World Events

The proposed Ugandan laws opposing homosesuality (and support of homosexual persons) has also been addressed by our Presiding Bishop.  The report in Episcopal Life Online begins:

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said Dec. 4 that the church believes “the public scapegoating of any category of persons, in any context, is anathema” and thus is “deeply concerned” about a proposed Ugandan law that would introduce the death penalty for people who violate that country’s anti-homosexuality laws.Jefferts Schori also noted in her statement that “much of the current climate of fear, rejection, and antagonism toward gay and lesbian persons in African nations has been stirred by members and former members of our own church.”

“We note further that attempts to export the culture wars of North America to another context represent the very worst of colonial behavior,” she said. “We deeply lament this reality, and repent of any way in which we have participated in this sin.”

You can see the whole article here.

This comes from Episcopal Cafe.  It’s a follow up on my earlier posting on the same legislation:

A special session of the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church has been called to discuss the church's position on the “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” currently before the Ugandan Parliament. The meeting will be conducted via conference call on the afternoon of December 7, according to numerous sources.

Special sessions of Executive Council can be called by the Presiding Bishop or, as in this instance, by a petition signed by at least nine members of the council. (more…)

This is also from Episcopal Cafe:

Cynthia Black writing at Walking with Integrity reports on proposed new anti-gay laws in Uganda:

A bill has been introduced to the Uganda parliament that would, among other things, provide a three year prison term for anyone who fails to report the names of those they know to be LGBT (and those they know who are heterosexual who support human rights for LGBT people) to authorities. … The same bill would make it a crime for any Ugandan citizen, whether or not they live in Uganda, to be gay. (more…)

Dean Baker says

You know that society is moving toward the acceptance of gay relationships when Joint Force Quarterly , a prestigious journal published by the National Defense University Press for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff gives the top prize in its 2009 essay contest to a systematic dissection of the U. S. Military’s policy of Don’t Ask. Don’t tell.

Col. Om Prakash of the U. S. Air Force wrote “The Efficacy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” while a student at the National War College.

You can find the final paragraph of the essay in his piece here.

This came in from Death Penalty Focus:
The 7th annual World Day Against the Death Penalty will be celebrated internationally on Saturday, October 10, 2009. Every year since 2003, organizations committed to ending the death penalty have organized events around the world on this day. This year, across five continents, round tables, discussions, debates and exhibitions are planned. The list of scheduled events and information about the day is on the website of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

Progress toward universal abolition continues each year. In 2008, only 25 countries carried out executions and 93% of those occurred in just five countries: China, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United States.  In 2009, the State of New Mexico joined the nations of Burundi and Togo in abolishing the death penalty. In addition, the nations of Kenya and Morocco commuted all of their death sentences earlier this year. 

To mark World Day in California, Death Penalty Focus is working to generate 10,000 signatures on a petition to Governor Schwarzenegger to “convert all current death sentences to sentences of life without possibility of parole, protecting Californians while saving $1 billion in five years” by November 10th. 

Please sign the petition today! Sign on Facebook or here.


I need to begin, I think, by offering prayers for all who died on this day, and for all those who’s lives were disrupted (and who’s lives may never return to “normal”) in the aftermath of this day.  What happened was awful.  And what happened was intentional — as is so much evil which happens every day around the world.  It captured our imaginations as a country (and maybe even holds us hostage, to our detriment) in a way that Oklahoma City never really did — awful as that was.  I guess maybe because it happened at such a prominent landmark in New York City and because it was done by foreigners — we didn’t do it to ourselves.  It was done to us. (more…)

In the interest of showing my hand, you should probably know that I am an opponent of the death penalty, and I found the link to this article in an email from Death Penalty Focus (a group opposed to the death penalty).  The article, “Trial by Fire,” is by David Grann, dated September 7 of this year, and is found in the New Yorker.  It’s admittedly a very long article, so many of you may not want to view it.  It details the circumstances of the lives involved, and the questions raised about all the evidence:  witness testimony that changed after what was first thought to be an accidental fire killing a man’s children was ruled murder by an arson investigator, the testamony of a jailhouse snitch, and an arson investigator who seems not to have been very scientific in his investigation.  As a quick sample, part of the writeup around the arson investigator’s conclusions follows: (more…)

I keep hoping we’ll all stop doing hateful things.  (I know hateful things are not the exclusive province of liberals or conservatives or Christians or non believers or any other group.)  But I was sad when I heard that my former bishop (and friend) Jerry Lamb has been receiving hate messages and death threats for his work in our Diocese of San Joaquin.  I’m not entirely sure if it’s because of the Episcopal Church’s policy of inclusion of the GLTBI community or because those who left our church there look to be losing in their efforts to take our church property with them.  Likely it’s both.  And then I see things like this, from Bishop Dan’s of Nevada’s blog:

The Church of the Holy Spirit in Bullhead City is a lovely small congregation in a town that is largely a retirement community. The congregation is primarily senior citizens. They are not the sort to march for liberal causes.

But just before Pentcost, they recieved a handwritten note threatening to burn their church because we are a gay inclusive denomination. I am not sure whether I am speechless at the absurdity of evil or whether the response to this sensless venom is too obvious.

One thin[g] I hope it will clarify for us as a diocese and a denomination is that we are in fact a family. What we do affects each other. That’s why we must support each other, consider each other, and appreciate each other.

It’s sad.  For me, things like this go along with the shooting at the haulocaust museum.  They are simply unacceptable.

Like I could stop it, right?

But of course, if we were all out front about how unacceptable such behavior is, I do think we could stop it — at least mostly.  And I think we should.  Even when it means that sometimes our friends and families might find us annoying (or too PC).  When we ignore and laugh at hateful things, we really allow them to continue.  We give tacit approval.  I don’t think Jesus is laughting.  I don’t think Jesus is looking the other way.  I don’t think Jesus approves.

Hopefully this is so self evident I don’t have to explain it to anyone.

This won’t be eloquent.  It’s simply an expression of my sorrow, for all those who were told today that they aren’t people like other people:  they cannot marry the person they love.  It may be, as a matter of law, that the people of California have a right to change their constitution.  And I am relieved for those whose marriages, though threatened, were preserved by the ruling.  (I’m talking about the same sex couples people wanted to tear apart.)  But I am deeply saddened by a law, passed by a majority of our voting citizens, that takes basic human rights away from some of our citizens because they are different.  I can’t imagine God would approve.  I hope we change the law very soon.

I have mixed reactions to yesterdays election results.

On the one hand, the whole budget process is a mess.  I think the system is broken.  And I don’t think the propositions that failed yesterday would have fixed things.  I also understand that people are angry (and why they are angry).  I’m angry too.

On the other hand, I think we just put a lot more people out of work (and lost a lot more services).  A lot of that was going to happen anyway.  But more of that will happen now.

My wife is a teacher, so she could be inpacted.  People at church work for the state, so they may be impacted.  And the extra job losses will impact everyone (and likely delay our economic recovery).

That’s my take, anyway.  It might be worth it if the system was fixed.  I see no signs that will happen.  Instead, I see fewer jobs and fewer services.  And the likelyhood that we will tend to write off the needs of those who are marginalized.  Biblically, I’d say that’s a challenge for all of us.

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