Earlier this month, the Jesuit magazine La Civilta Cattolica published an article on the political alliance between conservative evangelicals and Catholics in the U.S., calling it an “ecumenism of hate.” From the Jesuit-run America magazine:
U.S. politics have become increasingly colored by an apocalyptic world view, promoted by certain fundamentalist Christians, that fosters hatred, fear and intolerance, said an influential Jesuit magazine.
In fact, this world view shares some similarities with Islamic fundamentalism since “at heart, the narrative of terror shapes the world views of jihadists and the new crusaders” and is drawn from wellsprings “that are not too far apart,” said, the Jesuit journal reviewed by the Vatican before publication.
The article, appearing in the mid-July/August edition and released online July 13, was written by the journal’s editor, Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, and Marcelo Figueroa, an evangelical Christian, who is the director of the Argentine edition of the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano. Written in Italian, an English version was released on www.laciviltacattolica.com.
Titled: “Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism: A surprising ecumenism,” the article looks at the growing similarities in the rhetoric and world views adopted by evangelical fundamentalists and some “militant” Catholic hardliners.
More from America magazine:
One feature of this “ecumenism of hate” is a clear “Manichean” delineation between absolute good and evil, it said, and a confident sense of who belongs in which camp as could be seen with U.S. President George W. Bush’s list of nations in an “axis of evil” and President Trump’s “fight against a wider, generic collective” body of those who are “bad” or even “very bad.”
The authors briefly examine the origins and spread of evangelical fundamentalist thought and influence in the United States and how groups or movements become targeted as a threat to “the American way of life” and demonized. …
The article makes brief mention of the theological-political vision of the late-Rousas John Rushdoony, a founder of “Christian Reconstructionism,” which calls for a nation built on Christian ideals and strict laws drawn from the Bible. This “Dominionist” doctrine, it said, inspires groups and networks like the Council for National Policy and the White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon, with his “apocalyptic” world view. …
The most “dangerous” feature of this “strange ecumenism” between Catholic and evangelical fundamentalists, they wrote, is the xenophobia and Islamophobia that promotes “walls and purifying deportations.”
“Triumphalist, arrogant and vindictive ethnicism is actually the opposite of Christianity,” they said.
AP’s Rachel Zoll called La Civilta Cattolica Antonio Spadaro “a close confidant” of Pope Francis.
Conservative Archbishop Charles Chaput responded in a commentary, calling the article “an exercise in dumbing down and inadequately presenting the nature of Catholic/evangelical cooperation on religious freedom and other key issues.”
Catholics and other Christians who see themselves as progressive tend to be wary of the religious-liberty debate. Some distrust it as a smokescreen for conservative politics. Some see it as a distraction from other urgent issues. Some are made uneasy by the cooperation of many Catholics and evangelicals, as well as Mormons and many Orthodox, to push back against abortion on demand, to defend marriage and the family, and to resist “LGBT” efforts to weaken religious-freedom protections through coercive SOGI (sexual orientation/gender identity) “anti-discrimination” laws.
But working for religious freedom has never precluded service to the poor. The opposite is true. In America, the liberty of religious communities has always been a seedbed of social action and ministry to those in need.
The divide between Catholic and other faith communities has often run deep. Only real and present danger could draw them together. The cooperation of Catholics and evangelicals was quite rare when I was a young priest. Their current mutual aid, the ecumenism that seems to so worry La Civiltà Cattolica, is a function of shared concerns and principles, not ambition for political power.
…Earlier this month, one of the main architects and financiers of today’s “LGBT” activism said publicly what should have been obvious all along: The goal of at least some gay activism is not simply to assure equality for the same-sex attracted, but to “punish the wicked” — in other words, to punish those who oppose the “LGBT” cultural agenda.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out whom that might include. Today’s conflicts over sexual freedom and identity involve an almost-perfect inversion of what we once meant by right and wrong.
Australia: Poll says most Christians support marriage equality; government still resisting vote
A new Galaxy Research poll commissioned by Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays found that most Australian Christians support same-sex marriage and think the parliament should vote on the issue. The Guardian reports:
A Galaxy Research poll of 1,000 Australian Christians has found 54% support marriage equality and 49% do not want the law to be changed to allow civil celebrants to refuse their services to same-sex couples based on conscientious objection.
