Wednesday, August 19, 2015

From My Garden for You: LGBT Catholics Excluded from World Conference on Families; Kentucky Clerk Defying Supreme Court (the Money Trail); "Republican Religion" and Betrayal of Core Christian Values

As I gather blooms and tend to weeds, a posey (perhaps intermixed with some weeds?) for you from my garden today:

1. Commenting on the pressure Archbishop Charles Chaput, host of the upcoming world conference on families (but not LGBT ones!), placed on a Catholic parish in Philadelphia to slam its doors shut against LGBT groups the parish had planned to welcome during the conference, Michelle Boorstein writes

The issue shows the complex balancing act for the church as Francis continues to make inclusive comments and powerful gestures of welcome toward gay people even as he speaks out strongly against gay marriage and transgender acceptance.

This isn't a "balancing act." It's exclusion pure and simple. It's cruel to the core. And it has been going on in the Catholic church for a long time now, with the loud, clear message that LGBT people are not wanted and not welcome in the Catholic church. Until it stops, the pope's nice words will remain nothing but pretty strawberries atop the icing of a cake that is rotten and putrid underneath the icing.

For more information on Chaput's decision to shut LGBT groups and their families out of Catholic premises as he welcomes Pope Who Am I to Judge Francis to Philadelphia for the world conference on families, see Patricia Miller at Religion Dispatches and Bob Shine at Bondings 2.0.

2. In a blistering editorial about Rowan Co., KY, clerk Kim Davis's continued defiance of the Supreme Court, the governor of Kentucky, and a federal court, the Lexington Herald-Leader tells readers to follow the money:

The husband and wife team who founded and run Liberty Counsel, Anita and Matthew Staver, were paid $137,758 and $153,591, respectively, in 2013. The staff of five ran up $184,479 in travel expenses that year and spent $429,584 on conferences, conventions and meetings. Liberty Counsel paid one independent contractor over $600,000 for "email alert services," and another almost $500,000 for printing and mail services. 'Case costs,' were reported at $105,487. 
Liberty's attorneys know they can't win the case in Rowan County. Same-sex marriage is legal since the Supreme Court's June 26 decision and it's Davis' job to issue marriage licenses. 
So, why is Liberty Counsel marching alongside Davis in this losing cause? It takes a lot to keep that marketing machine humming and those executives paid, and the only way to keep those donations coming is to stay in the news. For that purpose a losing cause is just as good as, perhaps better than, a winning one.

Liberty Counsel, which is, as Southern Poverty Law Center informs us, affiliated with Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, is a notorious anti-gay group that has made attacking gay folks into a lucrative goose that lays golden eggs for its directors and staff (see also Right-Wing Watch on this group). And speaking of geese and golden eggs and following the money, look at what Rev. Mike Huckabee, who also rakes in the money as he attacks LGBT folks, is raking in from his super PAC right now. As the AP is reporting, Rev. Huckabee is headed to Israel this week to . . . you guessed right: he's raising money!

For that matter, have you wondered what kind of $$$$$ that other leading anti-gay right-wing evangelical minister Rev. Franklin Graham brings in as he preaches (and attacks the gays, and promotes the Republican agenda as God's anointed political agenda)? Wonder no more: according to the Charlotte Obsever several days ago, though Rev. Graham forwent his lucrative salary from his father's Billy Graham Evangelistic Association several years ago because it "looked terrible" for him to be drawing such a salary, he's back feeding at that trough once more, and now has a yearly salary in excess of $880,000.

With all of this in the news lately — with so much news confirming that anti-gay preaching pays and pays well in the U.S. — one has to wonder about Rev. Jim Bakker's decision to emerge from the shadows again recently to inform end times preacher Rick Wiles and his audience that God may punish the U.S. with a nuclear disaster for permitting gay marriage and abortion. Remember Jim Bakker and his super-lucrative ministry, and how he ended up doing jail time for fraud and conspiracy? 

Bottom line: attacking gay folks remains a goose that lays golden eggs for right-wing religious leaders in the U.S. And not a few of them remain eager, it appears, to snatch up as many golden eggs as they possibly can, before that goose stops laying them.

3. And speaking of right-wing religion in the U.S. and how deeply it betrays core Christian values, here's Edwin Lyngar on how "Republican religion" betrayed him before he wised up to what it's all about:

It is one of the great ironies of of contemporary American politics that, while The New Testament is further to the left than "The Communist Manifesto," somehow the book and much of the religion it created have been subsumed by the cruelest, most selfish conservative politics I’ve seen in my lifetime, replete with outright hatred toward poor people, immigrants and every other unwashed commoner for which Jesus professed his most intimate love. 
("Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me," he said as clearly as one can possibly state in Matthew 25:40.) 
There is a miscalculation spreading among my liberal friends and some of my fellow commentators that the demographic decline of organized religion in America augurs the end of the religious right as a dominant political force. This is a massive miscalculation, because the religious right has nothing whatsoever to do with faith, dogma, Jesus, or the afterlife. Instead, large sections of American Christendom exist solely to support reductive conservative politics as a hedge against progress. They are tools used by cynical politicians and bloviating television pundits to transform rage and tribalism into viewers and a compliant voting public. There’s no reason to think those who benefit will abandon such a calculated and successful effort just because gay people can now (thankfully) get married. If anything, the rhetoric on "religious freedom" and attacks on issues like women’s health has only gotten more outlandish over time. (See the latest GOP debate, for instance.)

Vote Republican, and this is what you're voting for, though you may want to pretend otherwise. You cannot disengage the "fiscal conservatism" you claim as your reason for voting Republican from the anti-gay effects of your vote for a party that has long made and continues to make discrimination against LGBT citizens a core part of its platform.

The photo: a passion flower growing wild in the weeds of Faith Yingling Knoop Park in Little Rock in July 2014; my husband Steve took the picture.

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