5 Religious Movies (That Make Religion Look Crazy And Awful)

By Spencer Thew,Adam Koski,Jordan Breeding  Published: July 09th, 2018 


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See How Religious Homophobia Promotes Child Abuse

I have often wished that religious leaders who promote the belief that homosexuality is a sin could spend a day at the Ali Forney Center, the nation’s largest organization providing housing and care to homeless LGBT youths. Meeting our youths, looking into their hurt eyes, hearing how their young lives were devastated by their parents’ rejection, would speak volumes about the real sin we are dealing with: the homophobia that destroys the bond between parent and child. I wish I could wake them up to the reality of what they are doing; that promoting the rejection of homosexuality recklessly endangers LGBT youths.

I’ve tried. I’ve invited my bishop, Cardinal Dolan, and the leader of my church, Pope Francis, to come to the Ali Forney Center, and see for themselves how so many of our youths were forced into homelessness by religion-based bigotry. So far, without success.

Now I’m trying another approach. If the church leaders won’t listen to our youths, I’m hoping that people of faith might. I’m grateful to Faith In America, and the video production unit of the New York Times for creating this profound video, Not A Sin, where some of our youths tell of the abuse and abandonment that they have suffered, just for being who they are. It is not easy to witness such pain, but their voices deserve to be heard.

We see the teaching that homosexuality is sinful harming LGBT youths by destroying their bond with too many parents who give credence to such an idea. A recent study of family rejection of LGBT youths found that parents who identify as strongly religious are significantly more likely to reject their LGBT children. At the Ali Forney Center we find that the homeless youths who come to us for help cite their parents’ religious beliefs as the most common reason they were not safe in their homes.

We also see these teachings as psychologically destructive for LGBT youths. In our mental health clinic we treat many youths who have been traumatized by the conflict they endure as their sexual and gender identities emerge in an environment where they are condemned as being against God. Too many of these youths consequently suffer from depression, begin to abuse drugs and alcohol, and even become suicidal. It is hard to witness the damage caused to youths when matters as intimate to their core identity as how they seek love and human connectedness, as well as how they experience gender, are attacked as being evil.

As a Roman Catholic, I am particularly horrified by the homophobic expressions of our Catechism, which is the mechanism by which the teachings of the Church are conveyed. It’s stance towards homosexual persons makes no sense. While it indicates that homosexual persons “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity,” its’s stance towards “homosexual acts” utterly contradicts this with categorical condemnation that is anything but respectful or compassionate. The Catechism describes homosexual acts as being a “grave depravity,” as being “intrinsically disordered,” as being against the law of nature, and “under no circumstances can they be approved.”

I hope our video can wake up the moral consciousness of more of my fellow Catholics to the recklessness and harmfulness of such a stance. This condemnation of “homosexual acts” contradicts the science of human sexuality, which has long come to recognize that homosexuality is a natural and healthy part of the spectrum of human sexuality. But to Catholics, it should be even more important to recognize that such homophobia, by causing immense harm to many LGBT youths, grossly contradicts the message of Jesus Christ in the Gospels. Jesus is not recorded as having said anything against homosexuals or our acts. However, he was fierce in demanding that children be protected. Jesus said that it was better for a person to have a millstone fastened to their neck and thrown into the depths of the sea than that they should harm a child. (Luke 17:2)

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I hope that this video will raise urgent moral questions for us Catholics. How do we stop being complicit in the harm to innumerable LGBT youths done by the teachings of our Church? How do we create an environment in our parishes and our schools that help parents love and accept their LGBT children? How do we protect children from being harmed by homophobic teachings in churches, schools, religious education programs?

Please consider signing this petition from Faith In America, calling for a change in church teachings regarding homosexuality.

God is love. All God’s children are precious in his eyes. Let us protect his LGBT children from the terrible harm evidenced in this painful video.

To learn more about the Ali Forney Center, click here.

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26 Books Every ‘Spiritual But Not Religious’ Seeker Should Read

“There are things you can’t reach. But

you can reach out to them, and all day long.

The wind, the bird flying away. The idea of God.

And it can keep you as busy as anything else, and happier.”

— “Where Does The Temple Begin, Where Does It End?,” by Mary Oliver

A growing number of Americans — young people especially – are unaffiliated with any organized religion. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t spiritual. There’s always a part of the soul that’s yearning for something greater, seeking answers to life’s biggest questions: What is sacred? Why are we here? How should we live? 

HuffPost Religion has created a book list for these spiritual seekers. Nearly every genre is represented here, from memoirs to mysteries. Some books might introduce you to faiths you’ve never experienced before. Others will challenge you to think about what it really means to be alive. 

Whether you’ve left your childhood faith, you’re just starting to question or you’ve happily settled into a permanent state of open-mindedness on the subject of God or gods, these are the books for you.

Also on The Huffington Post

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Religious Extremism – Words Can Be Just As Dangerous As Knives

For the past week, the City of Goshen, Indiana has been a hot-bed of debate about whether the City Council should grant civil protections to its LGBT citizens. Goshen mayor Allan Kauffman brought up the conversation at the end of the city council meeting on Tuesday, May 19, handing out copies of the city’s 2009 failed amendment. 

“He said that given the ongoing conversation regarding the LGBTQ community and what protections cities in Indiana are working to provide to them, revisiting the amendment was something he thought the council should do.”

Mayor Kauffman also said that he does not want anyone who lives outside of the city to provide input at the meeting. That can be a problem for Eric Miller, executive director of Advance America, a right-wing organization that claims it is devoted to protecting the constitution and the family.

On Tuesday, July 14, Miller spoke to a crowd of about 100 people at Calvary Assembly church. He stated that, “The homosexual agenda has now come to Elkhart County. These two ordinances (Goshen and Elkhart) are wrong. These two ordinances need to be defeated.”

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Eric Miller has long been a foe of LGBT Hoosiers. He was one of the proponents to have same-sex marriage banned in Indiana by way of a state constitutional amendment. He testified at every hearing at the Statehouse in order to push his agenda. He also was present in 2005 when the Marion County City Council debated inserting sexual orientation and gender identity into their Human Rights Ordinance. He was one of the people seen with Governor Pence when Pence signed RFRA behind closed doors.

Eric Miller claims that he is trying to protect families. He falsely claims that churches and businesses could face punishment or legal problems if they refused to take part in a gay marriage ceremony. We know these are scare tactics. Miller warns repeatedly of the “homosexual agenda.”

Miller is well-dressed and seems fairly mild. But behind his quiet demeanor lurks hatred and homophobia. He uses religion to push his agenda. He has been known to bus people from all over the state to hearings on same-sex marriage and LGBT equality.

Miller uses words to make his points. But words hurt — just as much as violence can hurt. So my question is — where does this go? Last week we saw an Orthodox Jewish man stab six people at the Jerusalem Pride Parade. What makes this offense even more horrific is that Yishai Shlissel had just gotten out of jail 3 weeks prior for stabbing three people at a Pride Parade in Tel Aviv in 2005. He was sentenced for 12 years, but got out at 10. No sooner did he get released than he took his religious extremism out on 6 innocent victims. One of those victims died — 16-year-old Shira Banki died of stab wounds. She had gone to the Pride Parade to support her LGBT friends.

When I learned of Shira’s death, my heart broke. She was a young, beautiful girl who had her entire life ahead of her. She marched in the parade because she supported her friends and she supported equality.

There is no excuse for killing anyone in the name of religion. And there is no excuse for telling lies and mistruths in the name of religion. When I look at people like Eric Miller, I get scared. He may not be wielding a knife or a gun, but his words can have an impact on those who believe them. Words have been known to lead people to do dangerous things. How far will people go? I cannot imagine going to any house of worship to listen to words of hatred and discrimination.

Indiana is at a crossroads. The LGBT community has more allies than ever. And those allies are more than willing to help their family members, friends and co-workers obtain the full civil rights that they deserve. How will Eric Miller and his associates react? What will they say to stop LGBT Hoosiers from gaining these rights? What ideas will they put in peoples’ heads?

We have to be vigilant. Not only do we have to write letters and speak with our legislators — we have to call out the religious zealots who will deny our friends and loved ones the rights they deserve. We need to talk to our religious leaders — those clergy who support equality and fairness. We need to urge them to call out people who hurt others in the name of religion.

