Bahamas Bishop Brands Clergy Who Attack Gays as Closet Cases

Bishop Simeon B Hall in Bahamas goes from saying gay sex is ‘deadly’ and ungodly to defending LGBT community in one year.


A senior Christian in the Bahamas has slammed clerics those who ‘demonize’ homosexuality and said they may be closet gays.Bishop Simeon Hall admitted he ‘acted in ignorance’ in the past on LGBT issues – in November 2011 he referred to gay male sex as a ‘deadly’ practice.But now the former president of the Bahamas Christian Council BCC has accused other council members of focusing on homosexuality rather than dealing with other issues – like gambling.In a press statement Hall said the church should affirm the humanity of gay people and indicated that those attacked LGBT rights were often secretly gay themselves.He said: ‘The demonization of homosexuals by some pastors is the greatest hindrance to any positive dialogue or efforts the church might establish with them.‘The Bahamian public in general, as well as pastors in particular, must be careful of what we demonize and protest. Psychologists tell us that sometimes the things we strike out against, we do so because a bit of it lies within us on a subliminal level.‘I also believe that of the 133 sins listed in the Bible, if a pastor can only preach on one of them it could very well be that he has that problem – if not in practice then perhaps dormantly.’He added the BCC appears to be ‘populated by a group of men who are number one homophobic and that’s the only time that they come alive or they pick small things to speak out against’.

-more at Bahamas bishop brands clergy who attack gays as closet cases | Gay Star News.

Response to Benedict: Dutch Gay Catholics De-Baptize Themselves

Thousands of Dutch Catholics are researching how they can leave the church in protest at its opposition to gay marriage, according to the creator of a website aimed at helping them find the information.

Tom Roes, whose website allows people to download the documents needed to leave the church, said traffic on (i.e. “”) had soared from about 10 visits a day to more than 10,000 after Pope Benedict’s latest denunciation of gay marriage this month.
“Of course it’s not possible to be ‘de-baptized’ because a baptism is an event, but this way people can unsubscribe or de-register themselves as Catholics,” Roes told Reuters.

He said he did not know how many visitors to the site actually go ahead and leave the church.

– more at Huffington Post
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Do gays need a church of their own anymore?

Gay-centered church founded in 1960s debates role given recent progress for gay rights

