Sunday, November 23, 2014

Hearts & Minds In MS

“Good luck with that,” said Tim Wildmon, president of the Tupelo-based American Family Association. “If they’re here trying to change people’s fundamental religious views, views they judge as wrong, I know people aren’t apt to change their conventional beliefs based on TV ads. Why target the South? The problems they’re claiming aren’t any more real in Mississippi than anywhere else.”

By Riley Manning
Daily Journal
There’s a new effort gaining momentum in Mississippi aimed at changing the conversation about homosexuality.
Earlier this year, the Human Rights Campaign, a nationwide advocacy group for LGBT rights, compiled a massive survey to assess the experiences and priorities of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Mississippi.
Among their findings, they determined 57 percent of respondents have called Mississippi home for over 20 years. Around 10 percent are serving or have served in the armed forces. More than half claim they volunteer in their communities.
Perhaps even more notably, half of those surveyed said they are people of faith.
In the most religious state in the country, the HRC’s newest initiative precisely aims to soften the conversation around homosexuality among Mississippi’s church-goers.
“You can’t really have a conversation about mostly anything without also talking about faith,” said Rob Hill, director of the HRC’s Mississippi efforts. “Especially here, you cannot divorce faith from this conversation.”
‘All God’s Children’
Earlier this month, the HRC rolled out the first in a series of television ads to promote education about the experiences of LGBT Mississippians. The first commercial in the “All God’s Children” series features Southern Baptist mother Mary Jane Kennedy, who speaks on her son coming out as gay.
“[Kennedy] is a person of deep faith,” Hill said. “Because of her religious beliefs, her journey to acceptance was difficult, and that’s what people should hear. We want to offer hope.”
The next commercial appeared this week, and features state Rep. Alyce Clark, D-Jackson, the first black woman to serve in the Mississippi Legislature. She speaks about her own gay son.
Born in Greenwood and raised in Jackson, Blossom Brown is a transexual woman living in Columbus. She will also be the subject of an ad by the HRC.
“I think what a lot of people don’t understand is that the LGBT community really wants to be a part of the church community,” she said. “As a transgender woman, it’s hard to find a place where I can get that peace time with the Lord without being criticized, often to my face.”
The HRC has booted up similar campaigns in Arkansas and Alabama, but some are skeptical about their efforts.
[...] Tim  Wildmon comment moved to top of page. --ABratt
Hill differed with Wildmon. He said one-third of people from the HRC’s survey said they had been personally harassed by a person of authority, say an employer, or a police officer. In addition, members of the LGBT community can be fired and evicted for their sexual orientation.
“Even Mississippi’s hate crime laws don’t cover LGBT people, but in a poll we conducted last month, we found the majority of mainstream citizens thought these protections were actually in place,” he said.
What’s a church to do?
Bishop Clarence Parks, pastor of the Temple of Compassion and Deliverance in Tupelo, admitted the church in general has been afraid to talk about homosexuality in the past, and often when it was, it was in a vicious way.
“Because we weren’t used to it, we felt the need to be really harsh on it and put it out of our sight,” he said. “But it wasn’t out of our mind. As we go forth, we’re learning how to deal with the issue better, but at the end of the day, a sin is a sin.”
Bishop Kelvin Ransey, who pastors Spirit of Excellence Church in Oxford, agreed.
“People think the church hates gays, but that’s far from the truth. We love them, but acting in that way is not compatible with what we believe,” Ransey said.
The Rev. Jeffery Daniel, pastor of White Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Tupelo, said the church itself is being pulled in two extreme directions.
“As a minister, you should be able to stand on your convictions without being accused of preaching hate,” Daniel said. “At the same time, you can’t beat people over the head with scripture. I preach against homosexuality just like I do against gambling and fornication, but I do so while still being aware of the person.”
In general, though, he sees a growing cultural acceptance of the LGBT community from the younger generation simply from being exposed to it from a young age. While many churches may have handled the issue poorly, many who have handled it responsibly have still been vilified one way or another.
“More people are coming out as gay who are connected to people against it. That forces these people to change their stance,” Daniel said. “It’s wrong to belittle a person either way, but from our perspective, we want to love you out of it.”
The Rev. Warren Black, a United Methodist minister who pastored Oxford University United Methodist Church for 18 years before retiring this year, says he hopes the church doesn’t land on the wrong side of history or the gospel. In his eyes, the more time the church wastes not accepting the LGBT community, the more young lives are at risk.
“The reality is people need help. Confusion over sexual orientation is one of the leading causes of teen suicide. These kids have nowhere to turn, and to me, that should be a ministry of the church,” Black said. “Meanwhile, more and more of the younger generation are leaving the church.”
Middle ground
Parks, Ransey, Black, and Hill did all agree that LGBT Mississippians should be protected under the law.
“Nobody should be fired for no reason, and I definitely don’t think it should be OK to go out and beat someone up or anything like that,” Parks said. “But there are civil rights and kingdom rights. I’m all for the LGBT community having civil rights. But marriage in the church is a kingdom right.”
Hill took heart in this attitude. The most he hopes for at this point, he said, is for the church community to hear the LGBT community out.
“We don’t want to fight. We want to be able to sit down and talk,” Hill said. “We hope that if we change people’s hearts and minds, that can lead to policy change.”
Black was optimistic, too.
“I greatly admire the HRC. I think things are really starting to move down here,” he said.
The HRC will make an appearance in Oxford at the Egg Bowl next weekend. Hill said they will have an information booth set up outside of Lamar Hall.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Republican [Joni Ernst] Admits Why Republicans Hate Obama Care

