Monday, October 18, 2010

Presiding Bishop Joins in "Clergy Aganist Bullying Call for Action"

From a press release received today -- signed by dozens of national faith leaders, including our own Presiding Bishop:

CLERGY AGAINST BULLYING
CALL FOR ACTION AND TIME OF HEALING
IN WAKE OF GAY TEEN SUICIDES AND ANTI-GAY VIOLENCE

Today, as leaders of Christian communions and national networks, we speak with heavy hearts because of the bullying, suicides and hate crimes that have shocked this country and called all faith communities into accountability for our words or our silence. We speak with hopeful hearts, believing that change and healing are possible, and call on our colleagues in the Church Universal to join us in working to end the violence and hatred against our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters.

In the past seven weeks, six young and promising teenagers took their own lives. Some were just entering high school; one had just enrolled in college. Five were boys; one, a girl becoming a young woman. These are only the deaths for which there has been a public accounting. New reports of other suicides continue to haunt us daily from around the country.

They were of varying faiths and races and came from different regions of the nation.
The one thing these young men and women had in common was that they were perceived to be gay or lesbian. Each in their own way faced bullying and harassment or struggled with messages of religion and culture that made them fear the consequences of being who they were.

You'll want to read the whole statement but here are some "therefores:"
It's time to talk openly and honestly about the diversity of God's creation and the gift of various sexual orientations and gender identities – and to do that in a way that makes it safe for people to disagree and still abide in love.

It's time to talk openly and honestly about the use and misuse of power and authority by those we entrust with our spiritual well-being. It's time to make it safe for our clergy colleagues who are struggling to live what they preach, to get the help and support we all sometimes need.

The young people who took their lives a few weeks ago died because the voices of people who believe in the love of God for all the people of God were faint and few in the face of those who did the bullying, harassing and condemning. Today we write to say we will never again be silent about the value of each and every life.
I am so delighted to see our Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as one of the signatories to this important witness. Please take a minute and join me in sending her office an email of thanks for stepping up and speaking out.

And then continue to think, pray and organize to work toward becoming the kind of world where all our children are equally valued, loved, protected and celebrated.

38 comments:

LGMarshall said...

All our hearts hurt for any one who takes their own life... truly a human tragedy.

Change and healing is possible for any vulnerable youth, I think we should all keep our eyes out for such young people that may need our personal involvement. Maybe a Big Sister program, or Big Brother program for LGBT students could be further developed? And I don't think they necessarily have to be matched up with gays.

I think columnist Sandy Banks, LATimes, 10/16/10, brought up thoughtful perspective of Alan Weeks, 78, who has lived gay life since age 22. Alan says..[when he realized he was gay at age 22,] "Oh, my God, it's terrible". He goes on to say..."If I could push a button and be straight, I would..." He had a partner for 22 years, Victor, but Victor died of AIDS in 1991.

God values all of his creation, and I have no doubt that Mr. Weeks lives a life full of meaning. But the gay life still isn't something that the youth are grateful for or excited about... and no amount of "It gets better.." video can change that.

Interestingly, Mr. Weeks, offers no advice to the youth. And he tends to think that his generation may have been blessed in ways he didn't appreciate back then.

But he does offer that they may be coming out too soon in their young lives. And with regard to that he said.."No one, ever made fun of me."

I wonder if he may have some wisdom there? Wisdom that could protect the homosexuals & perhaps save lives?

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

OK ... it's been a long Monday after a long Sunday and maybe you've just finally mangaged to get on my last gay nerve but I have two words in response:

Bull Shit

I'm sick to death of hearing about people "living gay life" when what we're talking about are gay people trying to live life.

I don't have a gay marriage. I have a marriage. And I don't take out gay trash to the curb every Monday or prune gay roses or fold gay laundry. I don't pay gay bills or gay taxes ... I don't make a gay pledge to my church and I don't say gay prayers when I lay me down to sleep.

Mr. Weeks may not have any advice for the youth but I sure as hell do.

