Category Archives: Religion

News Flash: Gay Priest! …oh…nevermind.

Weakland It comes as no big surprise to hear of the memoirs of Archbishop Rembert Weakland, former Catholic prelate of Milwaukee, and his admission therein that he is a gay man. Imagine that?! A gay priest.

What a shock.

Meanwhile, down Miami way, Father Cutie (pronounced "cue-tee-ay" no matter howFather Cutie cute he is) allows as how he's fallen in love with a woman, and "doesn't want to become the poster boy for anti-celibacy." Don't worry cutey. You won't.

We return once again, to the anti-sex of yesteryear…somewhere around the 16th century, when the Roman Catholic Church was worried about what was going to happen to all that real estate. Suddenly scriptural support for the celibacy of the priesthood was discovered….how conveeeeeeeeeeenient. Presto! No real estate problems. All the deeds stay with the church.

What is it that makes celibacy so desirable in a priest or a nun? Why is a lack of human, physical intimacy a recommend for spiritual superiority? 

Once again the Roman Catholic Church's wisdom in the area of sexuality and human intimacy is reminiscent of the Roman Catholic Church's wisdom in the area of astronomy. 

Which is to say: zero.


Charlatans of Intolerance

A week back the New York Times Magazine profiled the disturbingly (proudly) intolerant Evangelical Fundamentalists from Africa who have moved their "ministries" to the United States.  Worth a read.  But more worth a read is this Letter to the Editors:

Daniel Ajayi-Adeniran and Raphael Adebayo claim that the Redeemed are in America because it “has fallen into the thrall of wickedness.” If America is considered fallen, what does that say about the extreme poverty, disease, ethnic cleansing, tribal warfare and failed states of Africa where he and the Redeemed originated? In truth, the Redeemed came to America because this is where the money is, and because American freedoms allow all religions — even the most bizarre — not only to exist but to sustain their existence by exemption from taxes.

We chastised the leaders of the American automobile industry for flying to Washington on private jets, yet we subsidize by tax relief the purchase of a private jet for a religious group that prays for God to cancel debts supernaturally; believes text messages offer divine protection; prays for deliverance from curses, spells and sorcery, witchcraft, evil spirits, poverty and addiction due to demonic possession; petitions God to transform their followers into millionaires; and claims to perform miracles, see the future, raise the dead, avoid traffic jams, foresee coups, restore hair, cure kidney disease, depression and H.I.V.

How can we be so inconsistent?

Newtown, Pa.



Yank the Tax Exemption for the NY Archdiocese!

 Marriage Equality Would someone please explain to me… why the new, pinhead, Archbishop of the New York Roman Catholic Archdiocese gets to comment on specific legislation being considered in the NY State legislature? Specifically the bill introduced by the Governor for Marriage Equality.

If I am not mistaken aren't 501(c)(3) nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations specifically forbidden to lobby or act on behalf of specific legislation or candidates? Here's the relevant passage:

"An organization will be regarded as attempting to influence legislation if it contacts, or urges the public to contact, members or employees of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation, or if the organization advocates the adoption or rejection of legislation."

So if Archbishop Dolan…or any other church…follows through on this threat, shouldn't the IRS yank the New York Roman Catholic Archdiocese's tax exemption?

There are too many ways to count the ignorance (and make no mistake about it…they are ignoring reality in favor of dogma) of the Catholic Church and it's pointy-headed old men, but here are four things the Archbishop doesn't know about Marriage Equality:

1. There are few biblical verses that address homosexuality at all, and most of those are not directed at homosexuality per se. Opponents of same-sex marriage routinely cite seven verses in the Christian Bible as condemning homosexuality and calling it a sin. But when taken in context, these lessons speak not against homosexuality itself, but rather against rape, child molestation, bestiality, and other practices that hurt others and compromise a person’s relationship with God.

2. Jesus never said one word against homosexuality. In all of his teachings, Jesus uplifted actions and attitudes of justice, love, humility, mercy, and compassion. He condemned violence, oppression, cold-heartedness, and social injustice. Never once did Jesus refer to what we call homosexuality as a sin.

3. The Bible never mentions or condemns the concept we call same-sex marriage. Although opponents of same-sex marriage claim that lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender unions violate biblical principles, no verses in the Bible explicitly address gay marriage or committed same-sex relationships.

4. Those who claim a “biblical definition of marriage” as a model for today ignore various marital arrangements in the Bible that would be illegal or condemned today. The Bible is filled with stories of polygamy and husbands taking concubines. In accordance with the culture and laws of the past, women were often treated like property that could be traded or sold into marriage. Today we understand that these examples of marriage reflect the cultural practices of the time rather than a spiritual model for today.