Republican Admits Why Republicans Hate Obamacare -- NYMag

Jonathan Chait:
"Conservatives have made a series of specific predictions about the effects of Obama Care — overall costs would rise, insurers would flee the exchanges, premiums would go up, the ranks of the uninsured would not even fall. All these predictions have failed. And yet conservative opposition to the law has not diminished. If you want to know why this is, listen to these secretly recorded comments from Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst, via Radio Iowa and Greg Sargent. Here Ernst, speaking candidly to supporters, gets to the root of conservative opposition":
We’re looking at Obama care right now. Once we start with those benefits in January, how are we going to get people off of those? It’s exponentially harder to remove people once they have already been on those programs…we rely on government for absolutely everything.  And in the years since I was a small girl up until now into my adulthood with children of my own, we have lost a reliance on not only our own families, but so much of what our churches and private organizations used to do. They used to have wonderful food pantries. They used to provide clothing for those that really needed it. But we have gotten away from that. Now we’re at a point where the government will just give away anything.”

That’s the fundamental belief that motivates most, if not all, the conservative opposition: Health care should be a privilege rather than a right. If you can’t afford health insurance on your own, that is not the government’s problem.
I happen to find this belief morally bizarre. People who cannot afford their own insurance either don’t earn much money, or have health risks, or family members with health risks, too expensive to bear.
All of us non-socialists would agree that there ought to be some things rich people get to enjoy that poor people are deprived of. Access to health care is a strange choice of things to deprive the losers of — not least because one of the things you do to “earn” the ability to afford it is not just the normal market value of earning or inheriting a good income, but the usually random value of avoiding serious illness or accident.
Indeed, very few Republicans have the confidence to make the case openly that the inability of some people to afford the cost of their own medical care is their own problem. But that is the belief that sets them apart from major conservative parties across the world, and it is the belief that explains why they have opposed national health insurance every time Democrats have held power, and why they have neglected to create national health insurance every time they have." 
Because of this published revelation from newly elected (Nov. 2014) Republican) Joni Ernst, I'm so proud to be a Liberal Democrat! Let's Take Our Country, America's Country, back starting in 2016.  --A.B. Tupelo MS Liberal.

(490 w)

Tupelo's AFA (Dark Side) Clueless Or Dishonest About Net-Neutrality

"Religious Right Activists Either Clueless Or Dishonest  About Net Neutrality"
Brian Tashman, Right Wing Watch,11-12-14.             