On that Sunday in 1968 when Troy Perry borrowed a minister’s robe and started a church for gays in his living room, the world was a very different place.
Perry’s Metropolitan Community Churches was then a lone spiritual refuge for openly gay Christians, an idea so far from the mainstream that the founders were often chased from places where they tried to worship. Four decades later, some of the most historically important American denominations, which had routinely expelled gays and lesbians, are welcoming them instead.
MCC now has a presence in dozens of U.S. states as well as overseas, reporting a total membership of more than 240 congregations and ministries. But as acceptance of same-sex relationships grows gay and lesbian clergy in many Protestant traditions no longer have to hide their partners or lose their careers, and Christians can often worship openly with their same-gender spouses in the mainline Protestant churches where they were raised the fellowship is at a crossroads.
Is a gay-centered Christian church needed anymore?
“There are many more options than there used to be,” said the Rev. Nancy Wilson, moderator, or leader, of the Metropolitan Community Churches. “But there is not a mass exodus.”
The denomination has never been gays-only. But for a long time, straight allies were scarce.
The founding congregation, MCC of Los Angeles, opened a year before the Stonewall riots in New York. Few people had ever heard the argument that the Bible sanctioned same-gender relationships and no one of any influence in the religious world was saying it. MCC congregations became targets of arson, violence, pickets and, in at least one case, a vice squad.
Al Smithson, a founder in 1969 of the fellowship’s San Diego church, said his pastor would point to Orange County’s famous Crystal Cathedral and joke that he was praying for a bulletproof version.
The church today is a bit more diverse. MCC pastors say they see a growing number of straight friends and relatives of gays and lesbians among their new congregants, along with heterosexual parents who want their children raised in a gay-affirming environment. While some MCC congregations haven’t changed much over the decades, Wilson said, many are emphasizing a broad social justice agenda including serving the homeless and poor.
“We don’t have a rainbow flag on our website, nor do we have it on our building,” said the Rev. Dan Koeshall, senior pastor at the Metropolitan Community Church of San Diego, which draws about 220 people for Sunday services.
“It wasn’t a decision that caused any controversy or split. It’s just been moving in that direction. We know that our target audience is the LGBT community. But we’re also attracting people who are saying, ‘Yes, I stand in solidarity with you and I want to be part of this.'”
It’s remarkable the denomination has endured at all. Metropolitan Community Churches brings together many different Christian traditions under one banner that often struggle to stay friendly in the outside world. Perry, now 72 and retired, is a Pentecostal who started preaching when he was just a teenager in rural Florida. The Rev. Mona West, the fellowship’s director of clergy training, graduated from the flagship seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention. But a large number of MCC clergy train in liberal Protestant seminaries. The common denominator is a belief that Christians can be in a same-sex relationship and still be faithful to Scripture.
“You can go from one MCC to another and have a radically different flavor, depending on the region, the clergy and congregants,” said Scott Thumma, a Hartford Seminary sociologist and co-editor of the book “Gay Religion.”
The fellowship expanded relatively quickly from its humble beginnings. Within months of founding the first congregation in Los Angeles, Perry started receiving letters and visits from people hoping to establish MCC churches in other cities. Two years later, new congregations had formed as far away as Florida. Within five years, the church had spread overseas.
Then, the 1980s arrived and with it, the AIDS crisis. Metropolitan Community Churches plowed its resources into ministries for the sick, dying and grieving. The fellowship lost several thousand members and clergy to the virus, and the business of starting new churches slowed. As a result, Wilson and others say the denomination missed out on crucial period for potential growth.
But the church has also lost some congregations, including its biggest, to other denominations. The Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, a megachurch with about 4,200 members, split off around 2003, and eventually joined the United Church of Christ. Cathedral and MCC officials say the break resulted from disagreements between local church members and local leaders, not a rejection of MCC’s mission. The Cathedral maintains its focus on reaching out to gays, lesbians and transgender people.
Still, the United Church of Christ, which has more than 5,000 congregations and roots in colonial New England, can offer much that the MCC cannot, including more resources, greater prominence and a broader reach. In some communities, local churches are affiliating with both the Metropolitan Community Churches and United Church of Christ. But at least one other MCC congregation broke away in recent years: The Columbia, S.C., church became the Garden of Grace United Church of Christ.
“It makes us more than a one-issue church,” the Rev. Andy Sidden, the church’s pastor, told The State newspaper of Columbia, in a 2006 interview.
Like many other churches coping with a weak economy, the MCC has cut or restructured staff jobs in the last five years and reduced the annual payment congregations pay the national office, Wilson said. Some smaller MCC churches have closed.
Yet, despite the losses, Wilson and others see a continuing role for Metropolitan Community Churches, given the wide range of responses to gays and lesbians in organized religion, even in the more liberal churches that have moved toward accepting same-gender relationships.
Of the mainline Protestant groups, only the United Church of Christ supports gay marriage outright. The Episcopal Church last month released a provisional prayer service for blessing same-sex unions. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have eliminated barriers for gay clergy but allow regional and local church officials to decide their own policies. One of the largest mainline groups, the United Methodist Church, with about 7.8 million U.S. members, still bars ordination for people in same-sex relationships, although many individual Methodist churches openly accept gay and lesbian clergy.
“There’s ‘Come and don’t say anything,’ ‘Come, but we won’t marry you,’ or ‘Come and be fully accepted,'” said the Rev. Jo Hudson, senior pastor of the Cathedral of Hope. “We’re always glad when churches welcome gay and lesbian people, but it’s just a different experience in a church that is historically and predominantly led by heterosexual people. Everyone is going to find the church where they most fit in.”
Wilson said a large percentage of newer MCC members are from conservative Christian churches teaching that gay and lesbian Christians should try to become heterosexual or remain celibate. Koeshall was a pastor in the Assemblies of God, one of the largest U.S.-based Pentecostal groups, until 1997, when he says, “I came out and I got kicked out.”
New MCC congregations have recently started in Peoria, Ill., and in The Villages retirement community north of Orlando, Fla. (In a recent announcement in local gay media, the Peoria congregation described MCC as a fellowship created for gay and lesbian Christians now known as “the human rights church.”) Mary Metcalf, 62, a seven-year member of Heartland Metropolitan Community Church in Springfield, Ill., which started the Peoria congregation, said she was a lector and liturgy coordinator at her Roman Catholic parish until some friends brought her to a service.
“When it came time for communion, when the presider said that the table is open to everyone, I started crying,” said Metcalf, on a break from painting Heartland church with other volunteers. “I came from the Catholic Church. I’m straight, but I just finally had to come to a parting of the ways. I didn’t think Jesus kept anyone away from the table.”
Still, like most denominations, MCC is seeing its strongest growth overseas. In Latin America, the fellowship had seven churches in five countries a decade ago, and now reports 56 congregations or ministries in 17 countries, according to the Rev. Darlene Garner, director of MCC’s emerging ministries. A congregation in Australia for young adults, called Crave, is thriving, Wilson said. Garner’s office is also developing an online church with worship, Bible study and support in several languages. MCC has already conducted its first virtual baptism on the web, a relatively new practice that is gaining popularity among evangelical churches with online worship.
Thumma contends MCC should not be judged by the standards used for other denominations. Only a small percentage of Americans are gay or lesbian, and a limited number want to be active in a Christian church, no matter its outlook. Like other minority groups moving toward mainstream acceptance, some gay Christians are assimilating into bigger denominations while others choose the focus and freedoms MCC provides, Thumma said.
“MCC still has a clear function,” Thumma said. “Like an immigrant community, it gives gay Christians a place of their own.”

