated to a sin -- worthy of hectoring and pulpit time -- it has to appeal to a lot of people. (Like promiscuity. Or bacon. Most of us are keen on those things, but they're hazardous to our health, so prohibition was built into religion to protect us from ourselves.)

    But biologists tell us that only a small fraction of any species goes for same-sex romps. And orientation isn't optional. Let's face it, there's a yuck factor when it comes to engaging in any sexual act that doesn't turn one's own particular crank. So there's a natural resistance to homosexual acts in something like 90 per cent of population.

    Why, then, are so many Christians terrified that homosexuality is so much more fun than heterosexuality that they have to make it a sin? The rest of us don't think that. We recognize it's a natural variation, kind of like red hair. But then, we're not surrounded by sodomites seducing innocent family men.

    Every time one of them blathers on about the "dangers" of same-sex marriage, it's like admitting that, in their world, the only thing that keeps their flock on the straight and narrow is a bunch of "thou shalt nots."

    As the cliché goes, politics makes strange bedfellows, and my theory is that the Roman Empire made a tactical error when it opted to back the alternative-lifestyle Christian cult. They could have supported the more inclusive sects. But much like the Republicans in the declining U.S. empire, the leadership in the declining Roman Empire opted for political expedience when they merged with religion. A bunch of people worshipping a man looked like a good bet to those misogynists.

    Of course, it came back to bite them in the ass, just as it has the Republicans.

    The right-wing's penchant for gay sex scandals is actually a good lesson for politicians down south, not to mention Harper's Bush-aping Conservatives up here: it's dangerous to link politics with any religion so obsessed with sex.

    Oh sure, opening up the tent may seem like a good idea on the way to an election, but they really should think it through: when it comes to Christianity, opening the tent really means taking the door off the closet.

    Tuesday, December 05, 2006

    Betty Bowers Wishes all a Merry X-Mas

    Mrs. Betty Bowers' Dispatch from the Front Lines of America's War on Christmas

    Dear Soldiers for the Baby Jesus:

    Once again, pagan combatants, wielding verbal grenades made of non-specific cheer, are on a militant rampage to retake the Winter Solstice, a holiday invaded and occupied by Christians over 1,700 years ago.

    Friends, we stole December fair and square -- and are going to stay the coarse ones in turning a season devoted to love and joy into an vitriolic turf war all about us!

    As America's foremost embedded reporter in the current War on Christmas, I am sending this encrypted message to you from the front lines: Macy's.

    The first shopping skirmish of the season occurred when my Personal Shopper spotted secular insurgents maraudering behind the Estee Lauder counter. I personally overheard several of these "Happy Holidays" extremists, uniformed in the Lauder infantry's blue, paramilitary smocks, boldly declare a jihad on the Baby Jesus' birthday. As I feigned interest in an egregiously harloty shade of bright red lipstick, I overheard the make-up militia chant such bellicose, Christmas-hating greetings as "Have a wonderful holiday!" to civilian shoppers. They also brandished IEDs (introductory exfoliating devices) to Christian foundation buyers, Bible-believing bargain hunters simply looking for a Christmas gift that came free with a $35 purchase.
    Moments later, bell-ringing infantry from the Salvation Army were called in to drown out the battle cries of "Ho! Ho! Ho!" from a sidewalk Santa. This invasion appears to have been based on faulty intelligence as it turns out that the Santa bellowing "Ho! Ho! Ho!" was merely greeting Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and Britney Spears as they drunkenly stumbled out of Neiman-Marcus. Before Baptist mercenaries realized this mistake, angry Pentecostal militia had already rounded up striped-stockinged enemy combatants (pint-sized operatives calling themselves "elves"). They were wrestled to the ground just outside of their bunker, a Styrofoam gingerbread house in Bloomingdale's window.

    Yes, friends, this year's War on Christmas has been the most angry and dangerous yet. Several shoppers' eyes were taken out as called-up shopoholic reservists from Landover Baptist Church carpet bombed mall parking lots with "Jesus is the Reason for 40% Off Selected Merchandise" Bible tracts.