Be yourself. Be gay or be straight or be questioning or be queer. But know that God loved you enough to become one of us in order to show us how to walk in love with each other. And then do it. Walk in love as Christ loved us. And quit obsessing about other people's sex lives.

Honest to God. I am SOOOO over the bull shit.

IT said...

You said it, Susan.

JCF said...

It was for YOU, LG Marshall, as well as Joseph McCarthy, that Joseph Welch could have lamented,

You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?

Well, do you???

MarkBrunson said...

LGMarshall,

Do you even have a soul? The heart is completely rotted away, obviously, but you'd have to be soulless to go on about your usual nonsense, using kids' deaths as your feed.

It's just ghoulish.

I'm sorry, Susan, but I can feel no sympathy for something so dead inside.

Amy said...

Yes, you said it, Susan, and you said it well. Hiding does not equal safety; "Silence=Death." Haven't we learned that yet?

Martin T. said...

I agree with LGM, there should be a mentor program for LGBT youth. Also, what I do fear from all this is that adverse affect this may have on other LGBT youth, that they may look at these situations and feel that taking your own life over this is worth it. It's a tragedy yes, but it shouldn't be discarded that these people did throw away God's precious gift of life. They shouldn't be thought of as "martyrs" so to speak. There are always better ways to get your message across and some with traditional views on sexuality have been somewhat insensitive when it came to sharing it, but I believe it's the right view all the same. Sorry that you're frustrated, a lot of us moderates/conservatives are frustrated as well.

Stacey said...

God Bless Bishop Katharine! What a shining example she has been as our PB!
I'm a lay preacher in my church and plan to mention the bullying against gays. It is cruel, it is violent, it must be stopped. It is contrary to the Bible which says "Love one another."
People who say things like "Oh why don't they just not come out and that way there won't be so much trouble..." need to wake up! Staying in the closet solves nothing! In fact it causes problems, closeted gays commit suicide as well. GBLTS need support- not to be told to "keep to themselves!"

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

Martin ... you're "sorry that we're frustrated???"

How about you're sorry that the seeds of homophobic self-loathing continue to be planted by "well meaning" moderates in LGBT youth who end up having those seeds fed, watered and fertilized by bullying and badgering?

And for the record, I'm not frustrated.

I'm mad as hell.

Martin T. said...

No, I'm not sorry for someone else's lack of compassion while speaking the truth as they believe it. That's their shortcoming they have to answer to. Yes, there has definitely been a lack of compassion and love in words, but because they don't see things in the same light as you does not mean they "fear" anything about you. They just don't condone it,period. Stop using the term "homophobic", it weakens your point, tell Robinson that too. People get bullied, people can be VERY cruel, it is a fact of life. New laws aren't going to change this fact. I got bullied when I was a kid but I didn't let them win! I didn't take a life that was not mine to take. Christ is Lord over my life, not bullies!

JCF said...

Well, I don't have a problem w/ LGBT youth having mentors: partnered (and Christian?) LGBTs, who've learned how to process and triumph over homophobic bullsh*t! ;-)

uffda51 said...

Saying you don’t “condone” homosexuality is like saying you don’t like the temperature at which water boils. “Traditional sexuality” is based on the world view of people who didn’t know what a human zygote is. As for the definition of “traditional” marriage, talk to the Mormons, who changed their definition when they wanted to join the Union. We can’t have a discussion if we can’t agree on the facts.

James Dobson thinks civilization will end if gays are allowed to marry. Never mind war, poverty, famine, climate change, dirty bombs, if the gay couple down the block has a marriage certificate in their safe deposit box, the world will end. That’s homophobia, and it raises lots of money from the self-righteous, who have never bothered to walk a mile in anyone else’s shoes.

JCF said...

People get bullied, people can be VERY cruel, it is a fact of life.

How very Pontius Pilate of you, Martin T.

Christ is Lord over my life

Keep telling us that---otherwise, it's hard to tell.

