ETSU Baptist Collegiate Ministry is Homophobic and Anti-LGBTQ

I recently became aware of a video that was made by the ETSU Baptist Collegiate Ministry in corroboration with the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board. The video features homophobic and anti-LGBTQ content, and has since been deleted after being viewed over 4,000 times.

This is a video of ETSU’s campus and its purpose is to be a promotion for the ETSU Baptist Collegiate Ministry. The video features Jonathan Chapman, the Baptist Collegiate Campus Minister, who said,

“Well, there’s definitely a real sense of urgency here. I feel like we’re kind of on the cusp of the gates of hell. We’re the last stop. College campuses are ground zero for the battle for the souls of America’s young people, and I see it every day. Challenges related to gender identity, homosexuality, pornography, drug issues, poverty, deeply broken families, hostility towards God and Christianity and it goes on and on and on.”

At the mention of gender identity and homosexuality, the film shows two members of ETSU’s Sexuality and Gender Alliance Club who are visibly queer. I have spoken to both of them (names redacted) and neither say they consented to being filmed and feel that they were specifically targeted to be shown in this film because of its anti-LGBTQ message.

The film also shows two Muslim girls in hijabs walking when Jonathan Chapman mentions “hostility towards God and Christianity”. You expect me to believe those are both coincidences? That this film just so happened to show two queer students while talking about homosexuality, and two Muslim students when talking about hostility towards Christianity? This video unfairly makes these students targets for further harassment.

Listed under ETSU’s PPP-80 Discrimination & Harassment – Complaint & Investigation Procedure, discrimination and harassment are fully defined in regards to university policy:

Discrimination – Discrimination may occur by:

Treating individuals less favorably because of their race, color, religion, creed, ethnic or national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, disability, age (as applicable), status as a covered veteran, genetic information, or any other category protected by federal or state civil rights law; or,

Having a policy or practice that has a disproportionately adverse impact on protected class members.

Harassment – based on a protected class

Harassment is conduct that is based on a person’s race, color, religion, creed, ethnic or national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, disability, age (as applicable), status as a covered veteran, genetic information, or any other category protected by federal or state civil rights law that;

Adversely affects a term or condition of an individual’s employment, education, participation in an institution’s activities or living environment;

Has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s employment or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, offensive or abusive environment of the individual; or

Is used as a basis for or a factor in decisions that tangibly affect that individual’s employment, education, participation in an institution’s activities or living environment.

The BCM is a student organization that has unfairly discriminated against and harassed LGBTQ students by making them feel unsafe with this targeted video and clear homophobic agenda.

We, the LGBTQ students and allies of East Tennessee State University, will not stand for this hateful injustice against our student community.

Besides myself and several others, one of the students featured in this video has penned a letter to the Dean of Students and the President of the University:

It was recently brought to my attention that the Baptist Collegiate Ministries on our campus have released a video containing homophobic and islamiphobic commentary in which I am a targeted subject of said commentary. As a member of ETSU’s Sexuality and Gender Alliance (S.A.G.A.) as well as an openly queer student, I am concerned with any harassment this video could bring. I did not consent to being in this promotional video for an organization that I am not affiliated with and do not agree with their exploitation of my gender identity and sexuality to promote their message. Another point of targeted harassment was showing footage of two muslim students in hijabs while talking about violence against Christianity. I have attached captioned screenshots of the mentioned instances along with an excerpt of the transcript. In the attached photos, I am the student with pink hair and in the footage I was even wearing a pendant containing the flag of my sexual orientation. This hardly seems like a coincidence. I urge you to investigate and deal with this matter accordingly. This manner of hateful commentary is not welcome on our campus as proven with the “Gorilla Man” incident during the Black Lives Matter protest.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

UPDATE July 20, 8:20pm

Since blowing the whistle on this issue, the video was taken down by BCM, who issued this statement:

To the ETSU Community,

“This morning the ETSU Baptist Collegiate Ministry became aware of comments related to a video posted on Facebook. The video was publicly posted nearly a year ago and relates to the ministry of the BCM. Unfortunately, some of the video’s content was taken out of context and misrepresents our ministry. Those familiar with the BCM’s ministry history know that we have loved and served the ETSU community, and will continue to serve students of all races, nationalities, religions, genders, sexual orientations or any other protected status.

Throughout the 11 months the video has publicly been online, we have received no negative comments until last night. We removed the video out of respect for the concerns of the individuals making comments. We sincerely apologize to those the video offended. That was not our intent.

We will continue to serve the students and the larger ETSU community as we have since 1957.”

In the statement they claim that the statements made in the video were taken out of context. The offensive statement made in the video by Minister Jonathan Chapman was the following,

“Well, there’s definitely a real sense of urgency here. I feel like we’re kind of on the cusp of the gates of hell. We’re the last stop. College campuses are ground zero for the battle for the souls of America’s young people, and I see it every day. Challenges related to gender identity, homosexuality, pornography, drug issues, poverty, deeply broken families, hostility towards God and Christianity and it goes on and on and on.”

To say that the students who were offended by those words were “taking them out of context” is entirely false. To say that these students are “misrepresenting the ministry” is, in essence, painting them as liars or as people trying to slander the ministry. The purpose of calling out this horribly degrading video was not to slander or misrepresent the ministry, the ministry does a good enough job on their own at making themselves look bad, with hateful doctrine being preached like this.

Additionally, it doesn’t matter how long ago the video was posted, and the fact that it didn’t get any negative comments. That fact is meaningless. The LGBTQ students featured in the video had no knowledge they were being featured in a film containing anti-LGBTQ doctrine and the LGBTQ student body was entirely unaware of the existence of the video until very recently.

The “apology” goes on to tell the students that the BCM is sorry they were offended. The BCM pushed the blame entirely on to the LGBTQ students who called this video to the attention of others for its problematic content, and took no responsibility for its actions.

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Georges Lemaître: The Catholic Priest Who Invented the Big Bang Theory

Today, July 17, marks what would have been Georges Lemaître’s 124th birthday. Georges Lemaître was a Belgian Catholic priest, astronomer, and physics professor at the Catholic University of Leuven. He is the man behind the “Big Bang” theory of the origin of the universe. He also discovered the existence of cosmic microwave background radiation shortly before his death in 1966, which supported his theory. He was the first to derive Hubble’s Law, and to propose that the universe is expanding, something that was later observationally confirmed by Edwin Hubble.

