Wednesday, August 13, 2014

More Translations of Recent News Reports: Regnerus's Latest, Gays and Religion, Archbishop Sartain and LCWR, More News about Archbishop Nienstedt

More translations of recent news stories (see my explanation of what the term "translation" means here in what I posted about this issue yesterday):

1. Mark Regnerus, whose discredited study of "same-sex parenting" was funded by the Witherspoon Institute and rushed to publication to influence the Supreme Court decision on the Defense of Marriage Act, has a new study out. Regnerus summarizes its findings this week at — you guessed it —the Witherspoon Institute's Public Discourse website.

Regnerus reports that he has conducted a "Relationships in America" survey which finds that church-going Christians who support marriage equality "are more likely to think pornography, cohabitation, hook-ups, adultery, polyamory, and abortion are acceptable. And it’s reasonable to expect continued change in more permissive directions." And, of course, vice versa: church-going Christians opposed to marriage equality do not mirror social norms regarding these issues, Regnerus points out.

Translation: morality belongs to us. It does not belong to you. It belongs to us church-going Christians who trend politically and religiously right. It does not belong to you Christians who cave in to cultural norms, and who have evacuated the gospels of all significance for our culture today.

This is not a new game for right-wing thinkers to play. The surprise in the desperate determination of Regnerus and his right-wing funders to keep playing it now is that they evidently intend to keep playing the dysfunctional game long after they've lost the marriage equality battle and increasing numbers of Christians — real Christians, pace Regnerus — recognize marriage equality as the correct, moral position for Christians to take in an historic struggle about the human rights of LGBT people.

2. As David Badash reports yesterday at The New Civil Rights Movement site, a new Gallup survey finds LGBT Americans significantly less religious than the  population at large:

Overall, nearly half -- 47 percent -- of LGBT people are "not religious," they say, agreeing that "religion is not an important part of their daily lives and that they seldom or never attend religious services." By comparison, 30 percent of non-LGBT people identify as not religious.

Translation: what else can one expect, when, as Jonathan Merritt has just noted, those who are gay and log onto almost any website discussing the issue of homosexuality on any given day are absolutely certain to encounter vile language, bullying, and outright hatred expressed in the name of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Merritt cites Margaret Eby, who notes that the comments sections of many blog sites are "vats of poison" — and, as Merritt notes, though Christian commentators aren't unique in filling these vats with poison, they represent a significant, easily discerned segment of those engaged in this disreputable behavior.

As Jeffrey Essman noted recently in U.S. Catholic, as study after study shows gay folks (and people in general) finding some religious communities (notably the Catholic community) conspicuously unfriendly to those who are gay, is it any wonder at all that gay people distance themselves from religion? If Regnerus and his funders are correct — if the only bona fide brand of Christian faith available for gay folks to buy is stolidly opposed to their human rights — what sane choice can most self-respecting LGBT persons really make except to repudiate the Christian brand altogether, and look elsewhere for spiritual fulfillment?

3. Dan Stockman reports at National Catholic Reporter that Seattle archbishop Peter Sartain, the Vatican's watchdog overseeing American religious women and their Leadership Conference of Religious Women, has informed the LCWR that he's attending their annual assembly "as a brother and a friend."

Translation: "When wolf meets sheep, no one must be deceived as to the ideological value of calls for 'cooperation' or 'dialogue' or pluralism'" (Clodovis Boff, Theology and Praxis, trans. Robert R. Barr [Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1987], p. 48).

Documents made public Monday in a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis show that Archbishop John Nienstedt made false statements under oath in April about his knowledge of a priest accused of child sexual abuse (my emphasis added).

In his 2 April deposition in the abuse case now pending in court in the Twin Cities, Nienstedt stated that he did not know until this past March that Father Kenneth LaVan, who was accused in the 1980s of sexually assaulting a teenaged girl, was still in ministry. LaVan was not removed from ministry until last December.

As Baran states, documents just released in the trial materials show that, "year after year, the archbishop received updates on LaVan and approved his continuing work at Twin Cities parishes, as recently as Aug. 15, 2013." They also show Nienstedt writing a note to LaVan in June 2013 thanking him and another priest for the gift of a bottle of Wild Turkey.

Translation: see conclusion for point #3. Let me add to that conclusion: it appears that Catholic bishops, even highly placed ones, are perfectly capable of lying. And of lying boldly.

In front of God and everybody.

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