Julian Bond on Gay Rights

This is a little long, but well worth the investment of time:

It does not matter the rationale: religious, cultural, pseudo scientific —
no people of goodwill should oppose marriage equality, but oppose it they do.  As we saw here in California last Fall.  So we all have work to do in terms of education and enlightenment and at the NAACP, we pledge to do our part.

Now two years ago we celebrated the 40th anniversary of a case aptly called  "Loving versus Virginia," which struck down anti-miscegenation laws and many, many years later allowed my wife and me to marry in the state that declares "Virginia is for Lovers."

Then, as now, proponents of marriage as is, wanted to amend the United States constitution.  Introducing a constitutional amendment in 1911 to ban interracial marriage, Rev. Seaborn Roddenberry of my former home state of Georgia, argued:

"Intermarriage between whites and blacks is repulsive and adverse to every sentiment of pure American spirit. It is abhorrent and repugnant. It is subversive to social peace.  It is destructive of moral supremacy."

Sound familiar?

Then, as now, proponents of marriage as is, invoke God's plan.
The trial judge who sentenced the Lovings said that when God created the races he placed them in separate continents.  The fact that he separated the races showed that he did not intend for the races to mix.

Well God made plans for interracial marriage and he, or she, will no doubt do the same for same-sex marriage."   – Julian Bond

Papal Rectal Cranial Inversion

It's gratifying to see a scientific journal with the intellectual heft of The Lancet taking on the pope and his recent idiotic rantings in Africa and how condoms "contribute to HIV/AIDS":

Pope_condom_hat "Whether the Pope's error was due to ignorance or a deliberate attempt to manipulate science to support Catholic ideology is unclear. But the comment still stands and the Vatican's attempts to tweak the Pope's words, further tampering with the truth, is not the way forward. When any influential person, be it a religious or political leader, makes a false scientific statement that could be devastating to the health of millions of people, they should retract or correct the public record. Anything less from Pope Benedict would be an immense disservice to the public and health advocates, including many thousands of Catholics, who work tirelessly to try and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS worldwide."

But they're being nice. Or tactful. Or something. I'm sorry, but is it really "unclear" if his intent was to manipulate science to support Catholic ideology? Really? Unclear to whom? 

Note to Galileo: About 1.7 million people, mostly women, in sub-Saharan Africa became infected with the HIV virus in 2007, bringing the total number of infections in the region to 22.5 million, according to the latest report by UNAIDS, the United Nations program that deals with HIV/AIDS. That’s two-thirds of the global number of people living with the virus.

The pope's comments are nothing short of an outrage, and frankly are as much a "crime against humanity" as any genocide. Medieval rot.

Of course, it wouldn't be the first time…and the Vatican's record on astronomy would be enough to give anyone pause when it came to listening to papal science (which, interestingly, if you Google "papal science" the first thing that comes up is Paypal. Somehow perfect.) 

"Papal science"…Is that an oxymoron? Or just a moronic?


 Bishop_Gene_Robinson-1 As many of you know, the Right Rev. Gene Robinson, the out Gay Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire, gave the opening prayer at yesterday's Lincoln Memorial event. It was the first event in the inaugural festivities this year. HBO, which had paid for exclusive rights to the event chose not to broadcast Bishop Robinson's prayer.

So if you watched there you wouldn't have caught it or even known that it occurred. To his ever-lasting credit, Brian Lehrer at WNYC in New York aired the first two minutes of the prayer on his morning show. But shamefully, there's no record of it in images placed on the sites of Getty Images, New York Times and the Washington Post.

It's a complete erasure of his ever having delivered the prayer. 

As if that wasn't enough, the chorus appearing behind Josh Groban, was none other than the Washington D.C. Gay Men's Chorusalso unidentified in the chiron, unlike virtually every other performer.   DC Gay Men's Chorus

Such is the continuing policy of silence and erasure we have to live with from people who should know better.  We are used to this. If you know your Gay history this has happened again and again. In fact White Crane is really about recovering the truth in our history and celebrating it.

So we're going to celebrate it by providing here the full text of Bishop Robinson's prayer. We suggest you forward this around so that everyone has a chance to enjoy it.

Lincoln memorial
   Opening Inaugural Event

Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC

January 18, 2009

Delivered by the Right Reverend V. Gene Robinson:

"Welcome to Washington! The fun is about to begin, but first, please join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God's blessing upon our nation and our next president.

O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…

Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic "answers" we've preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and our world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be "fixed" anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs as a nation must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences.

Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion's God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln's reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy's ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King's dream of a nation for ALL the people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters' childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we're asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.


A Victory in California

Episcopal_church Once again, the courts have dealt a blow of constitutional reality to religious bigots.

Word from California has been, at best, mixed, lately. But yesterday, we got word from our friend Mark Thompson, confirmed today in the NY Times, that the California State Supreme Court ruled that three parishes that left the Episcopal Church over its ordination of Gay ministers cannot retain ownership of their buildings and property…no small loss. And it was a unnanimous decision. We can only imagine it's only a matter of time before this gets kicked up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The full details are at the NY Times site, but the parishes are located in some high rent districts in Southern California: Newport Beach, Long Beach, and North Hollywood.

