Archive for July, 2005

Spreading the Love

Saturday, July 30th, 2005

UPDATE: Wayne Besen, author of Anything But Straight, an expose of the ex-gay movement, has released a letter from the co-founder of Love In Action, John Evans. LIA’s youth program, Refuge, is facing investigation in Tennessee right now for providing “therapy” in an unlicensed facility and forcing minors into the program against their will. Evans’ letter, which is addressed to the current director of LIA, reads in part:

Today, the subject of homosexuality is being discussed among Christians. Most Christians find the subject too uncomfortable to make a personal investigation, but rely upon the traditional Christian condemnation of homosexuality. There are more scriptures dealing with divorce than homosexuality, yet, today, Christians give each other the freedom of personal interpretation regarding divorce. I’m sure homosexuality will be added to the long list of disagreements among Christians.

In 1973, when I helped organize the “ex-gay” ministry called Love In Action, I admit I had never heard of a different view of homosexuality or made an effort to research the issue. I held to the traditional Christian condemnation that all homosexuality was sinful.

I had struggled most of my life with this matter and I would continue to try to be “ex-gay” if it were God’s will. Over the past 30 years I have studied both sides of this subject and now know it’s not my sexual orientation that’s wrong or sinful….

I just returned from the 25th annual Conference of Evangelicals Concerned, a group of gay Christians who know that it is possible to be both gay and Christian. In the past 30 years since leaving the “ex-gay” ministry I have seen nothing but shattered lives, depression and even suicide among those connected with the “ex-gay” movement.

At the E.C. conference I met gay Christians who have an even closer relationship with Jesus. The Holy Spirit seemed to hover over the entire conference. The closing communion service seemed as if Jesus Himself was there saying, “Come to me all who labor and are laden with the burden of trying to conform to the impossible conclusions of others, and I will give you rest.”

In Alabama, we all hear the religious right’s interpretation of homosexuality every day. Our pastors need to hear Mr. Evans’ views. He knows whereof he speaks.

__________________________________________________________

If you’re a member of a Christian denomination here in Birmingham, your pastor likely received this invitation from Focus on the Family:

*************************************************************
As a Ministry Leader, are you
prepared to handle the issue
of homosexuality?

Focus on the Family wants you to be!

Be our guest for a complimentary breakfast and a morning
seminar that will equip you to more effectively convey the truth
about homosexuality—compassionately without compromising…

…and learn about the upcoming Love Won Out
conference coming to Birmingham, AL
on September 17th, 2005.

Three of Love Won Out’s keynote speakers will share their
testimonies and address topics such as: how to minister to gays
and lesbians and their family members, how the Church should
respond—balancing truth and grace, debunking the “born gay”
myth, and understanding the contributing factors of male and
female homosexuality.

Date: Thursday, August 11th, 2005

Time: 8:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Place: Metropolitan Church of God
2800 Metropolitan Way
Birmingham, AL 35245

RSVP by August 2nd, 2005
to Linda Allison
at (719) 548-5770 or
email: linda.allison@fotf.org
*************************************************************

Focus on the Family tries to sugarcoat its anti-gay rhetoric in terms of love and healing, but what it is really advocating is reparative therapy for homosexuals. At one time, reparative therapy was supposed to turn gays straight, but most of its practitioners now admit that the best they can do is make gays feel too guilty to have sex. Reparative therapy has been discredited for decades, and no ethical psychiatrist, psychologist, or counselor would ever recomend it for a client. But some of these ex-gay groups even advocate forced therapy for minors in order to “cure” them.

It would be interesting to know exactly what Dobson and crew have in mind for their conference, and I’m hoping a few progressive pastors will hold their noses and attend this breakfast. I doubt their input will be welcome, but it’s good to know the enemy.

Missing Person

Wednesday, July 27th, 2005

Latoyia Figueroa is missing. She is the mother of a seven year old daughter and pregnant with her second child. I know I’m right here in Natalee Holloway’s hometown, and I don’t want to take away any support from her family. But we need to remember that there are other women and other families who also need our prayers. Check out this post at Shakespeare’s Sister and be aware.

Felicitations

Wednesday, July 27th, 2005

It’s Susan’s birthday. You still have a few hours to give her your best wishes.

Free At Last….Or At Least After Nine Days

Wednesday, July 27th, 2005

State AG Troy King removed his ankle bracelet today, celebrating the passage of tougher legislation to punish sex offenders. So now we’ll have no idea where he is. Scary.

House members originally voted to include an amendment by Rep. Steve Hurst, D-Munford, to require mandatory surgical castration for sex offenders convicted of crimes against children under 12. That provision was removed after King warned it might cause courts to declare the bill unconstitutional.

Former Gov. Don Siegelman said Wednesday he doesn’t believe the bill that passed the Legislature is strong enough. Siegelman said the Legislature should have required a life sentence and castration after the first offense for violent adult offenders who harm children and the death penalty after the second offense.

“Anyone who thinks an ankle bracelet is going to stop a child predator is living in a dreamland,” Siegelman said.

Let me be clear that I am all for severe punishment of sex offenders. But Don recommends that we take garden clippers to the private parts of sex offenders, conjuring up images of hitching posts and chain gangs. Next thing we know he’ll be accusing Troy of being soft on crime. I I’m not sure which one is the bigger grandstander, but I wish they’d both shut up.

News Flash!