Lemaître received a classical education at a Jesuit secondary school, and then moved on to study civil engineering. He then joined the Belgian army and fought during World War I. After the war ended, he decided to prepare for the diocesan priesthood, instead of the Jesuits. He was ordained as a Catholic priest and continued his studies, this time in physics and mathematics. He studied at top universities, including the University of Cambridge, Harvard, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In 1933, Lemaître delivered a lecture of his theory at the California Institute of Technology, where some of the greatest scientists from around the world had gathered, including Albert Einstein. When he finished, Einstein stood up and exclaimed, “This is the most beautiful and satisfactory explanation of creation to which I ever listened.” In 1951, Pope Pius XII also expressed his support for Lemaître and the Big Bang Theory.

This information blew my mind, no pun intended. Often we hear theistic arguments against the Big Bang Theory, claiming that it’s “anti-genesis”, “anti-creationism” or “anti-Christian”. Then on the other hand, there are atheists who believe that to believe in religion you must deny science. Neither are true, as Lemaître’s life, studies, and faith have showed us. Science and faith are not opposites of each other, but two sides of the same coin. Today, the Big Bang Theory is the leading explanation and most widely accepted theory of the origin of the universe, and it was invented by a Catholic priest.

Franklin Graham on Jimmy Carter: God Kills Gay People

Former president Jimmy Carter made a comment during an interview with HuffPost in July of 2015 when he was asked about his views on gay marriage. He said, “Jesus would promote any love affair if it was honest or sincere and was not damaging to anyone else. And I don’t see that gay marriage damages anyone else.”

Breitbart News recently dug up this quote in one of their recent articles, in which they falsely reported that Carter made this comment last Sunday, and not three years ago. Breitbart is a far-right news media website known for its misogynistic, xenophobic, and racist content, as well as for publishing intentionally misleading stories, falsehoods, and incendiary conspiracy theories. After reading this article, Franklin Graham decided to comment. Franklin Graham, the son of the American evangelist Billy Graham, is an evangelical Christian pastor and president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA).

On July 10, he made this disturbing post on his Facebook page:

I have to respectfully disagree with former President Jimmy Carter on this one. He is absolutely wrong when he said Jesus would approve of gay marriage. Jesus didn’t come to promote sin, He came to save us from sin. The Bible is very clear. God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of homosexuality. God defines sin in His Word—it’s not up to our opinion, the latest poll, or a popular vote. What is very troubling is that some people may read what President Carter has said and believe it, whether it was this week or from a video 3 years ago that is now recirculating. God loves us and gives us the truth in His Word. He warns us of the serious consequences of sin.

“Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.” (Romans 1:24-27).

Firstly, I’d like to say that there is nothing “respectful” about this “disagreement”. Polite homophobia is still homophobia. Just because something disrespectful is said calmly, it doesn’t make the content of the message any less disrespectful. “Respectfully said” or not, Graham’s message is a disgusting and hateful one.

The quote Graham takes from Romans is by the apostle Paul, who was actually writing about idolatry. Some theologians argue that this passage includes the Roman practice of pederasty (a kind of child molestation), in addition to idol-worshipping, but nowhere is homosexuality referenced. This is just a quote that Graham took out of context to fit his homophobic agenda. In the rest of the passage, Paul goes on to say that those who commit acts against the true good nature of humanity “deserve death”.

In my opinion, it’s pretty clear that this is what Graham was getting at when making this Facebook post, it’s fairly transparent to anyone with any knowledge of scripture what he was trying to say. And of course, he references the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, which many falsely believe is about God destroying these cities because of homosexuality. So, just as God supposedly killed the people of Sodom and Gomorrah because of homosexuality, it’s safe to assume Graham believes all LGBT people deserve a similar fate.

Franklin Graham is no Christian, just an opportunist using religion to advance his fortunes. He is a man using the gospel to justify his hatred and prejudice, when he should know, 1 John 4:7-8:

“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

Why Women Don’t Report: When Rapists Sue Their Victims Into Silence

Being the victim of a rape or sexual assault is horrifying and traumatizing enough as it is, but what happens when your rapist tries to frame himself as the victim? As utterly sickening as that scenario may be, it’s not that uncommon. In fact, many rapists use the threat of a defamation lawsuit to force their victims into silence. This is one of the reasons a rape victim might not report.

When my rapist was outed by multiple women and myself, he claimed that all of our accusations were harassment, and that we were just “jealous” of his happy life. He framed us as bitter exes, and framed himself as the victim of our lies. Sadly, the burden of proof is often on the victim, and when rapists cry to their friends for sympathy, it further perpetuates rape culture. He claims to be in the roughly 2% of false accusations, and claims that his victims are hurting “real” victims, and that he himself is hurt. He went so far as to literally label himself a “victim”.

Take the story of 24-year-old Sacramento woman Yee Xiong, for example. She reported her rape to the police, and her rapist sued her for defamation of character, stalking, and violating his right to privacy. He framed himself as the victim of her harassment after she outed him as rapist. He sued her $4,987.50, in small claims court, which meant that she couldn’t bring a lawyer to defend herself. He was forcing her to face him alone. By using these frivolous lawsuits against her, he was attempting to force her into silence and punish her for reporting her rape. He was also using the legal system to control her, to force her to face him. It gave him control over her, and that is what rape is about. Not sex, but control. And as long as Yee Xiong’s rapist keeps filing motions against her, he gets to force himself into her life.

Another example of this tactic is the story of Carrie May Lucas, who was raped by a man named Sayid. Sayid made himself the victim by filing a protection order against her, his victim, claiming he was “afraid for his safety”, all things meant to discredit her. He also tried to get Carrie’s child taken away from her by falsely claiming she was an unfit mother. He used every legal tactic he could to wear her down, to punish her for accusing him. This is what happens when women report.

My rapist’s mother has sent threatening messages to women I know, threatening to to file a lawsuit against anyone who dares to call her son a rapist. His family has money, enough money to hire lawyers who will bully his victims into staying quiet. Sadly, there is not much room in the legal system for justice for rape victims like myself. But that doesn’t mean we stay quiet, because as any lawyer will tell him, it’s only defamatory if it’s false.

The facts are, my rapist was permanently banned from the university he attended for his actions. He’s been banned from stores, and multiple political activist groups in the town where he lives. Being barred from setting foot on the campus of a public university says more about him than I ever could. It speaks volumes to how dangerous he is, and the university administration took steps to protect the student body from him. He had to be forcibly removed from a campus building by campus police officers for violating his ban on attending a campus safe space. He hid outside in the dark and waited for the meeting to be over so he could harass me and other victims. The facts are, he’s admitted in writing to raping a woman who was too intoxicated to consent. This, he claims, was consensual. There are multiple people who have come forward to accuse him, and I believe them. I believe all of them, just as I ask them to believe me.