Martin T. said...

uffda51, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, not their own facts. JCF, how about you read my whole post without taking snippets out. There is nothing in it that says "I'm washing my hands of it", I'm only acknowledging reality, like the reality that everyone in TEC isn't on the same page when it comes to having non-celibate homosexuals presiding over the sacraments. Is there really room for all or just who those who are lock step with this agenda??

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

Martin ... the same arguments were -- and are -- used against women in the pulpit and at the altar and people of color in leadership.

Of course you're entitled to your opinion. But when you use that opinion -- that a woman or LGBT person or person of coloris "less than" -- to oppress, marginalize or dehumanize then it needs to be called out for what it is. Sexism. Heterosexism. Racism.

It's a Prejudice + Power thing. And it's time for it to end.

IT said...

FWIW, Bishop Robinson doesn't use the term "homophobia". he uses the term "heterosexism".

Love how Martin T blames the victim for their despair and suicide. Some people are weak, some are strong. Let's blame the weak ones for their "failure". How VERY Christian of you MartinT.

Not.

JCF said...

JCF, how about you read my whole post without taking snippets out.

How about you "read" your LGBT brother's & sister's whole LIVES, Martin, without taking snippets ("non-celibate homosexuals") out?

I don't really have anything more to say to you. I will pray for you---and for myself, to forgive you and have charity towards you (And ask God for forgiveness, because trying to have charity towards you is so painfully difficult)

Martin T. said...

JCF, why pray for me, because I don't see things eye to eye with you? Is that what you have an issue with? And Rev. Russell, I don't think the African American community would appreciate you making that comparison (and a good many of them don't as I'm sure you know), nor would other female religious leaders that may have conservative or liberal leanings. It's not the same thing. I don't know who told you that it is, but they're wrong. The the only thing I admire you for is having an open blog that all can comment on, unlike The Lead, where it is just reserved for party-liners. So thanks for allowing me to comment even though probably never see eye to eye. One of the few things that keeps me here in TEC is Article 26 of 39.

uffda51 said...

If ever there were a non-controversial post at this site, I thought it would be this one.

The Psalmist wrote “injustice shakes the foundations of the earth.” The statement signed by our presiding bishop says “Today we write to say we will never again be silent about the value of each and every life.”

Fred Phelps says “God Hates Fags,” which inspires the bullying (and worse) of LGBT persons.

What exactly is the “moderate” position between these two points of view?

God is OK with a little injustice? I don’t have to speak up because I’m not LGBT? I don’t condone the LGBT "lifestyle" but I draw the line at executing them?

Martin T. said...

IT, it's all the same to me. Both are bogus terminology. Suicide is cowardice. The moment they thought of it, they became weak. Bullying is wrong, but spitting God's gift back in His face is NOT how to fight that! The moment you start comparing LGBT issues to the AA struggle and woman's struggle is the moment you lost ALL credibility you had. Those people are not martyrs!! I'm sad about what happened, but I refuse to look at these people as martyrs. Period.

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

Fine.

Don't look at "those people" as martyrs.

Look at them as victims.

Victims of the seeds of homophobic self-loathing that gets planted in children growing into youth and toward adulthood labelled "intrinsically disordered" by faith leaders, considered unfit for marriage or the military by the state and then bullied, badgered and abused by those who look at them as "those people" -- not as fully human brothers and sisters created equally in the image of God.

Don't think of them as martyrs.

Think of them as "the least of these."

And then start working on what you're going to say to Jesus when he reminds you that inasmuch as you've reached out to them with love, justice and compassion you've done it unto Him.

Period.

IT said...

Read what I wrote, martin T. And re-read what you wrote. Your disdain and contempt for suffering children is inexcusable. How can a purported "Christian" blame the victim? scorn those weaker for reacting with despair?

Another thing Gene Robinson says is that while it's a good thing to pull people out of the river, it's a better thing to go upstream and find out who is pushing them in. You seem to be greasing the skids. Doesn't reflect well on you.

BTW as a feminist and fierce advocate for women's rights, I can assure you, the comparison to LGBT issues is right on. Your side works by tring to make the LGBT community somehow "less" deserving of equality. That speaks for itself.

