Saturday, March 08, 2008
A survey released last week by drug distribution company Express Scripts found that residents of Utah were prescribed antidepressant drugs
more than those of any other state and at twice the national average. According to the research, some 10.14 percent of adults in Utah "experienced a depressive episode in the past year and 14.15 percent experienced serious psychological distress. Individuals in Utah reported having on average 3.27 poor mental health days in the past 30 days."
Seventy percent of Utah's residents are Mormon. When Express Scripts issued its first national survey of prescription drug use in 2002, it sparked a heated debate across Utah about what, if any role, the church played in the state's high dependence on antidepressants such as Prozac and Zoloft.
"In Mormon culture females are supposed accept a calling. They are to be constantly smiling over their family of five. They are supposed to take supper across the street to an ill neighbor and then put up with their husband when he comes home from work and smile about it the whole time. There is this sense that Mrs. Jones down street is doing the same thing, and there is this undercurrent of competition. To be a good mother and wife, women have to put on this mask of perfection. They can't show their tears, depression or agony,"said Dr. Curtis Canning, a Logan-based psychiatrist and former president of the Utah Psychiatric Association.
"Obedience, conformity and maintaining a sense of harmony" are unspoken but widely recognized behaviors, which all contribute to what he calls "the Mother of Zion syndrome."
My personal theory? Imagine being a Mormon and having most people identify your religion with Mitt Romney. That is enough to drive anyone to the medicine cabinet.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
"If the suffering we are seeing in Jamaica were happening in Ft. Lauderdale or Chicago or San Diego, there would be an unbelievable outcry not only from the LGBT community, but from many of our spiritual and activist allies. To date, the silence of our community about atrocities so near our shores is overwhelming. We must speak up and not shut up until we know the tide is turning towards justice and safety for our brothers and sisters in Jamaica!"
- Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson
Metropolitan Community Churches
"Is there no end to injustice? Is there no shame among religious people who would use their faith as an excuse to mistreat, exclude, yes, even murder others? Is there no force in the world to stop these barbaric acts, to soften these hard hearts, to teach these misinformed people that same-sex love is simply love? We of the progressive religious community have work to do and no time to waste as our children die. God help us."
-- Mary E. Hunt, Ph.D.
Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual
"The National Black Justice Coalition stands in spiritual solidarity with the powerful message of the Article of Faith: A call for people of faith to stand against anti-LGBT violence. We are called to speak truth to power and vigorously speak out against violence. The violence that is inflicted upon God's LGBT children is a global disgrace. It is a phenomenon that receives too little notice and apparently, scant concern. This can't go on. Indifference to human suffering dishonors all people. We have to speak out loudly in a chorus of protest against the unholy, treacherous maiming of body and soul."
-- Sylvia Rhue, Ph.D.
Director of Religious Affairs
National Black Justice Coalition
"Violence against people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is the last, cruelest and most reprehensible act of an oppression that fails to get its way by other means. This violence is so far removed from religion and God that its perpetrators can lay no claim, offer no Scriptural defense, proffer no justification that removes their guilt. Such violence is abhorrent to all right-minded people, of any community of faith, and those who use it are rightly called what they are - criminals."
-- Emily Eastwood
Lutherans Concerned/North America
"Thank you Rev. Schuenemeyer for bringing our awareness again to the increasing horror and pain of hate crimes and our responsibility, in any and all communities, to combat it.
"Righteousness and indifference are as malicious and dangerous as any fist or voice raised against another human being, and how subtly and sneakily can they creep into our daily lives.
"Righteousness gives us 'permission' to do or say things that are hurtful to others while standing on high ground. Indifference gives us 'permission' not to care about others suffering, allowing us to stand by and do nothing. It is hard to keep our hearts open and have real empathy for others; it is hard to have humility and acknowledge that we may not always be right, and may not have answers for everything. But just because these things are hard to do, doesn't mean that we should stop striving every moment of every day to be the compassionate warriors we were born to be."
-- Swami Dhumavati
Member of the Roundtable Steering Committee
"It is a tragic truth that stories of anti-LGBT violence are so common. A few years ago a grade-school-age child was beaten to death here in Georgia, because he acted too 'feminine.' As people of faith we are called not only to loudly condemn these actions but also to challenge the misuse of Scriptures that motivate such violence. From a personal perspective I will work to see that faith-based refugee resettlement efforts through Lutheran Services in America, the largest social service agency in the United States, recognizes the need to provide asylum and resettlement services to people whose lives are in danger simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity."
-- Bob Gibeling
Lutheran Services of Georgia
Member of the Roundtable Steering Committee
"You cannot get more basic than, 'Thou Shall Not Kill.' There is no religious tradition, Christian, or other spiritual path that condones such behavior. And while religious teachings have often been used to incite terrible acts, preaching hate and violence is not the word of any God that I know. As religious people, as LGBT people or any person with a connection to a moral tenet, what do we need as a call to action? The atrocity in Jamaica is thousands of miles away so perhaps I can ignore it. How can I also ignore the murder of 15-year-old teenager Lawrence King which took place 40 miles from my home? It should not be the proximity or number of people injured or the level of atrocity that moves me. As a human being created in the image of God, I have a duty to speak out against the corruptions of God's teachings that let some people think that they can attack and kill a neighbor and that this is somehow acceptable behavior. If I do not speak out, I have failed as a divinely created being. So I am speaking, and asking others: What we can do together to address this? And, I am asking them to ask others as well. If we both ask and take action, we have a chance to restore communities where we can recognize that of God in each of us. Shalom."
-- Joel L. Kushner, Psy.D.
Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation
Hebrew Union College -- Jewish Institute of Religion
"Faith In America calls upon Jamaicans to recognize and understand the immense harm caused when a social climate of rejection and condemnation against its gay and lesbian citizens is justified with religious teaching.
"History has proved it wrong -- from the time when Gentiles were treated as second-class citizens in the early church to the persecution of Reformation leaders in the 15th century and still today as gay and lesbian individuals are rejected and condemned as immoral by the church.
"It should not be difficult for everyday Jamaicans to recognize bigotry and discrimination in all its ugly forms. A poll of Jamaicans last year living in Britain showed that 96 percent of those of polled believed they were the target of racism.
"We believe the majority of Jamaicans can recognize the harm of social injustice.
"There is no greater injustice than justifying rejection, condemnation and violence with religious teaching and we ask Jamaicans to denounce those church leaders who seek to disguise bigotry as religious truth."
-- Brent Childers
Faith In America
"In a time when war rages in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Sudan, in Sri Lanka... and the list goes on and on, it is critical that people of faith make it emphatically clear: religion at the end of the sword is blasphemous. At a time when LGBT people are executed in Iran, murdered in the United States and viciously attacked in Jamaica...and the list goes on and on, it is critical that people of faith make it emphatically clear that hatred cloaked in religious garb desecrates God.
"The God we worship celebrates the humanity of ALL God's children. The God we worship rejoices in the diversity God has created. Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Voodoo, Paganism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Taoism; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, straight; African, Asian, European, North American, South American, Australian -- all give rise to a different voice, a different perspective, a different praise. But, together, they only begin to articulate the grandeur, the beauty, the creativity of God.
"Our religious traditions should inspire our awe in this kind of a God and in this kind of a creation. Praise, not killing, ought to be our work of faith."
-- Rev. Rebecca Voelkel
IWR and Faith Work Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
"DignityUSA strongly condemns religiously motivated violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people everywhere in the world, and especially the recent attacks in Jamaica. We call on all people of faith, and especially religious leaders, to respect the diversity of God's creation, to remember that faith is rooted in love, and to affirm the rights of all people to live in safety and in peace. We pledge our support for Catholics in Jamaica working to create a climate of respect and tolerance that is consistent with the message of the Gospel, and Jesus' call that all may be One."
-- Marianne Duddy-Burke
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
(Alan Chambers, Left)Florida Marriage Battle Is A Test To See If Exodus Is True To Its Word
NEW YORK -- TruthWinsOut.org
praised the "ex-gay" organization Exodus International today for its vow to halt its aggressive political advocacy against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. Exodus president Alan Chambers said his group would now focus on ministry, rather than lobbying efforts to enshrine discrimination in the law.
"This is a positive development and we hope Exodus keeps its word and leaves politics for good," said Wayne Besen, Executive Director of TruthWinsOut.org. "It was always hypocritical for Exodus to claim its goal was to help unhappy gay people, while lobbying to make life as miserable as possible. If Exodus is sincere, it will lower the temperature of the debate and create room for genuine dialogue."
Exodus' Chambers made his pledge this week in an exclusive interview with Ex-Gay Watch
. The ex-gay activist also revealed that his organization had abandoned its lobby program in Washington.
"In August, 2007 after a lot of prayer, deliberation and listening to friends and critics alike - but mostly the Lord - we decided to back out of policy issues and our Director of Government Affairs took a position with another organization," Chambers told Ex-Gay Watch.
The first big test for Exodus is a divisive ballot initiative in Florida that aims to prohibit same-sex marriage and civil unions in the state's constitution. Exodus in based in Orlando and this battle will take place in the group's backyard - leading to the temptation to enter the political fray.
"If Exodus refrains from inserting itself into this brutal fight, it means that Chambers has backed up his rhetoric," said Besen. "If there is an Exodus presence in the Florida marriage battle, however, it will cause a great deal of disillusionment from people who wanted to believe that Chambers was honest and sincere."
TruthWinsOut.org also called on Exodus to abandon the practice of recruiting new members by using fear tactics and demeaning gay life. The group regularly calls homosexuality spiritual disfigurement, perversion and sexual brokenness
- while, ironically, claiming to love gay people. Additionally, TWO hopes Exodus will stop using pseudo-science and pop psychology in its conversion efforts.
TruthWinsOut.org is a non-profit organization that counters right wing propaganda, exposes the "ex-gay" myth and educates America about gay life.
