Indiana wants me, Lord, I can’t go back there. — R. Dean Taylor

religious-freedom2religious-freedom-bill-gen-con

Indiana is a state situated in the mid-western United States and is well-known across the rest of the United States and much of the world for the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, one of the most prestigious motor sport races in the world. This week, however, Indiana finds itself in the spotlight because of the the passage of SB 101 the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law. Governor Mike Pence signed the bill into law on March 26, 2015 and the law goes into effect on July 1, 2015. The legislation is necessary, as supporters of the legislation such as Eric Miller of  Advance America asserted because, “it is vitally important to protect religious freedom in Indiana […] to help protect churches, Christian businesses and individuals from those who want to punish them because of their Biblical beliefs!” (Victory at the State House) Those in opposition to the legislation such as Democratic Party Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane fear the legislation allows for discrimination on religious grounds. As Senator Lanane stated it is “extremely disappointing that Governor Pence endorses this out-of-touch, discriminatory legislation. Not only is this law unnecessary, it unfortunately has already portrayed our state as intolerant, unfriendly, and backwards; things which I believe most Hoosiers reject.” (as cited in the Indy Star) Governor Pence disagrees, stating “this bill is not about discrimination and if I thought it legalized discrimination I would have vetoed it.” (as cited in the Indy Star) Is religious freedom threatened in Indiana and does this legislation intended to safeguard religious freedom allow for lawful discrimination on religious grounds? These questions merit further discussion. Continue reading

To maintain a joyful family requires much from both the parents and the children. Each member of the family has to become, in a special way, the servant of the others. — Pope John Paul II

eltonDolce-Gabbana-Panorama

Stefano Gabbana & Domenico Dolce are two successful designers of luxury clothing for men and women who launched their fashion house in 1985 in Legnano, Italy. They are gay and were romantically linked as a couple from 1980 to 2008 before parting ways, but their business partnership prevails and they continue to prosper. Recently, in an interview for the Italian magazine Panorama, they expressed controversial opinions on gay parenting and reproductive technologies. In short they asserted: “we oppose gay adoptions. The only family is the traditional one,” and “no chemical offsprings and rented uterus: life has a natural flow, there are things that should not be changed.” Stefano Gabbana added, “the family is not a fad. In it there is a supernatural sense of belonging.” (as cited in the National Post) This was not the first time they expressed this point of view. In an interview with an Italian newspaper in 2006, Stefano Gabbana stated: “I am opposed to the idea of a child growing up with two gay parents […] A child needs a mother and a father. I could not imagine my childhood without my mother. I also believe that it is cruel to take a baby away from its mother.” (as cited in Pink News) Their public condemnation of gay parenting came as a surprise to many as they are gay and were a couple for several years. Interestingly, in expressing their opinions on gay parenting and reproductive technologies they reflect the official position of the Catholic Church on these issues. These are serious issues and bear examination in greater detail as the rights and happiness of gay parents and their children are at stake. Continue reading

There is hardly a political question in the United States which does not sooner or later turn into a judicial one. — Alexis de Tocqueville

WALLACERoy-Moore-Quote-Seperation-of-church-and-state

Despite gains in the movement for marriage equality in the United States, such as the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Proposition 8 by the Supreme Court of the United States in 2013 and the repeal of Amendment 1 in North Carolina by a U.S. District Court in 2014, resistance rooted in cynical appeals to populism and the tyranny of the majority rears its head in Alabama. This is manifest in the looming showdown between Judge Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) following the repeal of the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment, in a ruling handed down by Justice Callie V. Granade  of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama on January 23, 2015. This is not unlike the showdown that took place between Governor George C. Wallace and President John F. Kennedy in 1963 when Governor Wallace defied the SCOTUS ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, handed down in 1954 that declared segregation unconstitutional. In both cases, support for segregation and for a ban on same sex marriage was overwhelming and Wallace and Moore insisted their respective stands on the issues was justified in that they represented the opinion of the majority of voters in Alabama. Continue reading