Martin T. said...

Jesus also said "Go and sin no more", but then again it seems like some at the altar want to get rid of the concept of sin, unless it fits their causes. Tyler Clementi is a victim, yes, of privacy invasion. As far as the others are concerned, they are victims of childish bullying, and yes, it is wrong, I never said it was right. It's a sad situation, but what needs to be done by the conservative community is not to yield from the truth but to tell the truth in love. That has been something that has NOT been happening, I can admit that fact. However, when you lead someone down the wrong path for the sake of political correctness, it isn't love. I've yet to hear someone say "Suicide is wrong and never acceptable"...why? Why won't someone in a collar tell the truth?

LGMarshall said...

Disappointed in the profanity coming from one who represents Leadership in the Christian Church. ..

"If anyone considers herself faithful and yet does not keep a tight rein on her tongue, she deceives herself and her faith is worthless..." james1.26

You must hold yourself to a higher standard... no matter what.

I see, 'The gay life'... really touching a nerve, yet you entirely ignored the main point of Mr. Weeks witness... 'Oh my God, it's terrible...if I could push a button... maybe waiting longer to come out would be a good idea...'

Is it just me, or do you notice that Liberals have become decidedly unLiberal of late?

Martin T. said...

IT, you can keep repeating that all day, it doesn't make it true. There is no excuse for committing suicide, EVER. Get off of your politically correct tirade. There is NO EXCUSE for taking a life that isn't yours to take. As far as a civil standpoint goes, I'm fine with people having their rights because no one can tell you who to be with, but the Church is a different story. There is nothing biblical about "blessing" homosexual couples. There is nothing biblical about non-celibate homosexuals being in altars and pulpits. Sorry, it isn't. Someone has to stand up and say enough and stop going with the flow of political correctness. Being politically correct will not save anyone. Thank God for Article 26 because without it, we would be doomed.

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

LG ... suggest you look up the definition of profanity before you throw it around.

And I'm late out of the house on the way to church but in point of fact what we "liberals" are becoming "un" is tolerant of intolerance that kills. Silence equals death. Deal with it.

Martin T. said...

LGM, hopefully it's a turn for the better. Maybe this situation and how certain people are treating it are waking people up.

uffda51 said...

Martin T., you can repeat all day to yourself that being gay is a lifestyle choice but that doesn’t make it true. You can pretend that we know nothing about epigenetic changes, hormones, prenatal development and DNA, but why? We can understand why people in Biblical times were unaware of these things but we in the 21st century know better. There is no nexus between sexual orientation and morality.

As for suicide, have you no empathy for someone suffering unimaginable pain, pain so intense and excruciating that the only possible option seems to be ending their own life? How would you feel if your friends, classmates, siblings, parents, church, politicians, employers, military, etc. called you “disordered” every day of your life?

How about Lawrence King? Any sympathy for him? Any sympathy for a kid who was murdered - shot in the head - by his middle school classmate, in his classroom, fifty miles form where I’m sitting right now?

What does “poltical correctness” have to do with bullying? Does “with liberty and justice for all” rings any bells? The Good Samaritan? Do unto others . . .? The Great Commandment?

There is no excuse for remaining willfully ignorant. You could google the latest medical research on LGBT persons and the latest research on violence against LGBT persons. You could read any of the many books about what the Bible actually says about homosexuality. You could rent “For the Bible Tells Me So.” You could read the Prop. 8 trial transcripts. But somehow I doubt that you will.

BTW, LG, when Mr. Weeks says “Oh, my God, it’s terrible,” he’s referring to the hatred, homophobia and bigotry from Christians he is forced to confront on a daily basis. And no one hates like Christians.