David the Prophet & Jonathan, His Lover

The story of David and Jonathan is one of those most frequently quoted in any discussion of biblical same sex relationships. As with the stories of Ruth & Naomi, or of Jesus and John (the “beloved disciple”), it is similarly bedeviled by discussion over the degree of physical intimacy involved (was there or wasn’t there?), and the impossibility of knowing for certain.
Personally, I see these questions as something of a distraction, just as I do with the other cases. Gay men are frequently accused of being “obsessed” with genital sex. If we only accept as “gay” those men for whom we know there was this genital activity, we are simply reinforcing the stereotype. I prefer simply to recognize that there was clearly a deeply intimate emotional relationship here, and to ignore the degree of physical expression. (Chris Glaser has pointed out that whatever the nature of the relationships, the stories of David & Jonathan, and of Ruth and Naomi, are the two longest love stories told in the Bible – longer than any obviously heterosexual love stories. Marriage in Biblical times was not about love. See “Coming Out as Sacrament“)
However, for those who are determined to dig deeper, there is a reference by John McNeill (in Sex as God Intended) which is worth thinking about.

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Accelerating British Support for Equal Marriage, in Church

Three polls in the last 10 days have shown strong and rapidly expanding public support for marriage equality in law – including support for same – sex weddings in Anglican churches.

gay church wedding 3

The British opponents of marriage equality have been vociferous in their insistence that government proposals are in contravention of the public wishes. This is nonsense – reputable opinion polls have consistently shown that a clear majority of UK voters support the proposals for same – sex marriage. Three polls over the last week have confirmed this, once again.


A Yougov poll released last week, for fieldwork conducted 13th and 14th December, showed that 55% support “changing the law to allow same – sex couples to marry“. Just 36% are opposed. The strength of support is also on the side of equality – 30% are “strongly” supportive, and 21% strongly against.

In common with regular findings from the US, support is heavily skewed by age group: only the 60+ age group is opposed, with those aged 16 – 24 heavily supportive, by 74% to 16%. Politically, both Labour and Liberal Democrat voters are strongly supportive, with Conservatives equally divided, 40%/40%. (It is likely that UKIP voters are the only significant party clearly against, but their responses are not disclosed in the cross – tabs). Together with reports of mounting rebellion in the Conservative parliamentary party, this gives the lie to Conservative claims to being the natural home for gay and lesbian voters – but I’m not going to hammer that point.