I know that it is unlikely my rapist will see justice. I grieve for all the women who will not get to see their abuser behind bars. How many people have been scared or threatened into silence? How many threatened victims never get to see justice? How many never got to have their voices heard? I say, not one more. We will not be threatened or forced into silence by a predatory man any longer.

Is Pride a Sin?

Pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth.

No, that is not a description of my weekend plans. It’s a list of the Seven Deadly Sins, as I’m sure most people are familiar with already. Today I’d like to talk about just one of those sins: pride. The month of June has just ended, and it was LGBTQ Pride Month. I’ve seen a joke circulating around the internet, something along the lines of, “LGBTQ Pride Month is over, now let’s gets ready for LGBTQ Wrath Month.” The joke being that now that the LGBTQ community is done celebrating one sin, we’re off to celebrate another. This is only a joke, of course, but it begs the question: is pride a sin?

It depends.

There are some common misconceptions around the word “pride” and how it exists as part of the LGBTQ community and as one of the Seven Deadly Sins, but the two are not at all alike. In fact, they’re the complete opposite.

There are two antithetical meanings to the word pride, one positive and one negative.

Pride:

A corrupt sense of one’s personal value, status or accomplishments. A desire to be important or attractive to others or excessive love of the self. I.e. Vanity.

Or,

Pride:

A humble and content sense of attachment toward one’s own or another’s choices and actions, or toward a whole group and is a product of praise, independent self-reflection, and a fulfilled feeling of belonging.

The first kind of pride is the type of pride that the Bible warns us about. This type of pride, the kind that is selfish and egotistical, is considered the worst of the Seven Deadly Sins. Putting one’s own desires before the wellbeing of others, believing oneself to be superior to everyone else, to be above God, and to disregard the feelings and accomplishments of others, is the kind of pride that is considered sinful. Danté defined pride as “love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one’s neighbour”, and as many of us know, Jesus asked of us, in Mark 12:31 “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”

The second kind of pride is the kind of pride felt by the LGBTQ community. LGBTQ pride is about feeling a fulfilled feeling of belonging. For me, it’s about accepting myself the way God made me. I am reminded of Psalm 139:13-14,

“It was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.”

One of the ways I love God is by loving the way He made me, by seeing His creation within me. Gay or straight, we are all made in the image of God, fearfully and wonderfully made. LGBTQ pride is about loving your neighbor, loving each other, and celebrating our authentic, true selves. It’s not about being superior to anyone, it’s about being equal. There is nothing sinful about loving yourself as a child of God. Being proud of hard work is also encouraged in the Bible, and living as an LGBTQ person can be extremely difficult. Many experience hardships and difficulties, like extreme violence or discrimination, because they’re part of the community. And overcoming that is something to be proud of.

LGBTQ pride was born out of the need to free ourselves from oppression and discrimination. We were, and often still are, considered inferior to those who believe they are superior to us. So, which is the greater sin, to believe you are superior to your gay neighbor, or for your neighbor to love the way God made them?

LGBTQ Pride Month is Over, Now Let’s Talk About the Protestors

The month of June is LGBTQ Pride Month, and this past month, I saw dozens of photos of my friends celebrating Pride in their respective hometowns. While I did see a lot of rainbows, a lot of drag, and a lot of glitter, I also saw a lot of protests. What I started to notice after seeing photos from Knoxville Pride, and then Chicago Pride, is that the protestors are waving the exact same signs in both cities. I started to remember that I had seen these signs in photos before, and I started to wonder, are all hateful bigots just unoriginal, or are these people all from the same group? We’ve all seen them, but who exactly are they?

They are in fact from the same group, an evangelical and fundamentalist Christian group called the Official Street Preachers, or OSP. In essence, they’re the Westboro Baptist Church of street preaching. It was a little difficult for me to find detailed information about them. Their website has no “about” page, and every single tab on their website about their doctrine, whether it be the anti-abortion, or the anti-Islam tab, all link to the exact same anti-gay article from LifeSite called “Are gays ‘born that way’? Most Americans now say yes, but science says no”. While their website may be broken, it’s easy to figure out their beliefs from reading some of their signs. One sign, for example, lists everyone (or mostly everyone) that the OSP believe are going to hell. It reads,

WARNING:

  • Homos
  • Rebellious women
  • Muslims
  • Whoremongers
  • Porno freaks
  • Ankle biters
  • Cow worshippers
  • Drunks
  • Jews who disobey Jesus
  • Liars
  • Racists: KKK, BLM, Obama
  • Sissies
  • Women MMA fighters
  • The Pope
  • Female enablers
  • M-bators (masturbators)
  • Money lover$
  • Dead healers (?)
  • Mama’s boys
  • Party animals
  • Baby killers
  • Dykes on bikes
  • Witches
  • Little monsters
  • Gamers
  • Gangster rappers
  • Cutters
  • Rock n’ Roll freaks
  • Brats
  • So called Christians
  • Emos
  • Occupational whores

It’s quite the bizarre list. If you’re having trouble interpreting half the stuff on this list, you’re not alone. By ankle biters, do they mean children? Gamers, “mama’s boys”, “little monsters”, people who like rock n’ roll music, all people who belong in Hell according to the OSP. It’s safe to assume that the repeated mention of women on their signs, rebellious women, female enablers, women MMA fighters, etc. means that they’re a very misogynist and anti-feminist group. The inclusion of “Whoremongers” and “occupational whores” also gives me that impression. They’ve been recently photographed wearing t-shirts in one of their latest pride protests in Chicago a few days ago, that read,

Women:

  • Quiet
  • Modest
  • Submissive to husbands
  • Baby making machines
  • Keepers at home (laundry, cooking, doing dishes, etc.)

Now if that isn’t the definition of misogynist bullshit, I don’t know what is.

Their preaching against LGBTQ people seems to be one of the most important issues. They go town to town protesting pride parades and festivals during June. One of their most recognizable signs is the “HOMO SEX IS SIN” sign, which one I’ve had shoved in my face enough times to remember. Another sign I’ve seen quite often is a sign that reads, “WARNING: sodomites, fags, dykes, homos, fairies, lesbos, queens, fudge packers, muff divers, perverts, hell awaits you”. One of my friends, a transgender woman, splashed water in the face of a man twice her size holding that sign at Knoxville Pride fest, after he broke off from the others to harass people at the front gate to the festival. Another sign that seems to reference transgender people, reads, “God does not make mistakes! God says you are: male or female, abomination and reprobate, there is no gay gene, DNA does not lie, sodom was destroyed for sex.”