I guess the bigots are just going to have to move to some old abandoned drive-in.

A Prophet in His Own Land

Boyd-prophet-cover[1]   We're pleased to find out that the esteemed Richard Labonte has named our latest book (on the left there) as one of the Top Ten Nonfiction Books of 2008.

Here is what Richard had to say:

 A Prophet in His Own Land: A Malcolm Boyd Reader, Selected  Writings 1950-2007, edited by Bo Young and Dan Vera (White Crane Books/Lethe  Press, $30)

 "Over the years, Boyd has written or edited more than 30  books, from which the editors have carefully culled the prose and the  prayers comprising this rich reader of a gay elder's always-questioning, never-faltering activist faith—selections spanning more than 50 years that distill Boyd's wisdom wonderfully."


I mean…it's special enough to have had the pleasure of working with Malcolm Boyd…but then we get to be acknowledged. That's the kind of thing that makes you want to get up in the morning and go to work!


And we're in excellent company…here are the other books on Richard Labonte's list:


 My Miserable, Lonely, Lesbian Pregnancy, by Andrea  Askowitz (Cleis Press, $14.95) In this memoir about "40 weeks and five days in hell," Askowitz milks self-professed misery over her pregnancy for captivating comic effect. The ordeals of becoming a single mother—finding sperm, inserting it, week after dateless week—are chronicled in a diary that's winsomely whiny and harrowingly honest.


Crisis: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social, and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing Up Gay in America, edited by Mitchell Gold with Mindy Drucker (Greenleaf Press, $23.95) These personal accounts of rejection by parents, renunciation by churches, and ridicule from and physical attacks by peers link generations and genders through their depiction of the heroism of survival. In a perfect world, every school library would have a copy.


 Intersex (for Lack of a Better Word), by Thea Hillman (Manic D Press, $14.95) Hillman's sprightly essays add an intersex's story—please don't call us hermaphrodites, pleads the author—to the queer literary spectrum. The author writes about a muddled medical childhood, her emergence as  an intersex activist, and the women (and men) in her life, neatly blending the political and the sensual.


The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy, by Robert Leleux (St. Martin's $23.95) Debut memoirist Leleux bests both David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs as a raconteur of wacky family tales with this rollicking story of growing up queer in East Texas. The author confesses to taking some license with veracity, but depictions of his gold-digging mother's fashion and surgical excesses, and of how he found himself falling in love with a Cajun choreographer, resound with wickedly sincere truths.


About My Life and the Kept Woman, by John Rechy (Grove Press, $24) Rechy writes with eloquent elegance about growing up Mexican-American in El Paso, where "Juan" often passed as "Johnny" because of the light skin he inherited from his angry Scottish father; about the double life hiding his poverty from better-off friends; about shying away from his true sexuality while in the military during the Korean War; and, most compellingly, about how he became the street-wise, tough-guy hustler of City of Night.


Sex Talks to Girls: A Memoir, by Maureen Seaton (Terrace Books/University of Wisconsin Press, $26.95) As "Molly Meek," poet Seaton tracks her passage from religious orthodoxy to sobriety and sexual exuberance—a journey marked by drag kings, butches, all kinds of over-indulgence, and a couple of kids to care for along the way—with writing that is heroically revealing and  often very funny.


King of Shadows, by Aaron Shurin (City Lights, $16.95) Shurin's brief essays reveal a multitude of selves: the young student diving with sensual pleasure into sexual San Francisco; the homemaker enthralled by how sunlight adds sheen to his natural pine floors; the "lovechild of Denise Levertov and Robert Duncan" dedicating his soul to the purity of poetry. Resonant fragments coalesce into a vibrant mini-autobiography.


Sparkling Rain and Other Fiction from Japan of Women Who Love Women, edited by Barbara Summerhawk and Kimberly Hughes (New Victoria, $16.95) Two fascinating books are crammed—small type, narrow margins—into this groundbreaking anthology. The first: illuminating essays on the sexual, social, and literary culture of Japanese women. The second: revelatory short stories (plus poetry, manga, and a screenplay) about women loving women in an overwhelmingly patriarchal culture. Part fiction, part nonfiction—but the latter makes this one special.


The Dictionary of Homophobia: A Global History of Gay  & Lesbian  Experience, edited by Louis-Georges Tin (Arsenal Pulp  Press, $44.95) More than 70 scholars contributed 160 mini-essays to this wide-ranging survey of where and how in the world homophobia continues  to resonate. It's an invaluable eye-opener for North American-centric queer activists who believe that many battles have been won. Originally published in France in 2003, this ambitious translation from a small Canadian press is an honorable achievement.