11/17/16

Watching 81% of My White Brothers and Sisters Vote For Trump Has Broken Something in Me

By

thankyoulord

After several years of teaching at a large state school, where my academic work had always focused on race, racism, and religion, I entered into the theological academy. I was making a personal decision, a vocational decision. Nearly ten years ago, I prayed: “God, make me an instrument of your peace.” God answered with a new assignment.

Too often we have demanded that men and women of color teach us both about their own history and about white racism. We have long insisted that unwilling faculty members or church members be teachers when we are too lazy to do the historical and theological work of understanding how racism functions in Christendom. We have cried for more conversation in order to facilitate our understandings of each other, even while always demanding that people of color disproportionately carry the load. But I chose this work.

004I chose to go into predominately white spaces–sometimes all white spaces–to teach from my areas of expertise. I offered myself as a professor and a mentor, trying my very best to create an atmosphere where tough issues around race or gender or sexuality could be discussed. Some days I succeeded and some days I failed, but I kept trying. More importantly, I traveled this nation, speaking almost everywhere I was invited, but particularly at white churches and schools. I have written for popular media, facilitated workshops, preached, lectured, appeared on television and radio–all in my quest to be a bridge-builder within the body of Christ.

Because I don’t believe that you can live your faith on the sidelines, I entered into spaces I knew weren’t hospitable. I’ve lectured at churches that don’t ordain women, despite being an ordained clergywoman. I’ve spoken to congregations that don’t support LGBT rights, despite my embrace of them. And I’ve been a guest speaker at far too many places that were deeply suspicious of my frank talk about racism and white supremacy in Christian spaces.

Some invited me back, some did not. Some embraced me as a sister in Christ, some probably considered me a heretic. But I’ve been doing the work to which I’ve been called. And I am grateful for the students, colleagues and friends who support me along the way. I am grateful for my welcoming home in the Black church that has sustained me all my life. The work hasn’t been easy, but sometimes a “thank you” note arrives in my mailbox and I weep in my office.

My years in theological education were at the forefront of my mind while trying to understand the outcome of this historic 2016 election, in which over 81 percent of white evangelicals and born-again Christians voted for the president-elect.

Last week I watched as 81 percent of white evangelicals and born-again Christians voted for someone who, on tape, mocked a 003journalist with disabilities, and who, also on tape, lied about mocking that journalist.

I watched as 81 percent of white evangelicals and born-again Christians voted for someone who admitted to sexually assaulting women and gleefully affirming that he would face no consequences for doing so.

I watched as 81 percent of white evangelicals and born-again Christians dismissed his affairs, adultery, multiple marriages, participation in porn subculture, refusals to release his tax returns, failure to donate to charities to which he promised money, mockery of his own supporters (including their wives and parents), participation in racist lies about President Obama, stereotyping of African Americans, Mexican Americans and Muslims–and still voted for him.

I watched as 81 percent of white evangelicals and born-again Christians voted for someone who lies about even the most trivial things.

I watched as 81 percent of white evangelicals and born-again Christians voted for someone who conveniently “found religion” just in time to court a voting bloc, but who could not answer even baby questions about this newfound faith.

I watched as 81 percent of white evangelicals and born-again Christians voted for someone who in his acceptance speech did not mention “God.” Not one time. Not even to thank God for his victory or to suggest that “God bless America.”

I lament that, for white evangelicals, my brothers and sisters in Christ (some of whom have joined me in the work of racial justice), the very real lives and experiences of black and brown peoples, Muslims, immigrants, and so many others were apparently not on their radar. People whose highest commandment is to love God and then love your neighbor.

002There are real people on the other side of these lies and racism and misogyny. There are Muslims who face physical assault because of an Islamophobia that is being embraced and celebrated in this country. There are women who are raped or sexually assaulted, and who will never seek justice, since sexual assault has been reduced to merely “locker room” antics.

