Chik-Fil-A: The Great Flap

If you’re listening to the hard left, you’d believe that the boycott of chicken chain Chick-Fil-A is working and the brand is being dealt an irreparable blow.

Unfortunately for them, this is pure fantasy. There’s a CFA restaurant right next to my loft, and these days the place is absolutely packed. The dining room is stuffed to the gills and the drive-thru line quickly wraps around the building. Every CFA in the country seems to be getting more business these days.

We all know what the kerfuffle is about. Dan Cathy, the company’s CEO and the son of founder S. Truett Cathy, recently said “guilty as charged” when asked by the Baptist Press if he supported traditional family values. He never specifically singled out gay marriage; he did single out divorce quite specifically, but the way things have gone you’d think Cathy held a forum in support of Fred Phelps and called for us all to be rounded up and herded into concentration camps.

Roseanne Barr said that everyone who eats at CFA deserves to get cancer. After then saying that people who feed their kids at CFA are guilty of child abuse, she went on another nazi-cursing tirade against the chain. Non-celebs went completely bats as well, commenting that CFA sandwiches are “deep fried in hate” and called traditional marriage “a sacred bond between two consenting bigots”.

The really frightening thing about all of this, however, is what elected government officials are doing now. It began with Boston mayor Thomas Menino declaring that CFA was banned from Boston and he would see to it that it was nearly impossible for the company to get proper permits to operate. As soon as he did that, actress Eliza Dushku promptly tweeted, “That’s right, B!” (Eliza, you’re breaking my heart here…I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer and SMG is still my celeb girl crush, but I once had a crush on you, too!) That was followed by Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno swearing to block CFA from opening a new restaurant in his district. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel backed him up, saying that “Chick-Fil-A values are not Chicago values” (strange, since gay marriage is illegal in Illinois and nobody in Chicago politics has moved a finger to change that). San Francisco mayor Edwin Lee then tweeted that the nearest CFA restaurant was 40 miles away and “I strongly recommend that they not try to come any closer.” DC mayor Vincent Gray has now said that “I will not support #hatechicken”.

Calling them a bunch of lunatics is being too nice. They’re outright violating CFA’s First Amendment rights, and frighteningly so. Their reason is that they strongly disagree with Cathy’s beliefs, and they think that because they disagree and can claim that CFA discriminates because of Cathy’s beliefs they have the right to stop the chain from growing, opening new stores and creating more jobs. Our tax dollars hard at work.

First of all, let’s clear the air here: being against the legalization of gay marriage does NOT equal being anti-gay. It certainly does not deserve the title of “hatemonger.” I know a few gay people who don’t believe in legalizing gay marriage. That does not make them hatemongers, they simply want to live their lives in peace and not have to worry about who might be offended. Second, I routinely go to CFA. My item of habit is their grilled chicken sandwich deluxe. I have never, not once, EVER been discriminated against by any employee. In fact, most of them know me by name and chat with me while I’m waiting. They all know I’m gay and not a single one of them cares. CFA employees have frequently been the most gracious I’ve encountered.

Third, it is beyond comprehension that any government official would dare to infringe upon the rights of any person. What would these same people say if a conservative mayor forced a gay-owned-and-themed business out of their city because of religious objections to their beliefs and/or lifestyle? I can tell you now, they’d all be howling for the DOJ to investigate. It’s perfectly acceptable, though, when liberals want to do it.

Boycotting isn’t un-American, and none of us have claimed that it was (Fox News certainly hasn’t, and you’re lying through your teeth when you claim they have). If you want to personally boycott the place, that’s your right. You may not, however, tell them that they’re not allowed to open or expand in your city because of your disagreement with the owner. I will be the first to stand up for their rights, because if I sit back and let you violate their rights, then mine will be next.

The Culture of Satanic Panic

I’m not sure what it was that brought the name into my head. Maybe it was God. Maybe it was one of my synapses misfiring. For some reason, Dr. Rebecca Brown, M.D. popped into my head a couple of weeks ago. Brown (who is no longer a doctor – something I will explain later in this post) wrote two books, He Came to Set the Captives Free and Prepare For War. My mother insisted when I was in jr. high school that I read both of them. The two books told the story of Brown and an “associate”, Elaine (whose full name was never given in the books), and their self-described journey through Satanism. The books were extremely graphic; they bordered on being outright pornography. As an eighth-grader in Houston at a private Christian school, I was young and impressionable. Mom wanted me to understand “what’s really out there.” She heartily disliked my desire to learn martial arts and had begun to stop letting me watch movies like The Karate Kid and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. According to Brown, the martial arts were wholly Satanic and would bring a demonic curse onto your child if you allowed them to study any of the various fighting styles.

As I waded through the now nearly-endless parade of articles written debunking Brown’s claims, I came across a story I hadn’t read about in years: the West Memphis Three. It isn’t often that I side with the accused in a crime these days. I have become convinced, though, that Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley are all innocent.

In early May of 1993, my family watched the news from our Houston living room as a massive story played out in Arkansas. In the tiny truck-stop town of West Memphis, three eight-year-old boys – Michael Moore, Stevie Branch and Christopher Byers – went missing one night only to be discovered dead in the woods the next day. The boys were found nude, hogtied and had severe head trauma. Their clothing had been wrapped around sticks and stuck in the mud, although two of the boys’ underwear was never found. A police juvenile parole officer named Steve Jones made the initial discovery.

