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LGBTQ people suffer when religion & government mix
A pair of recent decisions from two of the southern federal Circuit Courts of Appeals should be alarming us all. Instead, they’re only alarming a handful of us – because, overall, our community still clings to the inexplicable belief that religion can be our friend or, at least, a friend that we will be able to use to defend ourselves from certain others who also claim religion to be their friend.
Of the two recent decisions, only one has a direct LGBTQ component. Even so, it is truly difficult to say which one is the more disturbing, though the non-LGBTQ one, United States v. Brown, probably deserves the nod.
The Brown in question is Corrine, a former member of Congress from Florida, convicted on a slew of counts, the specifics of which are strangely irrelevant for purposes of what makes one of the opinions in her case problematic.
What does matter is that she was convicted by a jury. On appeal she took issue with the trial court’s decision to not allow “Juror 13” to contribute to rendering a verdict.
Shortly after deliberations began, “Juror 8” informed the judge that “13” had said, “A Higher Being told me Corrine Brown was Not Guilty on all charges” and that he “trusted the Holy Ghost.”
Do those sound like the words of someone who is going to make a decision based on earthly evidence?
What the LGBTQ community has never learned is that, when religion merges with government and science is reduced to having no more standing than faith, our religions and faiths and beliefs (or lack thereof) will never be recognized when they conflict with the particular religion and faith and belief of those who have seized power – legitimately or otherwise.
Once religion enters the government picture, everyone loses – at least everyone not sitting at the table of power.
NC Pastor Charged With Over 100 Sex Crimes
A pastor in North Carolina has been charged with over 100 sex crimes involving three children, according to local authorities. Fifty-eight-year-old Rodney Luffman, pastor at Open Arms Outreach Ministries in Elkin, NC, was arrested at his home in Eastern Wilkes County last week, and has since been charged for a decades-long litany of sex offenses against minors that began around 20 years ago.
Time reports that Luffman is accused of abusing three victims, dating back to the late 1990s. At the time of the alleged crimes, the victims were between four and 15 years old. Det. Amanda Boyd with the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office told news outlets that the department believes the crimes continued for around 16 years. Luffman currently remains in prison on $1 million bail, and it is unclear whether or not he is represented by council.
15 year sentence demanded for former coach in French child sexual abuse case
Church of England: Sex Is OK Only in Heterosexual Marriage
Sexual activity is only acceptable within the marriage of a man and a woman — so says a new document issued by the Church of England.
That’s not a new stance for the church, which is considered the mother church of the worldwide Anglican Communion, of which the much more liberal U.S. Episcopal Church is a member. But the Church of England is putting out the guidance because the British government has made civil partnerships, which are not quite equal to marriage, available to heterosexual couples, The Guardian reports.
Michigan court reverses murder conviction, cites rap videos
The Michigan Supreme Court unanimously threw out a murder conviction Friday, saying YouTube rap videos spoiled the verdict by portraying the defendant as a “ruthless and menacing threat to the community.”
Jamal Bennett is serving a 32-year prison sentence for the fatal shooting of another man during a fight at a Grand Rapids party in 2013.
Chick-fil-A's Last U.K. Location Shutters After Months-Long Protest
The last Chick-fil-A in the United Kingdom has flown the coop.
The restaurant, located in a Macdonald Hotels property in the Scottish Highlands, was controversial from its launch in October due to the fast-food chain's history of donating to anti-LGBTQ organizations.
Due to this problematic history, Scott Cuthbertson, an LGBTQ activist, had launched a petition calling for its closure, which quickly accrued 1,000 signatures.
Additionally, Patrick Harvie, the first out bisexual member of Scottish Parliament, called on a boycott of the restaurant among his fellow politicians, who often stay at the luxury Macdonald Aviemore Resort.
Legalise sex toys and pornography to cut rape, says Thai MP
A Thai MP has proposed legalising sex toys and pornography as a way to cut rape offences and other sexual assaults.
Treerat Sirichantaropas, a spokesman for a committee tasked with combating rape, said in a Facebook post on Monday he believed legalising pornography and sex toys would help to cut the number of sexual assault cases reported in the country.
Treerat, who is also secretary of the Pheu Thai Plus think tank, said about 30,000 rape cases were reported every year, the majority of them filed by victims aged between 15 and 19 years.
This Week In Asia
A major church and state case ignites ungodly amounts of debate at US Supreme Court
Few topics arouse the passions of Americans like god and government and whether the twain shall meet.
This was demonstrated by the many “friend of the court” briefs filed ahead of tomorrow’s hearing at the US Supreme Court, where the justices will consider arguments on a major case that could have implications for the separation of church and state.
A flurry of 44 filings—a number rivaled only by similarly contentious cases on inflammatory issues like gun rights, abortion, or immigration—urged the court to consider the cultural consequences of the matter. The justices’ decision will either hamper religious freedom or erode the precious barrier between church and state, depending on which side the brief writers support.