There are children who will endure bullying, and potentially consider suicide, because of the president-elect’s public behavior of bullying and demeaning those with whom he disagrees. There are African Americans living in fear when someone shouts “Kill Obama” during an acceptance speech and the president-elect fails to shut it down–because black folks know we serve as surrogates for racist rage directed against the president.

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As my election night tweet clearly shows, I am left with a crisis. How do I continue to build bridges across racial divides with those who have demonstrated, in overwhelming numbers, that they will partner with a person endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan? Or with those who affirm someone who continues to insist, after eight years, that our current president is not a citizen and is therefore illegally occupying office?

How do I continue to be in Christian fellowship with those who embrace a man still calling for the deaths of five innocent African-American men acquitted of a crime by DNA? How can I believe that racial justice is possible when dealing with those who are quick to forgive the president-elect’s egregious moral lapses, while simultaneously supporting his contention that black and brown youth are inherently criminals deserving of constant surveillance?

As a descendent of enslaved persons my ancestors have been in the United States longer than almost any other group besides American Indians. I am not going to leave the country my ancestors built with their blood and uncompensated labor. And I am a Christian–a faith that was birthed in an African cradle. I am not going to leave the faith bequeathed to me by my foremothers and forefathers. But I will always speak truth from my lived experience as an African American living in a nation in which the structural sins of racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression are clearly evident even in the body of Christ.

Yet I do not know as I write this whether the work to which I have given my career can continue. I do not know if I can continue to pay the cost of being a peacemaker and a bridge-builder with those who refuse to see how their actions have so deeply wounded minority communities. Something has been broken for me; a fragile hope that the work of racial and gender justice will be embraced by the larger church.

Complete Article HERE!

11/14/16

Row Over Release Of Gay Clergy List

By Harry Farley

A row has erupted over a list of gay Church of England clergy published by a conservative Anglican group.

GAFCON UK released the list on Sunday of clergy known to be in same-sex relationships or who have officiated over gay unions. Although those named have already publicly come out as gay, it is the first time such a list has been compiled and raised fears it will lead to increased abuse.

The CofE's House of Bishops will meet to discuss the Church's next steps over teaching on gay marriage in December.

The CofE’s House of Bishops will meet to discuss the Church’s next steps over teaching on gay marriage in December.

The list on the GAFCON UK website said it was recently given as a briefing for conservative bishops around the world to highlight the state of the Church of England.

The notes described “chaos” in each Anglican province and listed a number of “violations” of the Church’s ban on same-sex marriages, as laid out in the landmark Lambeth 1.10 resolution passed in 1998.

“While orthodox believers certainly hope that the Church of England does not go further in violating Lambeth 1.10, the situation in England as it currently stands is already a scandal within the Anglican Communion,” said the briefing.

The “partial list” catalogues “some of the ways in which Lambeth 1.10 has been violated within the Church of England”.

Canon Chris Sugden, a retired minister on the Church’s conservative wing, told Christian Today the list was “a helpful gathering of information”.

He said the Church’s discipline rules for clergy who broke rank were difficult and expensive to enact but said there was a “simple route forward”. He called on bishops to declare they are “individually in impaired communion with those who have breached the Church’s teaching and discipline in these regards”.

But a number of LGBT clergy raised fears the list could lead to targeting and abuse.

Rev Andrew Foreshew-Cain, a married gay vicar in London who regularly receives hate mail, said the list served “no other purpose other than to make us targets in some way”.

Foreshew-Cain’s marriage was highlighted by the list. He told Christian Today: “None of us are ashamed. I am legally married and that should be celebrated.” But he said the list would “encourage the harassment of clergy and lay people” who are openly gay. “If anyone is ashamed here it should be GAFCON.”

Canon Jeremy Pemberton, another married gay priest named on the list, said it was “disgusting to try and target people like this”. But he added he was “glad” GAFCON had made the point the CofE had crossed a line.

Tracey Byrne, chief executive for the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM), slammed the list as “contemptible” and added: “It is quite clear that their intention is to ‘name and shame’.

“This goes beyond political strategy – this is a deliberate attempt to deny God’s presence in the lives of real people, and to condemn them by public shaming.”

The list was released as senior bishops are preparing to meet in December to discuss the next steps for the Church over its ban on gay marriage. A group of bishops will bring a recommendation to the CofE’s ruling general synod in February. One possible option is some form of “pastoral accommodation” that would allow liberal clergy to celebrate same-sex unions in church without an official change in teaching.

GAFCON has made its opposition to any change in direction clear. The briefing on Sunday said: “To restore order and a credible Christian witness, the upcoming meetings of the House of Bishops and General Synod would need to not merely avoid going further in violating Lambeth 1.10, but it would need to take constructive steps to rectify the numerous public (and presumably private) breaches that have been strategically taken by some to undermine the teaching of the Communion.”

Rev James Paice, part of the GAFCON UK Taskforce, told Christian Today: “This report is shocking because it shows the extent to which revisionism has infected the the Church of England.” He said CofE leaders had turned a “blind eye to blatant violations” and added more conservative Anglican leaders around the world had “concluded that the Church of England is a sinking ship”. 

Rev Canon Andrew Gross, press officer for Gafcon Global later said: 

“There was never any intention to ‘name and shame’ individuals. How could there be? The document lists public actions taken by individuals who are very proud of what they have been doing. In many of these cases, these activists were actively courting the media in order that their violations of Lambeth 1.10 would have the greatest possible impact.

“For these same activists to then turn around and claim that cataloguing each of their media blitzes is some kind of personal attack is completely disingenuine. The “naming and shaming” narrative was invented by activists in a self-serving attempt to paint themselves as victims. It is completely inaccurate.”

Complete Article HERE!

11/12/16

Liberal Christians Come Out Swinging at Trump, Mostly

samuel-rodriguez

 

By

Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way first. From what I’ve seen, conservative religious responses to the election of Donald Trump have mostly been along the lines of, “Congratulations, praying for you, looking forward to outlawing abortion, also undoing marriage equality, and oh yeah, religious freedom is really important.” Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, at least threw in a caution that Catholics weren’t down for anti-immigrant legislation: “We are firm in our resolve that our brothers and sisters who are migrants and refugees can be humanely welcomed without sacrificing our security.”

Perhaps the most interesting conservative reaction came from Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference: “We must continue the fight to reconcile (the Rev.) Billy Graham’s message of righteousness with (the Rev.) Dr. Martin Luther King’s march for justice.” With Rodriguez, who the hell knows what that actually means, but it at least sounds like they’re not giving up on the fight for immigrant rights.

Mainline leaders were mostly subdued, at least the ones who did react. For example, leaders in episcopal systems, as is their wont, called mostly for prayer and reconciliation in the aftermath of the election. “Let us commit ourselves to the hard work of life together,” wrote Bishop Matthew Gunter of the Diocese of Fond du Lac. United Methodist Council of Bishops President Bruce Ough followed suit, calling on Americans “to put aside divisiveness and rancor and come together for the common good of this nation and the world.” Michigan Bishop Wendell N. Gibbs went so far as to caution protestors not to become divisive or violent.

Still, some bishops were not so keen, mildly. Andrew M.L. Dietsche, Episcopal Bishop of New York, reaffirmed what he called “basic principles of the Christian faith”: the equality and dignity of all people, welcoming the stranger, compassion and relief of the poor, and a commitment to non-violence. Newark Bishop Mark Beckwith gave perhaps the firmest Episcopal note of dissent, articulating a calling to be prophetic in the face of “Othering.”

Episcopalians and Methodist have a strong tradition of the via media and church unity in the midst of controversy. Congregational polities allow for opinions to be expressed more strongly, shall we say. Some of them let it rip. Cameron Trimble, leader of the United Church of Christ’s Center for Progressive Renewal, had this to say:

For the sake of the people we are, the people we love and the planet we live within, you must prepare yourself for leadership. You are now ordained a public theologian, a freedom fighter, a prophet, a disciple, a visionary, a love warrior. You are fierce, and you are wise. Most of all, you are undaunted by hate. You will not tolerate injustice.

Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, was equally direct:

The election is finally over. Most of us are shocked, even horrified, by the results. We live in a nation whose deep divisions have been exposed. The wounds of this election will not heal soon. Many of us are emotionally exhausted and deeply offended by what we have experienced.

This is a time to take a deep breath and a long view. Our role as religious progressives committed to democracy, compassion and human dignity is to help bend our culture toward justice. Think of issues like marriage equality and civil rights. The laws change when attitudes change. Our role is to help change attitudes, to lead by example.

Fear, anger, racism and xenophobia have created fertile ground for demagogues. Our voice is going to matter in the coming years. Our role, as always, will be to be a powerful voice for compassion and civil rights. Perhaps, at times, we may even be called upon to join with others to resist flagrant injustice.

For now, let us reflect and draw strength from one another. Together we can recover. Together we can shape the future.

Scott Reed, executive director of the PICO National Network, was downright blistering:

President-Elect Trump should be forewarned that our faith will not allow us to permit him to fulfill his promise to criminalize immigrants by conducting mass deportations, or sit idly in the face of racial profiling of African-Americans, Latinos and religious minorities.

Perhaps I’m biased, because (full disclosure) it’s my denomination and I’ve known John Dorhauer, President and General Minister of the United Church of Christ, for a long time. But Dorhauer posted what I thought was perhaps the strongest response to Trump’s election so far:

Because this election sharply separated us over matters of race, gender, human sexuality, faith, economic inequality and political persuasions we all bear a heavy burden moving forward. It is our call, our shared mission, to heed the call of God’s Spirit and to work to repair damages in our deeply wounded and fiercely broken body.

Mr. Trump was able to win this election in spite of clear evidence from him of racism, homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny, and Islamaphobia. This was so blatant that many of his own party’s leaders could not endorse him. Many who voted for him knew this, and yet their fears about what is happening in their lives overrode their distaste for his bombast. In their search for a leader not connected to the power base of a government that has been perceived as corrupt, inefficient, and out of touch – his populist rhetoric appealed to them. He must now lead a country where people of color, women, Muslims, immigrants, the disabled, and an LGBT community all feel the sting and impact of his public speech.

Dorhauer makes the requisite call for unity in the wake of this ferkakte election—as he points out, “united” is right there in the name of the denomination. But he doesn’t back an inch off the call for the church to be agents of social justice. Again, as he rightly points out, justice is at the core of the UCCs newly adopted vision statement.

In fact, it’s almost all of the vision statement. I admittedly haven’t been the biggest fan of that vision—I think it’s reductive—but in these grim days for those opposed to the ascent of America’s Problem Child, I’m sure as hell glad that some Christian body is showing leadership. More like this, please.

Complete Article HERE!

11/12/16

Pope meets with men who left the priesthood

As the Jubilee Year of Mercy is rapidly coming to a close, the pope reached out once again to those in need of mercy – men who have left the priesthood. 

For two hours, Pope Francis met with seven men, who now have families, and spent time listening to their stories and getting to know their wives and children. 

Pope Francis did not intend to judge or justify them, but desired to express his closeness to these men, who felt they had made a mistake by becoming a priest. Many faced extreme opposition from their diocese, family or friends for leaving. Because of this, the pope wanted to send a gentle message of mercy to the five Italians, Spaniard and Latin American men he met during the surprise encounter.

Additionally, the families asked him to autograph various objects, like this cell phone case and gave him gifts as well. 

The pope ended the visit by reciting a Hail Mary with them all together and giving a group blessing. 

When the pope headed outside to leave the apartments on the outskirts of Rome, however, he was greeted by masses of people who waited for him with cell phones posed and ready for pictures. 

pope-meets-with-men-who-left-the-priesthood

Complete Article HERE!

11/11/16

Retired priest: Catholic church knew of Guam sex abuses for decades

By Haidee V Eugenio

 

World’s largest clergy abuse survivors network says abusive priests ‘dumped’ in faraway places

Guam’s Catholic church leadership has known for decades about clergy sex abuses that happened as early as the 1950s, a retired priest said in a signed statement released Nov. 1. The statement was released in connection with civil lawsuits filed by several former altar boys, who allege sexual abuse at the hands of Guam priests decades ago.

He said his only form of punishment for molesting at least 20 boys at the time was to say prayers — as instructed by then-Archbishop Apollinaris W. Baumgartner.

Retired priest Louis Brouillard, now 95 and living in Minnesota, said his sexual contact with children when he was on Guam was known to other priests, including Baumgartner, the highest Catholic leader on Guam from 1945 to 1970. Brouillard served as a priest on island from the late 1940s to 1981.

Brouillard said Baumgartner approached him to talk about the “situation.”

“I was told to try to do better and say prayers as a penance,” Brouillard wrote. “I believe the Catholic Church should be honest and truthful regarding what happened on Guam during my time there.”

Brouillard made a video at his Pine City, Minnesota, residence and signed a written statement dated Oct. 3 in support of a former altar boy’s Nov. 1 lawsuit against him for allegedly sexually abusing him six decades ago.

“I am making this video to reach out to the parishioners of the Archdiocese of Guam, and anyone I may have harmed, to ask forgiveness for action done by me many years ago,” Brouillard said in the statement attached to the lawsuit against him and others.

Leo Tudela, 73, pulls off his eyeglasses as he is overcome with emotions during his testimony in support of Bill 326 at the Guam Legislature in Hagatna on Monday, Aug. 1. Tudela testified that as a child, he served as an altar boy with the Mount Carmel Church in Chalan Kanoa, Saipan until he was given the opportunity to attend Catholic school on Guam. Tudela told lawmakers during his testimony that he was sexually abused by three members of Guam's Catholic Church, including a priest, on three different occasions.

Leo Tudela, 73, pulls off his eyeglasses as he is overcome with emotions during his testimony in support of Bill 326 at the Guam Legislature in Hagatna on Monday, Aug. 1. Tudela testified that as a child, he served as an altar boy with the Mount Carmel Church in Chalan Kanoa, Saipan until he was given the opportunity to attend Catholic school on Guam. Tudela told lawmakers during his testimony that he was sexually abused by three members of Guam’s Catholic Church, including a priest, on three different occasions.

Leo Tudela, now 73, said Brouillard sexually abused him at a church rectory and during Boy Scouts of America activities in the 1950s. Tudela said the abuse started when he was 13 years old.

Through attorney David Lujan, Tudela sued not only Brouillard but also the Archdiocese of Agana and up to 50 other people who may have a role in covering up, concealing or disguising Brouillard’s sex abuses, among other things, the lawsuit states.

On Aug. 1, Tudela publicly accused Brouillard of sex abuse when Tudela testified in support of a bill lifting the statute of limitations for child sex abuse cases. A few days later, Brouillard, who was called at his Minnesota home, admitted that he abused multiple boys while he was a priest on Guam.

The church and some of its priests on Guam can be sued over sex abuses for the very first time only this year, courtesy of a new law that lifts all civil statutes for child sex abuse cases.

‘Geographic solution’

Brouillard, who was ordained as a priest on Guam in 1948, left the island in 1981.

Although church leadership on Guam was aware of Brouillard’s sexual abuse of boys on Guam, Brouillard left island and was allowed to serve as a priest in at least three parishes in Minnesota.

