Religious Connections has the years of Pew Forum polling data and commentary.
Adelle M. Banks of Religion News Service seems to think the message is clear:
“The Chaplains Corps’ First Amendment freedoms and its duty to care for all will not change,” reads a slide in the PowerPoint presentation, released to Religion News Service Thursday. “Soldiers will continue to respect and serve with others who may hold different views and beliefs.”
Critics familiar with the Army presentation, however, say the military is essentially telling chaplains who are theologically conservative that they are not welcome.
“U.S. Army now warning chaplains: If you don’t like the homosexual agenda, get out!” reads a headline on the website of Mass Resistance, an anti-gay group based in Waltham, Mass.
The Army doesn’t see it in such stark terms:
Lt. Col. Carleton Birch, a spokesman for the Army chief of chaplains, said about half of the military service’s 2,900 chaplains have received the training, which started in February and is likely to conclude in April.
“Our training is an opportunity for our senior chaplains to have an honest and open conversation about the repeal policy, its effects on them and their ministry,” Birch said. “And it’s going very well. … In no way are we giving the message, shape up or ship out.”
Birch said only one Army chaplain has left the service over the pending repeal of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell.
Conservative Anglican leaders have rejected as “deeply flawed” the Anglican covenant whose alternative Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said is “piece-by-piece dissolution” of worldwide Anglicanism.
The Church of England’s general synod in London
votes voted today “on the Anglican covenant, which has been seven years in the making, and sets the Church of England at a crucial crossroads. The church is already facing probable defections to Roman Catholicism by some priests opposed to the ordination of women bishops.”
That is the outcome Williams sought.
The proposed agreement, called a covenant, would require member churches to undertake not to act in a way likely to upset fellow Anglicans in other countries.
The covenant was first proposed in 2004 after tension rose over the consecration of an openly gay bishop at the Episcopal Church, the official U.S. member church in the Communion.
Relations between Anglican churches became more fractious after conservative churches, mostly in Africa, responded by appointing bishops to serve in other countries, including the United States.
The covenant commits member churches to mutual accountability and consultation for settling disputes. Unlike Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism gives its leader no direct power over all members.
Georgia megachurch Pastor Jim Swilley said the death of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi, 18, who jumped off a bridge after a secretly-taped sexual encounter between him and another man was posted on the internet, prompted him to come out.
Swilley is founder of Church in the Now in Conyers, Ga. NPR reported:
“There are two things in my life that are an absolute,” the megachurch pastor told his flock. “I did not ask for either one of them, both of them were imposed upon me, I had no control over either of them. One was the call of God on my life… and the other thing … was my sexual orientation.”
Jim Swilley — a twice-married father of four, a man who comes from a long line of evangelical preachers — revealed a secret he’d been holding onto most of his life:
Randy Roberts Potts, grandson of Oral Roberts, a letter to his gay Uncle Ronnie, who killed himself in June of 1982.
Broadway Baptist Church of Fort Worth, Texas, has ended its 125-year relationship with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, saying it doesn’t want to be distracted by questions concerning the congregation’s position on homosexuality.
Pastor Brent Beasley said the church will direct the majority of its mission dollars through the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and will also send money directly to Texas Baptist institutions. He said:
Our finances are strong — our giving is ahead of expenses and well ahead of last year; the spirit of the congregation is positive and healthy; our worship attendance is on the rise; new families and individuals are finding their place at Broadway. We continue to serve those in need in a multitude of ways. We are focused on our mission in the present and beginning to look to the future, which is exciting.
Last fall, the church postponed confrontation by choosing not to send messengers to the last BGCT annual convention.
Broadway was nonetheless found not to be in friendly cooperation by the Southern Baptist Convention last year because it was deemed to “approve and endorse homosexual behavior” as a result of a confrontation provoked when it published photographs of same-sex couples in the church directory.
Broadway’s expulsion by the SBC was an assertion of the kind of Cathist inflexibility that independent demographic analysis predicts will frustrate achievement of expansive evangelism goals like those pursued by the SBC’s Great Commission Resurgence Task Force.
Broadway’s departure is part of a slow parade of strong Baptist churches out of the BGCT and the SBC. The BGCT stepped back from Royal Lane Baptist Church over the same general issue in March, and before that in 1994 from University Baptist Church.
Without actually disavowing his pseudoscience or explaining themselves, several other institutions and organizations which have formerly cited him as an authority or honored ally, have turned and run:
- The Campus Crusade for Christ has deleted his page from its Leadership University.
- The University of South Carolina has erased him from the faculty listings.
- The Family Research Council, which with James Dobson he helped found, had difficulty remembering him.
- After he resigned from the board of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), the NARTH site began purging references to him and documents authored by him.
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum may wish he could magically purge the $120,000 political liability Rekers has become to his bid for the Florida Republican gubernatorial nomination. McCollum is having a difficult time explaining how Rekers, previously unmasked in an Arkansas legal conflict, could qualify as an expert witness.
In December, 2004, Pulaski County [Ark.] Circuit Court judge Timothy Fox described Rekers’ testimony as “extremely suspect,” and said that Rekers “was there primarily to promote his own personal ideology.”
Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Cindy S. Lederman carefully disassembled Rekers’ testimony. For example, she wrote [.pdf]:
During Dr. Rekers’ testimony, attention was drawn to his authorship of a St. Thomas Law Review article entitled “An Empirically Supported Rational Basis for Prohibiting Adoption, Foster Parenting, and Contested Child Custody by Any Person in a Household that Includes a Homosexually-Behaving Member” wherein the doctor heavily cited to the conclusions of a colleague who is sharply criticized as distorting data and was censured and ousted by the American Psychological Association for misreporting evidence regarding homosexual households. Although the American Psychological Association, has concluded that there is no difference between heterosexual and homosexual parenting, Dr. Rekers believes the Association’s stance is political and not based on science. Dr. Rekers’ much contested and hardly empirical article also cited to journals from authors who were neither psychotherapists nor social scientists.
Judge Lederman’s general conclusion about Rekers was [.pdf]:
Dr. Rekers’ testimony was far from a neutral and unbiased recitation of the relevant scientific evidence. Dr. Rekers’ beliefs are motivated by his strong ideological and theological convictions that are not consistent with the science. Based on his testimony and demeanor at trial, the court cannot consider his testimony to be credible nor worthy of forming the basis of public policy.
Immersed in controversy now, McCollum moans that when they hired Rekers, “There wasn’t a whole lot of choice.”
There was an abundance of credible choices. As there were for the institutions which are fleeing Rekers now. Although a scientifically defensible choice of experts would have militated for a position unlike the one McCollum took in court.
Neither McCollum’s excuse nor institutional flight substitute for an honest assessment the quality of Rekers’ work and, where required, change in the positions which gave it credence.
That an Orthodox Christian would strongly oppose homosexuality is not surprising.
The Orthodox Church’s teaching on homosexuality, however, focuses on ministering to homosexuals and separates what it considers to be sinful acts from concern for the people involved.
Labeling a gay-pride event “Satanic” hardly exhibits such concern. Mean-spirited rhetoric effectively reverses the ministry called for by Christian compassion.
In 2007, homosexuals who marched in spite of a ban were “beaten up by right-wing counter-demonstrators or detained by police,” according to a BBC report. Last year, some activists were detained before the parade began.
More crackdowns can be expected this year, unless Luzhkov sets aside meanness for ministry.