Another poll just released, focuses specifically on government proposals for same – sex marriage, in church, and the deliberate exclusion of the Church of England from this provision. This was a Comres survey conducted for the Independent, which reports

The public want the Government to go further on gay marriage by allowing Church of England vicars to conduct same-sex weddings, a poll forThe Independent reveals today. As some religious leaders used their Christmas sermons to attack David Cameron’s plans, the ComRes survey suggests that the Church of England is out of touch with the public by opposing gay marriage. It defines marriage “as being between a man and a woman”.

By a margin of 2-1, people oppose the Government’s proposal to make it illegal for the Church of England to conduct gay marriages. Asked whether its vicars should be allowed to perform such ceremonies if they wanted to, 62 per cent of people said they should and 31 per cent disagreed, with seven per cent replying “don’t know”.

– Independent

The Independent does not release any more detail, continuing instead with reports of the responses by some bishops  to the plans, and Comres has not published any on its website. Pink News has a little more:

The idea of gay couples marrying in Church of England weddings is more popular among women with the figures 64 per cent in favour to 27 objecting. Among under 44’s, almost three-quarters of people support the idea of church gay weddings. It is only in the over 65’s where there is a majority in opposition, although it is not sizable – 50 per cent to 38 per cent.

Guardian / ICM

More than three in five voters support David Cameron’s wish to introduce gay marriage, according to a poll conducted for the Guardian. The strong backing for a change in the law comes after the archbishop of Westminster queried the democratic legitimacy of the coalition plans.

The ICM poll conducted just before Christmas found 62% of voters now support the proposals, with half this number – 31% – opposed. Most previous polls have found opinion leaning the same way, although the two-to-one margin revealed on Wednesday is particularly emphatic.

What is most striking in this poll, is in how sharply opinion has shifted in favour, during the course of the year.

An ICM online survey for the Sunday Telegraph in March asked the identical question – which expressly reminds people that the option of civil partnerships already exists for gay couples – and established a 45%-36% lead for the reformers.

That significant hardening of opinion during the year will encourage Cameron, whose embrace of gay marriage has proved controversial, not only with religious leaders but also with the Tory backbench. And the new poll reveals a particularly significant swing towards the reform among the Tory base.

The Opponents’ Claim

And yet – the opponents of equal marriage regularly trumpet the findings of their own survey, which allegedly finds that a strong majority of voters are against gay marriage.

The Government’s plan to redefine marriage in order to open it to same-sex couples could face serious opposition from the general public, according to a poll commissioned by Catholic Voices which is published today, a week before the Government begins its official consultation on the matter.

Seven out of 10 British people believe that marriage should continue to be defined as a lifelong union between a man and a woman, and more than eight out 10 think children have the best chance in life when raised by their biological parents, the ComRes online survey of more than 2,000 people found. The poll also found that people think the state should promote marriage, and that most people support the idea of civil partnerships.

“The results show that most people support the idea of civil partnerships for gay people while being firm that marriage should remain between a man and a woman,” said Austen Ivereigh, Catholic Voices coordinator. “The survey also shows that most people understand marriage to be a conjugal institution, which benefits children above all.”

– Catholic Voices

How are these seemingly contradictory results reconcilable?

This merits a closer look at the details of the survey on which it was based, conducted in February 2012, and released in March. Here’s the crunch question, taken from the ComRes published tables :

Q.1 Do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements?

There are two distinct technical problems in putting the question this way. As Anthony Wells has frequently noted at his respected blog, UK Polling Report, asking people whether they “agree or disagree” with any proposition, has a built-in tendency to produce results that favour “agree”. When the question is presented as “Do you agree or disagree that gay marriage should be legally recognized”, the result is likely to be completely different. A second problem is that the question on equal marriage was presented as the final statement in a series on marriage, with the preceding statements acting as a softening up process, leading to the result the survey sponsors were hoping for.

