News & religion
A new billboard in Topeka is going viral and getting national attention due to its message and location. The group known as “The Facebook God” raised more than $80,000 to pay for a billboard that says “God Loves Gays” located near 21st and Western in the capitol city. The “Facebook God” page has more than 1.7 million likes and used a popular online crowd funding website called indiegogo.com to generate funds for the message. The indiegogo page said the group wants to promote love.
WIBW reached out to the founders of the group for comment and “God” responded, claiming to be the deity behind the whole thing. God said He is working with the Equality House in Topeka on the campaign. God said the billboard will be up for one year or “perhaps much longer.” Topeka is home to the Westboro Baptist Church, known internationally for its anti-gay protests.
The Boone County Sheriff’s Department Cyber Crimes Task Force arrested a 56-year-old Camden County man after he allegedly attempted to arrange sex with a dog and another animal on Craigslist.
Jerald “Jerry” Hill, President and CEO of Boone County, Mo.’s Windermere Baptist Conference Center, was arrested Tuesday afternoon and charged with attempted unlawful sex with an animal and attempted animal abuse.
According to The Columbia Tribune:
A detective with the task force exchanged emails with Hill under the guise of offering a dog that Hill could have sex with, Perkins said in a news release.
Hill made arrangements to travel to Columbia to have sex with the dog. Hill was arrested without incident in the 1600 block of Business Loop 70 West, where he met the deputy.
An Oklahoma teenager who confessed to raping and molesting HIV-positive orphans while volunteering on a humanitarian mission trip to Kenya, is now claiming that a demon named Luke forced him to commit the horrifying sexual acts against the helpless children.
This gallery contains 9 photos.
Equality, the Bible and more….
Traditionally, Islam does not tolerate homosexuality. Of the estimated 4 million to 7 million Muslims living in the U.S., many are first-generation immigrants, who came from countries where same-sex relationships are stigmatized, criminalized or even punishable by death.
That cultural reality makes it difficult for the message of acceptance and equality, which is becoming mainstream in the U.S., to find an audience in more traditional Islamic circles.
Link to video:
A group of more than 100 religious clergy, theologians, and faith leaders sent a letter to President Barack Obama on Tuesday urging him not to include religious exemptions in a forthcoming executive order prohibiting federal contractors from using hiring polices that discriminate against LGBT people.
Soon after President Obama announced in June his intention to issue an executive order protecting the rights of LGBT Americans who work for federal contractors, some religious organizations began pressuring the administration to include an exemption for faith groups with government contracts. They argued that because some faith traditions have yet to fully embrace LGBT equality, they should be able to opt out of the executive order while still using federal funds. But the 100 religious signers of Tuesday’s letter rebuked this position, insisting that the government is called to a higher standard of inclusiveness — especially when taxpayer money is involved.
“As faith and civic leaders dedicated to affirming the sacred dignity and equal worth of every person, we are grateful for your upcoming executive order ending discrimination against LGBT people in hiring by federal contractors,” the letter read. “We urge you not to include a religious exemption in the executive order. In keeping with the principle that our government must adhere to the highest standards of ethics and fairness in its own operations, we believe that public dollars should not be used to sanction discrimination.”
“Furthermore, if selective exemptions to the executive order were permitted, the people who would suffer most would be the people who always suffer most when discrimination is allowed: the individuals and communities that are already marginalized.”
The letter’s signers included several prominent Christian voices and clergy such as the Very Rev. Gary Hall, Dean of the Washington National Cathedral, Bishop Melvin Talbert of the United Methodist Church, and Serene Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Organizers of the letter also noted that among the signers were four former members of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and five members of a presidential taskforce to reform the office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
“It is not right for any person or any corporation to use their religious beliefs, no matter how sincerely held, to trample the rights and beliefs of others,” Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church and a signer of the letter, said in a press release. “Nothing could be more contrary to the Golden Rule, articulated in every world religion.”
The letter also listed the names of many non-Christian leaders who oppose an exemption, such as Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, Peter Morales, President of the Unitarian Universalist Association, and Imam Daayiee Abdullah of the Light of Reform Mosque in Washington, D.C.
The move is a counterpoint to several other letters penned by faith leaders who favor a religious exemption. On June 25, a group of 140 conservative religious leaders asked the president to include an exemption to assist groups who “simply desire to utilize staffing practices consistent with their deep religious convictions.” The following Tuesday — the day after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that closely held for profit corporations could ignore the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate on religious grounds — another group of 14 Christian leaders relatively close to the administration sent a letter to the White House favoring a way for faith groups to ignore the executive order. Then, last Thursday, Buzzfeed reported the existence of a private letter to the president penned by Jim Wallis, head of Christian activist group Sojourners, that was circulated among many prominent clergy and also endorsed an exemption.