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I have watched Eric Miller and his friends Curt Smith (from the Indiana Family Institute) and Micah Clark (from the American Family Association of Indiana) for the past ten years as they push their messages of discrimination. It is about time we call them out and not allow them to hijack the good that religion really is. Religious extremism is dangerous — whether by using knives and guns — or by using words.

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Beatrice Borromeo Wears Armani Privé for Religious Wedding

A week after their civil wedding, Beatrice Borromeo and Pierre Casiraghi took their religious vows August 1. This time, Borromeo chose to wear a custom Giorgio Armani Privé gown. The flared ivory dress with Chantilly lace and layers of silk chiffon was paired with a delicate silk tulle veil, also with a Chantilly lace border. The wedding took place at Isolino di San Giovanni, one of the islands owned by the Borromeo family on Italy’s Lake Maggiore.
For the reception, the bride wore another custom Privé gown in white silk tulle with micro draping, a deep neckline and a train in pleated silk tulle that started at the shoulders. Two family heirloom antique diamond wing brooches were pinned on the train.
Armani also made white silk shirts and Bermuda shorts for the ring bearers, as well as the bridesmaids’ dresses and shrugs in pink and white.
The bride’s mother, Paola Marzotto, grandmother Marta Marzotto and sisters Lavinia, Matilde and Isabella also wore custom Privé dresses.
As reported, Borromeo wore a pale pink Valentino Haute Couture cape dress to marry her longtime beau Casiraghi on July 25 in a civil ceremony at the Prince’s Palace in Monaco.
Casiraghi is the son of the late Italian entrepreneur Stefano Casiraghi and Princess Caroline of

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11 Religious Americans Who Fought For Freedom

 

 The Fourth of July commemorates the United States declaring its independence from Britain, but the Revolutionary War did not win freedom for all Americans. The 10 activists and religious leaders below are just a handful of people throughout American history who spent their lives working to extend freedom to all. The liberty to worship, vote, love and pursue happiness are rights that had to be fought for and won — and we are by no means done with the struggle. 

As we celebrate the Fourth of July this year, we honor the fearless individuals who turned to faith to advocate for freedom for all people. 

 

Roger Williams

Although born in England in 1603, Roger Williams lived almost his entire adult life in the American colonies. A deeply spiritual man who started the first Baptist church in America in 1638, he founded the colony of Providence Plantation on the premise of religious freedom, envisioning it as a refuge for religious minorities.

Williams may have been partly inspired by his close relationship with New England Native Americans, having learned the Algonquin language and engaged in trade with the Narragansett and the Wampanoag tribes. A staunch advocate for Native American land rights, Williams believed that there were no inherent differences between Native Americans and Englishmen, and that all should be respected and treated as equals. 

Richard Allen

Richard Allen was born a slave in Philadelphia in 1760. He became a Christian at the age of 17 after hearing a white Methodist minister preach against slavery. The experience was so powerful that he later wrote, “My dungeon shook, my chains flew off, and glory to God, I cried. My soul was filled.” He purchased his freedom for $ 2,000 and started preaching to white and black congregants in South Carolina, New York, Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania. He became an assistant minister at St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Pennsylvania. It was a racially mixed congregation, but discrimination still persisted. As more black converts were drawn to the church by Allen’s preaching, the white ministers and parishioners of the church began to act with hostility toward them — at one point pulling praying members off their knees in the middle of a service.

With the help of other leaders in the community, Allen raised the funds needed to purchase a plot of land so that black Methodists could worship freely. That congregation, now known as Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, became the mother church of the first independent black denomination in America.

Lucretia Mott

 It is hard to imagine there was a time in American history when women were not free to vote, and couldn’t even do what they wished with their own property. Lucretia Mott, born in 1793, was among the brave Americans who fought for women’s rights, drawing from her Quaker faith to argue that all people are created equal in the eyes of God. Mott was one of five women who organized the landmark Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, which drew roughly 300 people to address the need for women’s civil rights.

In addition to her role in the women’s rights movement, Mott spent much of her life fighting for abolition, and in 1833 organized the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society with roughly 30 other women. Mott did not live long enough to see women win the right to vote in America, and she was already in her 70s when slavery ended in this country. But her efforts set a precedent for religiously inspired civil rights activism that would resonate for generations to come.

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth is best known for being one of the most prominent 19th century leaders fighting against slavery and fighting for women’s rights and human rights. She fought for freedom for all people because she herself was born a slave and did not experience freedom until she was 30 years old. Truth was a deeply spiritual person, having experienced a vision of Jesus that inspired her to become a preacher. In her iconic “Ain’t I A Woman” speech at the 1851 Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, Truth used her faith to argue for women’s equality, saying:


“That little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.”

Sitting Bull

 Sitting Bull, also known as Tatanka-Iyotanka, was a Hunkpapa Lakota chief and a holy man who bravely fought to preserve his people’s way of life, despite facing hostility from the United States government. The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 officially prevented whites from settling the Black Hills of Dakota Territory, which many Native American tribes considered sacred. But the treaty was set aside after gold was discovered in the area. Fortune seekers began rushing in, and the government attempted to purchase the land. When the tribes refused to give up their sacred space, the government demanded that all Lakota in the area resettle into reservations.

True to his name, Sitting Bull wouldn’t budge. Instead, he called neighboring tribes to his camp and led them in a sun dance ritual dedicated to the Great Spirit. It was during this ritual that he saw a vision predicting that he would triumph over the white soldiers. Sitting Bull went on to wipe out Gen. George Custer’s troops during the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876. It would take several more years before the chief surrendered to the U.S. Even then, he did so begrudgingly, saying, “I wish it to be remembered that I was the last man of my tribe to surrender my rifle.”

Dalip Singh Saund

 Dalip Singh Saund was the first South Asian American elected to Congress. Born in 1899 to a Sikh Indian family, Saund came to America in 1920 to study at the University of California. He reportedly removed his turban soon afterwards, but stayed deeply connected to his religion. In his autobiography, he wrote, “My religion teaches me that love and service to fellow men are the road to earthly bliss and spiritual salvation.”

For years, he was frustrated by the fact that his ethnicity barred him from becoming an American citizen. He organized a coalition to fight against this rule, which eventually led to the Luce-Celler Act of 1946 and opened citizenship up to immigrants of South Asian descent. In 1949, Saund become a citizen himself. Soon after, he was elected as a local judge. He went on to serve three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

 Human rights activism was deeply embedded in the life, history and spiritual philosophy of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. Born in Warsaw, Poland in 1907, Heschel lived through the rise of the Nazis and narrowly escaped the horrors of the Holocaust by fleeing to London in 1939 and later arriving in New York City. By the time he entered the Civil Rights movement, Heschel had already established himself as a professor of ethics and Jewish mysticism and had what his daughter, Susanna Heschel, called “a heightened sensitivity to  the suffering of all people.”

After marching alongside Martin Luther King Jr. at the 1965 Selma march, Heschel famously remarked: “Even without words, our march was worship. I felt my legs were praying.” Fighting for the rights of all people — as he did in the Civil Rights and anti-war movements — was a key component of Heschel’s faith. As his daughter Susanna wrote: “He said [the Selma march] reminded him of the message of the  prophets, whose primary concern was social injustice, and of his Hasidic forebears, for whom compassion for the suffering of other people defined a religious person.”

Yuri Kochiyama

 Yuri Kochiyama was a visionary whose activism crossed racial boundaries. Born in 1921, Kochiyama lived a typical suburban American life, excelling in high school and becoming a Sunday school teacher at a California church. Her political awakening came during World War II, when she was sent to an internment camp with her family. Kochiyama spent the rest of her life fighting for the rights of poor blacks, Latinos and Asian Americans. She campaigned against the Vietnam War and advocated for the rights of prison inmates.

Activist Deepa Iyer wrote that Kochiyama’s “life and legacy is a reminder to Asian Americans and to all those who believe in social justice, of a basic value: To show up whenever and wherever injustice occurs and to engage in acts of resistance and solidarity.”

 Malcolm X

 

 Born in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1925, Malcolm X emerged as a prominent leader of the Nation of Islam, promoting black nationalism and challenging racial integration as the goal of the Civil Rights movement. He broke from the Nation of Islam in 1964 but remained committed to religious life as a vehicle for human rights activism. While on the hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, he wrote a letter remarking on the “spirit of true brotherhood” he had witnessed.

