Oregon Catholic priest put on leave amid hidden camera probe


By Shelby Sebens

 An Oregon Catholic priest has been placed on leave by the Archdiocese of Portland as police investigate who placed a hidden camera, carefully disguised as an electrical outlet, in a church bathroom, the archdiocese said on Thursday.

The camera was discovered in late April near a toilet in the men’s bathroom of the St. Francis Catholic Church in Sherwood by a church member who took it immediately to Father Ysrael Bien, a police statement said.Fr.-Ysrael-Bien

But Bien didn’t report the camera to police until May 20 when he reported it stolen, Sherwood police spokesman Ty Hanlon said. Police are investigating how the camera wound up in the bathroom.

Bien has not been charged with a crime or named as a suspect. But the Archdiocese of Portland placed him on administrative leave last week in response to his failure to immediately report the hidden camera to police.

“It is deeply troubling that well-established Church protocols for the protection of parishioners were not followed,” Archbishop Alexander Sample said in a statement. “Finding a hidden camera in a church restroom should have been the cause for prompt and decisive action.”

Pat McCormick, spokesman for the Archdiocese, referred questions to the Sherwood Police Department. Bien could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Archdiocese assisted the parish in hiring investigators that conducted a sweep of the St. Francis school and parish and found no additional hidden cameras, according to the statement. Though the camera is missing, police said when it was found it did not contain a memory card.

“At the time of discovery it was not recording people,” Hanlon said.

Though police have conducted several interviews and searches related to the disappearance of the camera, they have not been able to identify a suspect, he added.

Complete Article HERE!


Episcopalians vote to let gay couples wed in churches

Thousands of members seated in a hall in at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, USA.

Thousands attend the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City, Utah June 28, 2015. The General Convention of the Episcopal Church is held every three years in different cities around the country.


The U.S. Episcopal Church voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday (July 1) to let gay couples wed in the denomination’s religious ceremonies, reinforcing its support for same-sex nuptials days after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide.

The church, part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, became in 2012 the largest U.S. religious denomination to approve a liturgy for clergy to use in blessing same-sex unions, including gay marriages in states where they were already legal.

While some clergy and lay members disagreed with the proposal put before the church’s triennial convention, held in Salt Lake City, the faith’s House of Deputies concurred with the House of Bishops, which overwhelmingly approved the measure in a separate vote on Tuesday (June 30).

“In 1976, the church promised full and equal claim to LGBT members, and we’ve spent those years making that resolution a reality,” said the Rev. Susan Russell of the Diocese of Los Angeles.

“Today’s action is a huge step … toward a promised land of a church that fully includes all its members,” she said.

But the Rev. Neal Michell, dean of St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Dallas, said he opposed such unions because “the teaching of scriptures says marriage itself is between a man and a woman. That’s the teaching of the (Book of Common Prayer) and our catechism.”

Under the new rules, clergy can opt out of performing gay marriage ceremonies.

The Episcopal Church is the 14th largest U.S. religious denomination, with about 2 million members, according to the National Council of Churches.

In 2003, its members elected Gene Robinson, who lived with his male partner, as bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire, leading to fractious relations with conservative Episcopal dioceses in the United States and some members of the global Anglican Communion, especially in Africa.
Complete Article HERE!


What is it about some Catholics…

What is it about some Catholics and their persecution complex?


Gay Marriage Opponents Act Like an Oppressed Minority in Catholic Group’s Ad Message is even styled as a coming-out announcement

About halfway through this two-and-a-half-minute film from conservative nonprofit the Catholic Vote, its treacly, overlystylized message becomes clear. These Catholics are nervous about revealing their stance on same-sex marriage because they’re (spoiler alert!) against it.

That stance is nothing new. And everyone is entitled to their opinion, as long as it doesn’t lead to legislation that discriminates. No, what’s galling about the ad is its appropriation of LGBTQ themes to marginalize LGBTQ people.

The ad, with a straight face, position Catholics as a persecuted group for not having their message of intolerance (here blatantly recast as its opposite) widely accepted these days. It even plays like a coming-out video for Catholics who are afraid to take the “brave” step of voicing their objection to equality. That’s a pretty audacious tactic—disingenuous and disrespectful, to say the least.


Beyond that, it is rather illogical. You can’t reposition a group as oppressed when there is no movement to oppress them. And you certainly can’t equate being called a bigot for spouting intolerance with anything near what members of the LGBTQ community have experienced for decades.

The empowering music is on point, though.

Oh, and thankfully there’s already a parody…

Complete Article HERE!


Florida Legislature Once Published Anti-Gay Pamphlet Full of Softcore Porn

Florida Legislature Once Published Anti-Gay Pamphlet Full of Softcore Porn

June is officially LGBT Pride Month in America, but Miami-Dade’s only local celebration — Miami Beach’s gay pride party — is held in April. So instead of showing you footage of parades or slide shows of revelers, we decided to take the opportunity to look back at one of the gayest things ever produced by the Florida state government — which conversely was also one of the most homophobic things ever published by the Florida government.

How gay? Well, this was the title page of the officially published state document:

Florida Legislature Once Published Anti-Gay Pamphlet Full of Softcore Porn (2)

The pamphlet, dubbed the “Purple Pamphlet” for its lavender-hued front cover, was the work of the Florida Legislative Investigation Committee. The committee was the brainchild of Charley Eugene Johns, a former governor who had taken office only after the death of his predecessor and was then promptly kicked out by voters and forced to return to the legislature. Because hunting for commies was all the rage in the late 1950s, Johns and his committee tried to do just that.