    Bill O'Reilly and I undertook a reconnaissance mission to undercover anti-Christmas propaganda militants. Holiday hostilities began after I resourcefully used a "Noel" candle from Pottery Barn (which Bill mistook for a candy-striped pagan tribute to Jeb Bush's crackwhore daughter) to ignite an appalling "Peace on Earth" banner dangling just outside a notorious secular stronghold called Sephora. As Bill jumped up and down on the flaming banner, he screamed at frightened eye-shadow and fragrance browsers, "Peace on earth? You can take your anti-troops, anti-Bush, pinko pacifistic agitprop and shove it right up your --"
    Fortunately, a resourceful spritz of "Hillary Duff with Love" Eau de Parfum Spray not only prevented Bill from completing his proctologic entreaty, it also caused so much collateral damage to bystander shoppers that "Hillary Duff with Love" has replaced Polonium-210 as my favorite disabling spray during our current campaign to retake the fur department at Saks for Jesus.
    As all of you arm yourselves for CHRISTmas shopping this season, know that your comrade-in-arms, Mrs. Betty Bowers, is with you in the AMEX-accepting trenches. Your Commander-in-Cashmere wishes all of you a joyous Baby Jesus Day and asks you to remain vigilant against secular uprisings, such as shockingly rude cards that wish so-called "nice" things without pandering to your particular brand of faith. And a special word of warning to you lady shoppers out there: Watch out for Pastor's notoriously inaccurate missile-toe!

    So Close To Jesus, I Still Haven't Forgiven Him For Stretching Out Last Christmas's Lovely Elie Tahari Paulo Sweater By Allowing The Entire Trinity To Try It On All At Once,

    Mrs. Betty Bowers

    America's Best Christian
    Click here for a FREE downloadable Christmas Gift Tags!

    I truly think that Iraq is finally acting like an American democracy! No, not just the chaos and inability to get anything done. Last week, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki didn't want to be seen with President Bush. Why, you'd almost think he was a Republican congressman running for reelection.

    Friday, December 01, 2006

    Pondering the Suicide of an Anti-War Protestor

    Chicago Ponders War Protester's Suicide
    Associated Press Writer
    Malachi Ritscher envisioned his death as one full of purpose. He carefully planned the details, mailed a copy of his apartment key to a friend, created to-do lists for his family. On his Web site, the 52-year-old experimental musician who'd fought with depression even penned his obituary.

    At 6:30 a.m. on Nov. 3 - four days before an election caused a seismic shift in Washington politics - Ritscher, a frequent anti-war protester, stood by an off-ramp in downtown Chicago near a statue of a giant flame, set up a video camera, doused himself with gasoline and lit himself on fire.

    Aglow for the crush of morning commuters, his flaming body was supposed to be a call to the nation, a symbol of his rage and discontent with the U.S. war in Iraq.

    'Here is the statement I want to make: if I am required to pay for your barbaric war, I choose not to live in your world. I refuse to finance the mass murder of innocent civilians, who did nothing to threaten our country,' he wrote in his suicide note. '... If one death can atone for anything, in any small way, to say to the world: I apologize for what we have done to you, I am ashamed for the mayhem and turmoil caused by my country.'

    There was only one problem: No one was listening.

    It took five days for the Cook County medical examiner to identify the charred-beyond-recognition corpse. Meanwhile, Ritscher's suicide went largely unnoticed. It wasn't until a reporter for an alternative weekly, the Chicago Reader, pieced the facts together that word began to spread.

    Soon, tributes - and questions - poured in to the paper's blogs.

    Was this a man consumed by mental illness? Or was Ritscher a martyr driven by rage over what he saw as an unjust war? Was he a convenient symbol for an anti-war movement or was there more to his message?

    'This man killed himself in such a painful way, specifically to get our attention on these things,' said Jennifer Diaz, a 28-year-old graduate student who never met him but has been researching his life. Now, she is organizing protests and vigils in his name. 'I'm not going to sit by and I can't sit by and let this go unheard.'

    Mental health experts say virtually no suicides occur without some kind of a diagnosable mental illness. But Ritscher's family disagrees about whether he had severe mental problems.

    In a statement, Ritscher's parents and siblings called him an intellectually gifted man who suffered from bouts of depression. They stopped short of saying he'd ever received a clinical diagnosis of mental illness.

    'He believed in his actions, however extreme they were,' his younger brother, Paul Ritscher, wrote online. 'He believed they could help to open eyes, ears and hearts and to show everyone that a single man's actions, by taking such extreme personal responsibility, can perhaps affect change in the world.'

