Wayne Besen is a passionate gay activist and non-religious, liberal Jew who has dedicated himself to opposing the idea that homosexuals can become heterosexual. To that end, he founded the Truth Wins Out organization, and he writes extensively on the subject of “ex-gays,” with a monograph, hundreds of posts, and articles for the Huffington Post to his credit. (As to the question of “ex-gays,” see Chapter Twelve of my book A Queer Thing Happened to America.) Wayne has also appeared on O’Reilly and other TV shows, and he is never at a loss for words, especially when it comes to the “religious right.” In that spirit, he has graced me with several articles, including the not so subtly-titled, “Michael Brown Is an Anti-Gay Monster” (August 31, 2011).
In that article, Wayne claims that my “game is to try inciting followers to possible violence against LGBT people, while innocently maintaining that he loves homosexuals and simply wants them to meet his militant and perverted version of God.” He calls me “a slick dude,” a “sick and cynical” person, someone with “a messiah complex [who] is a diabolical individual who aims to manipulate impressionable followers to launch some sort of holy war,” noting however, that, I’m “too much of a coward to start the war” myself.
He even confesses, “I do strongly believe to my core that Brown’s ultimate goal is to create the conditions for a nasty physical clash.” Indeed, “The madman fully understands that he only has to create a hostile climate to inflame the most unstable of his thugs and they will eventually provoke the type of confrontation that this pathological monster deeply desires.”
God bless dear Wayne! He certainly has a way with words. After all, it’s not every day that you get called a pathological monster, a slick, sick, cynical, diabolical madman with a messiah complex, as well as get accused of trying to incite a bunch of unstable thugs “to engage in a violent physical clash with LGBT people.” (For what I actually advocate, namely, a totally non-violent, moral, cultural, and spiritual revolution, click here.)
Wayne even weighs in again in his own comments section, calling me an “ego-maniac,” while other commenters follow in his footsteps with sophisticated posts like these: “I would not be surprised if ‘Mein Kampf’ were to be found on his nightstand.” (This was followed by other comments too vulgar to print.) What a delightful, thoughtful bunch!
But I am only one of Wayne’s targets. In his most recent attack, “Mainstream Christians Must Stand Up to the Religious Right” (September 19, 2011), he reviles the hundreds of Christians with whom I attended the recent gay pride event in Charlotte, claiming that we “confronted and harassed festival attendees with [our] arrogant slogan ‘God Has A Better Way.’” He refers to us as “despicable bullies” and speaks of our “fanatical behavior,” although, for the record, our group of roughly 400 consisted of grandparents, moms, dads, kids, and college-age singles who handed out about 2,500 free bottles of water (labeled “Jesus Loves You”) and engaged in civil and respectful conversation with any who cared to talk with us. Oh, the horror!
All this, however, is the backdrop for Wayne’s heartfelt appeal. He is desperately concerned that religious “extremists” like me, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, and Michelle Bachman will “defile America – and permanently define Christianity.” Instead, Wayne wants the “Religious Left” to rise up and show America what Christianity really is. He writes, “It is time to stand up, speak out, and give voice to our values. If not now, when? Are we going to wait until it is too late and we have lost our country?”
The problem, of course, is that the “Religious Left” has rejected most of the fundamental tenets of the historic Christian faith, denying the authority of Scripture, espousing religious pluralism, defending abortion, and championing homosexuality. Could this be why these so-called “mainstream” churches are in such numerical decline while conservative churches are growing exponentially in many parts of the world? And could it be that the conspicuous lack of moral and spiritual absolutes in many of these “mainstream” churches is part of what fails to inspire their constituents?
Wayne himself is not optimistic about the prospects, writing, “This reluctance to stand up and speak out has created a hazardous vacuum where only the shrill and unreasonable voices of fundamentalism are heard. Instead of the dialogue that many progressives of faith claim to desire, this perceived weakness creates a lopsided right wing monologue, which is having a deleterious effect on our nation and the world.”
The reality, of course, is that the “Christianity” Wayne calls for bears little resemblance to the faith of the Scriptures or the faith of history, but that should not surprise us. After all, what else should we expect when a non-religious, gay Jewish liberal tries to redefine Christianity?
Posted in Sexuality & Gender Tagged with: christianity, conservative, Dr. Michael Brown, ex-gay, homosexuality, liberal, truth wins out, wayne besen
By Christine Colbert
A number of nations, including the US and the UK, have withdrawn from participation in the September 2011 Durban III conference. This gathering is a forum for those who hate Israel to get together for the purpose of condemning her attempts to protect her citizens.
