Liberal Christians Come Out Swinging at Trump, Mostly

samuel-rodriguez

 

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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!

Reflections at a Funeral

By Gabriel Daly OSA

As we laid Seán Fagan to rest after all the suffering and injustice inflicted on him by the leaders of his own church, it became all too evident how divided the Catholic Church has become in Ireland and how so little is being done to heal the wounds of our internal divisions, and this at a time when the church is in grievous difficulties – many of its own making.

Fr Seán Fagan was widely admired and respected as a courageous theologian and compassionate pastor.
Fr Seán Fagan was widely admired and respected as a courageous theologian and compassionate pastor.

Socio-politically it has fallen from a great height, when it was a power in the land and its authority was unquestioned. However, the Holy Spirit is more likely to be listened to in the Irish Catholic Church now that it has been deprived of its privileged national status and has become a humiliated and insecure organization badly in need of public acceptance.

The presence of a bishop at Seán’s funeral would have been a golden occasion to express metanoia and the readiness to respond more sensitively to the the message of the Gospel. It would have meant so much to his family. It would have given witness to the triumph of Gospel values over institutional church attitudes. Regrettably no bishop was present. I believe that this omission was not personal; it was institutional. There were almost certainly several bishops who would have been glad to be there, but something prevented it. One wonders what and why?

It is highly probable that many bishops knew that the Roman Curia had behaved in a thoroughly unjust and unchristian fashion when it attacked six Irish priests who were giving admirable and enlightened service to God’s People. No bishop expressed public disapproval of what was happening, or came to the defence of priests who were being treated so appallingly by men who would have described themselves, somewhat implausibly, as Christians.

The Second Vatican Council made it very clear that diocesan bishops take precedence over curial bureaucrats, even those of prelatical rank. It would mean so much to many Catholics – to say nothing about the victims of curial injustice – if our bishops and religious superiors were to come to the defence of fellow Catholics being treated with no regard for justice or human rights. It would go far to heal the breach between the bishops and those Catholics who are looking for change in their church and receiving no understanding or encouragement from their pastors.

It cannot be said too often that peace, unity and friendship in the church do not depend on agreement about matters that do not belong to the essence of the faith. What the Gospel prescribes is willingness to live together in peace, friendship and respect for ideas and attitudes that one cannot share, and finally, if possible, even to be open to the desirability of reform.

Could our bishops not respect the value of diversity in the church and whole-heartedly reciprocate the offer of groups like the ACP to work in friendship, rather than to meet in polite formality. Pope Francis is leading with words of mercy and healing. Why are we not following?

Complete Article HERE!

Archbishop of Dublin moves trainee priests out of Maynooth seminary

“Strange goings on” and “a quarrelsome” atmosphere led to Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin’s decision.
“Strange goings on” and “a quarrelsome” atmosphere led to Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin’s decision.

The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has announced that he will not send trainee priests from his own diocese, the largest in Ireland, to the national seminary at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth.

When asked about his decision to send three seminary students from Dublin to the Irish Pontifical College in Rome instead of Maynooth later this autumn, Dr Martin said “I wasn’t happy with Maynooth…”

“I have my own reasons for doing this,” the Archbishop continued. “There seems to an atmosphere of strange goings-on there, it seems like a quarrelsome place with anonymous letters being sent around. I don’t think this is a good place for students,” he said.

Martin made his assessment after a series of anonymous letters alleging inappropriate behavior among some of the seminarians in Maynooth made headlines, including claims that some of them may have used the hookup app Grindr, which is primarily used to arrange gay sexual encounters.

Maynooth seminary
Maynooth seminary

But Dr Martin made no comment on those sensational reports to the Irish Times, instead explaining that he had what he called a “certain bonding” with Rome (where he lived and worked for in the Holy See for 25 years) and where he felt the Irish college offered “a good grounding” in the Catholic faith.

Monsignor Ciaran O’Carroll, the rector of the Irish college, confirmed that the three Dublin based seminarians would be “transferring” to Rome, adding this was very much the usual practice, since this was the time of year when bishops nominated students for the college.

It is however extremely unusual for Irish seminarians to be transferred from Maynooth to Rome after an Archbishop cites “strange goings on” in the national seminary as the reason for the transfer.

Maynooth currently has around 60 seminarians in residence and when rumors broke of “inappropriate behavior” earlier this year a spokesperson quickly assured the press that procedures were in place to handle any controversial complaints against seminarians.

The suggestion that a thriving gay subculture exists at Ireland’s national seminary first came to light in May of this year after anonymous letter suggested that both seminarians and staff members at Maynooth had been using the hookup app Grindr.

At the time Monsignor Hugh Connolly told The Irish Catholic the church intended to “thoroughly deal” with any concerns regarding such behavior.

Meanwhile, acknowledging that the number of seminarians for Dublin has dropped, the Archbishop told the Irish Independent “What is more important for me is the quality of the men who come forward and the training that they receive.”

The fact that the Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland, in whose diocese Maynooth sits, apparently believes that Maynooth is currently an unsuitable place to train Irish priests is a remarkable development.

Complete Article HERE!

Where did the Orlando shooter learn his hate? Hint: It wasn’t from Osama bin Laden.

By Jenny Boylan

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Donald Trump wasted no time. “Is President Obama going to finally mention the words radical Islamic terrorism? If he doesn’t he should immediately resign in disgrace!”

This was early on Sunday, as the country was waking up to learn about the massacre in Orlando. Fifty people dancing at “Latin night” at a gay nightclub, The Pulse, had been killed by shooter who, at that hour, had not yet been identified.

The facts weren’t all in then, and are even now still being revealed. But it wasn’t too early for Donald Trump to decide on the source for this tragedy. “I called it,” he tweeted, referring to his pledge to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country.

There are a lot of threads in this story: gun rights, terrorism, ISIS, Latino and Latina identity, immigration, and the endless and execrable campaign of 2016. It is hard to understand this catastrophe without taking the time to understand how all these forces intersect. The weeks ahead will give us the chance to learn more.

But one thing seems clear already. Omar Mateen didn’t learn his hatred of LGBT people from a distant cell of terrorists in Syria. He learned it on American soil.

This was no foreign born terrorist who furtively snuck over the border, like those Mexican “criminals, drug dealers, and rapists” Trump has mentioned. This was a man born in New York, raised in this country. Whatever he is, he is the product of our own culture.

We know that Mateen had been married, for a year, and that the marriage was marked by violence and abuse. But we also know that he had used an app called Jack’d, a dating site for men. He’d once proposed meeting a gay man for a drink at Pulse, the very club where he would later commit his atrocity.

One possible narrative of this tragedy is that it was committed by a man who was attracted to other men, and who found it impossible to accept the truth of what was in his heart. So instead he decided to destroy what was in himself, by lashing out at his brothers and sisters, to destroy the lives of people living with an absence of shame that he could not imagine for himself.

This was a man who had learned that it is better to commit mass murder — and suicide — than to accept oneself. This was a man who had learned that the lives of gay and lesbian and bi and trans people are expendable, that his own life, if he was one of us, was not worth living.

From whom did he learn this lesson? Did terrorists in Syria send him telegrams? Did the Taliban reach him by phone?

hate (2)

Of course not. He learned hatred of LGBT people, and of himself, right here at home.

He learned it from a county in which 200 anti LGBT bills have been introduced in the last six months.

He learned it in a country in which legislators have approved bills making it legal for any business not to approve services for marriages on the basis of religious objection.

He learned it from a country in which in one state, people with female anatomy and appearance are legally required to use the men’s room, because of what might appear on their birth certificates.

He learned it from a country in which, in another state, mental health professionals are permitted, if they so choose, to refuse services to gay people.

He learned it from a country in which people like me, and families like mine, are blithely referred to as “abominations.”

 
He learned it from a country in which the Lieutenant Governor of Texas — the second highest elected official in our second largest state — responded to the tragedy in Orlando by posting the message on Twitter: “God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”

He learned it from a country in which more than a third of transgender people have attempted to take their own lives. One such victim, seventeen year old Leelah Alcorn, threw herself in front of a truck last year rather than live in this culture. “Fix society,” she wrote in her suicide note.

The society Alcorn wanted fixed is not the society of the Taliban in the mountains of Pakistan. The society Alcorn wanted fixed is not the society of the Islamic State. It was the society of her home town of Kings Mills, Ohio, a state that has no protections for sexual orientation or gender identity outside of state employment.

It was the society of Orlando, Florida, where a person who survived the massacre at the Pulse on Saturday night can be legally fired on Monday morning for being gay.

On Sunday, just hours after the Orlando shooting, a twenty year old Indiana Man, James Wesley Howell, was arrested in California with an arsenal of weapons he apparently intended to use on an attack on the Los Angeles Pride celebration. His car contained three assault rifles, high capacity magazines, ammunition, and a five gallon bucket containing chemicals.

From whom did Howell learn his hatred? Hint: It wasn’t Osama bin Laden.

We cannot create a more loving and compassionate country by sealing our borders. Hatred of people like me, and of my family, does not come from overseas.

The fault is not in our stars. It is in ourselves.

Complete Article HERE!