“There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world,” he wrote. “They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and non-white.”

 Malcolm had a deep compassion for humanity that carried him around the country preaching equality, his daughter Ilyasah Shabazz wrote. He was just 39 years old when he was assassinated in 1965.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

 Civil rights leader and preacher Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream — not only that black Americans would be granted full equality but that all people, regardless of race, religion or creed, would have the right to life and liberty. King is perhaps best known for promoting nonviolence and peaceful resistance as avenues for human rights activism, frequently putting his own life on the line by demonstrating, organizing and speaking out against bigotry and discrimination.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” King famously said in his 1963 Letter from a Birmingham Jail. “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

In 1964 at just 35 years old, King became the youngest person at the time to win the Nobel Peace Prize. In his acceptance speech, he championed “unarmed truth and unconditional love” as the ultimate victors in history. King was assassinated in 1968 at the age of 39.

Rev. Mineo Katagiri

Rev. Mineo Katagiri was a United Church of Christ minister who fought for minority rights. He was born in Hawaii to parents of Japanese ancestry, and experienced discrimination during World War II.  After moving to Seattle in 1959, he acted as an advocate and defender of the city’s gay community. He later founded the Asian Coalition for Equality, which brought Asian Americans together to campaign against intolerance and joined with African Americans who were also seeking equality.

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The Hypocrisy of ‘Religious Freedom’

It’s not freedom when you are advocating taking away the liberty and rights of other human beings. It is not religious, especially not “Christian,” to be intolerant and bigoted against your fellow citizens.

And while I admire Kirsten Powers for being a reasonable and at times progressive voice at Fox News (and calling out Bill O’Reilly on his show for his stance about racism not being a substantial problem in our society), I have to disagree with her premise in her recent book, The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech. We are not killing free speech, only calling out hate speech.

As a member of the LGBT community, I can say we are not silencing the religious right, but standing up for our own God-given rights. Having grown up a gay American in the 1950s and ’60s, I can tell you that silencing is what was done to us in those decades. It has been said that “a child should be seen and not heard.” We were taught to be neither. We lived in the shadows, hiding our imposed societal shame, leading secret lives that we hoped no one would find out about.

Looking back, I forgive myself for not being more open and true to myself. I was bombarded by school, friends, family and my Baptist church with a silent, deadly belief that who I was deep down inside was sinful and perverse.

After all, as Brian McNaught so deftly points out in his book, Growing Up Gay and Lesbian, we didn’t have any role models to look up to then. Ellen hadn’t come out yet. It was before Stonewall. There were no gay characters in the movies, or if there were they were portrayed as losers.

They first gay film I remembered watching on TV as a teen was 1961’s “The Children’s Hour.” Based on the play by Lillian Hellman, it starred Shirley McClaine and Audrey Hepburn as friends who owned and ran an all-girls’ boarding school. One of the residents started a rumor that Audrey and Shirley were intimately involved and it ruined them and their reputations and forced the school to close. Turns out that Shirley’s character really was a lesbian and she ended up committing suicide in the end. Although, this film touched me deeply inside (I think seeing a woman profess her romantic feelings of love to another woman stirred something in me), it was hardly a movie that would make one want to come out of the closet.

As McNaught points out in his book, we had no one to turn to discuss our attractions growing up. Not the school teachers nor administrators, not the Church leaders, not even our own parents. If a child of a different race or ethnicity got bullied they could go to their parents for sympathy. But if a gay kid did that the parent might ask: “Why were you called a queer?” And they may not really want to hear the answer to that.

Indeed, there is an old joke that goes: “Which is easier, being black or being gay? Black, because you don’t have to tell your parents.”

As for racial relations in the ’50s and ’60s, there was a term called “separate but equal.” Problem was it was segregation with inequality. But at that time, African Americans had an identity. They had separate bathrooms, movies, radio programs, TV shows, music, Negro baseball league, and Armed Forces battalions. They had their own culture and still do to this day. Homosexuals were invisible.

I remember certain clues I was given growing up that were meant to guide me into a “normal” heterosexual lifestyle. When I was in the fifth grade, I shared with my mom that I really liked a fourth grade girl who was a piano prodigy. She gently reminded me “you mean you admire her.”

When I was around twelve years old I had a best friend from the church that I hung around with at the community pool. Driving home with my whole family in the car, my older sister said “I couldn’t believe Joan and Courtney were holding hands at the pool.” This shocked me because for the first time I had to question an innocent gesture of affection I showed to a close friend.

My dad used to tell us he always considered homosexuals deviants who would were looked down upon in the military. Happily, my parents and siblings evolved on the issue and continued to love me when I came out to them at the age of 29. I know other gays were not as lucky as me in that regard.

I knew no gays in high school (this was before the gay/straight alliances), nor college, nor even graduate school.

As McNaught writes, back in the day, you couldn’t even go to the library and find any books on Homosexuality (this was before the Internet.)

And the Baptist Church, though I loved the people and the Pastor there, scared me the most into staying in the closet. I remember in a pre-teen Sunday School class we were given a booklet that described homosexuality as an addiction or disease. There were pictures of deformed couples holding hands and the pamphlet said that most homosexuals do not want to be that way and presented it as a choice. Basically, I was taught by the church that it was a crime against God and nature.

I was creeped out by the whole thing and the indoctrination worked as I decided then and there I didn’t want to go down that path even though I really liked the piano prodigy and loved my friend from church and had a crush on my gym teacher in Junior High school. I didn’t want to go to Hell.

In essence, I stuffed my emotions and attractions and tried to fit in. I dated guys but had enough sense to never get married even when presented with an engagement ring. I drank too much in college, I think because I was so conflicted and finally came out to myself after I moved to California (for a music gig in the San Jose Symphony) in the late ’70s.

It was easier to declare being gay in California than the East coast in those days. It is remarkable how the country has changed through the years and now gay marriage is a reality in many states and may soon be legal in the nation.

I believe the Internet and TV and movies and the current administration have influenced this new generation to come out with pride. Intolerance is quickly becoming passé and that’s a good thing.

But we must not forget our history and the sacrifices my generation made to allow this to happen. Stonewall, the gay rights movement, Harvey Milk, PFLAG, and the fight against AIDS and DADT and DOMA all contributed to lay the foundation for our finally being given our basic human rights.

Some in the religious right want to cling to “traditional” values and view our liberation as an abomination. Unfortunately, that is the same thinking I was indoctrinated into as a young teen in my Baptist church. Apparently, not all have evolved on the issue. I say we will no longer be shamed or silenced.

Coming out to me was a mental, physical, and yes, spiritual process. For a number of years in the late ’90s, I was a member of a Metropolitan Community church that was founded for LGBT folks and their straight allies. It brought me back to my faith and made me realize that I am gay by God. And no so-called “Religious Freedom” can take that away from me. Our ancestors escaped persecution to achieve true religious freedom in the new world. This included the right to worship and I do not see the gay movement as taking this away from anyone.

Rather, LGBT people want what past generations came to this country for: the right to marry, have and adopt children, worship as we please, serve in the military, equal job opportunities, protection from persecution in the workplace, and the pursuit of happiness.

The genie is out of the bottle and we can never go back to being invisible again.

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Archbishop Of Dublin: “I Have No Wish To Stuff My Religious Views Down Other People’s Throats”

You don’t hear this from a religious leader every day.

“I have… no wish to stuff my religious views down other people’s throats, but I also have a right to express my views in the reasoned language of social ethics.” That’s what the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, stated in a column in The Irish Times in light of Ireland’s historic same-sex marriage vote on May 22.

“As a bishop I have strong views on marriage based on my religious convictions,” Archbishop Diarmuid Martin wrote in a column for The Irish Times.

Martin said he plans to vote against same-sex marriage in Friday’s referendum, but noted the example Pope Francis sets on the topic by encouraging people not to make judgments against individuals. He went on, however, to offer what he calls “reasoned argument” on the topic of married couples and child-bearing.

“There is a unique complementarity between men and women, male and female, rooted in the very nature of our humanity,” Martin wrote. “I believe that this complementarity belongs to the fundamental definition of marriage.” Despite his personal views, he concluded by saying he would not tell people how to cast their ballots, but encouraged them to vote.