(Moses and Jerry Garcia - spiritual bonding)
An Israeli researcher claimed this week
that Moses was likely high on hallucinogenic drugs when he spoke to God and saw the burning bush. This finding is quite interesting, because it means that all the major monotheistic religions have built their foundation on a "trip."
"As far Moses on Mount Sinai is concerned, it was either a supernatural cosmic event, which I don't believe, or a legend, which I don't believe either, or finally, and this is very probable, an event that joined Moses and the people of Israel under the effect of narcotics," Professor Shanon told Israeli public radio.
So, at least Moses had an excuse for his odd visions - unlike today's fundamentalists who hear God and take orders from Him while they are stone-cold sober.
Monday, March 03, 2008
When openly gay Gene Robinson was elected Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003, the Nigerian Archbishop, Peter J. Akinola, called the event "Satanic." However, after reading the latest issue of Atlantic Magazine
, it appears that Akinola is the one whose behavior is modeled on the devil.
According to the article, Muslim fanatics attacked Christian worshippers in the Nigerian town of Yelwa in February 2004. They set fire to a church and murdered anyone who tried to escape - leaving 78 people dead. In retaliation, members of the Christian Association of Nigeria, led, at the time, by Akinola
, surrounded the town. The vigilantes murdered 660 Muslims - while torching twelve mosques and 300 houses.
In a state that lacks law and order, it is somewhat understandable that the Christians might take matters into their own hands - as they certainly have a right to defend themselves. What is unconscionable, however, is the gratuitous cruelty and downright evil that occurred on Akinola's watch. Far from Christian, one might equate the ghastly reprisals in Yelwa with a tyrant like Saddam Hussein - not an Anglican Bishop.
Were Akinola's "Christian" warriors exemplifying the love of Jesus while raping pregnant Muslim women in the village? Were these thugs asking, "What would Jesus do" when they forced Muslims to eat pork and dog meat, while washing it down with forbidden alcohol? Was it somehow "spiritual" to burn corpses in the street? And, how "holy" was it to hack to death children as young as nine with machetes; then put the bloody pieces in a rubber tire and set fire to it? This was not simply retaliation, but terrorism. It was demonic behavior in the name of religion that had nothing to do with self-defense.
According to Human Rights Watch, there is no "smoking gun" definitively showing that the Archbishop ordered the massacre. However, he was clearly in charge of the group implicated and could barely hide his glee in the Atlantic article. When asked point-blank about the incident, Akinola said, "No comment," while he grinned. He went on to add, "No Christian would pray for violence, but it would be utterly naive to sweep this issue of Islam under the carpet. I'm not out to combat anybody. I'm only doing what the Holy Spirit tells me to do. I'm living my faith, practicing and preaching that Jesus Christ is the one and only way to God...I've said before: let no Muslim think they have the monopoly on violence."
Clearly, Akinola is unrepentant and sounds more like a warlord than a leader of worship. As a result of the slaughter, the Archbishop lost his bid to continue heading the Christian Association of Nigeria. However, he is still the primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria - and a powerful voice in condemning homosexuality across the globe.
Indeed, while Akinola is soft on his preferred sin of murder, he never turns the other cheek on gay rights. He has provocatively called Europe "a spiritual desert" and chastised the Church of England for failing to oppose civil partnership laws, which, he said, give, "the appearance of evil". I suppose, once one masters genuine evil, the mere appearance is no longer satisfying.
In 2006, Akinola supported a proposed Draconian law in Nigeria that would have effectively banned the "promotion" of homosexuality - punishing violators with up to five years imprisonment. Tragically, while the Archbishop is fixated on gay people, Nigeria remains one of the poorest and most corrupted nations on earth (minus the elite who profit from oil). According Human Rights Watch, up to $8 billion is embezzled annually, while nearly half the population lives on less than $1 a day. You would think these issues might interest a Christian leader, but Akinola ignores them in favor of jet setting anti-gay junkets
to America and Europe.
With such a contemptible record, one would expect Anglican Church leaders to marginalize Akinola. It seems, however, the church would rather coddle this butcher, because they care more about membership than morality. Most appalling are the American churches that have left the Episcopal Church to align themselves with the Church of Nigeria. It doesn't seem to bother them that they are this madman's enablers. As such, these "conservatives" should be held accountable for any future atrocities committed by Akinola.
If Rowan Williams
, the Archbishop of Canterbury, had any guts, he'd use every tool at his disposal to make Akinola an international pariah. All Bishops with a conscience should also refuse to take Holy Communion with Akinola - and he should be prohibited from attending major conferences.
In the last Democratic debate - Hillary Clinton said that Barack Obama should not just denounce, but reject the Nation of Islam's Louis Farrakhan. (Obama wisely did both). Likewise, Anglican leaders must denounce and reject Akinola if they want to regain their moral authority. The only appropriate place for Akinola on the International stage is The Hague - where he should be tried for crimes against humanity.