Police investigative techniques were terrible. The small town WMPD was not trained to deal with such a horrific crime. Nothing like this had ever happened before. Having been to crime scenes, I can tell you that any police officer, EMS worker or coroner whose training is worth a damn knows when they spot a dead body. You typically smell it first – even outdoors. Police officers in West Memphis, though, charged right into the shallow creek where the boys lay and dragged them out. Even in 1993 most police officers knew that even when children are involved, you have to keep your wits about you and recognize what the situation is before you go charging in. They didn’t, however, and if any footprints had been there they were lost in the kerfuffle.

A camera wasn’t available until a full half hour after the scene was discovered. The coroner wasn’t called until two hours afterward. During all of this, Jones – the parole officer – piped up and said, “it looks like Damien Echols finally killed someone.” No evidence, no nothing, he just spit the words out effortlessly. Echols was one of his low-level troublemakers, a young man given to wearing his hair long, his clothing black, and listening to bands like Metallica – and Jones was convinced because of his appearance and his deliberately shocking statements (“sure, I’m a Satanist!”) that Echols was pure evil. Rumors swirled in the largely poor- to middle-class town gripped with the Satanic Panic of the 80’s and 90’s that Echols and Baldwin were members of a Satanic cult.

The coroner’s investigation wasn’t any better than the police investigation. Both agencies refused offers of help from the Arkansas State Police. At the scene of the crime, reporters finally got a statement from John Mark Byers, the adoptive stepfather of one of the victims. Police had failed to shield him from the scene and the details. Police then failed to tell him that talking to the press was a big no-no. Byers immediately went to reporters and told them some of the facts at the scene, things that only the perpetrator would have known. Within 24 hours half of America knew those facts.

Damien Echols was polygraphed just two days after the grisly discovery in the Robin Hood Hills woods. Any and every teenager that could have possibly been associated with Echols in any way was polygraphed. Police claimed that Echols was deceptive yet could not produce a written record. One detective was described as verbally abusive to interviewees who gave answers that didn’t implicate Echols. Then, not quite a month after the murders, police dragged Jessie Misskelley in for questioning. For more than 12 hours he was questioned by police and somehow only the final 46 minutes of the interrogation was recorded. He told police exactly what they wanted to hear: that best friends Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin had decided to ambush the three boys and kill them for a Satanic ritual. The problem with the confession was that the beginning of the recording catches what had already been going on for 12 hours – Misskelley didn’t know a damn thing about the crimes. He gave the wrong time, the wrong location, and inconsistent statements regarding what had been done to the boys. Detectives had to correct him multiple times before he spit out a story that was consistent enough to start making arrests.

None of this mattered. Police built their “case” on the shoddiest investigative work I have ever read about in my life, and prosecutors, knowing the sensibilities of the people in the area, took the case to trial with nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Misskelley and Baldwin were sentenced to life behind bars, and Echols was sentenced to death. Later it was discovered that judge David Burnett exhibited behavior which implied he’d already decided that all three boys were guilty. Kent Arnold, foreman of the Baldwin/Echols trial jury, had inside knowledge of Misskelley’s confession and entered it into the deliberation discussions after the confession had been ruled legally inadmissable – by then Misskelley had recanted and refused to testify against the other two.

Today, judge Davis sits on the Arkansas Appellate Court and in a clear conflict of interests ruled that the three could not have new trials, even in light of new evidence – which included DNA. The convictions of Baldwin, Echols and Misskelley were secured with no evidence at all. Prosecutors didn’t even have circumstantial evidence! I believe that the outcome of this case, including the behavior of officers involved and the convictions from local juries, was heavily tainted by emotional reactions based entirely in a phenomenon we now call Satanic Panic.

It was in 1992 that I first read He Came to Set the Captives Free. Everyone at my family’s church, Grace Community Church, was raving about the information in it. Brown described a life in which she was called on by God Himself to save the masses from Satanism – all on her own. She supposedly began with Elaine, who reportedly had been one of Satan’s brides and a high priestess of a massive Satanic coven. The story contains claims that Elaine was married to Satan in a Presbyterian church, that she later sipped champagne aboard a luxury jet with him, and he later taught her astral projection so she and the other members of the coven could murder without leaving any evidence. As if that isn’t enough, the book also claimed that Elaine routinely took part in human sacrifice, that the humans being used ranged from newborn to fully adult, and graphically described the orgies supposedly held by the coven. Very little detail was left to the imagination. Elaine also claimed to have been Satan’s personal representative, going so far as to help place other Satanists in various churches and negotiate huge sales of arms between various countries all over the world. Brown herself tells tales of treating an ER patient, a young pastor, who had supposedly been tortured, stabbed and crucified – a story that has never been corroborated.

Is it any wonder, growing up in a church that pushed this astronomical level of nonsense, that I grew up to call Disturbed my favorite band?

Two weeks ago, I started digging to find out the truth about Brown, Elaine, and the stories they told. I remember Brown describing interactions with patients deep in ICU psychosis and her belief that it was caused by demons. I remember reading the gory details of human sacrifices, including crucifixion. I remember reading claims that the movements taught in martial arts were really silent Satanic incantations (which I now find hilarious, having spent half my life in the martial arts, including Shaolin and Krav Maga). I remember reading about the claim that it took eight weeks to exorcise hundreds of demons from Elaine after her conversion to Christianity.