Martin’s stance on the referendum falls in line with the Irish Catholic Church’s largely muted voice on the topic. Eamon Martin, the Archbishop of Armagh, told RTE News that Catholic leaders were reaching out to their own flock by distributing literature in churches to encourage a “no” vote.

Even Petra Conroy, a prominent campaigner against same-sex marriage, told Reuters on Monday: “For any faith, it’s not good if the people are only doing something because somebody else is telling them to.”

A February 2014 survey conducted by RED C in conjunction with RTE News and The Sunday Business Post found that 76 percent of adults in the country favored legalizing same-sex marriage.

All of the country’s political parties support a “yes” vote, NPR notes, as do a majority of businesses and unions. Roughly 18 countries around the world allow same-sex marriage, but Ireland could become the first to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote.

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Bobby Jindal Vows To Enforce Religious Freedom Measure Through Executive Order

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) said Tuesday he plans to issue an executive order “to accomplish the intent” of a religious freedom bill that died in the Louisiana House hours before.

The Louisiana Marriage and Conscience Act (HB 707), introduced by Louisiana state Rep. Mike Johnson (R) earlier this year, would create protections for individuals who oppose same-sex marriage. Under the legislation, the state would be prohibited from taking “any adverse action against a person, wholly or partially, on the basis that such person acts in accordance with a religious belief or formal conviction about the institution of marriage.” The measure drew comparisons to controversial religious freedom bills advanced in states like Indiana, where Gov. Mike Pence (R) was pressured to amend the legislation after national criticism that the law would allow businesses to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.

On Tuesday, the Louisiana House Civil Law and Procedure Committee voted 10-2 to return the Marriage and Conscience Act to the calendar, effectively killing the bill. But less than two hours later, Jindal announced his plan to resurrect the spirit of the legislation.

“We are disappointed by the committee’s action to return the Louisiana Marriage and Conscience Act to the calendar,” Jindal said in a statement. “We will be issuing an Executive Order shortly that will accomplish the intent of HB 707 to prevent the state from discriminating against persons or entities with deeply held religious beliefs that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

The statement continued: “This Executive Order will prohibit the state from denying or revoking a tax exemption, tax deduction, contract, cooperative agreement, loan, professional license, certification, accreditation, or employment on the basis the person acts in accordance with a religious belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

Jindal, who is eyeing running for president in 2016, has maintained a hardline stance against gay marriage, and has thrown his full support behind the Louisiana bill. In a New York Times op-ed published last month, the governor said Republicans had been “bullied” into toning down similar legislation in Arkansas and Indiana.

“As the fight for religious liberty moves to Louisiana, I have a clear message for any corporation that contemplates bullying our state: Save your breath,” Jindal wrote.

“It is shameful that Gov. Jindal has decided that abusing his executive power to accomplish the goals of House Bill 707, even after it was tabled indefinitely by our legislature today, is worth more effort than fixing our disastrous state budget,” Equality Louisiana said in a Tuesday press release. “In his time in Iowa, he may have forgotten what everyday Louisianians value, but the testimony today against HB 707 should have reminded him. Discrimination is not a Louisiana value.”

JoDee Winterhof, the Human Rights Campaign’s vice president of policy and political affairs, also condemned Jindal’s plan in a Tuesday statement.

“Bobby Jindal showed today why he’s consistently named one of the nation’s least-popular governors: by ignoring his constituents, members of his own party, and business leaders who correctly understand that legislation that endorses discrimination is wrong and should be rejected,” the statement reads. “Gov. Jindal made it clear that he’s so desperate to advance his longshot presidential campaign that he’ll say or do almost anything, including enable discrimination in the name of religion.”

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Rights for Me, But Not for Thee: How the Religious Right Thinks

The conservative Sutherland Institute has published a screed whining about “progressive liberals” who claim “to fight hate, cherish tolerance and promote equality.” What did these “progressive liberals” do that has Sutherland upset? They criticized someone who signed the absurd legal brief to the Supreme Court claiming gay marriage will increase abortion.

The entire screed by Derek Monson never once shows a violation of rights, yet he claims “progressive liberals” are guilty of “ugly intolerance” because they criticized conservatives.

Here is the crime of these “progressive liberals.” According to Monson, professors and students at Utah Valley University sent a letter critical of the university’s president for signing that ridiculous amicus brief.

That’s it! They criticized the president who signed this unscholarly, ridiculous attack on gay people. They didn’t throw bricks at him, or spit on him. They didn’t vandalize his car or hit him with a chair. They wrote a letter that was critical. A letter!

Apparently, the amicus brief is “free speech,” but the letter isn’t. In fact, according to conservative logic, the letter is not only not “free speech,” it is an attack on free speech.

When a conservative speaks, it is free speech. When someone criticizes that speech with more speech, it is ugly intolerance. It is tolerance to publish criticism of gay people, but intolerance to publish criticism of conservatives.

I suspect if someone said adults should be free to marry, except conservatives, that would be ugly intolerance — and I think it would be — but when they say adults should be free to marry, except for gay people, it isn’t?

The problem with the conservative — and one reason libertarians should see them as opponents of individual rights and liberty — is they are incapable of understanding that rights are a two-way street. Conservatives consistently demand rights for themselves, which they then want to deny to others.

The conservative argues that the Christian business owner must be free to discriminate against gay customers, but why have they never said gay business owners should have the right to discriminate against Christian customers? Because, in the conservative world, there are rights for conservatives which don’t exist for anyone else.

Consider the whole argument that discrimination is a form of “religious freedom.” They want “religious freedom” laws that grant special privileges to people who are religious, but only to people who are religious. Humanists, atheists, non-believers, need not apply.

In all the criticism of anti-discrimination laws dished out by the Religious Right, they have never once said that it should be legal for people to be intolerant of Christians. They have only claimed that Christians should have the right to be intolerant of others.

The misnamed Alliance Defending Freedom, has consistently attacked anti-discrimination laws when gays are protected, but used them when Christians are the alleged victims. They have never called for repeal of anti-discrimination laws as they apply to religion, only as they apply to sexual orientation.

Equal liberty and equality of rights before the law are part of the classical liberal and libertarian systems of thought, but NOT a part of conservatism. At most, conservatives pay lip service to such things, but when the rubber meets the road, the conservative mantra is “Rights for me, but not for thee.”

In the end, conservatives are not opposed to “big government.” They love big government, provided it uses its might and power to ram Christian morality down the throats of everyone else.

Conservative Michaeld Medved at least is honest:

It’s impossible to say that conservatives want ‘small government’ above all, when most of us want expanded governmental efforts to crack down on terrorists, crooks and illegal immigrants.

Yes, we generally favor ‘less regulation’ but we also want more restrictions on abortion, pornography and desecration of the flag.

What is it that Monson and that absurd amicus brief are attempting to do? They are defending a government regulation preventing same-sex couples from entering into the marriage contract. When the “progressive liberals” criticized the amicus brief and those who signed it, they didn’t demand that government prevent such things. Apparently, that sort of “intolerance” is reserved for conservatives.

Friedrich Hayek warned conservatives are friends of big government, provided it is big in ways that fit their religious agenda. The conservative “does not object to coercion or arbitrary power so long as it is used for what he regards as the right purposes. He believes that if government is in the hands of decent men, it ought not be too much restricted by rigid rules.” In other words, conservatives only want small government when they aren’t the government.

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Indiana Republicans Look For Path Forward After Mike Pence ‘Religious Freedom’ Mess

WASHINGTON — In Indiana these days, no one, including the GOP, is happy with Gov. Mike Pence (R).

On April 2, Pence signed a revised version of Indiana’s widely denounced “religious freedom” law, closing the door on a controversy that had brought national scorn to his state and cost local economies valuable tourism dollars.

“It didn’t do our brand any good, for sure. One, it didn’t do the state brand any good. Two, it didn’t do the Indiana Republican Party brand any good. And three, it didn’t do Mike any good. And that’s pretty obvious,” said former Indiana GOP Chair Jim Kittle.

Since that time, Pence has kept his head down and largely stayed out of the spotlight. But behind the scenes in Indiana, many Republicans are still seething and looking for ways to retake control of the party’s direction. And the results of those discussions are likely to become more public in the coming days, now that the Indiana General Assembly has wrapped up its legislative session.

