Pr. Sophie sez, Accept No Substitutes!: Nearly 300 organizations, representing the full scope and breadth of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, have launched a united lobbying and advocacy campaign to win passage of a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), H.R. 2015. Called United ENDA, the campaign builds off the past week's unprecedented efforts by legal groups, political organizations, grassroots activists and many others to maintain protections on the basis of gender identity in ENDA as the measure was originally introduced.
The groups, which include leading legal organizations such as Lambda Legal and faith groups such as the Religious Coalition for Equality and our own Lutherans Concerned (LCNA), have signed a joint letter to Congress objecting to a diminished bill that abandons transgender people. As a result of letter and direct lobbying by staff from LGBT organizations and constituents, a scheduled House committee hearing on a version of ENDA that strips protections for transgender people was postponed last week.
United ENDA groups are coordinating lobbying and communicating daily to keep pressure on Congress. In the past week alone, thousands of constituents have called or sent e-mails to their U.S. representatives urging them to support a transgender-inclusive ENDA.
Check out www.nosubstitutes.org.
'This Church' and God's Church: In late September, 250 Lutheran Core supporters gathered in Lindenhurst, IL to take stock and plan for the future. Lutheran CORE News reported on the meeting, and DVDs of the sessions are available.
Many of the speakers were eminently quotable, including Luther Seminary Professor Emeritus James Nestingen who delcared, "Grace is not tolerance..."
The "Most Quotable Speaker" award, however, should go to Robert Benne, director of the Center for Religion and Society at Roanoke College to whom the following statements were attributed:
"Homosexual conduct has been embraced." (One has the feeling many LGBT clergy would see the matter differently.)
"Is there any chance of a snowball in hell that the ELCA will give up quotas, the guarantee of access to abortion whatever the reason, the relentless drive to prune all male references to God from our worship and literature, the persisting self-hatred that we are basically white people of Northern European heritage coupled with a forced posturing about our diversity, liberal politics in our advocacy centers and 'anti-imperialist' agitation with regard to Israel and Iraq?"
"I would hope that we would be able to get the ELCA to come clean on its public teachings. I want to head off more fudging and obfuscation, more phony 'journeying together faithfully.' I want to see a clear line drawn soon so that people know where we are going..."
More Journeying Together Faithfully: Also at the Lindenhurst meeting, Pr. Paull Spring, chair of Lutheran Core, voiced his displeasure that the Task Force on Sexuality Studies (TFSS) had begun drafting the proposed Social Statement on Sexuality "before hearing from the church" as far back as April. (He was reporting what he'd learned at the April meeting of the ELCA Church council.)
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We doubt there is a need to get all huffy about this, but it does raise interesting questions.
Since the Task Force has been soliciting input from the church since Fall, 2002, isn't it reasonable to expect them to have drafted something?
On the other hand, the most recent Churchwide Assembly referred a ton of Synod Assembly actions to the Task Force. If a social statement has already been drafted, is it already too late for the material referred to the Task Force to affect the proposed social statement?
And just how will the Task Force (which just completed its first meeting since the Churchwide Assembly) signal that it has considered the Synod Assembly actions referred by the Churchwide Assembly?
Leather Last Supper: You may have missed San Francisco's Folsom Street Fair ("the grand daddy of all leather events") this year. The American Family Association (AFA) sent an email alert to its subscribers decrying the lack of coverage of the fair in the mainstream media. The AFA alert cited an article by Kelly Boggs of the Louisiana Baptist Messenger.
We are indebted to Mr. Boggs and the AFA, without whom we might not have discovered the Leather Last Supper poster printed for this year's fair.
You might be also interested in the comments of The Rev. Jay Emerson Johnson of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry (CLGS):
This Folsom Street Fair poster might even communicate the good news of Christian faith better than some of the worship services in our churches: There ought not to be any exception to the radical welcome of the Gospel. And that's exactly what I see in this poster -- people who have put themselves on the table, leather gear and all. It is at once a deeply human and deeply spiritual portrayal -- exactly like the final meal Jesus shared with his closest friends.
Wool Last Supper: At about the time of the Folsom Street Fair, we also received an unattributed photo of the Wool Last Supper (Larger View). Sharp-eyed observers will notice that the insides of the cups are red and that the bread is definitely leavened. (Crocheting the bread of affliction would be challenging, but we believe it would have been worth the effort.) We suspect a Texas connection. After all, San Angelo, Texas is reputed to be the Mohair Capitol of the world.
Chair / Man: Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM) is almost a reality. On September 24, legal papers for the organization (a merger of LLGM and ECP) were filed with the Secretary of State in California.
After a slight delay, the Secretary of State office rejected the papers because two of the corporate officers were identified as Co-Chairperson. Apparently the legal code in California doesn't recognize the office of chairperson and requires the signature of the Chairman of the Board.
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