Martin T. said...

uffda51, it isn't being attracted to the same sex that is the problem. It's acting on it sexually, that can be controlled. Suicide isn't an option, period, it's the worse thing you can do and it changes NOTHING. Why can't anyone say how wrong suicide is?? It doesn't MATTER the reasoning behind it! As for the Lawrence, his murder will answer for his crime when his time comes. Right now you are talking apples and oranges and I'm not falling for it pal. Murder is NEVER right, suicide is NEVER right, so stop it already. Believe it or not uffda51, I read the transcripts and I've seen "For the Bible tells me so" on the Sundance channel. There is no reasonable civil argument to bar SS couples from entering into a legal contract, but there is also NOTHING that supports them being able to have the Sacrament of Matrimony, two very different things, uffda51. I came to a different conclusion uffda51, but I can still take communion with you. Let me put it simply, if the traditionalist folks are right, may God have mercy on you, if we are wrong, and yes, it's possible and I can admit that, if we are, may God have mercy on us. Simple as that. We'll all find out in the end, that is certain.

LGMarshall said...

Sadly, innocent jr. hi student, Lawrence King took his cues from the prevalent culture that encouraged him to 'be who you are, be proud of it!, there is nothing to hold you back, go for it If you want something, go after it, acting on your romantic life is accepted by all..."

The advice Lawrence was given by our Culture [you] was wrong, and put Lawrence King in grave danger. Shame on you.

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

LG ... Makes perfect sense.

A child shot in cold blood by a classmate terrified by his expressions of attraction is the responsibility of those calling for equality for all -- not those continiuing to fan the flames of homophobia by naming LGBT people as disordered; less-than; abnormal; unnatural; abdomination; freak.

By that reasoning the responsibility for Martin Luther King's assasination lies not with the racist segregationists but with those in the "Culture" who dared to dream beyond the racism that contaminated it -- those who believed that liberty and justice for all really means ALL and that "Jesus loves me, this I know" didn't have an * that said "unless I'm black. Or gay. Or transgender."

We're going to win this one. And someday our children and children's children will look back on an exchange like this with the same horrified amazement as we do when we read the mediveal arguments about whether women had souls. And the 18th century exchanges about whether Africans were human.

And those who stand for equality for LGBT people will be on the right side of history. And you won't. Shame on you.

uffda51 said...

Yes, there is nothing in the Bible about same-sex marriage. There’s also nothing in the Bible about a nation rejecting the divine right of kings and choosing to live in a self-governing democratic republic. But if the persons the Biblical literalists disapprove of simply refrain from sex for life, are barred from the priesthood, and agree to be denied the more than 1000 local, state and federal laws that protect heterosexual married couples, all will be well. That’s great for the bullies, both the playground and politician varieties. For those being bullied, not so much.

Those who carry around such extreme animus towards persons they will never meet or know may in fact be incapable of shame. Or change.

The arc of the universe does bend toward justice. Too slowly, certainly, but thank God, it does bend.

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

Martin T -- I've been meaning to reply to your comment awhile back about "African Americans" taking exception with comparisons between LGBT rights and Civil Rights. While there are absolutely diverse opinions within the African American community here are a few perspectives that make it clear there are leaders within the African American community who "get" the connection:

Coretta Scott King -- MLK's widow:
"I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people and I should stick to the issue of racial justice... But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King, Jr., said, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere' ... I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream to make room at the table of brotherhood and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people."

Julian Bond -- NAACP:
"When someone asks me, 'are gay rights civil rights?' my answer is always, 'Of course, they are.' Civil rights are positive legal prerogatives: the right to equal treatment before the law. These are the rights shared by everyone. There is no one in the United States who does not, or should not, enjoy or share in enjoying these rights. Gay and lesbian rights are not special rights in any way. It isn’t 'special' to be free from discrimination. It is an ordinary, universal entitlement of citizenship."

Eric Lee -- SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference):
"At the center of this issue is the right to choose how individuals live their lives. Freedom of choice is essential and critical to our democratic ideals, and also a core component of the Christian faith. At no time should any tax paying citizen be denied the constitutional right to freedom. The issue of Marriage Equality needs to framed as a right to freedom, justice and equality, the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness. Jesus asked that we love our neighbors as we love ourselves. This is our opportunity to follow in His footsteps and show the true power of His words."