One Republican operative in the state, who declined to be named in order to speak openly, said the Religious Freedom Restoration Act controversy brought to the forefront “a simmering disconnect between the [former Gov.] Mitch Daniels-era people and the Mike Pence people.” Others took issue with that description, saying the real divide is broader: between Pence and, essentially, the rest of the state Republican Party.

Daniels, who served from 2005 to 2013 and is now the president of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, still inspires intense loyalty among many Republicans in the state. He helped bring the state party out of the wilderness after 16 years of Democratic governors. Daniels made fiscal issues his focus, declaring a “truce” on social issues (although he did sign a bill defunding Planned Parenthood in 2011).

Pence, on the other hand, was known as a strong social conservative in Congress, where he served from 2001 to 2013. When Pence ran for governor, he followed in Daniels’ footsteps and largely stayed away from social issues. But the RFRA controversy has seemingly confirmed many people’s lingering fears that Pence would revert back to his old self and steer the party, and the state, far to the right.

“There’s always been kind of, in the back of people’s heads, a concern about what Mike Pence could end up doing to hurt [the successful state GOP] brand,” the Republican operative told The Huffington Post.

RFRA was not on Pence’s agenda. Rather, it was pushed by the GOP leaders who control the state legislature. But Pence essentially became the face of the bill — and, for many in the country, the face of discrimination in Indiana.

On March 29, Pence went on ABC’s “This Week” to try and mitigate the growing controversy over the law he’d recently signed. He repeatedly refused to answer the question of whether the measure would allow businesses to deny service to same-sex couples, and his evasion turned the simmering controversy into a full-blown mess. (Pence later said he didn’t believe the measure would allow for that, although he acknowledged that the law had to be clarified to make that explicit.)

But the damage was done. Organizations pulled their conferences from the state, musicians canceled concerts and businesses said they would give Indiana a wide berth.

“We continue to be stunned by just how wide and deep the animosity is — in Republican strongholds — against Governor Mike Pence (R) and the Republican Party, in that order,” wrote Ed Feigenbaum, who covers the ins and outs of Indiana state politics, in the April 13 edition of the newsletter Indiana Legislative Insight. “While undoubtedly there is a different narrative in out-state rural areas that were not subject to the same intense media coverage and social network squawking as in Central Indiana, urban areas, and college towns, the big takeaway is that the Governor and his party are in deep trouble.”

That trouble shows in the polls. A recent Howey Politics Indiana (HPI) poll shows Pence’s favorable rating at just 35 percent, and his unfavorable rating at 38 percent. And in a recent poll from the Human Rights Campaign, 53 percent of Indiana voters said that Pence’s signing of RFRA made them feel unfavorably toward the governor. Only 38 percent said they felt favorably.

“I’ve been covering Indiana politics for three decades, and I don’t recall a sitting governor experiencing that kind of decline over this short period of time like we’ve seen here,” said Brian Howey, publisher of HPI.

The dissatisfaction with Pence spilled into public view on April 15, when Bill Oesterle, the CEO of Indianapolis-based Angie’s List, announced his resignation and his intention to return to politics. Oesterle ran Daniels’ 2004 gubernatorial campaign, is a major donor in the party and was a vociferous critic of RFRA.

Immediately, speculation in Indiana centered around whether Oesterle would challenge Pence in a primary, presenting a pro-LGBT candidate who would no doubt have strong appeal — and fundraising potential — in the business community.

Oesterle is still figuring out his plans, but he recently told Indianapolis Star political columnist Matthew Tully that he may instead look to shape the party from the outside, with a new political organization to counter the influence of social conservatives.

“The primary chatter underestimates the work that is needed,” he said. “It diminishes the magnitude of the work that has to [be] done. That’s the work of putting the party in a position once again in which it has the support of the majority of the voters in this state. We have, because of what has been done, the very real risk of permanently alienating a large bloc of Hoosiers. That’s going to be hard to overcome.”

Kittle called Oesterle “a fabulous guy” and “a good friend.” He said Oesterle could have an impact on the Indiana GOP by perhaps serving “as a conduit for some folks who, at this point, think this party has gone too far to the right.”

But it’s not just the moderate wing that’s mad at Pence — he has managed to anger the right as well. Many conservatives who supported RFRA were incensed when the governor agreed to the legislative “fix” that prevents businesses from denying services to same-sex couples.

Twenty religious leaders, including a pastor who had literally stood behind Pence at his private signing ceremony for RFRA, held a rally this week, where they rebuked the governor for his “betrayal” of them. And there is speculation that Pence could even face a primary challenge from the right when he’s up for re-election in 2016.

“I think it would be very hard for anyone — assuming Mike’s going to run, and I’m virtually positive he is — so assuming he runs, I think it would be very difficult to win a primary [against him],” said Kittle. “I don’t think it would be helpful, either, because it could then put the Republican Party at an even further disadvantage [in the general election]. We didn’t win by a landslide last time.”

Neither Pence’s campaign nor the Indiana GOP returned requests for comment.

On Thursday, Pence received his first Democratic challenger: former Indiana state House Speaker John Gregg, who narrowly lost to Pence in 2012. In his announcement, Gregg said that under Pence, “Indiana has been given a bad name.”

In the meantime, Pence is picking up the pieces. The state recently spent $ 2 million to bring in a public relations firm to help rebuild Indiana’s image in the wake of the RFRA fiasco. Feigenbaum told HuffPost it was a good sign that Pence recently hired Matt Lloyd, his communications director from his time in Congress, to run his press shop in Indianapolis.

“Matt is a big-time, big-picture guy who knows how to maneuver Pence around petty politics and through serious politics,” said Feigenbaum. “[He] understands the politics of policy, unlike some other Pence aides.”

“I think Mike’s really going to have to reach out to diverse communities, whether it’s the business community, which has been very supportive of him up to now, or it’s the LGBT community,” said Kittle. “I think he does understand that this was not the right time and the right thing to do. It was a mistake. I believe he feels that way. I think he’ll have to express that.”

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Indy Star Blasts Gov. Mike Pence Over ‘Religious Freedom’ Law: ‘Fix This Now’

The Indianapolis Star is holding Gov. Mike Pence (R) accountable for the state’s controversial “religious freedom” law.

On Thursday, Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which allows businesses to discriminate against people by citing religious beliefs if they get sued. The LGBT community is often targeted by this type of discrimination.

Tuesday’s bold front page features an editorial blasting Pence for signing the law, and urging him to fix the damage it has already done to the Hoosier State.

We are at a critical moment in Indiana’s history.

And much is at stake.

Our image. Our reputation as a state that embraces people of diverse backgrounds and makes them feel welcome. And our efforts over many years to retool our economy, to attract talented workers and thriving businesses, and to improve the quality of life for millions of Hoosiers.

Major companies, such as Apple, Walmart and Salesforce, have since announced they will boycott doing business in Indiana. Two states, Washington and Connecticut, said they will ban state-funded travel to Indiana.

The newspaper’s editorial board is calling for the passage of a statewide human rights law that would protect the LGBT community and take a clear stand against discrimination. Indianapolis’ Republican mayor Greg Ballard took similar measures on Monday by signing an executive order that forces businesses to abide by the city’s human rights ordinance, which prevents discrimination based on sexual orientation.

So far, the state’s Republican leaders have defended the law and remained steadfast in saying it does not discriminate. In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Pence said the law is “not a license to discriminate” and “simply reflects” federal legislation. Other state GOP leaders said they were “shocked” that their religious freedom law was seen as anti-gay, and that they simply didn’t anticipate the backlash.

But Indy Star has a strong message for these political leaders:

We urge Gov. Pence and lawmakers to stop clinging to arguments about whether RFRA really does what critics fear; to stop clinging to ideology or personal preferences; to focus instead on fixing this.

Governor, Indiana is in a state of crisis. It is worse than you seem to understand.

Read the full editorial at Indy Star.

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Indy Star Blasts Gov. Mike Pence Over ‘Religious Freedom’ Law: ‘Fix This Now’

The Indianapolis Star is holding Gov. Mike Pence (R) accountable for the state’s controversial “religious freedom” law.

On Thursday, Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which allows businesses to discriminate against people by citing religious beliefs if they get sued. The LGBT community is often targeted by this type of discrimination.

Tuesday’s bold front page features an editorial blasting Pence for signing the law, and urging him to fix the damage it has already done to the Hoosier State.