Despite these efforts, progressive people of faith remain firmly opposed to a religious exemption. An online petition blasting the proposed exemption posted last week by Faithful America, a progressive Christian online advocacy group, has already garnered more than 30,000 signatures by people of faith. Many prominent religious voices — including several that signed today’s letter — have also publicly opposed any religious exemption that would allow for the discrimination of LGBT people. In addition, a February 2014 poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute found that solid majorities of both political parties and every major religious group support workplace nondiscrimination laws for gay and lesbian people.
And while many religious and secular groups endorsed similar religious exemptions written into the Employee Nondiscrimination Act, LGBT groups such as the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund are now opposing those as well. This mirrors the increasingly pro-LGBT perspective of the general public: a June poll conducted by the First Amendment Center found that a majority of Americans do not see an inherent conflict between recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples and “religious freedom.”
To whom this may concern,
God is love. God is not a platform for someone to spread disapproval, disgust or hate.
Though I am no longer a religious person, I do consider myself to be spiritual. From my years of intense studying I have learned that God’s message is to spread love, not hate. Never once have I read that God condone those who take action in their hands to punish the guilty; therefore, verbal harassment, in the name of whomever, is unacceptable. To all of the people who use religion as an excuse for brutality: it needs to stop. I don’t intend for this statement to be targeted at every religious person — just those who excuse their abusive behavior by using the word of God.
Religion is beautiful, and has the ability to promote a bonding experience between many people. However, it is upsetting that there are parts of the population who feel the need to enforce their beliefs to the point of hurting other people, especially those outside of their communities. With that in mind, this is a piece that applies to all types of people, religious and nonreligious alike.
I am prompted to write this because I recently had an uncomfortable, aggressive experience with a “man of God” by the name of Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson. In our interview, he stated that homosexuality is only focused on sex, insinuating that nonstraight people cannot have committed relationships, are unhappy and need enlightenment. He also claimed that women should not hold power in our government, because all feminists are masculine, “want to be men,” and are spreading homosexuality through our government and our country.
When I opened up about my acceptance of the “Prom Queen” title to take a stance against transphobia, he referred to being transgender as “crap.” He then poorly defended himself and discussed how he cannot be an oppressor because he’s Black and “Black people don’t have power.” After this, he went on to claim homosexuals are oppressing heterosexuals, completely disregarding the fact that heterosexuals run a majority of the American government. The people with the real power — the predominantly heterosexual members of the government — are the oppressors, not homosexuals. Lastly, he made personal attacks on me and my family throughout the interview, before urging that parents ought to “take their kids out of public schools” before they end up contorted.
Rev. Peterson’s verbal attacks are extremely upsetting. What’s even more frustrating is that he managed to insult so many distinct groups of people — all within the matter of 10 minutes! On behalf of the groups who have been insulted, and myself: it is not okay to tyrannize. I am an opinionated person who also enjoys hearing the opinions of others, but not when their opinions serve to diminish the value of human life. No one is perfect, and I know that I am definitely not. Still, it’s amusing to me that Rev. Peterson pointed out, on air, how my “gay lifestyle” is a sin, yet couldn’t recognize that judging me and blatantly speaking on God’s behalf is a sin in the eyes of God.
The issue is not simply with Rev. Peterson stating his biased opinion, but also with how the youth who will listen to this interview may think that it is acceptable for them, like this man, to verbally and theologically bully other people. As youth, we learn from our elders; and if our elders are bigoted, anti-women, anti-LGBTQ, anti-immigrant, anti-anything equality based, brutes who harass others with their religiosity, they’ll only send messages to the youth that bigotry is tolerable. And it isn’t!
Though bullying is unfortunate, as long as we have people in power who practice it, the youth will continue to bully. We must take action and encourage people to begin spreading love, and not hate. I love the United States because we citizens have the opportunity to express our ideas and opinions; nonetheless, opinions that preach hatred and bigotry need to be thought about critically before they’re delivered. It is perfectly acceptable to have an opinion, but once it turns into a hurtful action or an attack, that opinion is unacceptable.
Women, LGBTQ folk, immigrants and other underrepresented groups are not destroying the Land of the Free. It is people like Rev. Peterson, with his inability to love and respect those who are different than him, who are dismantling the freedom of others. Every person has free will, so allow people to do as they please as long as no harm is being caused to other people.
And Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson: practice what you preach.
Me at this year’s gay pride parade in New York City.
Me at my high school prom.
Follow Nasir Fleming on Twitter: www.twitter.com/nasirmfleming
History was made on Sunday, June 22, 2014 as Rev. Cameron Partridge became the first openly transgender priest to preach at the Washington National Cathedral!
WATCH his historic sermon online below: