Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Two More Updates: Gays on Christian College Campuses, Virginia Attorney General Cuccinelli Blocks Access of Poor to Health Care

And two more quick follow-ups:

I blogged some days ago about the controversy that developed at Arkansas's Harding University, when gay students and alumni launched a website to create discussion about how gay members of this Church of Christ campus community are treated.  As I noted, Harding responded to the website by blocking access to it in the campus's computer network.

Today, Erik Erickholm writes at the New York Times about the growing movement of gay visibility on campuses of evangelical Christian colleges and universities.  This movement of visibility is fighting for the inclusion of LGBT people within the communities of these campuses.  

One of the interesting segments of this article--and I heard this repeatedly when the Harding situation was discussed at the blog of the Arkansas Times website some weeks ago--is the refrain, Why would the gays want to go to one of our Christian schools, anyway?  Erickholm writes,

Gay students say they are often asked why they are attending Christian colleges at all. But the question, students say, is unfair. Many were raised in intensely Christian homes with an expectation of attending a religious college and long fought their homosexuality. They arrive at school, as one of the Harding Web authors put it, “hoping that college would turn us straight, and then once we realized that this wasn’t happening, there was nothing you could do about it.” 

And, of course, what's perplexing about this question is how anyone who has even a passing acquaintance with the gospels and the teaching of Jesus would want to keep anyone on the outside looking in.  To send signals to anyone that she is not welcome, has no place, doesn't belong.  That he is not a brother with a place at the Christian table.

Is the real message here this: some Christians are demanding that their comfort levels not be challenged by having to confront real-life human beings who happen to be gay?  I suspect it is.  And I suspect that, no matter how uncomfortable the recognition happens to be that gay people do exist, and that they are right within Christian families and churches, this reality (the gays exist!) is not going to go away anytime soon for any groups of Christians--regardless of how high they build their walls and how tight they fasten their doors.

And yesterday, I wrote again about my perplexity that any Catholic informed about Catholic social teaching (or any Catholic who has read the gospels) would defend or take lightly political initiatives to block the access of socioeconomically deprived people to health care.  And today, I'm reading that the Catholic attorney general of Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli, has chosen to do precisely that.

As Tara Lohan notes at Alternet, not content to hate on the gays, attack climate scientists, and try to censor a state symbol that pictures a bare-breasted goddess, Cuccinelli issued a ruling early this year that effectively blocks non-profits providing free health care for poor people from receiving state funding.  Lohan links to an article by Bruce S. Trachtenberg at The Nonprofit Quarterly which says that among the groups affected by Cuccinelli's ruling is the Virginia Association of Free Clinics, a network of 60 medical clinics that served 72,000 patients last year.

Again, some of the Catholic church's most ardent defenders these days--notably, the Republican politicians with whom Catholic leaders seem intent on getting into bed--are, in my view, working fast and furious with the bishops to turn the church into a mean machine.  If what Cuccinelli stands for is authentic Catholic values (and spirituality and the movement of the heart to God), I want nothing to do with those values.

Last fall, Cuccinelli, who claims to be pro-life, issued the notice of Virginia's execution of a mentally retarded grandmother.

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