We are at a critical moment in Indiana’s history.

And much is at stake.

Our image. Our reputation as a state that embraces people of diverse backgrounds and makes them feel welcome. And our efforts over many years to retool our economy, to attract talented workers and thriving businesses, and to improve the quality of life for millions of Hoosiers.

Major companies, such as Apple, Walmart and Salesforce, have since announced they will boycott doing business in Indiana. Two states, Washington and Connecticut, said they will ban state-funded travel to Indiana.

The newspaper’s editorial board is calling for the passage of a statewide human rights law that would protect the LGBT community and take a clear stand against discrimination. Indianapolis’ Republican mayor Greg Ballard took similar measures on Monday by signing an executive order that forces businesses to abide by the city’s human rights ordinance, which prevents discrimination based on sexual orientation.

So far, the state’s Republican leaders have defended the law and remained steadfast in saying it does not discriminate. In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Pence said the law is “not a license to discriminate” and “simply reflects” federal legislation. Other state GOP leaders said they were “shocked” that their religious freedom law was seen as anti-gay, and that they simply didn’t anticipate the backlash.

But Indy Star has a strong message for these political leaders:

We urge Gov. Pence and lawmakers to stop clinging to arguments about whether RFRA really does what critics fear; to stop clinging to ideology or personal preferences; to focus instead on fixing this.

Governor, Indiana is in a state of crisis. It is worse than you seem to understand.

Read the full editorial at Indy Star.

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Apple CEO: Pro-discrimination ‘religious Freedom ’ Laws Are Dangerous – The Washington Post

There’s something very dangerous happening in states across the country.

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Anarchy Arrives in Indiana as America’s 21st Century Religious War Heats Up

The first shot was fired last week in America’s 21st century version of Europe’s 17th century religious “Thirty Year’s War.” Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed SB 101 into law, in a private ceremony attended by Christian, Jewish and Muslim fundamentalists, as well as anti-gay religious extremists. Indiana’s law is a version of a state Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), but one which undermines the rule of law and encourages religious vigilantism. I believe this is a not a bad thing for the LGBT community, and an even more momentous event for America.

What, you ask, could possibly be good for gay America in a bill which legitimizes discrimination? And how can this possibly be a productive moment for Americans, considering the tsunami of these “religious liberty” bills that include the twenty states that already have a RFRA, with many others planning their own special ones, all on top of the federal RFRA?

Why is this important for the LGBT community? Kerry Eleveld, a long-time reporter who was the first White House correspondent for LGBT issues after Obama became President, just wrote a piece for Daily Kos where she said,

I am only left to conclude that while [HRC President Chad] Griffin was and still is very much invested in marriage equality, his heart simply isn’t in the fight to beat back the backlash that marriage equality has exacted.

As she noted, both Michaelangelo Signorile and I have written about the very noticeable absence of the Human Rights Campaign from the battlefield of state RFRAs and pre-emption laws over the past few months. A graphics designer from Brooklyn, Scott Wooledge, is the leader of the national grassroots efforts. The non-profit bureaucracy seems to have no plan. But it’s not just HRC – there is no organized community strategy for dealing with this resistance movement which has suddenly become extremely dangerous and a threat to bring on open organized hostility. A number of people have tried to organize a strategy, beginning last year after the Supreme Court ruling on Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, and its impact on the attempt to pass ENDA in Congress. The Hobby Lobby decision not only defined corporations as persons with respect to basic freedoms, it also elevated religious liberty beyond the longstanding interpretation of the First Amendment. At the time LGBT leaders became so concerned that they basically withdrew support from any attempt to pass ENDA in the House (not that there was ever a chance, given Speaker Boehner’s oft-repeated insistence the law was not needed). In spite of all the hand-wringing and hair-pulling, no concerted effort was made to prepare for the future. That future is now, and as we’ve seen by the silence on the Arkansas preemption law and absence of any significant institutional campaigns to prevent the Indiana, and now Arkansas (HB 1228) and Georgia (SB 129) RFRA bills, the paucity of preparation is glaring.

But in that crisis, that lack of preparedness for what seems like a blitzkrieg from the Right, lies opportunity. Why is the Indiana bill so important? Because unlike the preceding state RFRAs, modeled after the federal version of 1993, this bill makes every person a law unto himself, trusting in his personal sense of religious faith or conscience, and not subject to any state law. It overcomes the limitations placed into the preceding state laws, and effectively guts the laws of contract, consumer protection, anti-discrimination, and even traffic laws, as long as a person has a sincerely held religious belief, however he chooses to define it. It allows private parties to sue one another, and individuals free to sue state actors such as teachers and EMTs. It allows Jews to sue Christians, and Christians, Jews (and Muslims). It even allows gays to turn away believers, as shown hilariously in this short video spoof from Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out.

It is the state’s burden to show a persuasive reason why any violation should be overturned, based on a compelling state interest. And since every American is entitled to be his own church, a “religion of one,” with its own rules and belief system, this is a libertarian’s wet dream. Or, more concisely, Indiana is now an anarchist state.

Let’s not forget that the original purpose of this bill – unlike the purpose of the federal RFRA and the preceding 19 state RFRAs – is to deny equality to Indiana’s LGBT citizens. In fear of the impending nationalization of marriage equality by the Supreme Court in June, this is the big one-finger-salute red states are offering in return. The discrimination has already begun.

Why is this a momentous event for America? Because this law is a brazen overreach by fundamentalists who have claimed victim status for decades. It makes a mockery of the concept of religious liberty, and tears down the wall separating church and state, threatening to turn the United States into the 21st century version of the Holy Roman Empire. Their Christian persecution complex has led to this gross, and I would hope, unconstitutional act, and the backlash (#BoycottIndiana) was immediate.

First Marc Benioff of Salesforce.com cut ties, followed by Yelp and then Angie’s List shelving plans for an expansion in their home city of Indianapolis. The gamer convention Gen Con, the NCAA (the Final Four is in Indianapolis this coming weekend), the NFL, the NBA, the Big Ten, Cummins Engine, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Indiana University, Apple, the Mayor of Indianapolis, the Mayor of Seattle, the Governor of Montana, the Disciples of Christ and the White House, which had ignored Arkansas last month, stepped up. And even NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley.

The Governor first lied about the bill’s meaning and claimed we were all misreading it:

This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way in Indiana, I would have vetoed it. … For more than 20 years, the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act has never undermined our nation’s anti-discrimination laws, and it will not in Indiana.

But now he has backtracked and is asking for clarification. The simple ask that has to be made is to amend the law with explicit LGBT protections as part of a carve-out in the bill, as well as stand-alone legislation. I’m not holding my breath, based on the Governor’s non-responses to questions about legalized discrimination posed by George Stephanopoulos on ABC News’ “This Week.” In the meantime I’d like to ask all people of faith with intent to discriminate to put a sign in their establishment’s window or website stating their intent to discriminate. “No gays, Jews, dogs allowed.” You know the drill. If they have no shame, let these good people of faith say so proudly.

2015-03-30-1427684551-2306082-Discriminationsigns.jpg

The Right is fighting back, invoking President Clinton and the federal RFRA, lying about the significance of this bill compared to the other state laws and the federal law. The Weekly Standard acknowledges the difference – “Indiana’s RFRA makes it explicit that the law applies to persons engaged in business as well as citizens in private lawsuits” – and then misleads about its significance throughout the article. This type of response will continue, and encourage bigots to believe they will be tolerated by the state and immune from policing. This will get ugly, because it is a very deliberate provocation meant to create real conflict. Let’s not forget that “religious liberty” was not long ago used to justify racism in America, and that the Klan had a huge membership in Indiana. It was 23 years ago that Pat Buchanan called for a expansion of the cultural cold war at the Republican National Convention, and that war has now become hot in Indiana. The first shot was fired from the statehouse in Indianapolis, but unlike at Fort Sumter in Charleston in 1861, the forces of reason will not be surrendering. They will be blogging, tweeting, demonstrating, lobbying business, and creating comedy skits and videos. SNL got into the act. It even looks like a neologism has been coined – “pence” as a verb, as in “Wow, I just penced up my political career with one stroke of the pen!”
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Charles Barkley Calls Indiana’s New ‘Religious Freedom’ Law ‘Unacceptable’

A new “religious freedom” law in Indiana has NCAA basketball analyst and NBA legend Charles Barkley calling foul — and calling on officials to move next week’s March Madness Final Four tournament out of the state.