There’s a bigger story to be told. Rebecca Brown changed her name to hide from the infamy that followed her true name – Ruth Irene Bailey. “Satan’s special hospital”, where Dr. Bailey did her internship, was Ball Memorial Hospital. Her claims that bibles were removed and ministers banned? False. It was discovered that she had begun bringing candles to use in exorcisms in the hospital and was asked to leave. Her behavior was so bizarre that she had to change her name. In fact, her medical license was revoked by the Indiana Medical Board in 1984 for stealing prescription medications, intentionally misdiagnosing patients so she could claim they were possessed by demons, and then prescribing illegal amounts of certain drugs. This was a full two years before her first book was published. Brown has kept the “Dr.” and “M.D” titles to add credibility to her wild stories.

Elaine, who Brown always refused to allow to be identified or interviewed, was Edna Elaine Moses. Moses was a deeply mentally disturbed woman whose family was not surprised in the least when writers started sniffing around the authors. According to her immediate family, she was well-known for being an attention-seeker, going so far as to regularly fake having full tonic-clonic seizures while in public. During the time she supposedly traveled the world as Satan’s personal representative to religious leaders, heads of state and rock stars, she was actually working as a Licensed Practical Nurse in Indiana. The two women met at Ball Memorial and quickly moved in together. It is believed due to evidence gathered to revoke Brown’s medical license that the women were drug addicts and possibly lesbians; Brown and Elaine shared a bed from the time they moved in together to the time that they parted ways. Brown was unofficially diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and Elaine had been frequently diagnosed by doctors as being of “mixed personalities” and was of “questionable reliability.”

To this day I question my sanity. As a kid my head was filled with tales of Satanism and evil pervading everyone around me. Everything involved demon possession. Ruth Bailey/Rebecca Brown (who is, by the way, still in the ministry with husband Daniel Yoder, who is a convicted criminal for multiple cases of identity theft) helped hucksters like Mike Warnke sell overhyped stories of Satanic Ritual Abuse to gullible Christians all over the world. I believe that they helped create the atmosphere that allowed three innocent teenagers to be convicted of a crime they were never involved in by convincing hordes of the faithful that Satanism afflicted the larger majority of the population. I very seriously doubt that there was even one single Satanic cult in or even near West Memphis when those three boys were murdered, but the police, Steve Jones, and their sham of an “occult expert” – Dr. Dale Griffis, a former cop who claimed that the boys’ blood and semen would have been collected for use in future rituals, despite the fact that none of the boys had been bled very much and that they were far too young to produce semen, making such a claim impossible – spoon-fed a deeply religious citizenry a drama they wanted to believe in, if for no other reason than to strengthen their own faith.

The claim made by Brown, one oft-repeated by my mom and many of her friends back then, is that Satan wants you to question the story. He supposedly wants you to to think it’s so fantastic that it’s unbelievable. To question whether it’s true is dangerous, they said. While my logical mind realizes this is a falsehood on a grand scale, sometimes I still question whether or not I’m wrong to question such stories. I do know this…during the time that I was reading those books, something felt very wrong. I always had difficulty sleeping because of the nightmares that plagued me. I’m sure most of the people I knew from Grace still believe in that garbage and would likely argue that the fact that I’m a lesbian now is proof of demonic activity and I’m only writing a missive like this to further confuse things.

I think that the culture of Satanic Panic is just another emotional drug that some Christians like to cling to, much the way many of them do to high-energy “worship” that includes speaking in tongues without interpreters and being “slain in the spirit.” There’s no wisdom in it.

Despicable Hypocrites

I grow tired quite often of listening to my community spew intolerance so freely. Today, I read that Augusta State University graduate student Jennifer Keeton has been told by the head of the graduate program she attends – counseling – that she must change her views on homosexuality or be expelled.

Well…that’s the dumbed-down version. The exact wording was, “[Augusta State University] faculty have promised to expel Miss Keeton from the graduate Counselor Education Program not because of poor academic showing or demonstrated deficiencies in clinical performance, but simply because she has communicated both inside and outside the classroom that she holds to Christian ethical convictions on matters of human sexuality and gender identity.” At least that’s what the Alliance Defense Fund’s lawsuit reads. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if it is true, particularly considering some of the stories that have been even worse.

Here’s my first beef with this story: most recently, the GLBT vs. Christian debate in publicly-funded schools across the country (to include high schools) has largely been about membership in school-sponsored organizations. GLBT students have lambasted Christian organizations for kicking out openly gay members because the Christian faith of other members says that you cannot be gay and a Christian. They have gone so far as to take the fight to court, and have even won. Their argument is that any publicly-funded school that sponsors student organizations in any way, shape or form, even by merely allowing them to gather on campus (which requires a member of faculty to be present in all cases), cannot allow such discrimination to continue against GLBT students who wish to be part of any group they wish to join. They say it is a violation of basic rights to tell a person that because they are gay, they cannot join this group or that group.

Personally I don’t see the point in wishing to belong to a group that doesn’t agree with such a large facet of your personality, but that’s just me. I’d also point out that if discrimination is going to be banned among student groups then we need to start suing ivy-league institutions who are so picky about who gets into their student body. What, you say if a person isn’t smart enough they can’t be part of your snooty little club? I say that’s discrimination.

Any time any gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered person feels slighted by the rules of a group, they immediately cry foul. We as a community (there’s that “we” again!) seem to think that tolerance means we’ll never be shut out of anything. On the contrary. Tolerance means that they live in peace with us while they disagree with our lifestyle, which the vast majority of them are actually doing, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. I won’t even acknowledge the marriage debate in that statement because I don’t see that as being a part of the quest for tolerance.