An additional, non – technical flaw lay in the presentation of the survey results. Although the questions did not in any way refer to the law, results were presented as if they represented opposition to changing the law. Here’s the exact statement:

Marriage should continue to be defined as a life-long exclusive commitment between a man and a woman

This refers simply to “continue to be defined” – not “defined in law”, as the survey sponsors have presented it, in their campaign in opposition to marriage equality. Furthermore, the application is highly selective. It has been interpreted as opposition only to same – sex marriage, but could equally be used to support a campaign to end legal divorce, or to criminalize adultery. But these are claims the so-called “Coalition for Marriage” does not make. They, and the American National Organization for Marriage, are not really interested in working to strengthen marriage, or the genuine threats to existing marriage – merely ensuring that marriage should not be extended to same – sex couples. They are not working to strengthen marriage, but to restrict and so weaken it.

Significance of these findings

What can have caused this remarkable shift? ‘Nothing in particular has occurred during the  year to move opinion – except the consultation itself. Before the government announced its intentions, there was very little debate about gay marriage. There appeared to be a fairly general acceptance that civil partnerships existed, and were virtually equivalent in law to full marriage – so that change was not needed. But that changed with the launch of the consultation process. Suddenly, private discussions, public debates and organized campaigns were everywhere – including the largest ever petition drive the country has yet seen.

All three of the most recent surveys are in broad agreement with the consistent findings of all previous polling research on gay marriage and the law: a clear and growing majority of the British people want marriage equality. The overwhelming support from the youngest age groups will ensure that this support will continue to grow, and is likely to accelerate once it becomes fact, and part of everyday life. This latest poll suggests that with public support also for gay marriage in the Church of England, pressure will start to build not just for gay marriage, but also for that denomination to revise its own opposition.

There is a delicious irony in complaints from the opposition that there was not proper “consultation”. It is clear that there was – and it was this very process of consultation that led government to take very seriously the point made by the Church of England submission, that as the established church, legal provision for equal marriage could force it to provide for gay marriage in contravention of its own laws. It was for this reason that the Church was given a specific and very explicit provision in the present proposals, to prohibit it from conducting same – sex marriages. This has raised an outcry in some quarters over the apparent discrimination for which it has been singled out. This is not a flaw in the proposals, but in the Church itself. It can resolve the problem in one of two ways – either by taking a decision to remove its own present absolute prohibition on gay marriage, leaving decisions to local dioceses (as applies in Canada and the US), or by applying for disestablishment – removing its present privileged position in British religious life. Neither course is likely to be easy – but the problem is of the Anglican bishops’ own making.

A rather different problem confronts the Conservative Party. Yet another recent poll has shown that for his clear support and vigorous action in support of gay marriage, David Cameron now has strong support from gay and lesbian British voters – but his own party is bitterly divided on the issue.  He is losing support among Conservative members as party leader, the promised free vote in parliament will see many Tory MP’s voting against – and on the sidelines, his party is hemorrhaging voters and members to UKIP – in part, over gay marriage. David Cameron is out of touch with much of his own party base – but that base itself is out of touch with the country as a whole, and especially with the younger voters it must attract to win in the future.

Looking ahead, the message is clear. If there ever was any doubt that the country was ready for equal marriage, the consultation process has dispelled them. Support is overwhelming and growing, across a wide spectrum of the population. There has been extensive public discussion and debate, informally, in the press, on-line, in radio and television broadcasts, and in a formal government consultation process. The opponents have had ample opportunity to make their case against, which they have done to the best of their ability, with extensive practical support from the Catholic Church. They have made their case – and lost the argument.

The British people have instead decided in favour. Equal marriage in civil law, is on its way. Equal marriage in an expanding number of churches, will follow. It’s just a matter of time.


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Response to Benedict: Dutch Gay Catholics De-Baptize Themselves

Thousands of Dutch Catholics are researching how they can leave the church in protest at its opposition to gay marriage, according to the creator of a website aimed at helping them find the information.