Wednesday, July 27th, 2005

The Alabama Legislature has finally managed to pass an operating budget for 2005-2006. All it took was a special session and $108,000 extra taxpayer dollars. The budget includes a 6% pay increase for state employees; well-deserved for the most part and long overdue. In a state where money is extremely tight, it’s a shame that $108,000 couldn’t have gone to help fund the pay raises. If our legislators had done their jobs in the first place, it would have. Why don’t we do something novel and hold them accountable at the next election?

Uppity Progressives Unite!

Tuesday, July 26th, 2005

Locust Fork has some good news for Alabama Democrats, although the current party leadership might not agree. New progressive groups are forming all around Birmingham, and their members are not very happy with the party hierarchy. Representatives from some of those groups and other progressives met on Saturday night to discuss national and local politics. The gathering was sponsored by AfterDowningStreet.org.

Is it possible that the corrupt Bush administration will lose its focus and run the train of democracy off the track so violently that the Democratic Party will have a chance to elect some smarter, more progressive candidates in 2006 and 2008 and move the country in a different direction?

That is the hope of a group of frustrated liberals, Democrats and progressives who gathered at the 22nd Street Jazz Cafe on the Southside of Birmingham, Alabama, Saturday night to debate the Downing Street Memos and the Bush administration’s questionable policies, which took the U.S. to war in Iraq based on a rumor that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction….

John Crenshaw of the Over the Mountain Democrats said it is time for liberals, progressives and Democrats to come out of the closet and admit who they are in the schools, churches and the work place.

“We must change and adapt or die,” he said of the entrenched Alabama Democratic Party, controlled by special interests, including the trial lawyers, the teacher’s lobby and the African-American community.

He said the group from the moneyed part of town will host a series of events focusing on issues and causes people can agree on, such as the fact that “poverty exists in Alabama.”

Sharron Williams, one of the organizers from the Progressive Democrats of America and Democracy for America said it is time to get the word out that a lot of people disagree with the president, “not just a bunch of liberals.”

“It’s time for some grassroots action,” she said. “It’s time for solidarity.”

It’s also time for some new leadership in the Alabama Democratic Party. John Crenshaw is right; local Democrats need to come out of the closet, and they also need to get involved in politics — not just voting, but working within the party to bring about reform and attract the very best candidates to run for office. Right now, the party is beholden to various special interest groups that may or may not support what’s best for all of our citizens. We have to break that chokehold and build a broad coalition of progressives who want to see Alabama live up to its incredible potential.

Oh No! New Taxes!

Monday, July 25th, 2005

The Alabama House is poised to pass a bill that would raise the minimum for local property taxes from 7 mils to 10 mils. Because this change would rewrite our severely bloated constitution, it requires a statewide vote.

There’s a good chance Alabama voters in June will decide whether to raise the minimum local property tax for public schools from 7 mills to 10 mills, which would force tax increases in 36 of the 131 city or county school districts statewide.

The change would raise a total of $23.2 million for those school districts.

Most counties won’t be affected by the increase, but it could be a boon to underfunded public schools in places like Montgomery and Elmore counties. Predictably, those who would benefit most are already complaining:

Rep. Dick Brewbaker, R-Montgomery, said that’s what would make a statewide vote on the plan so unfair: Most Alabama voters would be unaffected by the 10-mill referendum, so it would be no skin off their noses to vote for it.

“You’re essentially asking people to vote to raise somebody else’s taxes, which is always an easy sell,” said Brewbaker, who voted against the 10-mill plan in March.

He predicted voters in affected counties would resent being forced by others to raise their property taxes. He said that resentment likely would kill future efforts in those counties to raise more than the relatively small tax increases that would occur with the 10-mill plan.

“You’re going to get a very small, forced tax increase out of this 10-mill bill,” Brewbaker said. “But I’m telling you, when you get that, you’re through.”

The 10-mill minimum plan, if it takes effect, would raise property taxes each year by an estimated $7.07 million for Montgomery County schools and $1.84 million for Elmore County schools. They would get more money than any other school districts under the plan.

I’m not sure it’s an easy sell to pass any kind of tax increase in today’s environment, but if we want to remain competitive in the business community, we have to improve our education system. Alabama just recently lost a Toyota plant to Canada, in part because of the perception (and perhaps reality?) that our workers are poorly trained and illiterate.

Anyway, paying an extra $30/year on a $100,000 house seems a small price to pay for better schools. Rep. Brewbaker needs to shut up and do the right thing by his constituents. Better schools mean better jobs.

Yeah, That’ll Work

Monday, July 25th, 2005

Alabama GOP turns to Rove

The Alabama GOP is planning to bring in Karl Rove, hoping he can raise the big bucks to help the Republicans take over the state legislature. The last time they tried something like this, they brought in completely cuckoo Zell Miller for a $150/plate dinner. Rumor has it they actually lost money on that one. According to the article in the Mobile Register, no date has been set for the Rove event. I think they’d better hurry up and get it on the calendar before he’s indicted. That might put a little damper on the party.

Thanks to Mac at War Liberal for the pointer.

Lest We Forget

Saturday, July 23rd, 2005

Today is the third anniversary of the Downing Street Memo. Other bloggers have been covering the ongoing saga for a long time, and I refer you to Shakespeare’s Sister for her take on it.

Karl Rove Cliff Notes

Saturday, July 23rd, 2005

For those of us who are having trouble keeping the events of the Rove scandal straight (that appears to include Mr. Rove himself), the New York Times has printed a handy dandy timeline. Perhaps Karl can study up before he changes his story again.