Commercial pilot charged after allegedly writing racist graffiti on bathroom wall
A commercial pilot has been charged with criminal mischief after allegedly writing racist and pro-Trump graffiti at the Tallahassee, Florida, airport, court documents show.
Police charged James Ellis Dees, now a former Endeavor Air employee, with nine counts of criminal mischief after he admitted he wrote such slurs as "#MAGA =NO N**S =NO SP**S" -- derogatory terms toward African Americans and Hispanics -- multiple times, according to court documents. The graffiti was found mainly in airport bathrooms and the parking lot elevator.
Airport police approached Dees and asked about the graffiti earlier this month. When police told him he was identified as the writer after a camera was installed in the parking lot elevator where the graffiti was discovered, the court document said, Dees admitted to writing some of it.
Kanye West’s new religious fanatic friend joins anti-LGBTQ “freedom march”
Rapper Kanye West announced he will appear at Awaken2020, a stadium-sized prayer rally hosted by some of the nation’s most anti-LGBTQ religious conservatives.
Now one of the organizers of the event has announced he will join an upcoming anti-LGBTQ “freedom march.”
Related: If you’re boycotting Chick-fil-A, why aren’t you protesting Adidas & Kanye West?
Pastor Lou Engle will join “former homosexuals” in Boston to help lead a “rainbow revival.” Engle has said America has become like Nazi Germany because of gay rights. He helped fan the flames of hate in Uganda at a time when this nation was debating whether to enact the infamous “Kill the Gays” bill.
Kanye West’s Dark Turn to the Anti-Gay Christian Right
Socialism Will Not Cure LGBTQ Oppression
...a lot of LGBTQ people lately have taken to the media to say that socialism is the answer to LGBTQ oppression and all I can say to that is, “Bullshit.” Every last bit of history proves otherwise. Now, I’m not arguing that socialism/communism is anti-LGBTQ, but it hasn’t been the best system for LGBTQ people in all cases. Yet, neither has capitalism. In fact, the social progress of LGBTQ rights in different countries under different systems has been so haphazard that it’s impossible to argue who has been better for LGBTQ rights. The only logical conclusion, and I know this may sound crazy to a lot of folks, is that somehow, and this is crazy, systems of economics and government don’t actually have a lot to do with social values. In fact, and I may be going out on a limb here but I’m feeling crazy, it seems that governments and economic systems reflect what society values. Woah, mindblowing ain’t it?
Prostitution Legal In The US? New Bill Could Make Vermont The Next Nevada
A new bill introduced by progressive lawmakers in the Vermont Legislature looks to decriminalize adult prostitution in the state while maintaining strict human trafficking laws to protect victims, especially those under the age of 18.
Bill H.569 was introduced in the Vermont House of Representatives by four female representatives, led by Rep. Selene Colburn of Burlington. The bill would legalize prostitution in Vermont, so long as it is between consenting adults over the age of 18.
Virginia Declares State of Emergency After Armed Militias Threaten to Storm the Capitol
In response to what he described as “credible intelligence” of threats of violence at an upcoming gun rights rally in Richmond, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has declared a state of emergency and will temporarily ban individuals from carrying firearms on Capitol grounds.
The governor said at a press conference Wednesday that authorities believe “armed militia groups plan to storm the Capitol” during the January 20 rally.
He also said that law enforcement had intercepted threats and “extremist rhetoric” similar to what was observed prior to the violent Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in August 2017. “We will not allow that mayhem and violence to happen here,” he said.
Kanye West joins stadium “prayer rally” with some of America’s most anti-LGBTQ activists
Rapper Kanye West announced he will appear at Awaken2020, a stadium-sized prayer rally hosted by some of the nation’s most anti-LGBTQ religious conservatives. After West’s announcement so many people rushed online to get free tickets to the event, the group’s website crashed.
West, who’s erratic behavior has seen him suddenly becoming a rightwing Christian and devout worshipper of Donald Trump, has been pushing his new gospel album recently. One of the songs is an ode to Chick-fil-A, the fast-food chain most frequently identified with religious controversy over LGBTQ rights.
Florida Republicans submit 4 anti-gay bills on last day to file
Tennessee Will Allow Adoption Agencies to Ban LGBTQ+ Parents
Indonesian mayor plans LGBT raids after infamous rape spree, outraging activists
Christian school expelled student over a 'gay' rainbow cake, family says
A Christian school in Louisville expelled a student last week after her family said school officials discovered the girl had celebrated her birthday with a rainbow-themed cake.
Group threatens to sue after blessing of 'official Bible' for swearing in Space Force commanders
The MRFF issued a statement expressing the organization's outrage over the ceremony, saying the group "condemns, in as full-throated a manner as is humanly possible, the shocking and repulsive display of only the most vile, exclusivist, fundamentalist Christian supremacy, dominance, triumphalism and exceptionalism which occurred at yesterday's 'blessing.'"