They’re not a big fan of Catholics either, which is something that wasn’t very obvious at any of the protests at Knoxville Pridefest that I’ve witnessed, probably because they were more focused on preaching about the sin of “homo sex and sodomy”. Other than putting the Pope on the list of people going to Hell, I saw photographs on their website of signs that read, “Roman Catholicism is of the devil, it will send you to hell”, “Your priest is lying!”, and “Catholics are NOT Christians.”

As a Roman Catholic, I’m not personally offended by these signs. I’m actually glad to not be lumped in with these kinds of people. If, by their definition, Catholics are not Christians, but they themselves are, then I’m perfectly fine with existing outside the OSP’s definition of Christian. I have a similar feeling about the anti-Catholic street preaching of the Westboro Baptist Church. If hateful anti-LGBT groups like the OSP and the WBC hate my religion, then I must be doing something right. These are the groups that people say “make all Christians look bad”, but they distance themselves from Catholics, allowing me to distance myself from them. Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Pagans, atheists, basically every religion that isn’t the strict “Fire and brimstone” fundamentalist Christianity is worthy of Hell, according to them.

Other than the OSP official website, officalstreetpreachers.com, I looked up two other websites that are referenced on their signs, christianinterviews.com and peacefinally.com, which both seem to be gone or out of use. Their blogspot website is still in use, and while it has no “about” menu either, my morbid curiosity led me to scroll through it. Unsurprisingly, its mostly pictures of the group protesting, with some pretty sickening captions, like: “Many taxi drivers are Muslim and after they drop off their passengers they roll their window down and listen to us preach. I walked up to few asked them if they believe in Jesus as the Son of God, they said ‘no.’ So I asked them if they have any bombs inside their taxi and they said ‘no.’ I asked if I could look and a couple allowed me to open the doors and check the trunk. Just doing my job as a concerned American.” and, “Last year one of the sisters dressed as a Muslim as I beat her with a stick all while verses from the koran was read on allowing Muslim men to do so”.

I’m not sure why the Official Street Preachers have gained so little media attention, whereas similar anti-gay fire and brimstone evangelical groups like the Westboro Baptist Church are so widely known. Considering negative attention seems to be a driving force behind their continued sidewalk sermons, I think it’s a good thing that the mainstream media won’t give these redneck street preachers the time of day.

Jamie Wright, and the Hypocrisy of American Evangelical Missionaries

Jesus answered them, “Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me.'” Mark 7:6

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.” Matthew 23:15

Jamie Wright, author of the book The Very Worst Missionary, took to Twitter last Friday to vent about the hypocrisy of American Evangelical missionaries. As a former missionary in Costa Rica, she has firsthand knowledge of the broken system of Christian Missions. This system, as she points out on her website, is “endlessly fed by good-intentions, gross entitlement, and an unchecked stream of white savior colonial bullshit.” Evangelicals often spend hoards of money flying to different countries just to “save” a few children. At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself, could that money be used for something better? Are missionaries really helping? Who are these missionary trips really for?

Jamie Wright tackled these questions on Twitter last week, opening with her first tweet,

“It’s really not surprising that American Evangelicals who come home from their summer mission trips with giant spiritual boners from visiting impoverished brown people like safari game would then justify caging the same people like zoo animals should they dare cross the border.”

This tweet is directly referencing the hypocrisy of conservative Evangelical support for President Trump’s “zero tolerance” border policy, that forcibly separates children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. How can the same Evangelical Christians who justify ripping immigrant children from their parents arms also justify their cute summer mission trips to Central American countries? And how can we, as Christians, justify using so much money and so many resources to fly to impoverished countries merely to satiate our own spiritual egos?

She then follows up with a series of tweets, saying,

“When ‘serving others’ is actually a form of personal entertainment dressed up as ‘God’s work’, then the people we’re serving become little more than props for our own story. We enjoy feeding and photographing them in their own countries, and we call them ‘beautiful’ and ‘heartbreaking’ while we applaud them for finding joy despite abject poverty and unconscionable abuse. We ‘love on them’. We ‘learn from them’. And then we leave them behind to take our cool new story home where we will tell everyone how we’ve been ‘changed by them’ with a slide show that brings our friends to tears.”

These kinds of people, also called “voluntourists”, fly to different countries, spend one or two weeks there taking pictures and offering their misplaced good intentions, and then they fly home, feeling good about themselves and thinking they made a difference. However, had they just donated the money they would have spent on their trip instead of flying there themselves, they would have made a bigger, longer lasting difference. But it’s not about what will do the most good, it’s about what will make them feel all warm and fuzzy inside, what will make them feel like superior Christians.

Personally, I know of an entitled, Southern Baptist, and Bible-belt raised girl, who did a mission trip in San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala, which is a popular tourist destination. The dominant religion there is, in fact, Christianity. Though Christianity has been the dominant religion for some time, roughly half the population practices traditional Maya rituals. But do we really need American tourists who don’t speak a word of Spanish coming over to convert people in a region that is already predominantly Christian? Not really. If the majority of the country is Christian then those who are not Christian already have all of the resources they would need to convert, and have Spanish speaking pastors and churches they can attend. They don’t need a bunch of sheltered white Americans to come and “save” them. The whole mission trip was as entirely unnecessary as you would expect visiting a mostly Christian country for a mission trip would be. This girl was just a privileged holier-than-thou conservative Republican who wanted to go on vacation and also have something to brag about at Tuesday Bible study. Two birds, one hypocritical stone.

You have to wonder if it’s really enough to just show up in these countries and “let God do the rest”. Is spending billions of dollars to send a bunch of mediocre Americans (who have no understanding of the language or culture) into impoverished countries just to “save” less than a handful of children really the work God has called us to do on this Earth?

“I hate to burst your globe-trotting bubble,” as Jamie Wright said, “but the work of God was never meant to be an adventure vacation for comfortable suburbanites.”

8 Quotes From LGBT Rights Activists That Will Make You Proud to Be LGBT

Pride month isn’t just about the parades, or the parties, or the glitter, it’s an important time for us as members of the LGBTQ+ community to remind ourselves of our history. While we celebrate our progress and achievements this month, we should never forget the activists who forged the path for us. After all, without the activists of the Stonewal Riots, for example, we wouldn’t have pride parades at all. In honor of pride month, here are 8 memorable quotes from important LGBTQ rights activists throughout history that have helped make our pride this month possible.