On a very different note, the World Council of Churches in May 2011 hosted “World Week for Peace in Palestine.” On its official site the Methodist Church’s Rev. John Calhoun, identified in an editor’s note as a member of the New York Annual Conference and convener of World Week for Peace in “Palestine Israel,” described the uprisings in Arab countries that have come to be known as “Arab Spring.” He characterized these overthrows in this way: “. . . ordinary citizens have been rising up against their illegitimate leaders and demanding political freedoms.” He mentioned the regimes that “already have fallen in Tunisia and Egypt.”
In Calhoun’s article, this language flows directly into: “Those living under [Israel’s] illegitimate control are the Palestinians of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.” The title of this article, reflected in a banner photo of Palestinians walking beside a heavily-graffitied wall, is “It’s time for Palestine.”
It should be recognized that “Palestine” is a name that was first applied to the larger area of Israel by Roman occupiers. This applied name was continued by the British during the time of their mandate after WWI. Prior to the Roman occupation, Israel was Israel.
Further, the words “Illegitimate control” need to be considered. The piece cites various UN resolutions relating to Israeli territories that Israel has “defied” by not yielding these in various ways to “Palestinians.”
Our understanding of Scripture is that Israel was given sovereignty in the Land forever, although not to the exclusion of residency and participation for other nationalities. Arabs live in Israel and even participate in the Knesset. Throughout Israel in many places one sees a green “Palestinian”/Arab flag flying alongside of the Israeli flag. This openness is not extended to Israelis in Arab nations. Further, Israel is not firing on or terrorizing “Palestinians.”
Walid Shoebat, who is a Jordanian by birth, speaks of the time in 1967, immediately following the 1967 War (in which Jordan and other Arab neighbors attacked Israel, resulting in Israel’s winning the war and regaining control of Jerusalem); he indicates that at that time he “suddenly became a ‘Palestinian’ — before this I was a Jordanian.”
This is key information.
Calhoun cites the Wesleyan tradition of social responsibility within the church. He mentions a church publication that encourages visitors to the Holy Land to worship with “indigenous Christians.” Further, he cites a Methodist publication entitled “Opposition to Israeli Settlements in Palestinian Land.” This publication states:
The United Methodist Church opposes continued military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, the confiscation of Palestinian land and water resources, the destruction of Palestinian homes, the continued building of illegal Jewish settlements, and any vision of a “Greater Israel” that includes the occupied territories and the whole of Jerusalem and its surroundings (Resolution 6073).
One wonders whether Methodist administrators have glanced at the Old Testament recently.
A recent report within the Presbyterian church recommends continuing the “phased, selective divestment” from companies that do business with Israel, which was enacted in 2004. “The church has been split on this for years,” general presbyter for the Hudson Valley Susan Andrews told Jewish Telegraphic Agency reporter Dan Klein.
On a brighter note, Canada’s conservative prime minister Stephen Harper recently indicated that “Canada will always stand by Israel” in national policy.
Posted in Featured Articles, Israel & The Jewish People, News Tagged with: christians, conservative, israel, Old Testament, palestinians, world council of churches
By Shira Sorko-Ram | www.maozisrael.org | Originally published May 2010
“America has embarked on the European path of economic stagnation and declining influence. Since 1945, Europe has depended on America to defend it, while spending ever smaller percentages of its Gross National Product on defense. The huge budget deficits resulting from Obamacare will push America in the same direction.”
So wrote Jonathan Rosenblum, director of Jewish Media Resources and columnist for the Jerusalem Post. (2Apr10)
Rosenblum reiterates what most other conservative journalists write: “Every major government entitlement program has ended up costing many times more than initially projected, and the proponent’s cost projections on Obamacare do not meet even minimal levels of credibility.”
He adds, “World War II cost Britain its empire, and the huge budget deficits racked up by Obamacare will likely force America to abandon its role as global policeman.” This will leave nations like Iran to take the lead and push the surrounding Islamic nations into making a head-long rush to develop their own nukes.
The “retreat of the Great Satan will only whet the appetite of radical Islam.” One thing is certain: The UN will never protect Israel against the Islamists. And now it appears that America is turning its back on its only democratic ally in the Middle East.