They searched everywhere — the NAACP, the historically black college Florida A&M University, anti-Castro groups, pro-Castro groups — OK, not everywhere, but you get the picture.

Turns out the committee wasn’t very good at rooting out communists in Florida, so in the ’60s, it turned its sights on homosexuals. As people are now generally aware, homosexuals, unlike organized communists, have existed everywhere throughout human history, so the committee was much more successful at finding them in the Sunshine State.

The committee first went searching Florida’s schools, causing the firing of 39 professors and deans from Florida universities for suspected homosexuality and the revoking of the licenses of 71 public schoolteachers. Several students were also expelled for being homosexual.

Emboldened, the committee members then took a look at homosexuality in Florida outside the world of academics — and, boy, did they find some things that excited them. The result of their work was the so-called Purple Pamphlet, whose introduction stresses that the document may be of use to “every individual concerned with the moral climate of the state.”

Take a look at page 6 of the pamphlet!

Florida Legislature Once Published Anti-Gay Pamphlet Full of Softcore Porn (3)

“Homosexuality is, and far too long has been, a skeleton in the closet of society,” the pamphlet begins, and then it’s just a bunch of homophobic garbage from there on.

But in between the anti-gay rants is a liberal sprinkling of softcore gay photos. How about some more of those pics?

Florida Legislature Once Published Anti-Gay Pamphlet Full of Softcore Porn (4)

There are more photos in the pamphlet, but they include images of little boys, so we won’t reproduce them here.

Aside from the photos, of particular note is the pamphlet’s extensive glossary, which painstakingly details gay slang. Some of the words are still in use today, and some are decidedly not.

Florida Legislature Once Published Anti-Gay Pamphlet Full of Softcore Porn (5)
Florida Legislature Once Published Anti-Gay Pamphlet Full of Softcore Porn (6)
Florida Legislature Once Published Anti-Gay Pamphlet Full of Softcore Porn (7)

What came first, the chicken or the twink?

Florida Legislature Once Published Anti-Gay Pamphlet Full of Softcore Porn (9)
Florida Legislature Once Published Anti-Gay Pamphlet Full of Softcore Porn (10)
Florida Legislature Once Published Anti-Gay Pamphlet Full of Softcore Porn (11)
Florida Legislature Once Published Anti-Gay Pamphlet Full of Softcore Porn (12)

It turns out the printing of this pamphlet did not go over too well. Some critics called it state-sponsored pornography, and fellow legislators voted to cut all funding for the committee in the next session.

Naturally, the pamphlet has gone on to achieve cult status in Florida.
Complete Article HERE!


Northern Ireland gay marriage ban faces judicial review

First couples in UK to enter civil partnerships delighted with result of legal battle, saying religious views should not affect public policy

Grainne Close and Shannon Sickles

Grainne Close and Shannon Sickles became the first gay couple in the UK to enter a civil partnership at Belfast city hall in 2005.

The first two couples to become civil partners in the UK have won the right to have the same-sex marriage ban in Northern Ireland subjected to judicial review.

A Belfast high court judge ruled on Friday that Grainne Close and Shannon Sickles, and Charles and Henry Flanagan-Kane, should be granted the review, which is set for the autumn.

Both couples’ civil partnership ceremonies were held at Belfast city hall, just a short distance from the high court, 10 years ago.

The review is likely to be held in November, alongside several other legal challenges taken by gay couples in the region, and who are backed by the Rainbow Project, an LGBT rights organisation.

Neither couple was in court for Friday’s ruling but their barrister and senior counsel representing the Northern Ireland regional government were present to hear Mr Justice Treacy say that he had read the case papers and had already satisfied himself that the matter should proceed to judicial review. “The applicant has an arguable case,” he said.

Members of the Rainbow Project and Amnesty International were also in court. Others supporting the legal challenge included the former CEO of the Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast Dawn Purvis and the actor Nuala McKeever.

Outside court, solicitor Mark O’Connor issued a statement on behalf of both couples: “We are delighted that we have been able to get over the first hurdle in relation to the judicial process and that the judge today has granted leave for us to bring this judicial review.

“We are thankful that the judge has made that decision today. We believe that religious policy and religious views shouldn’t be affecting public policy. Thankfully today the judge appears to have accepted that there is an arguable case to answer … and hopefully we will have success in the future in relation to this matter.”

Prior to the hearing Grainne Close had said: “This is not a religious issue, it is a human rights issue. That is why we are going to court.”

Close said she and her US partner had been inspired by Ireland’s overwhelming vote in favour of gay marriage last month and the joyous scenes that greeted the result of the referendum at Dublin castle.

The Rainbow Project’s director, John O’Doherty, welcomed Treacy’s ruling. “We are pleased that this case is progressing and that it will likely be heard alongside our client’s case challenging the failure of the Northern Ireland government to recognise their lawful marriage.

“The current illogical patchwork of marriage laws created by the Westminster government is placing LGBT people in Northern Ireland at an inexcusable disadvantage and we hope that the courts will agree and find that there must be a harmonisation of marriage laws across the UK.”

A Sinn Féin motion on marriage equality was defeated in April, with 47 Northern Ireland assembly members voting in support, but 49 unionists against. Even if there had been a small majority in favour, the Democratic Unionist party would have exercised a special veto drawn up under devolution.

The petition of concern rule allows any party to veto legislation if it can argue the law would not have sufficient cross-community or Protestant/Catholic support.

Earlier this month, 20,000 trade unionists staged a rally in Belfast city centre to support gay marriage in Northern Ireland, the only part of the UK where LGBT couples cannot be married.

Amnesty International said the ban has turned Northern Ireland into a “discriminatory backwater for the gay and lesbian community”.
Complete Article HERE!