    His son, who shares the same name as his father, said his father was trying to cope with mental illness. Suicide seemed to be the next step, and the war was a way to give his death meaning.

    'He was different people at different instances and so, so erratic. I loved him no doubt, but he was a very lonely and tragic man,' said Ritscher, 35, who is estranged from the rest of the family. 'The idea of being a martyr I'm sure was attractive. He could literally go out in a blaze of glory.'

    Born in Dickinson, N.D., with the name Mark David, Ritscher dropped out of high school, married at 17 and divorced 10 years later. Eventually, he would change his name to match his son's and, coincidentally, a world-famous prophet. At the end, he worked in building maintenance and was a fixture in Chicago's experimental music scene.

    He described himself as a renaissance man who'd amassed a collection of more than 2,000 musical recordings from clubs in Chicago. He was a writer, philosopher and photographer. He was an alcoholic who collected fossils, glass eyes, light bulbs and snare drums. He paid $25 to become an ordained minister with the Missionaries of the New Truth and operated a handful of Web sites protesting the Iraq war.

    A member of Mensa who claimed to be able to recite the infinite number Pi to more than 1,000 decimal places, he titled his obituary 'Out of Time.' Friends, who seemed surprised about his death, found themselves searching for answers. Ritscher's death became even more enigmatic than his life.

    Perhaps the most famous self-immolation occurred in 1963, when Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc burned himself at a Saigon intersection in protest against the south Vietnamese regime. Another activist, Kathy Change, lit fire to herself in 1996 at the University of Pennsylvania to protest the government and the country's economic system.

    Ritscher's death brought back memories for Anita King, a 48-year-old artist from West Philadelphia who was Change's best friend.

    'I think both of them, they just felt like their death could be the last drop of blood shed,' King said. 'It was too hard for them. They had too much of a conscious connection to the struggle to go on in their lives.'

    In the end, only Ritscher knew the motivations for his suicide. There is little doubt, though, that he was satisfied with his choice.

    'Without fear I go now to God,' Ritscher wrote in the last sentence of his suicide note. 'Your future is what you will choose today.'


    On the Net:

    Malachi Ritscher:

    Wednesday, November 22, 2006

    Ungrateful Family Sells New House Church Gave Them

    2 unrepentant about sale of Katrina home
    By WOODY BAIRD, Associated Press Writer

    A church that wanted to do something special for Hurricane Katrina victims gave a $75,000 house, free and clear, to a couple who said they were left homeless by the storm. But the couple turned around and sold the place without ever moving in, and went back to New Orleans.

    "Take it up with God," an unrepentant Joshua Thompson told a TV reporter after it was learned that he and the woman he identified as his wife had flipped the home for $88,000.

    Church members said they feel their generosity was abused by scam artists. They are no longer even sure that the couple were left homeless by Katrina or that they were a couple at all.

    "They came in humble like they really needed a new start, and our hearts went out to them," said Jean Phillips, a real estate agent and member of the Temple of Deliverance Church of God in Christ. "They actually begged for the home."

    The church was also shocked by an ungrateful interview the couple gave with WHBQ-TV in Memphis.

    "I really don't like this area," said Delores Thompson. "I really didn't, and I didn't know anybody, so that's why I didn't move in and I sold it."

    Thompson, reached at a New Orleans phone number by The Associated Press on Tuesday, thanked the church for its generosity but said she saw nothing wrong in selling the three-bedroom, two-bath house.

    "Do I have any legal problems? What do you mean? The house was given to me," she said. "I have the paperwork and everything."

    She refused further comment and hung up.

    The church had decided that it would do something special for one Katrina-displaced family, in addition to its other efforts to help evacuees. The church set up a committee to find the right family and conducted several dozen interviews.

    Delores Thompson, who did most of the talking for her family, told the committee that she had lost her job as a nurse and that her husband had lost an import-export business in New Orleans, committee member Joy Covington said.

    The committee also heard how the family had lost its home and most of its possessions and how the children, a 14-year-old girl and 16-year-old boy, were eager to get back in school. The family said it wanted to resettle in Memphis.

    After the church settled on Thompson, real estate agent Phillips helped her pick out the house she wanted, and it was bought in Thompson's name. She took possession in February and sold it in September. Property transfer records for the resale list her as unmarried; the papers from the original sale list her as married.

    "I feel like it was a sham or a ripoff," Covington said.

    The church hasn't discussed legal action, but the members are upset because the house could have gone to a more needy family, Covington said.

    Thompson claimed she and her family were living in an apartment supplied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but did not invite Phillips over during the house search.

    "She didn't want me coming over there," Phillips said. "She'd say, `I'll meet you.'"

    Covington's husband, Edward, said the family had been listed by FEMA as displaced. But he said the church took Thompson's word for it that their house was destroyed.

    Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press.

    Christians Now Boycotting Walmart

    Its funny how alliances switch back and forth ... Walmart has long been targeted by the more 'liberal' members of society for various reasons, but now, many conservative people are taking Walmart to task because of that company's (thought to be) 'friendly attitude' toward gay vendors, and we are seeing some of the 'traditional enemies' starting to become friends and some of the long time friends becoming hostile. Odd, isn't it? PAT

    Conservative plan to protest Wal-Mart By DAVID CRARY, AP National Writer

    Long under fire from the left, Wal-Mart is now a target of Christian conservatives urging shoppers to boycott the huge retailer's post-Thanksgiving sales because of its low-key outreach to some gay-rights organizations.

    One group, the American Family Association, is asking supporters to stay away from Wal-Mart on Friday and Saturday — two of the busiest shopping days of the year. Another group, Operation Save America, plans prayer-and-preaching rallies outside many Wal-Mart stores on Friday.

    The corporate actions that triggered the protests were little different from those taken by scores of major companies in recent years — Wal-Mart paid $25,000 this summer to become a member of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and donated $60,000 to Out and Equal, which promotes gay-rights advances in the workplace.

    Conservative leaders viewed these actions as a betrayal of Wal-Mart's traditions, which have included efforts to weed out magazines with racy covers and CDs with explicit lyrics.

    "This has been Christian families' favorite store — and now they're giving in, sliding down the slippery slope so many other corporations have gone down," said the Rev. Flip Benham of Operation Save America. "They're all being extorted by the radical homosexual agenda."

    Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. spokesman David Tovar said the company's outreach to the gay-rights groups was part of a broader effort to best serve its diverse customer base.

    "We take pride that we treat every customer, every supplier, every member of our communities fairly and equally," Tovar said Tuesday. "We do not have a position on same-sex marriage. ... What we do have is a strong commitment to diversity. We're against discrimination everywhere."

    Justin Nelson, president of the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, said conservative activists had misrepresented his business-oriented group as a leading advocate of gay marriage in order to tarnish Wal-Mart.

    "Their campaign has not been to educate, but to mislead," he said.

    Wal-Mart ranks in the middle among companies rated by the Human Rights Campaign, a major gay-rights group, for workplace policies toward gays. Scores of companies now have a perfect 100 rating, while Wal-Mart's rating has risen from 14 in 2002 to 65 this year as it added sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination code and offered some domestic-partner benefits.

    Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese said he spoke with a Wal-Mart executive Tuesday and came away confident the company would continue efforts to promote workplace equality for gays.

    Tim Wildmon, the American Family Association's president, said he and his allies had not ruled out extending the boycott against Wal-Mart, depending on how the company responded to the weekend protests.

    "They are so gigantic, it's hard to make a dent," he said. "We're just trying to see if there's some measurable effect this weekend, see if we can get their attention."

    Wildmon said Wal-Mart had been responsive to conservative pressure on a different issue, approving use of the word "Christmas" in advertising and employee greetings this season after shifting to a "happy holidays" phrasing last year.

    That campaign was one of the first times Wal-Mart came under sustained criticism from the right. Far more often, it has been a target of left-of-center groups, such as, complaining that the company pays low wages, skimps on employee benefits and outsources too many jobs.

    The company has responded by adding low-cost health care plans, launching environmental programs and increasing diversity among employees and suppliers.

    Paul Blank, campaign director for, sent a letter Tuesday to Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott urging the company not to cede to the boycott.

    "We not only look forward to Wal-Mart remaining steadfast in its support for equal rights, but to the coming day when Wal-Mart will do what is truly right — become a better employer," Blank wrote.

    Gary Chaison, an industrial relations professor at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., said the conflicting pressures on Wal-Mart are "the price of being big and having many constituencies."

    "Everyone expects Wal-Mart, because it has so many stores, to set the moral tone for America," he said. "The company has been trying to find a middle road, and it's had a great deal of difficulty doing that."

    Another major corporation, Ford Motor Co., already is the target of an American Family Association boycott because it advertises in gay publications and supports gay-rights groups.

    The Tupelo, Miss.-based AFA says 550,000 people have signed a pledge to boycott Ford and it takes partial credit for the company's financial problems. Ford spokesman Oscar Suris declined comment; an industry analyst, University of Detroit professor Michael Bernacchi, was doubtful the boycott was having much impact.


    On the Net:

    Wal-Mart statement:
    American Family Association:

    Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press.

    Monday, November 13, 2006

    Are They or Are They Not Chnstians?

    "He said I wasn't a Christian": teaching confirmation class at a liberal Episcopal parish
    Yesterday afternoon (after the long run, before going off to Borat), I spent a few hours with our 2006-2007 Seekers Confirmation Class at All Saints Pasadena. We've got about 19 kids this year, and it looks like another wonderful group. The dear Susan Russell came to talk to us, and she was, as always, a hit with her candor, her humor, and her knack for turning the perfect phrase to appeal to adults and youth alike.

    In our discussion, one topic came up that always comes up, and one that I haven't blogged on before: the common experience All Saints youth have of being told "you're not a real Christian." Especially in recent years, as All Saints Pasadena has gained national prominence for its fight with the IRS and our bold stance in favor of gay marriage, I've heard from many, many of the teens I work with that they have been subjected to some fairly hurtful remarks from school friends and classmates.

    "You're not a real Christian"; "That's not a real church"; "You're the gay church"; "You don't follow the Bible"; "People at All Saints are going to hell" --every one of those comments was uttered to one or another of the kids in my confirmation class in recent months after telling people they attend All Saints Pasadena. Some of our teens met the scorn and derision with pride and defiance; others responded with a shrug; others were genuinely hurt; still others were frankly bewildered.

    Few things make me angrier than to have the youth I call "my kids" told that they aren't real Christians. Kids may not be particularly interested in theology, but they are intensely sensitive to judgment -- and to be on the receiving end of so many unkind, cruel remarks is hard for many of them. The church in which they've been baptized, the church in which they are preparing to be confirmed, is under attack -- and for most of them, that means that their parents and many of the grown-ups they know and trust are also under attack. As a thirty-nine year-old, I'm quite happy to cross swords with a fellow believer who questions my salvation or my theology because I endorse same-sex unions; I'm less happy when my fourteen year-olds are told they are going to hell because they worship where they do.

    Still, like most of my fellow adult youth leaders, I have no intention of instilling a "martyr complex" in our teens. I'm not going to give them the pathetic "the world hates us for our commitment to Christ" song and dance. One of the least attractive strategies employed by Christian conservatives is to insist to their youth that by adhering to antiquated social mores they are somehow being boldly counter-cultural; I'll be darned if I'm going to foist the left-wing version of that nonsense on to my teens. In a world where real suffering is omnipresent, being told "you're not a Christian" because you worship at an inclusive church is hardly a major form of oppression.

    On the other hand, we don't simply encourage a "stiff upper lip". We reminded our kids yesterday that no one issues "Christian credentials." There is no agreed-upon litmus test. While some evangelicals insist that Catholics aren't Christians, and others refuse to acknowledge Mormons as our brothers and sisters in Christ, most sensible believers choose to see all who follow Jesus as authentic Christians. While part of being Christian is certainly holding the person of Jesus Christ as central in one's faith, it is absurd to suggest that only those who believe in biblical inerrancy, for example, are actual Christians. "Being a Christian is about being willing to be on a journey with Jesus", I said, "even if you aren't quite sure who exactly Jesus is and even if you are very unsure of where it is you are going."

    Mind you, I think there are limits to who gets to call themselves a "Christian." My mother regularly told my grandmother she wasn't a Christian. My grandmother had been an atheist since she was a student at Berkeley in the 1920s; she read Lucretius (De Rerum Natura), and that did it for her. She rejected the whole idea of a loving God who took an interest in human affairs. Yet she insisted on calling herself a Christian because in her childhood, to be "Christian" was simply to be kind and good. It wasn't a theological statement to her -- it was a statement about how one behaved towards one's fellow citizens. "Doing the Christian thing" referred to taking an active interest in the well-being of others, and had damn all to do with a belief in Jesus. To the end of her life, she was both "atheist and Christian".

    While I adored my grandmother, I think she was outside the realm of what a Christian is. A specific belief about the inerrancy of Scripture or sexual morality is not a prerequisite for calling oneself a Christian, a recognition that the person of Jesus of Nazareth is central to one's faith does seem to be essential to using the term accurately. As a youth leader and confirmation teacher, I want to bring my kids closer to Jesus. I want them to love Him not merely as a great role model for righteous praxis but as the greatest of friends, the best of brothers, the most intimate of lovers. That is how I know Him, and that sweet, intimate, spiritually erotic relationship is the most exciting and enriching of my life.

    But whatever relationship this year's confirmation crop chooses to develop with Christ, I want them to know that their right to call themselves Christians, their "claiming of the name", is not contingent on any one particular worldview; any one particular political allegiance; any one understanding of how, when, where, and with whom it is good and right to be sexual. And this year, our confirmands will learn that no narrow-minded classmate or friend can rob them of the right to embrace the Holy Name.

    Fairy-Winged Pledges Raped by Frat 'Big Brothers'

    Fairy-Winged Pledges Raped by Frat 'Big Brothers'?

    By Walter Armstrong

    Florida frat boys say they were just being "Big Brothers," but local cops call it a possible case of male-on-male rape.
    Responding last week to "loud aggressive screaming and moaning" from the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity on the campus of the University of Central Florida, Orlando police reported finding seven or eight men crawling on their hands and knees and wearing bras, fairy wings, and other bizarre getups.

    Three of the young men were so drunk that they had to be hospitalized. One, in a rainbow-colored wig and a diaper, was found sobbing on the floor, and another—wearing a blond wing, pink tank top, and women's panties—was puking. A third, who was wearing pink fairy wings, could not walk (or fly, for that matter).

    College hazing is a crime in Florida. That may be one reason that SAE members say the party was a Big Brother event, during which "a fraternity member hangs out with a pledge assigned to him," according to Central Florida News.

    But neither the police nor the university is buying it. "The university is looking into three possible concerns: misuse of alcohol, possible hazing, and possible disorderly conduct," spokeswoman Linda Gray said.

    In recent years, SAE has taken the school's storied tradition for marathon drinking to new heights. In 2000, four people overdosed on the illegal drug GHB. In a 2003 hazing, pledges were found duct-taped inside a truck—an incident that led to the frat's one-year suspension.

    Now their serious partying may land frat members in court for serious crimes, including rape. During a search of the SAE house, the cops reportedly confiscated evidence indicating that numerous sexual assaults may have taken place. Is that any way for a Big Brother to act?

    © 2006; All Rights Reserved.

    Monday, November 06, 2006

    A Double Standard When Homosexuals Get Arrested

    Double Standards for Homosexuals
    When it comes to the legal system, everyone is treated fairly and equally. That is unless you are gay, then you find yourself in a witch hunt of the worst kind.

    By Kathie Gouraly
    Posted Monday, October 2, 2006

    They reneged on their promise to let Ken turn himself in and instead brought tv cameras and reporters to his house to publicly arrest him.
    Readers of this web site are probably aware of the cases of Ken Gourlay and Tim Richards, both of whom are being prosecuted because of allegations by Justin Berry, who is making his accusations in exchange for U. S. Federal immunity from his own numerous crimes, not least of which is producing child pornography with himself as the child star.

    Ken's case is being prosecuted by the Michigan Attorney General, while Tim's is being prosecuted in Tennessee by the U. S. Department of Justice, but both are being prosecuted with overwhelming unfairness and with the hysterical tone of a witch hunt.

    Ken's case in particular seems to be fodder for the reelection campaign of Michigan Attorney General Michael Cox. Democrat Amos Williams is running against Cox. We believe that if Williams were the Attorney General now, Ken would not be under state prosecution.

    Regardless of whether Ken is guilty or innocent, the Attorney General's office has handled Ken's case unjustly in the following ways:

    1) They reneged on their promise to let Ken turn himself in and instead brought tv cameras and reporters to his house to publicly arrest him.

    2) They set a half-million dollar bond for this non-violent offender with no previous criminal record.

    3) In September after discovering that Ken's family had managed to combine resources and pay the bond, they re-arrested Ken with new charges based on information that they had had for 6 weeks but had chosen not to use before.