Tom Roes, whose website allows people to download the documents needed to leave the church, said traffic on – “” – had soared from about 10 visits a day to more than 10,000 after Pope Benedict’s latest denunciation of gay marriage this month.

“Of course it’s not possible to be ‘de-baptized’ because a baptism is an event, but this way people can unsubscribe or de-register themselves as Catholics,” Roes told Reuters.

He said he did not know how many visitors to the site actually go ahead and leave the church.

– more at Huffington Post

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Gay Marriage, Brazil: Now Recognized in Sao Paulo

A judge in the Brazilian state of São Paulo has ruled that gay and lesbian couples in civil unions will no longer have to apply to the courts to have their relationships “upgraded” to marriage, effectively legalizing same-sex marriage in the country’s most populous state.
Sao Paulo state Judge Fernando Henrique Pinto ruled last week that state notaries will be required to register same-sex marriages without first getting court approval.
Brazil currently requires couples in same-sex civil unions to apply to a state court in order to have their relationship recognized as a marriage.
Pinto said the judgement is “intended to enable the recognition and registration of the unions of persons of the same sex without legal provocation,” and that his ruling “honors human the dignity of a portion of society.”
The measure will take effect in February, and could serve as an important precedent for other Brazilian states and Latin American countries.
Brazil has rapidly advanced its gay marriage and civil unions laws in the past two years — in 2011, Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court approved same-sex couples to receive the same rights as married couples through civil unions.
In Latin America, same-sex marriage is only legal in Argentina and Mexico City, while same-sex civil unions are recognized throughout Colombia, Uruguay, Brazil and Ecuador.
With a population of more than 41 million, Sao Paulo is Brazil’s most populous state.
Its capital, also named Sao Paulo, is the largest city in South American and the world’s seventh largest city by population. Sao Paulo hosts one of the world’s largest Gay Pride events with over 3 million participants.
gay pride sao paulo
gay pride sao paulo


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Generation divide on gay marriage (New Zealand)

Older people want marriage to remain solely between a man and a woman, while those aged under 40 support gay marriage, a survey has found.
Sixty per cent of those older than 65 were against same-sex marriage while 70 per cent of those under 40 were happy for gay people to tie the knot, according to a New Zealand Herald-Digipoll survey of 500, published on Thursday.
Overall, nearly 60 per cent of respondents backed changing the law to allow same sex marriage, while 38 per cent were against.
Labour MP Louisa Wall, who has put forward the bill to legalise gay marriage, says the generational divide on the issue could be because older people had not seen gay couples in a relationship when they were growing up.
“If [older New Zealanders] have grandchildren who are gay, or exploring expressions [of sexuality] you’ll want to have the opportunity to celebrate with them,” she told the paper.

“For your grandchildren to have the option to marry will be a wonderful thing.”

St John the Evangelist, the “Beloved Disciple”: December 27th

In the catalogue of “gay saints”, or pairs of supposedly “gay lovers” in Scripture, the coupling of John the Evangelist (the “beloved disciple”)  and Jesus himself is surely the most controversial. Many people, including some of my friends from the LGBT Soho Masses, find the whole idea that this may have been a “gay”, sexually active relationship, highly offensive. Others argue the opposite case.
In an explosive book, “the man jesus loved,  the reputable biblical scholar Theodore Jennings mounts an extended argument that Jesus himself was actually gay and that the beloved disciple of John’s Gospel was Jesus’ lover.  To support this provocative conclusion, Jennings examines not only the texts that relate to the beloved disciple but also the story of the centurion’s servant boy and the texts that show Jesus’ rather negative attitude toward the traditional family: not mother and brothers, but those who do the will of God, are family to Jesus.  Jennings suggests that Jesus relatives and disciples knew he was gay, and that, despite the efforts of the early Church to downplay this “dangerous memory” about Jesus, a lot of clues remains in the Gospels.  Piecing the clues together, Jennings suggests not only that Jesus was very open to homosexuality, but that he himself was probably in an intimate, and probably sexual, relationship with the beloved disciple.
Daniel Helminiak, Sex and the Sacred

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