Then we have moments like these, when we are the ones being intolerant. “She believes being gay is a sin! She can’t be allowed to finish her education, lest she spread her wicked intolerance like a disease! Expel her! Cast her OUT!!!” In these moments, we become exactly that which we point out in Christians: despicable hypocrites.

Estate lawyer and political blogger Michael Hamar has weighed in, and has done so predictably:

“Frankly, if those are Keeton’s views, she needs to be expelled from a program that would giver her a graduate degree and unloose her on an unsuspecting public. EVERY legitimate medical and mental health association holds that homosexuality is NOT a choice, is not changeable and the APA has condemned ex-gay therapy as unethical. If Ms. Keeton wants to be a licensed professional in this field, she needs to embrace scientific knowledge or find a different area of endeavor where she will not be likely harming patients. Personally, I am way over supposed professionals wrapping themselves in ignorant religious based bigotry and then playing the martyr.”

This particular comment was sandwiched between crass jokes about Carrie Prejean, fake boobs, sex tapes and so-called manufactured martyrdom. Classy, isn’t it?

It is not up to anybody to tell Jennifer Keeton or anybody else what they should or shouldn’t believe. It isn’t up to anybody to tell her that she can or cannot remain in a particular educational program because her beliefs differ from the accepted norm. What I have been able to gather from the reports I’ve read is that she hasn’t made this an issue; it has come up in private conversation and in one or two classroom discussions, but Keeton apparently hasn’t made it an issue in her writing assignments. If the school really is basing their ultimatum on private conversations then they are entirely out of line. Her religious beliefs should bear no weight on the decision to allow her to finish her courses and graduate.

What many in our community have continually failed to grasp is that any rules or laws we attempt to put in place – particularly those governing discrimination – don’t just apply to them. They apply to us, too. If we are going to scream bloody murder about publicly-funded educational institutions allowing student groups to discriminate, then we have no business trying to discriminate against Christians who happen to disagree with us. It’s a two-way street.

Tolerance and acceptance are not the same thing. Christians who disagree with the homsexual lifestyle will always exist. I am still a Christian, and I know that my Christian friends are disheartened by my lifestyle but they still love me. If I needed them they’d still be there. I refuse to sit by and allow my fellow gays and lesbians to turn the very monster they claim to loathe on others.

Let Jennifer Keeton finish her studies. Let her graduate. Do so without requirement that she change her beliefs. What she does with her education is up to her. If it weren’t, then I would say colleges across the country should kick out any student who does not intend to apply their degree to some standard pre-set by the institution. With every case like this, we hover dangerously closer to being the Nazis we accuse others of being. It would be an irony of the strangest kind if Keeton were to win her case based on the precedent set by the GLBT students’ fight to force all student groups to obey open-membership, anti-discrimination rules.

The Great American Double Standard

Back in the 1960’s, a revolt began in the United States. Christianity, which had dominated American culture up until that point, met its match in an ever-growing group of tolerance-loving hippies. They called for free love while they used mind-altering narcotics to reach a new plane of consciousness and tried to expand their horizons to understand other religions, ideals and cultures. The lovefest quickly went sour, though. Hippies unable to put the brakes on ended up in league with hate groups – extremists who didn’t just want to broaden their horizons, but wrest control from the religious types. They wanted to see the religious people suffer. Somewhere in the different phases of the movement an unspoken middle ground was discovered and by the time I hit my teenage years, the movement to undermine Christian influence in America was strengthening.

Nowadays, it’s an all-out legal war and there is no such thing as fairness.

I once watched the principal of my high school walk out to the flagpole on See You At The Pole day and tell a teacher who had joined us to either leave the group and go inside or be fired. Since then, such attacks have evolved. Now we have students being attacked by teachers at all levels of the educational system. We also have students attacking teachers. In nearly every instance, complaints revolve around so-called “hate speech” and students have seen their transcripts ruined while professors have lost their careers in the arguments.

This week, Dr. Ken Howell was fired from his position as a professor of Catholic studies at the University of Illinois. During an email exchange with a student, Howell wrote, “Natural Moral Law says that Morality must be a response to REALITY. In other words, sexual acts are only appropriate for people who are complementary, not the same.” The student was offended but did not complain. Instead, a friend of that student complained to the department head, and Howell was fired from his teaching job as well as his position in the Catholic student center. The complaint was that Howell was engaging in hate speech.

I disagree. He was providing his personal opinion, which was based on his religious beliefs, to a student who asked for said opinion. I saw nothing hateful in what he said. Howell wasn’t calling for gays and lesbians to be stoned, hung, or imprisoned the way we are in other parts of the world. He was simply stating his view that homosexual sex goes against the natural order of things. Technically speaking, he’s right. The natural order calls for procreation, and same-sex couples cannot do that naturally. I dare any person to logically argue that he’s wrong scientifically speaking. Whether or not it is morally wrong is another issue, one I will address in another post. Either way he had every right to express his opinion. If I were his student and he said that to me, lesbian or not, I would not have taken offense for the simple fact that I disagree and would not want to be told that I’m not allowed to disagree.