RWW: "This week, spokesmen for the American Family Association and National Religious Broadcasters, two of the country’s top Religious Right groups, came out strongly against net neutrality, while simultaneously demonstrating that they have no idea what net neutrality actually is. Yesterday, both groups weighed in again, as NRB’s Craig Parshall spoke with Dan Celia of the AFA, both of them completely misrepresenting net neutrality as a threat to freedom."--Article from Right Wing Watch re-posted by Al Bratton to ABratts Liberal Tupelo MS Blog
Link to ABratts Liberal Blog

Read Complete article here: Link:RWW    

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ted Cruz, the Houston Hype, and the Dishonesty of the Anti-Equality Movement | Right Wing Watch

Ted Cruz...Houston Hype...Anti-Equality...

by Peter Montgomery, RWW, 10-20-14

Re-posted from Right Wing Watch, 10-20-14, by Al Bratton, ABratt's Tupelo MS Blog

So This Is Christianity American Style? -AB

"Conservative religious leaders have a long track record of hyping supposed threats to religious liberty in America  specifically, to the religious liberty of conservative Christians. In fact, portraying Christians as a persecuted minority under siege by anti-freedom LGBT activists and secular humanists has become the right's primary strategy for reversing the advance of equality in America. But even in the long context of crying wolf over threats to religious freedom, Sen. Ted Cruz and his religious right allies have set new records for dishonest hype in their response to this week's controversy over subpoenas sent to a few religious leaders in Houston."

Link to complete article: 

Ted Cruz, the Houston Hype, and the Dishonesty of the Anti-Equality Movement | Right Wing Watch

Monday, September 22, 2014

BarbWire: Miss America Winner Contributes To Violence, Destruction of The Country | Right Wing Watch

BarbWire: Miss America Winner Contributes To Violence, Destruction of The Country | Right Wing Watch

BarbWire columnist Luke Douglas is joining other conservatives who have expressed outrage that Kira Kazantsev, the recently-crowned Miss America, once worked as an education intern at a Long Island Planned Parenthood clinic. 
So, now I invite you to take a first-hand look at what some in America's Christian-Right minority think is Christianity marching on to save the world!--ABratt

“The crusader of the largest abortion provider in the nation now the face of America? We shouldn’t be surprised,” Douglas said, before arguing that Planned Parenthood has contributed to the “pernicious deterioration” of America, with increased cases of rape and murder, as “a sexual revolution begun in the name of liberty has brought us to violence and confusion.”
This week’s newly crowned Miss America, 2015 is said to represent everything America believes in. Kira Kazantsev rose through the ranks of the competition: first as Miss New York, then singing “Happy” to win the national crown, then to represent our identity, our values, and our future as Miss America. As the crowds cheered with joy at her achievements, America took heart in knowing that our future is in the able hands of a new [...]

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Spotlighting: Christian Right Homophobes Tim Wildmon, Bryan Fischer, Scott Lively...

AFA's Tim Wildmon, Scott Lively, Peter LA Barbera [...] Launch Global anti-Gay 'Coalition for Family Values.'  Yes, Friends, That's What They Named It!

'USA: Anti-Gay Religious Activists Hope to Boost Homophobia Exports'
"Anti-gay activists Scott Lively and Peter LaBarbera launched a new global anti-gay network they call the Coalition for Family Values.  At a Washington, D.C. press conference, Lively said governments have an affirmative duty to uphold a biblical view of sexuality, which he called the “one flesh paradigm.” That means discouraging and suppressing homosexuality.
Lively’s new effort has  drawn quick support from other religious right leaders like Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber and The American Family Association’s Tim Wildmon and Bryan Fischer.
Like the World Congress of Families at its recent press conference, Lively and his partners praised Russia’s anti-gay laws and encouraged the rest of the world to follow suit. From my report on the event at Right Wing Watch:"
Lively, who played an active role in fomenting homophobia in Uganda, now claims he thinks the new law there is too harsh. His goal is not to put people in jail, he says, as long as they keep their sex behind closed doors and don’t try to change society. He says government has “an affirmative duty” to discourage all sex outside marriage and to encourage the biblical “one flesh paradigm” regarind sexuality.
 The coalition’s statement says:
 “…the vast majority of the people of the world do not accept the notion that sexual deviance should be normalized. It is time that these voices are heard on the world stage before the so-called elites of the Western powers impose their inverted morality on everyone through the manipulation of international law, which they clearly intend to do.” 
Lively said his new group is needed because too many religious conservatives are afraid to really speak their minds on homosexuality.
“We believe that the pro-family movement is not being well represented at the moment. Because most of the people that are in the leadership positions are afraid to speak the plain truth because of the media….We’re not against gay marriage and gay adoption because they’re just bad public policy.

'We’re against them because homosexuality itself is harmful to the people who practice it and to society. ['same old song & dance from America's own Taliban Community'!]--ABratt  
All of this from men so Pious & Good that not even butter will melt in their mouths.--ABratt