“I was no one, nobody, from Nowheresville until I became a drag queen. That’s what made me in New York, that’s what made me in New Jersey, that’s what made me in the world.”

Marsha P. Johnson was an American gay liberation and transgender rights activist, drag queen, and Stonewall Riot instigator. The “P” in her name stands for “pay it no mind” which was her catchphrase. She established STAR House, a shelter for queer youth, and was a member of the Gay Liberation Front. Though disputed, she is often credited for throwing the first brick during the Stonewall Riots.

“If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.”

Harvey Milk was an LGBTQ rights activist, gay man, former San Francisco Supervisor, and the first openly gay elected official in the history of California. He was assassinated in 1978 by Dan White, a fellow city supervisor. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.

“It is revolutionary for any trans person to choose to be seen and visible in a world that tells us we should not exist.”

Laverne Cox is an actor, transgender woman and transgender rights activist. She is most widely known for her role as Sophia Burset on the Netflix series Orange is the New Black, and she is the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award.

“I believe that telling our stories, first to ourselves and then to one another and the world, is a revolutionary act. It is an act that can be met with hostility, exclusion, and violence. It can also lead to love, understanding, transcendence, and community. I hope that my being real with you will help empower you to step into who you are and encourage you to share yourself with those around you.”

Janet Mock is an author, transgender woman and transgender rights activist. Her memoir, Redefining Realness, became a New York Times Bestseller.

“You do not need to carry other people’s hate with you. It is their burden to bear, not yours.”

-Jeffrey Marsh is a nonbinary trans actor, author, and activist. They are the author of the “half memoir, half self-help book” How to Be You.

“Hell hath no fury like a drag queen scorned.”

Sylvia Rivera was a drag queen, American gay liberation and transgender activist, and Stonewall Rioter. She was a good friend of Marsha P. Johnson’s.

“We will not go away with our issues of sexuality. We are coming home. It is not enough to tell us that one was a brilliant poet, scientist, educator, or rebel. Whom did he love? It makes a difference. I can’t become a whole man simply on what is fed to me: watered-down versions of Black life in America. I need the ass-splitting truth to be told, so I will have something pure to emulate, a reason to remain loyal.”

Essex Hemphill was a gay poet, performer, and activist from Chicago, Illinois. He is well known for his contributions to the Washington D.C. art scene and for discussing important issues relating to the African-American LGBTQ community.

“Everybody’s journey is individual. You don’t know with whom you’re going to fall in love. … If you fall in love with a boy, you fall in love with a boy. The fact that many Americans consider it a disease says more about them than it does about homosexuality.”

James Baldwin was a gay essayist, novelist, and poet. He used much of his work to explore his race and sexuality. His essays include The Fire Next Time (1963), No Name in the Street (1972), and The Devil Finds Work (1976).

#FaithfullyLGBT: Twitter’s Religious LGBTQ Community

One of the greatest things about the internet is that it has the power to unite people from all around the world. On Twitter, some of the world’s diverse population of religious and LGBTQ people have united under the hashtag, #FaithfullyLGBT. Being LGBTQ and religious is often uniquely challenging, so it’s important to amplify the voices of those who belong to that intersection of communities. In order to be a good LGBTQ ally both inside and outside of the church, spiritual leaders should take their stories to heart and work on making their houses of worship both welcoming and affirming places.

Let’s look at some tweets under #FaithfullyLGBT:

@BrandanJR

The inclusion and equality of LGBT people is non-negotiable. It’s not an issue in which we can “live in the tension” with. It’s a human rights issue and anything less than full equality should not be tolerated by Christ followers. #FaithfullyLGBT

@maco_nix

“Does this include LGBT people?”

“Yes, LGBT people can and do attend our church.”

“Attend, be members, serve, and be staff? Or only attend?”

“Let’s get coffee and chat about it face to face.”

The only person fooled by this is the pastor who thinks it’ll work.

#faithfullylgbt

@jaymie_lh

Friendly reminder that being gay or bi or trans or pan or ace (etc) is not a sin. Let your pride flag shine.

#FaithfullyLGBT

@SteffanyMaher

To all my LGBTQ+ friends and family:

Happy Pride Month! 🌈❤️

As my beautiful gay Christian friend put it earlier today, “…may you always remember that Pride is not the opposite of humility, but the opposite of shame.”

You are loved!!

#FaithfullyLGBT

@nathanialtotten

I’ve no patience for Evangelical conferences that frame the LGBTQ+ community like we’re the spoils of a hard-fought theological war.

Your “good news” is not saving us – it’s killing us.

Stop trying to redeem what God already calls good. #faithfullylgbt

@joelhollier

We do not fight against the church because we hate the church. No. We fight because we love it. We see its potential, and grieve the ways it has been weaponised against us. That’s why we fight.

#faithfullyLGBT #LGBTQ #gayChristian #affirmingtheology #gay #Christian

@bencoakley317

Y’all. Jesus absolutely loves my queer lil’ ass and yours too.

Even if church still feels toxic, even if Scripture is traumatic, even if your spiritual community is unavailable.

Jesus is still in your corner. The body isn’t complete without us.

#FaithfullyLGBT

@thebeckinator

Statistically speaking, using conservative estimates, there are 10 MILLION LGBTQ+ Christians in America. I think it’s time we listen to their stories. #FaithfullyLGBT

@robbiehowell

I’m here.

I’m queer.

I’m at Church.

Get over it.

#FaithfullyLGBT

@taxman1972

I’m thankful to live in 2018, where I can be out as a gay Christian. I’m not ashamed to be either. #faithfullyLGBT #gaypride

@JosephPMathews

Telling a queer person you don’t know and may have never met that you love them — while questioning their faith, discernment, and vocation — is the sound of a resounding gong and clanging cymbal #pride⁠ #Christianity #FaithfullyLGBT

@BlairImani

Religious communities must have better informed conversations about queer identity or we risk pushing people away from God. #FaithfullyLGBT

@BaileyJoWelch

I went to a Pride festival yesterday & listened to an orthodox pastor tell the story of how he was kicked out of his church because of his radical, loving support of a transgender teen. He brought me to tears, this man who loved God & people more than the rules. #FaithfullyLGBT

“God’s Love”: LGBTQ Hatred in the Southern Baptist Church

So much harm has been done to my LGBTQ friends and I at the hands of socially conservative southern evangelical Baptists who believe that homophobia is an expression of God’s love. They say, “I’m telling you that being gay is a sin because I love you.” or “love the sinner, hate the sin.” That to me is not only shameful, but blasphemous. God’s love is not a shield for homophobia, bigotry, or hatred.