That hasn’t been the only instance. In 2008, LA Community College student Jonathan Lopez was presenting his speech class assignment – a speech on any subject and/or issue of his choosing, with no boundaries – when his instructor, John Matteson, interrupted him by calling him a “facist bastard.” Matteson allowed other students to shout Lopez down and then refused to grade the speech. His subject of choice? Why CA Proposition 8 was right. I’m sorry, but I was under the impression that a speech class wasn’t about teaching politics. I always thought it was about teaching one’s students to be able to present a speech publicly that was proper, confident and had a good flow. When did politics require that a speech student understand that “prostheletizing (sic) is inappropriate in public school” in the instructor’s estimation. Matteson wrote “ask God what your grade is” on the evaluation sheet and reportedly later threatened to have Lopez expelled for complaining.

That same year, a little closer to home for me, an occupational journalism professor at Paradise Valley Community College (which is where I took my EMT courses and will soon begin paramedic studies) refused to allow Sara Sloan to graduate. The reason offered by the instructor and his panel was that, “you identify yourself as a Christian in your bio, and that certainly comes through in the bias of this article. . . . I believe it would be a turn-off to any religion editor or reader who wasn’t a born again Christian. . . . I would have found a way to make this article relevant and inspirational even to readers who aren’t hard-core Christians.” The ACLJ had to get involved to convince the school that such things were not to be considered when deciding whether to allow a student to graduate. I was unaware that the course Sloan was taking was meant to prepare her to enter into a religion-free workplace. If it had been designated a trade course that included a need to check her faith at the door, I somehow doubt Sloan would have enrolled.

Again, that year, Suffolk County Community College student Gina DeLuca was delivered a blow that her 3.9 GPA might never have recovered. An unnamed philosophy professor required – he didn’t request, he required – that all Christian students question whether or not God actually exists in order to participate in his class. DeLuca reportedly made high marks in the class until her faith became known to the professor and she was subsequently labeled “closed-minded,” “uncritical,” “hurtful,” and “blinded by belief.” Were such a requirement made of a Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist student the mainstream media never would have let go of the story. Since it was a Christian being targeted, it was acceptable.

I have yet to find a single similar story of such abuses on the ACLU’s website. Christians can’t get away with that sort of thing today.

Most of the gay people reading this missive will want to ask me if any of the students I’m naming would care about my rights. Whether they care about mine is, to me, irrelevant; I care about theirs. Even if they would want to see anti-sodomy laws written into the criminal code again I doubt they would want to see me treated like an animal simply because I’m not like them. If I were to attack their rights to the point that those rights were removed, the same thing could one day happen to me, too. The fact that I may disagree with some of the things they believe shouldn’t matter. Hate speech laws and all that leads up to them are a double-edged sword. What we enact to stop our opponents today will be used against us tomorrow.

I am completely unwilling to allow any person in America be targeted for these things, regardless of how much I may disagree with them. I would even fight for the right of the new KKK to stage their demonstrations. I would fight for the rights of a gay group to have a pride parade and festival, as long as these events did not include nudity, public sex acts and/or violence. I would even fight for the right of a group of Christians to hand out literature outside a gay pride event. I don’t care how hurt you’ve been by a particular ideal; you should be adult enough to either debate in a civil manner or politely decline and walk away.

Today, however, we have gay rights groups and other liberal organizations demanding tolerance while being entirely incapable of giving it. They’re not asking for tolerance nearly as much as they’re demanding acceptance. There’s a distinct difference, one that needs to be learned before we end up shooting ourselves in both proverbial feet.

Jennifer Knapp Makes a Comeback, Part II

Just over a month ago I blogged about the incident that ended my interest in Christian music. After years of brick walls and disappointments, one day out of the blue I asked Jennifer Knapp backstage after a show how to get into the musicians’ union. She responded with contempt, as though I were little more than an irritation to be gotten rid of. I gave up on my music and didn’t touch my guitar for years, only recently picking it back up to play a few acoustic gigs (my first times onstage without a full band). Later I told of hearing that Knapp was making a comeback and the rumors that swirled surrounding her sudden disappearance. Chief among those rumors was one that she was gay and living in Australia. At the time, all she was admitting was that she had, in fact, been living in Australia.

The cat was let out of the bag almost two weeks ago. Jennifer Knapp is gay and is living with her partner.

In the comments section of the article in Christianity Today, I engaged several readers in “debate” (if you could call it that) about whether Knapp is sinning or not. Don’t ask me why…I got the typical handful of responses. Homosexuality is sin. Leviticus 18:22. Romans 1. It’s so sad that she’s gay. We need to pray for her repentance. God gave her up to unnatural desires because of other sins. God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.

Deep thoughts, I tell you. Nothing new. I grew up with all the same stuff. I even taught it for a while. By the time I was 23, I had never had sex (as I vowed not to until getting married), had never used narcotics, didn’t start drinking until I was legal, and was essentially only listening to Christian music. I lived a pretty pious life and was very self-righteous about it. Anybody who didn’t believe the same theology I believed was, in my estimation, not a good Christian. By age 23 I was a worship leader, a youth ministry intern, and involved in every facet of my church that I could get involved in. Church and music were my whole life.

That said, I fail to see which sins caused God to “give me up to unnatural desires.” Sure, I was pretty holier-than-thou, but I was also young and had a lot of lessons to learn. This is a commonly used argument today, particularly when Old Testament scripture is knocked down by putting it in context with the events of the Gospels and the fulfillment of the law with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Where, though, in any of scripture do we see God giving up the faithful to such an unspecified unnatural desire? And how is this unnatural desire defined? In reality, it isn’t. In fact, there were no words to describe homosexuality in either ancient Hebrew or Greek. Certain words commonly translated to mean “effeminate” and “homosexual” actually probably meant something closer to male prostitutes and men who pimped out young boys (a practice which was, and remains today, popular in Arab culture).

As for the so-called “clobber passages,” they always, always, ALWAYS begin with Leviticus 18:22, which forbids same-sex relations. The same set of laws, which runs from Leviticus chapter 17 through chapter 20 (with regulations concerning priests surrounding), also describes how to atone for sins through animal sacrifice, tells you what kind of animal to use and how to kill it, then goes on to tell you not to eat meat with any blood remaining in it, that if you do you will be cut off by God, and gives part of the moral law which is later repeated: do not withhold wages from a hired man overnight, do not breed two different kinds of cattle, do not plant two different kinds of crops in your fields, do not wear clothes woven of two different materials, do not eat the fruit of conquered lands for three years, do not trim your beard, get tattoos or piercings – anybody who breaks the laws are to be put to death, including for cursing one’s parents.

Obviously, we don’t follow most of the Levitical law. I have both facial piercings and near-full tattoo sleeves. We certainly don’t put people to death for pre-marital sex and and cheating on their spouses. If I were straight, according to Levitical law alone I’d be condemned just for my ink. My friend Michael, however, brings up a very good point.

The bible calls Jesus the Living Word of God. Throughout the New Testament, there are numerous references to the apostles “preaching the word of God,” yet since scripture hadn’t been written, what could they have been talking about? They were talking about sharing the gospel, the good news of Christ’s sacrifice to pay the penalty for all sin. And, Jesus cut the entire law down to two things. In Matthew 22:34-40, He stops the Pharisees in their conniving tracks by telling them that the law and the prophets are defined by loving God and loving one’s neighbor as oneself.

In an interview with The Advocate, Knapp described getting an email from a fan who begged her to come out because “that would make [me] feel less alone.” I would remind all of those who say it’s sad that Knapp is a lesbian just how sad it is that anyone feels alone when in your midst. There is no reason for that. In light of Jesus’ teachings, you are completely and totally wrong for allowing that to happen.

By the time Jesus was born, very specific prophecies about the promised Messiah and a very specific timeline had all the mothers of Jerusalem arguing whose son was the Christ. The Jews expected God to send a powerful man to conquer and kill their Roman oppressors and give the land of Israel back to them (which God had taken away in the first place because of their refusal to obey). As He had many, many times in the past, God did not fit their plan or narrative. Jesus was the first born of a working-class family, the son of a carpenter meant to be a carpenter Himself. He was not interested in war or glory. God’s plan was to offer a single sacrifice, one that would atone for every sin and strike down the old ceremonial laws – and offer salvation to all, both Jews and Gentiles alike. When Jesus finally revealed Himself the Pharisees, intent on finding the Messiah they expected, did everything they could to silence Jesus. In the end they had the whole of Jerusalem convinced to free a murderer in place of a battered and bleeding man who had fed them, healed their sick and raised their dead. They were so convinced of their version of what the Messiah should be that they offered to let His blood be on their heads.

Are we any different today? We have certain expectations of God. There are many things that most Christians are certain of, chief among them that homosexuality is sick, wrong and sinful and an indication that God has given up on a person. At the same time they ignore the majority of Levitical law right along with some of the commands that Jesus specifically left us with.

Human beings have proved two things throughout history: first, that we are shallow, fickle creatures and perpetually imperfect. Second, that our definition of who God is and what He is supposed to be is nearly always wrong. Yet we continue to pass judgement and blame it on scripture. For that we can fully expect to answer to God.

No Scape-goating Allowed!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psKRmv3ZW4s]

I say we honor liberals today by supporting abortion.

However, instead of aborting unborn fetuses, would it be possible to abort the insane political correctness that gets Americans killed?

The bodies of 13 young soldiers were still close to living-body temperature last night, when this Muslim activist went on television to discuss his concern for unfair scape-goating against Muslim Americans. 

He does manage to thank the American media for working with them to avoid making Muslims look bad. 

He also opened the segment up in a very politcally correct way by offering condolences to the families of these fallen soldiers.

As I drove home last night, and as the details of Nidal Malik Hasan and his radicalist views on America’s war policies started to unfold, I began to cry.  The local newscasters here on WLS (the biggie here in the midwest for news) were speaking very quietly and carefully to not “jump to conclusions” as the President himself today begged us all not to do.

I am scared as hell.  I am so angry I want to scream at this man in the above video for coming on television to make a statement about his fears about his fellow Muslims here in America.

He claims that already Mosques in America were being threatened.  He claims that some in the blogosphere and certain talk show hosts were already hate-mongering but again reminds us that most of the American media have been responsible by trying to “tone down any anti-Muslim rhetoric.”

My anger at the Muslim community today rises out of their inability to be the ones who take the fall for this extremism within their own community.  But right here in America, and over in the Middle East, and for the past 30 years, we have had to watch multiple groups of Americans and non-Muslims to be the ones required to pay the price for this extremism while men like this go on television to foam at the mouth about political correctness.

The audacity he has to express concern of alleged threatened Mosques in this country – or to whine about anything that anybody may be saying in the blogosphere is disgusting.

Think of 13 Americans – among the best and brightest this country has to offer.  They woke up yesterday as I did, as all of you did – feeling safe.  They had plans for the weekend.  Like us, they began making plans for Thanksgiving and moving ahead to begin filling out Christmas lists for loving family members they hardly got to see at all.  They had lives, they had plans, they had friends, they had love, and they had courage.

Mr. Al-Marayati, keep your empty condolences.  I do not forgive you for coming on television just hours after the people who make this country wonderful for you to live in were slaughtered by an extremist of your persuasion.  The idea that you chose, in that moment, to victimize the entire Muslim community by proclaiming some form of brewing hatred against you is sickening.

In our country, sir, you have the right to say that.

How many Mosques in America were destroyed after 9/11?

How many Muslims in America have been killed by Christians in retaliation to 9/11?

How many Mosques were bombed after the Muslim man ran over his “Americanized” daughter recently?

How many Americans have been tortured, killed, or held hostage by Muslims in the last 30 years?

So, with all respect, it’s about time for Americans to shift their focus before only a few of us are left standing and it’s too late.  This is homegrown terrorism. 

Something must be done NOW to stop it.  No more political correctness, no more excuses, no more phony concerns for what Christians and Americans are going to do to the Muslim community.

They have declared war on our soil, yet again, and if we leave it up to the media and the President to recognize it and to take it seriously, more Americans will die and be sacrificed.

The question is, when will that realization materialize in more minds than my own?

The Gay Demon

According to Fox61 in Connecticut and FOX News, a small church in Bridgeport–run by Manifested Glory Ministries–has been performing exorcisms on teenagers believed to be gay. The YouTube video posted by the ministry has been deleted (along with their channel) because of all of the negative attention, and all users who had saved it found it yanked by YouTube because the ministry leaders filed “copyright infringement” complaints (I call BS). If you go to the Fox61 link, you can see clips of the video. The heads of the ministry, including the Rev. and his wife Patricia McKinney, angrily ejected reporters from their radio station yesterday, refusing to talk publicly about the video clip or their practice of exorcism with teens involved in their ministry who are rumored to be gay.

Last year, I shared my coming-out story. I grew up in a very religious (note, I said religious, not spiritual) home. Church was so much a part of our lives that when my family came to Phoenix in 1997, while I was a senior in high school, the only way my siblings and I knew to make friends was to go find a church and get involved in the youth group. Church and beliefs were very important to us. I went to bible school, interned for two youth ministers and later became a music minister/worship leader and toured with a Christian band for a few years. I was also a very unpleasant person much of the time, mostly because there was a part of me that knew I was a lesbian and I refused to acknowledge it. If I did, it would be a damning sin, one that would strip me of my salvation. It would end my life as I knew it, with my support system, my friends and the places that were familiar and comfortable to me. Then, when I couldn’t deny it any longer just six and a half years ago, I tried to find justification in scripture to kill myself.

Matthew 18:7-9 says, “woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes! If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having to eyes, to be cast into hell fire.” If anybody knows what it means to take scripture the wrong way, I do. I took this group of verses completely out of context and believed that it would have been better to commit suicide than it would have been to admit that I’m gay and go on living with a sin that God could not forgive.

It took me six months to come to a place where I was willing to entertain the notion that maybe, just maybe, I’d been taught wrong–and that I’d taught the same message in horrible error. To this day, I feel guilty for teaching the lesson that homosexuality is a mortal sin, that gay and lesbian people are the way they are because they have refused to accept God’s grace and God has given up on them. I have read stories of Christian youth who didn’t give their lives a chance and completed their suicides because of their fear of being rejected by their church families. I was part of the perpetuation of the myth that God condemns people and gives them up to homosexuality, and that lifestyle marks a soul as being forever lost.

I see stories like the ones linked above and it breaks my heart, because young people all over the world are being taught to hate themselves by people claiming to love God. I still believe; I just happen to believe in a different theological vein than most fellow Christians do. It’s something we’ll have to agree to disagree on because, as we all admit, we take what we believe on an awful lot of faith. But the young man in the video has my deepest sympathies. His faith–as well as who he is–is coming into question now, and he doesn’t know which way to go. I’ve been there. I know.

What concerns me is that the leaders of this ministry are completely unwilling to speak publicly about what they do. The bible also forbids doing these things in secret, and I wonder what else this church might be hiding. I’m living proof that being gay is NOT a mortal sin, and God still loves me despite what people may think or say about the condition of my soul. Should any of those young people questioning their faith, their salvation or themselves see this missive, know this: you are not alone. Many people have survived this struggle, and we’ve come out stronger on the other side. Don’t let any human being tell you what you should believe. Seek the counsel of people whom you believe to be wise, but in the end, only YOU can know what you believe, and why.

The only “gay demon” is the one being created by theology.

Hypocrisy Always Swings to the Left

Thanks to Ann Coulter and the WSJ, this little tidbit has been displayed for Americans to read with regard to Obama’s appearance at Notre Dame.  Enjoy!  Courtesy of anncoulter.com

EXPERT ON DEMONIZATION CONDEMNS DEMONIZATION – From James Taranto in the WSJ:

The [Boston] Globe notes that not all Catholics are unhappy with Notre Dame’s plan to give the president an honorary degree:

“There are some well-meaning people who think Notre Dame has given away its Catholic identity, because they have been caught up in the gamesmanship of American higher education, bringing in a star commencement speaker even if that means sacrificing their values, and that accounts for some of this,” said the Rev. Kenneth Himes, chairman of theology department at Boston College.

“But one also has to say that there is a political game going on here, and part of that is that you demonize the people who disagree with you, you question their integrity, you challenge their character, and you brand these people as moral poison. Some people have simply reduced Catholicism to the abortion issue, and, consequently, they have simply launched a crusade to bar anything from Catholic institutions that smacks of any sort of open conversation.”