Body language seems to be very strong with President Obama. Here he is obviously in command, ordering Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Head Mahmoud Abbas to pose for a nice photo op.
Just what is Obama’s agenda for the future? What else does he want to accomplish during his first term in office? Of course, he would love to pass his Cap and Trade bill, but Rosenblum believes he can only commit suicide once (with Obamacare) and he does not think the president has enough political capital left to get another massively controversial bill through congress.
Therefore, says Rosenblum, he will turn to foreign policy – which, for the most part, is out of reach of congress. He has publicly stated that he will deliver a Palestinian state within two years. (http://www.jewishworldreview.com/jonathan/rosenblum
Most Israelis have come to the conclusion that the Jewish state has no choice but to offer the several million Arabs in the West Bank their own state. Nevertheless, Israel is fearful of the way it appears Obama will make it happen.
From Israel’s perspective, Obama is not really interested in a peace treaty between Arabs and Israel. As Rosenblum notes, “No confidence-building measures are ever requested from the Palestinians. At every stage, new demands are placed on Israel to placate [the Palestinians] and convince them that the U.S. has the power to deliver a state on terms even they cannot refuse.” (Ibid.)
He has asked nothing of the Palestinians – such as recognizing Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish nation or renouncing terrorism. He has not countered the demands of the Palestinians who plan to send millions of Muslim “refugees” to live in Israel proper and to take Jerusalem away from Israel and make it their Muslim capital.
When Netanyahu visited the White House in late March, Obama demanded that he sign an agreement to stop all building in East Jerusalem’s Jewish areas and consent to 12 other demands. When Netanyahu stalled, according to many press reports, Obama stood up and said, “I’m going to have dinner with Michelle and the girls.” He added, “I’m around. Let me know if there’s anything new.”
“It was awful,” a U.S. congressman who spoke to the Prime Minister said. One Israeli newspaper called the meeting “a hazing in stages,” poisoned by such mistrust that the Israeli delegation eventually left rather than risk being eavesdropped on a White House telephone line. He left with no official statement from either side, an unheard of treatment of a close ally. (www.timesonline.co.uk, 26Mar10)
0510 - Haaretz Story This headline expresses the mood in Israel – the awareness of the indifference of the world to threats against Israel’s existence.
Ironically, the Israeli people, after decades of “negotiations,” are convinced that the Palestinians do not really want a Palestinian state – that is, a state living in peace beside Israel. They do not want that. They want one state and one state only – which would extend from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River – in other words, they want the land of Israel as part of their state. They say it this way: One state for both Arabs and Jews with each citizen having a vote.
To gain such a state, they would be ready to submit (at least temporarily) to being the first democratic Arab Muslim state in history because then their Muslim voters would, within a very short time, vote in a Muslim Palestinian prime minister and dominate the Knesset. And that would be the end of the Jewish state.
But that is not all. Israel is falling behind in military capabilities. “According to the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, every Israeli request for upgraded weapons systems has been denied, while the Arab states, most notably Egypt, have been provided with numerous advanced systems on par with Israel’s.” Most recently, bunker busters necessary for any attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities were denied. (Ibid.)
We must remember that Obama sat comfortably under Jeremiah Wright’s anti-Israel and anti-Semitic invective – including honoring Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam – for nearly 20 years. He is comfortable with Islamic principles and ambitions.
Israel’s only hope is God. As the nations turn increasingly antagonistic toward Israel, Christians and Messianic Jews who know how God feels about the land He promised to the Jewish people must pray for Israel and for their own nation. The promise is still true today. I will bless those that bless you and curse those who curse you.
Posted in Featured Articles, Israel & The Jewish People, News Tagged with: Britain, conservative, Guest Writer: Shira Sorko-Ram, Iran, Islam, israel, jeremiah, jerusalem post, Jonathan Rosenblum, Jordan, Middle East, Obama, Prime Minister Netanyahu
One need not have special revelation or any particular spiritual belief to know that what happened in Arizona was wrong in the worst way. We instinctively and rightly recoil from the thought of it, no matter where and how our morality is founded. Yet whether we consciously intend to or not, we not only react with revulsion, but also a question… what does this mean? Just as we know instinctively that it is wrong, we also know that it carries meaning. We want and need to interpret this event and what it means in our time, as well as what our response should be.