In John 16:2-3, Jesus says, “They will put you out of the (places of worship). Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God. And they will do this because they have not known the Father or me.”

Many people have been killed for their sexual orientation or gender identity. At best, many of us are shunned and treated poorly by the same people who preach “love” yet have no love in their hearts to speak of. The gospel is not meant to be used as a weapon to deny the rights or identities of others. You may think that in denying or vilifying a gay or transgender person’s identity that you’re doing so “in God’s name”, but you’re actually doing it because you do not know God at all.

In John 15:12-13, Jesus says, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

I would ask any of the southern Baptists I share a home with, are you willing to lay down your life for a gay person? A transgender one? Or will you continue to put our lives in danger, continue to hide from your hatred like cowards by calling it “God’s love”? If you are not willing to give up your homophobia or transphobia, not willing to accept LGBTQ people the way that God has made us, then you are not following what Jesus Christ has asked of you. You are not loving.

Trans Artist Left at London Releases “The Purple Heart EP” 💜

Left at London, /@/ for short, is a singer, songwriter, poet, and former Vine star, whose real name is Nat Puff. She’s a transgender woman from Seattle, Washington, who uses her music and poetry to express her honest experiences related to being a trans woman with autism, PTSD, Borderline personality disorder, and ADHD, among other topics. Her art is relatable, vulnerable, and introspective. She isn’t afraid of exploring concepts like mental illness and heartbreak in her work and does so with openness and honesty.

Nat attends Shoreline Community College of Music Technology in Shoreline WA, where she plans to receive her Associates Degree in Applied Arts and Science, with a concentration on guitar performance later this year. She has four independently published mixed tapes: Youth Group Computer, Will Write Songs 4 Money, 2 Rowdy 4 Denny’s, and 💜(The Purple Heart EP).

She has a multi-part poetry zine series called THE NOCTURNAL EXHIBIT, that includes two volumes of songs and poetry. Vol. 1 CRY LIKE A MAN, and Vol.2 LIE TO THE POLICE, are accessible to everyone for free (though physical copies are available for purchase). According to the autobiography on her website, Nat “is not afraid to let herself be known intimately through her music, while still remaining accessible.”

Her latest music EP, 💜 (The Purple Heart EP) was released today, June 18, at 7pm EST. If you would like to support her by buying any of her music or zines, go to leftatlondon.com, and follow Nat Puff on twitter, @LeftAtLondon.

Father’s Day isn’t For All Dads. It’s For Good Ones.

Father’s Day is a difficult day for some. My father is away on a two week vacation in St.Maarten with my stepmother. My two younger siblings are spending Father’s Day with their mother, like they did last year, and I’m here wrestling with financial aid forms, having to do extra paperwork to prove that I fled an abusive home in order to allow me to qualify as an independent student. It’s hard not to find it ironic that none of my Father’s children are celebrating Father’s Day, but that he’s rewarded himself (or my stepmother) with an expensive tropical vacation. He should know that Father’s Day is not for bad fathers. Father’s Day is for good fathers, for loving fathers, for fathers who are there. It is not a day where we celebrate abusive, cold, and uncaring fathers. For many LGBTQ people like me, this kind of family situation is still all too common.

On a lighter note, Father’s Day is a day we can recognize great dads of all kinds. Gay dads, single dads, transgender dads, all of the dads that don’t get the recognition they deserve. I found a website, gayswithkids.com, that is a site full of heartwarming pictures of gay dads with their children. For anyone that hates Father’s Day and wants to see some pictures of cute families with gay dads, open a pint of ice cream and have at it. An article from the Advocate I particularly enjoyed reading today was 9 Trans Dads Share What They Love About Fatherhood. It’s refreshing to read an article about transgender parents that isn’t negative, that shows them respect, and that doesn’t treat trans dads like some kind of spectacle. So whether you have a dad or not, or if yours is terrible, there are ways we can use Father’s Day to celebrate the achievements of great dads who’ve had to overcome a little more adversity than most. And while my dad isn’t around for Father’s Day, seeing great dads like these puts a smile on my face.

Out at St.Paul

Out at St. Paul is a Catholic LGBT ministry in New York City. It’s a ministry of the parish of the St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church in NYC. According the their website, the ministry “seeks to engage our Catholic faith through service to our community, social activities and the exploration of Catholic spirituality.” They hold an annual “Pride Mass” every year during pride month, this year on June 20th. OSP is extremely active on social media, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, spreading support for LGBTQ in the form of news updates and promotion of events and activities for LGBTQ Catholics to participate in, in addition to mass and regular church activities, of course. Aside from Pride Mass, OSP members will be walking in the Pride parade with Covenant House, as they have in previous years. Out at St.Paul is a quintessential example of how every parish should treat LGBTQ people. They are not just welcoming, and not just affirming, they celebrate the LGBTQ community and their identities as created in God’s image. In the words of Father James Martin, a Catholic priest and an LGBTQ ally, Out at St.Paul “is one of the most vibrant Catholic LGBT ministries in the country, perhaps the world….it seeks to welcome all to the church and is a model for many parishes.”

If you’re queer, Catholic, and in NYC, get connected:

Website: outatstpaul.org

Facebook: Out at St.Paul

Twitter and Instagram : @outatstpaul

Email: osp@stpaultheapostle.org

Petition to Pope Francis: Change the Catechism to Accept LGBTQ People

The Irish Catholic Church reform organization We Are Church Ireland launched a global petition last week asking top Church leaders in Ireland to help change the way the Catechism refers to LGBTQ+ people.

The Catechism, which is the official book of church teachings for the Catholic Church, has several passages about homosexuality:

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

Terms like “intrinsically evil” and “objectively disordered” used in the Catechism are opposed by many Catholics, and the petition appealed to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin and papal nuncio Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo to facilitate the removal of these terms. At the time of writing, the petition has gained nearly 2,000 signatures.

The petition reads, in part:

“Pope Francis has said about gay people, ‘Who am I to judge?’ But the Catholic Catechism still refers to LGBTQI as ‘objectively disordered.’ Would Jesus use these words? Pope Francis is to visit Ireland 25-26 August 2018 and we are calling on him to change church LGBTQI language.”