“Discrimination in any form is unacceptable to me,” Barkley said in a statement Friday afternoon. “As long as anti-gay legislation exists in any state, I strongly believe big events such as the Final Four and Super Bowl should not be held in those states’ cities.”

The legislation, signed into law Thursday by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), does not explicitly mention discrimination against gays or anyone else. Rather, it “prohibits state or local governments from substantially burdening a person’s ability to exercise their religion,” according to The Indianapolis Star.

But critics say the bill could give businesses a legal foothold to refuse service to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in the name of religious freedom.

Barkley’s remarks echo the NCAA’s own position, which President Mark Emmert voiced Thursday in a prepared statement.

“The NCAA national office and our members are deeply committed to providing an inclusive environment for all our events,” said Emmert. “We are especially concerned about how this legislation could affect our student-athletes and employees. We will work diligently to assure student-athletes competing in, and visitors attending, next week’s Men’s Final Four in Indianapolis are not impacted negatively by this bill.”

“Moving forward, we intend to closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well as our workforce,” Emmert’s statement continued.

Reggie Miller, a former NBA star who spent 18 years playing for the Indiana Pacers, also voiced concerns over the law, sending this message Friday to his 651,000 followers on Twitter:

Many other prominent figures have spoken out against the law, including Apple CEO Tim Cook, likely 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, who promptly canceled the company’s planned events in the state following the bill’s passage.
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Indiana Governor Mike Pence Seeks To ‘Clarify’ ‘Religious Freedom’ Law

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence says he would support legislation to “clarify the intent” of a new state law that has attracted widespread criticism over concerns it could allow discrimination against gay people.

In an interview Saturday with the Indianapolis Star (http://indy.st/1MhuY1d), the Republican governor said he’s been in discussions with legislative leaders this weekend. He expects that a clarification bill will be introduced this coming week to the religious objections law he signed Thursday.

He declined to provide details but told the newspaper that making gay and lesbian Indiana residents a protected legal class is “not on my agenda.”

Pence disputes the law allows state-sanctioned anti-gay discrimination, as some Indiana businesses, convention organizers and others have argued. He says he didn’t anticipate “the hostility that’s been directed at our state.”

___

Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com

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What Fundamentalists Are Missing About Religious Freedom Bills

I grew up in southern Indiana right where the Ohio River makes a curly seam against Kentucky. I was a Southern Baptist boy, at first by tradition and then by choice. That’s what we Southern Hoosiers did in those days.

Those circumstances were the perfect yet unfortunate set up for a lot of heartache. As my teenage years progressed, I gradually discovered that I was the devil in disguise, so to speak, for everyone around me. I was a homosexual, the despised and mythical creature about whom the Sunday school teacher warned us. I’m being dramatic about it now, but back then the stakes were quite high.

Nothing seems to change in my home state. It seemed a bit of a miracle when the marriage ban was struck down, then perhaps a bit predictable when Indiana became the latest state to pass a religious freedom act. On Monday, the state became the latest to pass such legislation. Gov. Mike Pence has said he’ll sign it.

I’m no longer a Christian, but I very much remember the mindset of the fundamentalist. Modern American fundamentalism is a faith of mean-ness — of exclusion — of turning your fears into God’s will and your gossip into prayer requests. I remember it well.

The irony is they completely think they’re doing the right thing…what Jesus would do.

The Jesus Christ of my imagination gladly makes flowers and cakes for gay people. I mean, that seemed to be his M.O. in scripture, hanging out with and helping people regardless of what they believed. Alas, the Jesus Christ of my imagination is irrelevant. What matters now is the savior in the minds of those pressing for the protection of their so-called religious freedom.

It seems an easy realization, that this religious freedom comes at the cost of oppressing another. But in defense, they would very much say the same applies to them, and now we are in a Catch 22 of prejudice.

The answer (and I can’t believe I’m about to say this) is Jesus. The man who who loved all unconditionally. For those so concerned with the inevitable coming of gay marriage, is it not time to sincerely ask, “What would Jesus do?”
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Gen Con Threatens To Take Popular Convention, And Millions, Out Of Indiana Over Religious Freedom Bill

Organizers of Gen Con, said to be the largest gaming convention in the U.S., have threatened to take their event — and potentially millions of dollars — out of Indiana if Governor Mike Pence (R) signs a controversial religious freedom bill into law.

Senate Bill 101 will prohibit state and local governments from “substantially burdening someone’s religious beliefs, unless that entity can prove it’s relying on the least restrictive means possible to further a compelling governmental interest,” MSNBC reports.

Supporters of the bill say that the legislation will protect people and business owners with strong religious beliefs from government interference. Opponents contend that the law could sanction discrimination, particularly against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.

“Gen Con proudly welcomes a diverse attendee base, made up of different ethnicities, cultures, beliefs, sexual orientations, gender identities, abilities, and socio-economic backgrounds,” Adrian Swartout, owner and CEO of Gen Con, wrote in a letter sent to Pence this week. “Legislation that could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees will have a direct negative impact on the state’s economy, and will factor into our decision-making on hosting the convention in the state of Indiana in future years.”

Gen Con claims to be the “longest-running, best-attended, gaming convention in the world.” According to Swartout, more than 56,000 people attended the convention at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis last year. Swartout added that the convention pumps “more than $ 50 million dollars [into] the city” annually.

According to the Indianapolis Star, Gen Con is under contract to host the event in Indianapolis through 2020. A spokesperson told the news outlet that though there are currently “no plans to break the contract,” the state’s decision on the religious freedom bill “would factor into future decisions.”

Indiana’s Republican-controlled Senate gave the measure final approval on Tuesday with a 40-10 vote. The bill is now awaiting Pence’s signature.

In recent days, several personalities, including Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee, first openly gay pro athlete Jason Collins and “Star Trek” actor George Takei, have spoken out against the bill.

On Facebook Tuesday, Takei wrote:

The Governor of Indiana has indicated that he will sign SB101—a law that allows businesses to discriminate against…

Posted by George Takei on Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Visit Indy, the tourism bureau for Indianapolis, has expressed concern that the legislation could greatly impact tourism to the city. Losing Gen Con, in particular, “would be a huge loss,” Visit Indy vice president Chris Gahl told WXIN.

“Anytime something impacts our ability to market Indianapolis and drive convention business, we of course get concerned,” Gahl said.

Pence appears determined to sign the bill. Responding to Gen Con’s letter, a spokesperson told the Indianapolis Star: “The governor has been clear on where he stands on this issue and we don’t have anything to add at this time.”
Entertainment – The Huffington Post
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The Religious Horse

A courier was travelling across country on a horse. He was in a hurry and rode the horse too hard, so it foundered. Needing to continue on his
journey, he went up to a nearby farm and asked the farmer if he could buy a horse.

“The only horse I have is this one,” the farmer said.

“Fine, I’ll take it,” the courier replied and jumped on the horse’s back.

The rather religious farmer told the courier how to control the horse. “Say ‘Praise the Lord’ to get the horse to go and ‘Amen’ to get it to
stop.”

So with a quick “Praise the Lord,” the courier was on his way. He made good time, and his mind wandered as the countryside flew by. Looking up after a
while, the courier realized that a cliff was coming up, but the horse was showing no indication of slowing down. He began to panic as the cliff loomed
closer, and he found he could not remember the command to stop the horse. In a real fright, the courier prayed earnestly for a reminder, and finished
his prayer with “Amen.”

The horse came to a screeching halt at the edge of the cliff. Looking down over the edge, the relieved courier exclaimed loudly, “Praise the
Lord!”

Received from Timothy Anger.
The Good, Clean Funnies List

Religious Liberty in Utah: Eyes Wide Shut

Remember Mormons and Prop 8? Many mormons were among the big players and funders who rejected same-sex marriage. The Republican-controlled Utah legislature voted to protect housing and employment rights for LGBT people, as long as religious people are free to discriminate without sanction. Utah Governor Gary Herbert says he plans to sign it.

The head of Equality Utah was “ecstatic,” according to the Salt Lake City Tribune, and called it a compromise. But are his eyes wide shut?