To the New York Times’ Paul Krugman and other similarly minded thinkers, the meaning is to be found in calling out right-wing political commentators for creating a climate of “hate” towards Democrats that is so dreadful that folks like Krugman “expect[ed] something like this atrocity to happen.” Our response to these murders, we are told, should be to call “all decent people” to “shun” the “likes of [Glenn] Beck and [Bill] O’Reilly.”
FoxNews and Drudge Report, on the other hand, seem to interpret this event as an anomaly we can safely attribute to the strange delusions of one mentally disturbed individual (while also throwing in that he was a “left-wing pothead” in order to curb the attacks coming from outlets such as the NYT). How is one supposed to react to the “Scary Freak” shown in the screenshot below taken from the Drudge Report homepage? Obviously, the intent is to disassociate this man not only from conservatives, but seemingly from all of us! The response they are advocating seems to be a very practical one, that we should improve our governmental mental health system so that people like this are identified, hospitalized, and (perhaps) medicated before they act out in this way.
While the conservative reaction described is more to the point (and certainly better factually attested and reasoned), I believe that the liberal attempt to interpret the event as part of a larger reality is right on, even if their conclusions are not. The NYT’s Krugman was right when he said:
It’s true that the shooter in Arizona appears to have been mentally troubled. But that doesn’t mean that his act can or should be treated as an isolated event, having nothing to do with the national climate.
Yet he was wrong in his analysis of what it is in the national climate that bred events and minds like this. The problem goes much deeper than right-wing rhetoric aimed at the left (as an aside, it should be noted that the left is often as bad as or worse than the right in their demonizing of the opposition, as discussed on yesterday’s Line of Fire episode). In fact, it goes much deeper than the New York Times, or FoxNews, or the Drudge Report are willing (or trained) to go. Krugman is right that there is “sickness” permeating our society, but the sickness is not only in “them” (to Krugman, the right), and it is not only in “him” (to Drudge, the shooter). No, the sickness is in us, all of us!
The nation’s sickness is an evil more real and devastating than any of us realize, and when events such as what happened in Arizona occur, we must discern that rather than some anomaly perpetuated by one angry or disturbed soul so utterly different from the rest of us (some “Scary Freak”), this evil is a public manifestation of a larger reality. We are in a sin-sick society that has cultivated a loveless, godless, and purposeless culture that provides its youth with precious little reason to live beyond the pursuit of immediate pleasure and the numbing of one’s pain. Is it any wonder that it is in the midst of this sort of environment we find young men that for whatever reason (be it mental instability, social rejection, or beliefs/ideologies) are neither enticed by the allure of pleasure, comfort, or societal status, nor intimidated by the punishments that can be leveled upon them by society’s social and governmental structures, turning their inward rage and hostility outward? While we ought to be shocked by this act, we ought not be shocked that a deluded young man living a meaningless, purposeless life in a meaningless, purposeless society, committed an act of meaningless, purposeless violence.
In addition to the immediate, visceral, and pragmatic response we should have to a tragedy such as this, there is a deeper reality we need to enter into in order to extract the meaning of something of this horror. What is the meaning of this tragedy? And what should our response be? Whatever the specifics of this particular case may end up being, and to whatever extent Jared Loughner was affected or unaffected by this age in the midst of his apparent delusions, I would submit that to look into the face of the “scary freak” pictured on Drudge above, or at the pictures of Virginia Tech shooter Seng Hui-Cho or Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold below, and look away without sensing a need to desperately change the culture we’ve nurtured is to see but not understand, to hear but not perceive. These were not individuals motivated by greed, or ideology, or so many other things that make (at some level) sense to us. There’s something desperate, something pathetic in their lives and actions.
There’s a deeper response called for, and it starts with a call for all of us to repent before the living God for cultivating the culture we abide in, asking the author of life to change us from those that sit idly by as generation after generation comes through the societal “system” we’ve set up without having any sense of meaning and purpose beyond the things of this world. There is a stream of true life available to all, and we must be ones that testify to its reality in our generation. We must be the “salt-seasoning” of our society, with a “saltiness” born from deep and real encounters with the Messiah. “The heavens are the heavens of the Lord, but the earth He has given to the sons of men.” This is our divine responsibility… let’s not miss this.
Posted in Culture, Featured Articles, News Tagged with: arizona, congress, conservative, depth, drudge report, foxnews, killing, Krugman, liberal, line of fire, matt drudge, messiah, murder, New York Times, prayer, repentance, spirituality