Pádraig Ó Tuama, a gay Catholic, and Ursula Halligan, a lesbian Catholic and political journalist, are among those championing this change in language. Senator David Norris of Ireland is among the many political supporters of the petition.

In two months, the 2018 World Meeting of Families begins in Dublin. James Martin, SJ was invited to do a workshop on LGBTQ-inclusivity in the Catholic Church. Along with Pope Francis’s words to a gay man, “God made you like this”, the message is abundantly clear: Catholics are ready to accept LGBTQ people. The question is, will the church listen?

Source and petition: Pope Francis: CHANGE CHURCH LGBTQI LANGUAGE

Cuties Coffee and Espresso Bar: Los Angeles, California

Cuties Coffee and Espresso Bar is a queer owned business in Los Angeles California. Co-owners Virginia Bauman, who is a transgender woman, and Iris Bainum-Houle, who is queer and genderfluid, used to do monthly coffee and conversation events called called Queers, Coffee & Donuts, but they’ve had a full time location, at 710 N. Heliotrope Drive, for almost a year. Keeping with the spirit of Queers, Coffee, & Donuts, Cuties Coffee is all about the community, just read a few points from their Community Codes of Conduct:

“By entering into our space you are agreeing to follow our community codes of conduct. If you break our codes you will be asked to leave and repeat/serious violators will be banned.

Do not assume. Do not assume image = identity. Do not assume pronouns: ask!

Queers and allies are welcome. LGBTQIA+!

We do not participate in gatekeeping. We do not believe in phrases like “queer enough” or “trans enough.” We support you and welcome you.

Be mindful of the energy you bring into this space and how it affects others. This is a safer space for many so let’s work together to keep it that way.

All ages are welcome. Minors might be present so be mindful of the impact of your speech and actions on new members of the queer community.

We do not tolerate racism, xenophobia, transphobia, homophobia, sexism, ableism, ageism, fatphobia and body shaming of oneself or others.

This is a hate-speech free zone. We also strive to educate ourselves and each other about microaggressions and check ourselves and each other when they occur.

We are a consent positive space. Only touch others or their mobility aids with their express permission and please ask before you take someone’s picture.”

Cuties Coffee cares more about people than they do about fancy and expensive drinks. This is a safe space for the queer community to gather, drink some coffee, and just be. It’s important for people in the queer community to have an all-inclusive and welcoming space, as the Los Angeles queer scene is very night life centered. For those who feel more comfortable in a coffee shop rather than a bar or night club, Cuties provides a welcoming coffee shop atmosphere that would put Starbucks to shame. One of the co-owners, Iris Bainum-Houle, said that one of the most important parts of their mission was “bringing people together and providing them a casual, friendly atmosphere where they could feel safe and welcomed.”

Source: Eater LA

Music Teacher in Indiana Resigns After Being Told to Respect His Transgender Students

My music teacher in high school was one of the first people I came out to as transgender. Without his kindness and respect I would have never discovered my love for music, and I wouldn’t be the professional musician I am today. This is why this story of a transphobic music teacher in Indiana is so personally appalling to me.

John Kluge, a former orchestra teacher at Brownsburg High School in Indiana claims he was forced to resign because of the school district’s requirement that teachers call transgender students by their preferred names, rather than those given at birth.

“I’m being compelled to encourage students in what I believe is something that’s a dangerous lifestyle. I’m fine to teach students with other beliefs, but the fact that teachers are being compelled to speak a certain way is the scary thing.” he said.

This requirement, calling students by the names they go by and not their legal names, goes against his religious beliefs, Kluge states. He also believes it violates his First Amendment rights.

Whether he’s referring to his right to freedom of speech or freedom of religion, both are false. Freedom of speech does not mean you can say whatever you want at work without repercussion. In fact, Kluge wasn’t even fired, he chose to resign. The school compromised with Kluge by letting him call transgender students by their surnames instead of their first names, which I believe was already compromising too much at the expense of students. The school district should have never indulged him, but they did.

They indulged him for a year, and then, the district told Kluge that for the upcoming semester he would have to call students by their preferred names. This is when Kluge resigned. Perhaps he thought that he could martyr his career by claiming a violation of his religious freedom, and be a sad hero for transphobic bigots everywhere. I feel sorry for you, John.

Do you see how I’m referring to him as John, instead of Jonathan? Jonathan is his legal first name, the one given to him at birth, but he goes by John. Even though I believe John is a disgusting human being, and I don’t agree with his “lifestyle”, I’m still affording him the basic respect of calling him by his name, which is more respect than he afforded his students. I’m affording this man more respect than he, as a teacher, as someone who is supposed to be a mentor, a guide, someone who is supposed to make school a safe place for kids to learn and grow, could bother to afford his own students.

That’s what this all boils down to: respect. Calling a transgender person by the name they want to be called isn’t advocacy, it’s respect. Affording students the basic respect of treating them like human beings is not called being a transgender advocate, it’s called being a teacher. Being a teacher means not willfully harming students, doing things that discourage them from pursuing their dreams and education. If John Kluge as an educator can’t put his students education over his own bigoted views, then I think it’s a good thing he can no longer call himself one at Brownsburg High.

Story source:

New Now Next

IndyStar

Buzzfeed Forgot About Chik-fil-A’s Homophobia, and They’re Not the Only Ones

Buzzfeed is a news media website known for basically being the McDonald’s of social justice issues. In essence, the quality of Buzzfeed’s activism is substantially low, and it’s easy to make a mockery out of most every “woke” article they put out. They give social justice and journalism a pretty bad name, and one of the reasons why no one takes Buzzfeed seriously when it comes to their LGBTQ activism, is because they put out articles like “15 Things You Didn’t Know About Chik-fil-A”.

The article was written by Kristin Chirico, a member of Buzzfeed staff. It’s a list of 15 facts about Chik-fil-A and reads like an advertisement or endorsement for their food. The article talks about the fact that Chik-fil-A is trying to make their food healthier, and teaches readers how to order food from Chik-fil-A’s secret menu. Everything on the list is conveyed as positive, including the second point on the list, which is, “Despite Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy’s disparaging comments against marriage equality in 2012, the company’s profits have actually gone up.”

Bingo. This is why Buzzfeed is a joke. Chik-fil-A’s president has a long history of homophobia, and the corporation has given millions of dollars to organizations against gay rights. To not only write an article about how delicious their food is, but to acknowledge the fact that the corporation’s profits are still going up despite the president’s homophobia, as if it were a positive thing, is shameful.