The Washington Blade reported in January that conservatives mobilized state-level campaigns across the country to use religious freedom to re-implement discrimination against LGBTQ people. States like Oklahoma, Michigan, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Wyoming are all somewhere along the journey toward freeing religious people to discriminate at will.

I am deeply concerned. In the name of progress and compromise, we may be setting ourselves up to be pawns in a global strategy of placing religious rights over all other constitutional and civil liberties.

Civil rights bills with sweeping exemptions for anyone with religious beliefs are not laws — they are stepping stones. In Utah, this legislation was not just about Mormons and LGBT people. When the Republican Governor says “this is a model for the whole country,” we had better ask why.

The plans for broadening this impact are clear from Republican Utah Senator Stuart Adams, who said, “If Utah can do this, in my opinion, it can be done anywhere else in the nation.”

Conservatives are framing religious liberty as the main argument against LGBT marriage equality, against abortion — and even against a secular government. They want to impose their religious beliefs in civic space and in the market and are exactly the type of people Thomas Jefferson had in mind when he and the other founders of this country prioritized freedom of religion.

Religious freedom emerged from a time when loyalty to kings and queens were indistinguishable from being faithful to a church. Archbishops whispered in the ears of rulers. Suffice it to say, we really don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past. By the 1700’s, Jefferson and others would not allow the conflation of church and state.

Today, there are swaths of conservatives who want to claim the United States as a “Christian Country.” Many people — both secular and religious — are wary as contingents of Mormon, Catholic, and Evangelical conservatives form temporary alliances to resist civil rights for LGBT people and reproductive justice for women. Be assured that if any one of these groups ever consolidated enough political, religious, and economic power to enforce their brand of religion, the wars between these groups would begin in short order and bleed into every aspect of our country.

Fortunately, so far, we have maintained a balance between freedom of religion and freedom from the imposition of religion. That balance tipped in favor of faith groups in the ’90s when many religions came together when government control of religion became too stringent and religions of many persuasions were feeling the pinch. In 1993, this coalition was able to pass The Religious Freedom and Restoration Act to establish a strongly articulated restriction on government interference in religion. The state was then required to show a “compelling reason” to limit religious expression.

Today, religions are asking for waivers from obeying laws that support equality and civil rights, not because they can demonstrate any harm to themselves, but because they believe their religion supersedes the Constitution.

If there was ever a compelling reason for the state to limit religious exemptions and public performance of “sincerely held religious beliefs,” it is equality before the law. Review after review in the courts of our nation have determined that same-gender couples and their families are harmed by not applying the laws equally to all who want to be married and want to protect their families — regardless of the gender of the couple.

We need new criteria today — religions must show a compelling reason NOT to follow a law. They must show that they cannot possibly accommodate the core tenets of their faith and follow laws that are constitutional. Sincerely-held beliefs can be wrong — even in light of core tenets of a person’s faith, let alone constitutional laws. Equality before the law does not infringe on any core religious belief in any religion. All religions teach that others should be treated with kindness and respect.

As a Christian and the head of Metropolitan Community Churches — founded when no church in the United States would welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer Christians — I believe we must keep our eyes open. We must speak and act, before it is too late.

Too many people want to be judgmental, take away our rights, harm our families, and say God made them do it. This has to stop. Religious liberty is not an excuse to discriminate.
Gay Voices – The Huffington Post

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My Fellow Christians, What Do We Do When Your Religious Beliefs Violate My Religious Beliefs?

Marriage equality is gaining momentum. Equal-rights ordinances seeking to protect the LGBT community from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations are on the rise. Public opinion is shifting in regard to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals. But with advancement of rights comes backlash.

Presently my hometown of Plano, Texas, is in the middle of a battle over an equal-rights ordinance recently passed to include sexual orientation and gender identity in the city’s nondiscrimination policy. And while the version passed has numerous exemptions (too many for now), there is still mounting support for overturning it. I struggle with comprehending the various objections to this particular civil-rights movement, but I am most affronted by the so-called argument that providing protection from discrimination for the LGBT community somehow violates religious liberty. It’s argued as a battle cry based on some common understanding that being religious and being gay are mutually exclusive. But it’s illogical and disingenuous to assume that everyone has the same understanding of religious doctrine and beliefs. Why do you believe that your religious beliefs are some kind of universal standard of all religious beliefs and morality? You throw around “religious liberty” as if all Christians agree on these topics, and as if our biblical interpretation and understanding hasn’t been evolving for centuries.

And while, regardless of my faith, I do not believe that religious discussions should shape public policy and our laws, to ignore this religious-liberty argument is, to me, to concede that they are right that being gay and being beloved in the eyes of God are incompatible. So, addressing this singular argument only, I am compelled to ask my fellow Christians: What do we do when your religious beliefs violate my religious beliefs?

What if my religious beliefs tell me that all of us are created equal and our one true purpose is to love and help each other?

What if my religious beliefs tell me that we were given the ability to reason, learn, and evolve in our understanding of the world and our fellow man, and that we shouldn’t be afraid to expand and change our hearts and minds?

What if my religious beliefs tell me that you don’t need to have any religion to be a decent and moral person, that enough war and violence is done in the name of religion, so I certainly don’t need to promote my belief in God as the only way to live a good life?

What if my religious beliefs tell me that, as a business owner, I should provide my services to those who are need of them regardless of whether I personally agree with everything they believe and how they live?

What if my religious beliefs tell me that to truly live in an open and vibrantly diverse society, our laws should not favor any one religion, denomination, or set of beliefs to govern all? Forget for a second what the Constitution says; what if my religious beliefs tell me that?

What if my religious beliefs tell me that so many passages in the Bible have been misinterpreted or are taken out of context to discriminate based on sexual orientation, race, and gender?

What if my religious beliefs told me in Sunday School week after week that God loves me, but now that I’ve grown up, you tell me that He does not?

What if my religious beliefs tell me that sin is anything that keeps one from walking with God; that I feel blessed — yes, blessed — that He made me this way, because it’s given my life direction, purpose, and fulfillment; and that I feel closest to God when I am speaking about loving and accepting all people regardless of whether we understand or agree with everything about them?

What if my religious beliefs tell me that there are many different points of view, and that no one person can be certain that their point of view is the eternal truth, but that if we err on the side of love and acceptance, God can and will sort out the rest?

What if my religious beliefs tell me that living, working, and doing business with those with whom I disagree does not diminish my faith or my beliefs and in fact doesn’t change anything about my life?

I’m not saying my religious beliefs are the way for everyone to live or believe. But neither are yours. In fact, they are not truly universal religious beliefs but your personal beliefs. And that’s OK. But you don’t get to impose those on everyone else to prevent them from living, working, and loving with the same freedom that you are afforded by virtue of who you are. And, as I stated above, I don’t see why you have to have any religion in order to live a good and moral life. How I live is personal to me, but by no means do I believe everyone should believe as I do. And that is exactly the point.

I’m no expert in religion, but I believe in my faith as much as any of you, and my heart and soul tell me that my beliefs are just as legitimate as anyone else’s. My faith tells me that God made me in His image, and that He is proud of His creation, and I seek to serve Him every day. I am perfectly imperfect but strive to be a more loving and kinder person in His honor. I am thankful to God for giving me this life. I know I am blessed to be who I am.
Gay Voices – The Huffington Post

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Tyler, The Creator Discusses Religious Views

Tyler, The Creator says he hasn’t read The Bible so he doesn’t really have much of an opinion about it.


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Lesbian Masseuse 3: Religious Girl Tastes Forbidden Fruit

Lesbian Masseuse 3: Religious Girl Tastes Forbidden Fruit cover

Pious young blonde Odette is too filled with religious shame and repression to explore her lesbian urges. Gorgeous masseuse Adrianna Luna pretends to sympathize as she slowly seduces the unsuspecting young girl and finally frees her inner lesbian.

Watch the Full Length, High Quality Movie!

Pious young blonde Odette is too filled with religious shame and repression to explore her lesbian urges. Gorgeous masseuse Adrianna Luna pretends to sympathize as she slowly seduces the unsuspecting young girl and finally frees her inner lesbian.

Stars: Odette Delacroix Adrianna Luna

Categories: All Girl High Definition All Sex Teen New Release Blondes Lesbian

Scene Number: 1

Orientation: Straight

Studio Name: Girl Candy Films

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