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

Martin T -- I've been meaning to reply to your comment awhile back about "African Americans" taking exception with comparisons between LGBT rights and Civil Rights. While there are absolutely diverse opinions within the African American community here are a few perspectives that make it clear there are leaders within the African American community who "get" the connection:

Coretta Scott King -- MLK's widow:
"I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people and I should stick to the issue of racial justice... But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King, Jr., said, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere' ... I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream to make room at the table of brotherhood and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people."

Julian Bond -- NAACP:
"When someone asks me, 'are gay rights civil rights?' my answer is always, 'Of course, they are.' Civil rights are positive legal prerogatives: the right to equal treatment before the law. These are the rights shared by everyone. There is no one in the United States who does not, or should not, enjoy or share in enjoying these rights. Gay and lesbian rights are not special rights in any way. It isn’t 'special' to be free from discrimination. It is an ordinary, universal entitlement of citizenship."

Eric Lee -- SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference):
"At the center of this issue is the right to choose how individuals live their lives. Freedom of choice is essential and critical to our democratic ideals, and also a core component of the Christian faith. At no time should any tax paying citizen be denied the constitutional right to freedom. The issue of Marriage Equality needs to framed as a right to freedom, justice and equality, the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness. Jesus asked that we love our neighbors as we love ourselves. This is our opportunity to follow in His footsteps and show the true power of His words."

Martin T. said...

I wonder would those same people say that homosexuals are "entitled" to the Sacrament of Matrimony...those are two VERY different things BTW.

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

Martin T: Yep ... "knew that" ... (BTW) ... and also know that that's why we still have separation of church and state in this country (check with Christine O'Donnell who's been doing some remedial reading on that one.)

And what does that mean? It means that Civil Rights leaders recognize that liberty and justice for all includes equal access to civil marriage protection for ALL Americans ... and to keep perpetuating the fiction that "African Americans" are unnanimously opposed to marriage equality is exactly that: fiction.

And it's time to call "game over" on the "divide and conquer" strategy of keeping the marginalized divided over difference rather than focused on common goals.

Finally ... I recommend some remedial reading on the concept of "sacramental marriage." Sacramental stuff is "inside baseball" church talk ... and you'll find lots of great Baptist folks talking sanctity of marriage without touching sacrament of marriage with a barge-pole. (BTW)

Martin T. said...

First of all, don't compare me to that career candidate in Delaware. Secondly, I don't care about the Baptists, I care about TEC and the direction it's going in. And the hard truth is that some of you hard left liberals are becoming what you call yourself fighting against. You and the hard right are just two sides of the same coin. No space for anyone in between, it's either agree with one of your agendas or stay away. Both of your camps are just making people say "screw it" altogether and just stay home on Sunday. You ever thought that just MAYBE, ALL OF YOU, are taking this too far??

musculars said...

In no way do I see the veiws of Martin T as those of a moderate conservative as he percieves himself.I find him hard hearted and judgemental. To call these vulnerable young victims cowards displays an incomprehension that borders on willfull ignorance and evades the church's culpability in these deaths.

As I have mentioned elsewhere the issue isn't that there is crulety but what we must do to instill the where-with-all to withstand it. What the Church has done is quite the contrary. Its disordered moral teachings have undermined the very ontology, the very personhood of a child of Gd. It prolongs and participates in the persecution of the prevailing culture and by engaging in a political attack on the civil liberties of gay people seeks to deny them the most elemental things that straight people take for granted.
Every gay person bears the scars of the stigma of being gay for which I am sure Mr Weeks is expressing. But he comes from a generation that most gay people would never want to return as it offers nothing but some dismal wish to be something which one is not with echoes of instilled self-loathing.
Most gay people of my generation perceive their sexuality as a gift, the stigma transformed into the stigmata of a life redeemed.
Those that celebrate this gift know that nothing can separate them from the love of Gd. This is the departure point for all the teachings of the church and any that deviate from that must needs be discarded.