Now read this 2006 Associated Press dispatch: Nearly 100 faculty members at Boston College have signed a letter objecting to the college’s decision to award Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice an honorary degree. The letter entitled “Condoleezza Rice Does Not Deserve a Boston College Honorary Degree,” was written by the Rev. Kenneth Himes. . . .

“On the levels of both moral principle and practical moral judgment, Secretary Rice’s approach to international affairs is in fundamental conflict with Boston College’s commitment to the values of the Catholic and Jesuit traditions and is inconsistent with the humanistic values that inspire the university’s work,” the letter said.

Himes, it seems, is an expert on demonization.

Comedy With a Refreshing Twist (Dane Cook on arrogant Atheists)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Co3Sl8oqWY]

This is awesome.  First, I have to admit – I think Dane Cook is one helluva sexy fella.  He’s also one of the most funny comedians I have enjoyed watching lately and he has an amazing following.

While you would expect most Hollywood-comedians to write comedy routines attacking the extreme religious, Dane did a very original and ground-breaking act by describing the attitudes of your average atheists and poking fun at them.

It’s a nine minute video but worth every second!

Hussein, the Christian

This has been a good-few weeks.  In the last month alone, President Elect Barack Obama has given new life to conservative hope and to Christian virtue – as a Democrat elect.

Of course there has been the relentless attacks coming from all the insane left wing blogs. 

It started the day he was elected.  On November 8th, Newsweek sent radical liberals in a head-spinning roar when they gave us four reasons Obama would not be closing Guantanamo prison anytime soon.

Essentially it said everything Bush said for years.  First, sending them to the United States would give them all the rights of domestic criminals which could even have some of them released on bail while simultaneously revealing the intelligence used to capture them.  Why aren’t these good things again?

You mean Newsweek couldn’t find the time in the last, I don’t know, EIGHT YEARS to explain this to their lefty readers?

Safe to say for crazy moonbats, it is now cool to voice concern about having Gitmo detainees transferred to their local district jails and prisons.

After acknowleging that 17 of the detainees were terrorists, Qin Gang of China demanded for the return of their detainees if and when the prison is actually closed.  Knowing how China generally deals with criminals, I cannot say I have a problem with that.  Have you noticed how those 17 men have kept quiet themselves?

I gather that smelling their lemon chicken as it turns on the rotisserie; in lieu of their own flesh, is more appealing to the young “tortured” group of men.

In recent weeks and days, we keep hearing how some European countries are considering housing a few, Australia is considering taking some, but miraculously not one Hollywood celebrity or tree-hugger has come out to courageously offer up their own district jails or prisons. 

Obama is a smart guy.  I am conceding this point to liberals who claimed it was more important to vote for him because he went to Harvard over Sarah Palin who actually had executive experience.  But he used his study in constitutional law to trick liberals into believing that he could do something which they thought was so easy – close Gitmo.

I have to thank Obama for that one.  It’s always fun watching the radical left get tricked into voting for someone.  It’s nice that the Democrats found one they could do that with. 

We saw him in recent weeks shy away from his “promise” to raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy.  We also saw him pipe down a little on his promise to quickly withdraw from Iraq. 

John McCain or Hillary Clinton both actually had voting records of raising taxes or voting against tax cuts.  But the liberals picked the guy who they thought would do more damage than McCain or Clinton would have guaranateed us as a nation.

With McCain-Feingold under his belt, liberals also would have had a better shot at successfully legislating the Fairness Doctrine under McCain than they would Obama.

Of course, liberals are now angry

Liberals are growing increasingly nervous – and some just flat-out angry – that President-elect Barack Obama seems to be stiffing them on Cabinet jobs and policy choices.

Obama has reversed pledges to immediately repeal tax cuts for the wealthy and take on Big Oil. He’s hedged his call for a quick drawdown in Iraq. And he’s stocking his White House with anything but stalwarts of the left.

The great news is that it does not stop here.  There are some extras guaranteed to sweeten the deal that Obama promises to bring us. 

Liberals, gay activist groups, and People for the American Way are seething in anger over the choice to have Pastor Rick Warren deliver the invocation at Obama’s inauguration next month.  He’s a pastor!  This could never be!

The Obama campaign worked tirelessly to remind us of Hussein’s strong Christian values.  We then saw him appropriately toss out the leftist radicals known as Jeremiah Wright and Father Pfleger. 

Not only is President “Hussein, the Christian” living up to his promise to reach across both party lines, it seems he’s doing a much better job at pissing off liberals than he is at pissing off Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter.

Eyebrows raised; including mine, when he recently stated that he would proudly use his middle name of Hussein as a resource to reach out to Muslims all over the world.

But then I got to thinking.  Barack Hussein Obama; as a Christian, who has stopped palling around with terrorists and has replaced radicals like Ayers and Wright with decent pastors like Rick Warren to embrace his own Christian values – is reaching out to Muslims. 

Just as Christ reached out to the Jews; Hussein, the Christian is apparently trying to do the same thing with the Muslims – to show them a better way of life as Christians.

A daunting task, I agree.  But while it may seem pompous to take on such a task, it’s one I cannot seem to find in my heart to criticize.

The only trouble is, liberals hate Christians.  So, just as  Newsweek had to logically explain why Guantanamo could not be shut down overnight, the liberal media will have to eventually come around to explaining why the world is more free and peaceful under the influence of Christianity.