triintylaw

The Lord is my Shepherd and he knows I’m gay. — Troy Perry

triintylawaustin

The issues of gay rights, religious liberty and tolerance of religion in Canada and the United States remain contentious. While the destigmatization of homosexuality is a welcome trend in Canada and the United States, it is by no means a fait accompli. Lawful discrimination on religious grounds against gay people remains an issue, notably in secondary and post-secondary education, as religious institutions operate and have sole proprietorship of their own high schools, colleges and universities. The issue of lawful discrimination against gay people on religious grounds and opposition to it from the wider society is highlighted by recent events concerning Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia and Lutheran High North (a high school ) in Houston, Texas. Both schools have moral codes founded on their interpretation of Christianity that bar sexual activity outside marriage and between persons of the same sex. The schools stand firm in their opposition to homosexuality in the face of controversy and maintain they are within their rights to do so. In either case, presumably, a gay student is welcome to attend, provided they abide by the moral codes instituted by the respective schools. This is legal in both Canada and the United States, but is it tolerable and what is the appropriate response for those who take issue with these school policies? Continue reading

anitasarkeesian1

Politics is just like show business. You have a hell of an opening, coast for a while, and then have a hell of a close. — Ronald Reagan

mcpherson_ormiston200-ab72c2b3f36c4abd5f445045134658a87b6914f9-s800-c15anitasarkeesian1

There’s no business like show business, least of all in the United States. Americans love celebrity, flamboyance, sensationalism and showmanship whether it is in the entertainment industry, politics, business, journalism or religion. I am reminded of this in looking at the careers of  Aimee Semple McPherson and Anita Sarkeesian, two women from Canada, who found fame and fortune in the United States by means of shameless self-promotion, partnership with men endowed with shrewd business acumen, and through a masterful use of electronic media to broadcast their simplified and sensationalized messages to a wide and receptive audience. How they differ is that Aimee Semple McPherson found fame as a prominent Pentecostal evangelist in the first half of the 20th century; whereas, Anita Sarkeesian thrives in the present, promoting herself as a “pop culture critic.” Sarkeesian’s message is aimed at people who subscribe to the temporal ideologies of feminism and social justice. Despite these differences, if you look closely at the career of Aimee Semple McPherson and compare it to that of Anita Sarkeesian you will notice there are striking similarities, particularly as to the question of the character of both Aimee Semple McPherson and Anita Sarkeesian. Continue reading

charlie-hebdo-cover-paris-shooting-012

Art is permitted to survive only if it renounces the right to be different, and integrates itself into the omnipotent realm of the profane. — Theodor Adorno

charlie-hebdo-cover-paris-shooting-012emile

The religious and the secular came to a head at the offices of the newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris this week. Saïd Kouachi and Chérif Kouachi, French citizens of North African ancestry, armed with Kalashnikov rifles opened fire, killing 12 people and wounding 11 in an Islamist terror attack. The attackers were heard shouting “Allahu akbar,” and “the Prophet has been avenged.” Charlie Hebdo is a satirical newspaper, published weekly, that produces satire in the form of caricatures,  scrappy opinion pieces and jokes from a left-wing perspective. Among the targets of its brand of satire are the three Abrahamic faiths: Roman Catholicism (Christianity), Islam and Judaism. The caricatures published in Charlie Hebdo quite often consist of crude representations of religious figures such as Pope Benedict and Mohammed. Not surprisingly, this offends a great many people and generates controversy. The publishers of Charlie Hebdo were prepared to die to defend their right to freedom of expression; whereas, the Islamist attackers were prepared to kill to defend their faith. In the aftermath of this terror attack, differences of opinion concerning the right to freedom of expression and to religious liberty are coming to the fore. What was it that motivated both the publishers of Charlie Hebdo and the Islamist attackers that resulted in this atrocity? Continue reading

I love to be individual, to step beyond gender. — Annie Lennox

a2-psych-gender-dysphoria-5-638joshua-alcorn

The suicide of Joshua Alcorn on December 28, 2014 marked the tragic end of his young life. He was seventeen years old. His suicide has attracted world wild attention as he published a suicide note on Tumblr in which he related the stress of suffering gender dysphoria (he felt he was a girl living in a boy’s body). This stress was too much for him to bear so he opted for suicide. He adopted the name Leelah in his suicide note. He leaves behind his grieving parents, younger siblings and the rest of those who knew and loved him. Details are emerging as to the stress he endured and a degree of dysfunction in his family. He came from Christian family; his parents (Doug and Carla Alcorn) did not understand what he was experiencing and essentially told him to “pray it away.” He said in his suicide note that his parents sent him to conversion therapy for treatment. Compounding this tragedy is the lynch mob mentality that has taken hold. Doug and Carla Alcorn are experiencing harassment, even a call from activist Dan Savage that they face prosecution. Is this warranted? Continue reading