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Kim Davis – Let me show you what persecution looks like

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

KimDavisABClargeON US TV today (Sept. 22), the clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to ANY couple because she didn’t believe in same sex marriage has said what hurts her most about how she has been treated since she defied the Supreme Court ruling on marriage in June – being called ‘a hypocrite’.

Kim Davis of Rowan County, Kentucky, has been jailed, received a ‘Religious Liberty’ award for fighting ‘legal tyranny’, been called ‘the bravest woman in America‘ and compared to Abraham Lincoln by her lawyer. She has also been called a martyr and a victim of anti-Christian persecutionShe even admitted denying marriage licences to friends, and receiving death threats.

All because she believes in her Christian duty to break the oath she took as a US Government official to uphold the law, in a country whose constitution explicitly forbids the primacy of any religion. The First Amendment clearly states that the US government cannot make any law ‘respecting an establishment of religion.’ In the words of the Supreme Court, this generally means that the government can’t “pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another,” or otherwise become entangled in religious affairs.

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Discrimination is Not Religious Freedom

Saturday, March 14th, 2015

Reverend Irene MonroeA movement is afoot in state legislatures across the country to disenfranchise LGBTQ Americans. There are a surprisingly number of bills being introduced in state legislative session, which outrightly sanction and enforce LGBTQ discrimination. These bills are called “Religious Freedom Restoration Acts” (RFRA), but don’t be fooled. These lawmakers are looking to codify LGBTQ discrimination.

This week the Georgia Senate, with a vote of 37-15, approved controversial RFRA (House Bill 1023). The bill doesn’t want the state’s Christian religious conservatives, fundamentalists and evangelicals to “substantially burden” their personal religious practices and beliefs. What, you may ask, could possibly be such a burden to Christians in Georgia that a state law is necessitated? Burden, according the bill, is defined as:

“‘Burden’ means any government action or implementation or application of any law, including, but not limited to, state and local laws, ordinances, rules, regulations, and policies, whether statutory or otherwise, that directly or indirectly constrains, inhibits, curtails, or denies the exercise of religion by any person or that directly or indirectly pressures any person to engage in any action contrary to that person’s exercise of religion, including, but not limited to, withholding benefits, assessing criminal, civil, or administrative penalties, and exclusion from government programs or access to government facilities.”

But let’s be clear, the only religious folk lawmakers hope to protect from a “substantially burden” is Christians. Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and other non-Christian Georgians don’t merit protection. As a matter-of-fact, these demographic groups — along with atheists and LGBTQs — can easily be subject to egregious forms of discrimination, bigotry and hate crimes under the guise of religion.

Authored By Reverend Irene Monroe – See the Full Story at SDGLN

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“Religious Exemption” is Really “Religious Privilege”

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Sue O'ConnellWe have been oh so careful. How many times have we assured religious leaders that marriage equality will not mean that Catholic priests will have to start performing marriages between two lesbians? How many times have we bit our lip when a religious school has fired a gay person because he didn’t set the correct example? How many times have we crafted laws to clearly allow religious organizations an out — a way to circumvent the law because of their strongly held anti-gay religious beliefs?

We were careful because the LGBT community understood the tensions between religion and being LGB or T. Many of us are — or were — religious people. Many of us have been rejected by our faith leaders. Many of us have been rejected by our families because of their religious faith.

We grew a tolerance to the anti-gay parts of our religion, or we found a more accepting faith. We accepted our Catholic grandmother’s anti-gay sentiment as “religious conviction” even though she seemed supportive of our brother’s divorce.

Last week, the United States Supreme Court rewarded our thoughtfulness with a slap.

Authored By Sue O’Connell – See the Full Story at The Dallas Voice

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New Hurdles in the March to Equality

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Gay RightsWe’ve been on the winning side of things for so long, it’s hard to remember just how embattled the LGBT community once was just a few years ago. But we’re about to get a refresher course. Just one week after the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling, it’s clear that the legal and political landscape has totally changed. Instead of a rolling series of victories, we’re now faced with having to fight against the special right to homophobia accorded on the basis of religion minted by the conservative majority.

Two recent episodes illustrate just how different things have become. In Kansas, conservative legislators are taking the ruling as a green light to reintroduce a bill to protect “religious liberty,” by which they largely mean the right of homophobic bakers not to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples. A similar measure died in the last session, one of a series of like-minded (or, more appropriately, empty-minded) bills that were floated around the nation, most notoriously in Arizona.

The fact that Kansas conservatives see the ruling as providing momentum underscores the fact that the Supreme Court decision will be used far and wide as a legal assault on LGBT rights. Strictly speaking, the ruling only applies to contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act, but no one can now doubt that the majority justices — five Catholic men — unleashed a nightmare for us.

Authored By John Gallagher – See the Full Story at Queerty

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The Great Religious Secession

Monday, June 30th, 2014

Church…I am someone who believes that religious liberty is the country’s founding freedom, the idea that made America possible. I am also a homosexual atheist, so religious conservatives may not want my advice. I’ll give it to them anyway. Culturally conservative Christians are taking a pronounced turn toward social secession: asserting both the right and the intent to sequester themselves from secular culture and norms, including the norm of nondiscrimination. This is not a good idea. When religion isolates itself from secular society, both sides lose, but religion loses more.

Over the decades, religious traditionalists’ engagement with American secular life has waxed and waned. After the public-relations disaster of the Scopes evolution trial in the 1920s, many conservative Christians recoiled from politics, only to come out swinging in the 1970s, when the Moral Majority and other elements of what came to be called the religious right burst onto the scene. If you believe in cultural cycles, perhaps we’re due for another withdrawal. Certainly, the breakthrough of gay marriage has fed disillusionment and bewilderment. “I suspect the initial reaction among evangelicals is going to be retreat and hope to be left alone,” Maggie Gallagher, a prominent gay-marriage opponent, recently told The Huffington Post.

Still, the desire to be left alone takes on a pretty aggressive cast when it involves slamming the door of a commercial enterprise on people you don’t approve of. The idea that serving as a vendor for, say, a gay commitment ceremony is tantamount to “endorsing” homosexuality, as the new religious-liberty advocates now assert, is a far-reaching proposition, one with few apparent outer boundaries in a densely interwoven mercantile society. It suggests a hair-trigger defensiveness about religious identity that would have seemed odd just a few years ago. As far as I know, during the divorce revolution it never occurred to, say, Catholic bakers to tell remarrying customers, “Your so-called second marriage is a lie, so take your business elsewhere.” That would have seemed not so much principled as bizarre.

Authored By Jonathan Rauch – See the Full Story at The Atlantic

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USA: Marriage Equality Trumps Religious Objections, Poll Finds

Friday, June 27th, 2014

titleA new poll finds that a majority of Americans think marriage equality should trump “religious freedom”, at least when it comes to health care and businesses.

The Gazette Extra reports:

A solid majority of Americans now supports equal treatment for same-sex couples despite religious objections, according to the State of the First Amendment survey released this week by the First Amendment Center. Sixty-one percent of respondents agree that the government should require religiously affiliated groups that receive government funding to provide health care benefits to same-sex partners of employees–even when the religious group opposes same-sex marriage. And 54 percent of the public agree that a business providing wedding services to the public should be required to serve same-sex couples, even if the business owner objects to gay marriage on religious grounds.

When it’s about commerce, LGBT rights (just like African American rights and women’s rights) should trump someone’s religious objections.

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USA, Oregon: State Supreme Court Upholds AG’s Ballot Title for Anti Gay Initiative

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

Oregon Gay MarriageAn anti gay group pushing one of those “right to discriminate” bills lost their battle over the initiative title today.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Without comment, the court upheld a ballot title drafted by the Attorney General’s office that sponsors of the initiative had complained used “politically charged” wording that would bias voters against the measure, reports The Oregonian. Ballot titles are regarded as one of the most important parts of an initiative campaign because they appear on the ballot right above where voters mark either their “yes” or “no” vote. The certified ballot title contains the language: “Religious belief” exceptions to anti-discrimination laws for refusing services, other, for same-sex ceremonies, “arrangements.”

It’s a victory, but a bigger one would be to keep it off the ballot altogether.

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Flipping the Script – Why the UCC Lawsuit Could Change Everything

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

UCC LogoIn recent years, the religious and political right in this country has weaponized the Constitution. From bans on gay marriage to the right to own an assault rifle without a background check, the First and Second Amendments, in particular, have been used as a battering ram against equality, fairness and public safety.

You cannot make peace if you do not even know you are in a war, and people of faith and conscience in this country need to realize that the very rights that the Constitution protects are under siege by those who abuse and misuse constitutional guarantees.

This why what the United Church of Christ, my own denomination, has just done matters so much at so many levels. The UCC has taken a bold step in engaging this struggle, right at the heart of the abuse of religious freedom. This church just filed a landmark lawsuit against North Carolina’s ban on gay marriage, arguing that the state’s marriage laws violate the First Amendment rights of clergy and the principle of “free exercise of religion.”

Authored By Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite – See the Full Story at the Huffington Post

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What The Christian Right Hopes To Gain From the Hobby Lobby Case

Monday, March 24th, 2014

Hobby Lobby2009 was a grim year for social conservatives. Barack Obama was an ambitious and popular new president. Republicans, and their conservative philosophy, were largely discredited in the public eye by a failed war and a massive recession. And the GOP’s effort to reshape its message was still in its awkward adolescence. If the conservative movement had a mascot, it would have been a white man dressed as Paul Revere and waving a misspelled sign.

Amidst this wreckage, more than two hundred of the nation’s leading Christian conservatives joined together in a statement expressing their dismay at the state of the nation. “Many in the present administration want to make abortions legal at any stage of fetal development,” their statement claimed, while “[m]ajorities in both houses of Congress hold pro-abortion views.” Meanwhile, they feared that the liberals who now controlled the country “are very often in the vanguard of those who would trample upon the freedom of others to express their religious and moral commitments to the sanctity of life and to the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife.”

The signatories to this statement, which they named the “Manhattan Declaration,” included many of America’s most prominent Catholic bishops and clergy of similar prominence in other Christian sects. It included leaders of top anti-gay organizations like the National Organization for Marriage, and of more broadly focused conservative advocacy shops such as the Family Research Council. It included university presidents and deans from Christian conservative colleges. And it included the top editors from many of the Christian right’s leading publications.

Authored By Ian Millhiser – See the Full Story at Think Progress

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USA, Oregon: Attorney General Accepts “Discrimination” Wording for Right to Discriminate Initiative

Saturday, March 15th, 2014

Oregon Gay MarriageOregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum agreed with proponents of marriage equality that a proposed ballot initiative that would allow wedding vendors to refuse service to same sex couples should include the word discrimination.

Towleroad.com reports:

Proponents had avoided ballot measure language that mentioned the word ‘discrimination’ in their ‘Protect Religious Freedom Initiative’. Rosenblum disagreed, issuing a ballot title that reads:

“Religious belief” exceptions to anti-discrimination laws for refusing services, other, for same-sex ceremonies, “arrangements”

This was the language sought by opponents of the ballot measure such as Oregon United for Marriage as it “makes clear this measure creates exemptions to non-discrimination laws.”

It seems likely that fewer people will sign a petition that clearly states what the initiative would do. Maybe this thing won’t make the ballot, after all.

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