Just last October, Buzzfeed released another article similar to the first, titled “15 Facts About Chick-Fil-A That’ll Make You Say ‘Whoa, That’s Crazy'”, written by another member of Buzzfeed’s staff, Jon-Micheal Poff. This article is nearly identical to the one written several years earlier by Kristin Chirico, as it is yet another list of 15 facts about Chik-fil-a, seemingly another endorsement of the restaurant, and this one doesn’t even mention the corporation’s history of homophobia.

Chick-fil-A scores a zero on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, and their most recent financial disclosures from 2015 showed that CEO Dan Cathy was still giving to anti-LGBT causes, two years after he swore he would stop, according to ThinkProgress. Chik-fil-A has a long history of anti-LGBTQ offenses, and I’m alarmed that Buzzfeed, or any person calling themselves an advocate for LGBTQ rights could forget that.

So, in case you are like Buzzfeed and need a refresher this Pride Month on what exactly this horrible homophobic company stands for, this is it.

Using Scripture to Comfort Victims of Sexual Assault

As a survivor of sexual assault, and as a Catholic, I find that there is a lot of comfort in faith. Not every sexual assault survivor is religious, but for any that are, here are a few Bible verses that I’ve read that have helped me, and hopefully they might help you, too.

Psalm 9:9

“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.”

I like this verse because it’s short, and easy to remember. I picked it because it’s very general, and can apply to everyone in need. It’s just a good little reminder that God is there for you when you need him.

Luke 8:17

“For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”

The majority of rapes and sexual assaults are never reported. Many victims are not able to come forward for a host of different reasons, and some are afraid that they will not be believed if they do come forward. This is why Luke 8:17 is a great verse.

Romans 12:19

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

This verse is my absolute favorite. It’s comforting to me personally, to know that I don’t have to worry about getting revenge, because the Lord will do that for me. This is not to discourage legal action against rapists, or any kind of punishment, this is simply for any victims who feel like they didn’t get justice, legal or otherwise, or would like to take comfort in knowing that their attacker will not get away with what they have done.

For anyone who wants something longer to read and study, I recommend 2 Samuel 22, David’s Song of Praise.

2 Samuel 22

22 David sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said:

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;

my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation.
He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—
from violent people you save me.

4 “I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
and have been saved from my enemies.

The waves of death swirled about me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.

The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.

“In my distress I called to the Lord;
I called out to my God.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came to his ears.

The earth trembled and quaked,
the foundations of the heavens shook;
they trembled because he was angry.

Smoke rose from his nostrils;
consuming fire came from his mouth,
burning coals blazed out of it.

10 He parted the heavens and came down;
dark clouds were under his feet.

11 He mounted the cherubim and flew;
he soared on the wings of the wind.

12 He made darkness his canopy around him—
the dark rain clouds of the sky.

13 Out of the brightness of his presence
bolts of lightning blazed forth.

14 The Lord thundered from heaven;
the voice of the Most High resounded.

15 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy,
with great bolts of lightning he routed them.

16 The valleys of the sea were exposed
and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at the rebuke of the Lord,
at the blast of breath from his nostrils.

17 “He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.

18 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.

19 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the Lord was my support.

20 He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.

As we can read in 2 Samuel 22, David was rescued by the Lord from “violent people”, the Lord came to him when he need it most, to rescue him from his enemies, and all he had to do was ask God for help. All he had to do was ask, and God came thundering down from heaven to aid him. When I’m particularly angry, I read this story and imagine God parting the heavens for me and saving me from the people who would like to do me and others harm.

Anyways, I hope this helps. If you have a verse you like, feel free to leave a comment.

Affirming and Welcoming Churches: The Difference

After an unpleasant experience with a Baptist group on my campus, (oh well, I’m a Catholic anyway) I have come to learn the difference between a “welcoming” and “affirming” religious groups, and feel that others who may not know the difference would like to be warned.

Some churches classify themselves as “welcoming” churches, but not “affirming” churches, which means that they will not turn LGBTQ people away from the church if they wish to attend, but, they don’t accept LGBTQ people and believe being gay is a sin. A church that is both welcoming and affirming is a church that not only welcomes LGBTQ people, but accepts and embraces their identities.

This can be confusing, as so-called “welcoming” churches are actually not very welcoming. There is no such thing as “love the sinner, hate the sin”. A sin is an action or a thought, a choice that is made to do wrong. Being LGBTQ is not an action, it is not a choice, and it isn’t wrong. My identity is who I am. You can’t hate the “sin” and love me at the same time, because that “sin” is me. The two cannot be separated, my identity and my identity as a gay and transgender person are one and the same. I did not choose to be either, that is just the way God made me, and loving the way that God made me, is one of the ways I love God.

There is no reward for simply being a “welcoming” church, because any welcoming church that isn’t also affirming is still a homophobic church. There is no trophy earned for not slamming the church doors in a gay person’s face, and then insulting their identity once they’re inside. There is no justice in the phrase “love the sinner, hate the sin”, for hating the “sin” of being gay is still homophobic. Welcoming a gay person into ones church or having gay friends doesn’t absolve one of being a homophobe. Friendliness or politeness doesn’t erase beliefs or actions that are intrinsically anti-gay.

At the end of the day, it’s not worth going to a church that will “welcome” you but not affirm and accept you. Churches that welcome LGBTQ people but don’t affirm them are not true houses of God.

Discrimination: Not a Catholic Value

A true Catholic supports true religious liberty, which means they do not support discrimination. “Inequality is the root of social evil” as Pope Francis said. Discrimination is not a Catholic value, respect and love for all human beings is. The Catholics I know want LGBT people to be protected by the law. They do not want to live in a country where religion is used as a weapon to harm others and to treat them with less dignity than is owed to them as equals in the eyes of God.

They believe that homophobia, and transphobia are blasphemous, as God created gay and transgender people exactly the way they are, and they should be loved and accepted as God’s children, just as they would be if they were straight and cisgender. The Catholic faith is about love and acceptance of all people. True Catholics build bridges, not burn them. Catholics open doors, they do not close them, just as Jesus would never turn away any soul who needed him. My friends and I have a faith unlike the kind of Christians that are so often associated with the region that I live in, a faith unlike that of the stereotypical hateful, angry, southern Baptist preacher, who will scream until they’re red in the face about gay people and sin.

God’s words should not be used as weapons against our fellow man. We were not put in this Earth to hate each other, to be homophobic or transphobic. There is no place for hatred in faith, only love. So it says in Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”