It was only in 1995 that Brouillard was removed from ministry, following credible allegations of child sexual abusethere.

The world’s largest and oldest network of clergy abuse survivors, called the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said Brouillard’s case is not unique.

“He was given what advocates like to call ‘the geographic solution.’ Brouillard was sent as far away as possible so that victims could not find him. He was still paid so that he would keep quiet,” said Joelle Casteix, SNAP’s volunteer Western regional director.

“Abusive priests are dumped in unsuspecting communities so that the priest and his home diocese can escape legal accountability. The fact that Brouillard somewhat admitted his crimes is remarkable. Hopefully, that gave his brave victims some sense of vindication,” Casteix said.

It is also only this year, starting in May, that former altar boys have come forward to publicly accuse priests on Guam of sexually abusing them decades ago. Former accusations against priests were done by relatives of alleged victims.

Current and former members of the Catholic church who have so far been publicly accused of sexual abuse include Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron, who is now facing a canonical trial at the Vatican, Brouillard, and the late Brother Mariano R. Laniyo.

The late priest John H. Sutton, who worked on Guam from 1971 to 1974, was accused in 2015 by a man of raping him repeatedly when he was a student in Texas.

In 2014, the San Francisco Archdiocese in California removed the Rev. John Howard from ministering in the city after he was removed from his post on Guam over allegations he molested two boys four decades ago while serving in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Tudela is not the only former altar boy who has sued the Archdiocese of Agana and clergy members over sex abuse. Three others — Roland Sondia, Walter Denton and Roy Quintanilla — filed separate lawsuits on Nov. 1 against Archbiship Anthony Apuron, the archdiocese and up to 50 others. They allege Apuron sexually abused them in the 1970s, when he was parish priest in Agat.

Lujan said he is representing at least a dozen more victims of alleged child sex abuse on Guam, and the alleged perpetrators include other priests who were not previously publicly accused.

The second batch of lawsuits involving former altar boys and others is expected to be filed this week, Lujan said.

‘Crossed the line’

Brouillard’s two-page signed statement outlines his sex abuse of minors during the more than four decades he was on Guam, holding many positions in the Catholic church.

He managed the Boy Scouts and served as its president on Guam. He was assigned at the Santa Teresita Church in Mangilao. His other job was teaching sexual education to the boys in the parish.

“Looking back now, I realize that I crossed the line with some of my actions and relationships with the boys,” Brouillard said. “During some of the sex education talks, while at Santa Teresita, I did touch the (private parts) of some of the boys and some of the boys did perform oral sex on me. Some of these incidents took place in Mangilao at the rectory of the Santa Teresita Church.”

Brouillard said because of the many years that have passed, he does not remember the exact dates and times or the names of the boys involved.

“There may have been 20 or more boys involved. Other locations where the sexual contact may have happened would be at San Vicente and Father Duenas Memorial Schools,” he said. “At that time, I did believe that the boys enjoyed the sexual contact and I also had self-gratification as well.”

Brouillard said he has come to learn the name of one of the boys he had sexual contact with at the Santa Teresita rectory.

“His name is Leo Tudela. He is from the island of Saipan. I apologize to you Leo and the rest of the boys that I may have harmed. I regret with all my heart any wrong I did to them. I pray for all the boys I may have harmed and ask for their forgiveness and for forgiveness from God,” the retired priest said.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis named on Oct. 31 a successor to Archbishop Apuron, now 71.

The pope appointed Detroit Bishop Michael Jude Byrnes as coadjutor archbishop of the Archdiocese of Agana. As coadjutor archbishop, Byrnes has the right to succeed Apuron if Apuron resigns, retires or is removed. Under church law, bishops are required to resign at 75. Byrnes arrives on Guam on Nov. 28.

Editor’s note: A previously published version of the story named another priest as someone who had been removed by the San Francisco Archdiocese in 2014. The priest who was removed was the Rev. John Howard.

Complete Article HERE!