    4) When Ken turned himself in they again alerted and had tv news there.

    5) This arrest was coordinated with arrests of seventeen other alleged sex criminals on the same day, an event which the Attorney General publicized with a press conference.

    6) This distorted publicity might prejudice thousands of potential jury members, and prevent Ken from getting a fair trial,

    7) Ken's new charges were most unusual, 20 charges instead of 1, all for 3rd degree (consensual) sexual conduct with the same person.

    8) Instead of a normal sized bond for these charges, and after Cox's prosecuting attorney repeatedly said he saw no need for more bond money, at the arraignment the A.G.'s office asked for an additional one million dollar bond (appearing to be violating the 8th amendment of the Constitution). The purpose of bond is not to keep someone in jail, but to assure that he/she appears in court. All Ken's charges require a bond, ie. they are "bondable".

    9) Although Cox has disclaimers on his website saying that the accused are considered innocent until proven guilty, the words and actions of his office negate this.

    Although we feel that child sex crimes can be very serious, not all of them are equally so. The obsession of the Michigan Attorney General's office with this issue is working to Michigan's detriment.

    Instead, we believe Michigan should be moving forward on a more effective path. We desire a Michigan Attorney General who:

    1) Gives attention to ALL types of crimes. In particular, those crimes that extend beyond the bounds of a single local judiciary or involve the local government itself - corporate crimes, utility company crimes, environmental crimes, crimes by the police.

    2) Sets the highest ethical standards for fairness, due process, and civil rights.

    3) Respects and defends an accused person's constitutional right to the presumption of innocence. Does not hold press conferences announcing arrests and does not parade arrested people in chains before television cameras.

    4) Does not use high bonds deliberately to detain people.

    5) Does not prosecute homosexuals more severely than heterosexuals accused of the same type of crime.

    6) Prosecutes offenders of hate crimes against gays and perceived child offenders, both inside and outside prisons, whether perpetrated by inmates or guards, and educates the public to reduce hate crimes.

    7) Encourages judges to take into account the circumstances when creating a sentence.

    8) Recommends safe, but less severe punishments to encourage sex offenders and their acquaintances to voluntarily come forward.

    9) Uses best known sex therapies and electronic monitoring instead of prison to keep society safe, while at the same time saving taxpayer money, minimizing disruption to families, and allowing sex offenders to contribute to society as much as possible.

    10) Does not use stings to create criminals.

    11) Does not grant immunity in exchange for incriminating evidence.

    This is unfair and produces unreliable evidence.

    Other issues raised by Ken's case:

    1) The media are sensationalizing the case: by using terms such as Ken "lured" Justin to Ann Arbor; calling criminal sexual conduct in the 3rd degree, which is consensual sex, a "rape"; and by reporting Ken's age as a year older than it is.

    2) Ken is being treated as guilty before being convicted. Did you know 60% of the people in Michigan jails are there pre-trial? The UN recommends holding such people, if they must be detained at all, in separate facilities from convicted criminals.

    3) Ken is being charged with various crimes, and also being charged separately with using the Internet to facilitate those crimes. The Internet charges actually have harsher penalties than the crimes themselves. Why should use of the Internet to plan a crime have a harsher sentence than the crime itself? Why is using the Internet different than using the phone, or using the mail?

    4) The U. S. has extremely long sentences and harsh penalties compared to other countries in the world. Did you know that of the 9 million people in prison in the world, 2 million of them are in the United States? Google "The Sentencing Project".

    5) The U. S. is schizophrenic about sex. Almost everything is
    sexualized: movies, music, clothes, magazines, even cars. Sex is on teenagers minds more than anything else. If two 15 year olds have sex it is considered "sexual experimentation", however if a 15 year old and an 18 year old have sex it is a 15 year felony. Neither of these situations are necessarily good, moral, or appropriate, but they are not very different from each other.

    6) Sex offenders are subject to unique, unreasonable, lifetime penalties. Shouldn't it be possible at some point to say someone has been punished enough? Why should former sex criminals have to register for the rest of their lives, when murderers and other assaultive offenders don't have to? Why should former sex criminals be prevented from living near schools or playgrounds when murderers and assaultive criminals can live there. Why should these penalties extend even to someone who was found to have pornography or to have consensual sex with someone they shouldn't have? Why should former sex offenders be forbidden from holding more and more kinds of jobs?