It also found 61% do not like having conservative religious groups presenting their views on same-sex marriage as though they are speaking for all Christians in the country.
The Guardian quotes a PFLAG spokesperson saying “Politicians should stop paying so much attention to conservative Christian advocacy organisations which a majority of Christians feel don’t represent them.”
The Very Reverend Peter Catt, the Dean of St John’s Cathedral and spokesperson for Progressive Christian Voice, said the poll proved that Australian Christians believe everyone should be treated equally and fairly without discrimination.
“I’m pleased to see Australian Christians holding firm to Christ’s injunction to treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves,” Catt said.
“I’m particularly pleased that most Christians feel their views on marriage equality are not represented by conservative religious groups. This means it’s time our leaders listened to a greater diversity of Christian voices.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has steadfastly refused to allow a parliamentary vote until there is a national plebiscite, something marriage equality advocates say is unnecessary and would be expensive and divisive.
But the Galaxy poll has found 77% of Australian Christians believe all federal parliamentarians should be free to vote on same-sex marriage as soon as possible.
It found support for a free vote is strong across all Christian age groups, but strongest among millennials (aged 18-34) at 86%.
It also asked about civil celebrants’ right to refuse to marry same-sex couples.
At the moment, wedding service providers such as civil celebrants, or businesses such as florists or caterers, cannot legally refuse to provide their services to any couples seeking to marry.
But 49% of Australian Christians oppose a law change that would allow civil celebrants to refuse their services to same-sex couples on the ground of conscientious objection.
Conservatives in the ruling coalition are divided on the idea of holding a plebiscite-by-mail on marriage equality, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. Such a vote would be far less expensive than a traditional vote, and would not be compulsory. The government could decide to hold it without an election. Advocates for marriage equality, who have strongly resisted calls for a plebiscite, oppose the new proposal, as do some opponents of marriage equality who are still calling for a national plebiscite:
The Australian Christian Lobby, which argues the definition of marriage should not be changed, said the idea should be explored.
“Under the right conditions, a voluntary plebiscite has merit and is consistent with the government’s election promise to allow all Australians a say on whether or not marriage is redefined,” managing director Lyle Shelton said.
West Australian senator Dean Smith is drafting a private members bill to legalise same-sex marriage, which could force a party room debate next month on whether the Liberal Party should ditch its commitment to a plebiscite and hold a conscience vote.
UNSW constitutional law expert George Williams said a postal-vote plebiscite was a “dangerous and unwise” idea that would likely be challenged in the courts.
“The electoral legislation is not built to support something like this,” he said.
“If you were voting on something with general acceptance like a national anthem that would be fine but not for something so contentious.
“It would be a desperate move.”
United Kingdom: May says her vicar father would have supported same-sex marriage in churches
Prime Minister Theresa May expressed support for marriage equality in Northern Ireland, recognizing that LGBT people are concerned about her Party’s working relationship with the DUP, the party that has repeatedly blocked marriage equality legislation in Northern Ireland. Wrote May for Pink News, “I want all British citizens to enjoy the fullest freedoms and protections. That includes equal marriage—because marriage should be for everyone, regardless of their sexuality.”
In an interview she “hinted that her father, a vicar, would have supported gay marriages to take place in churches”:
“He very much valued the importance of relationships, of people affirming those relationships and of seeing stability in relationships and people able to be together with people that they love,” she said.
“This has to be a matter for the Church. The Church of England has itself come a distance in terms of looking at these issues, and obviously they will want to reflect as attitudes will generally change as society changes.”
Pink News reports that May’s comments were given a “frosty reception” by the DUP.
Scotland: Glasgow cathedral will marry same-sex couples
St. Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow will begin to allow same-sex couples to marry in the church, “after bishops, clergy and laity all voted overwhelmingly in favour of the move,” reports the Scottish Sun:
Speaking to Pink News, the Provost of the Cathedral, the Very Rev Kelvin Holdsworth said: “It is hugely exciting to open up wedding services to all couples who want to get married.
“People at St Mary’s were part of the campaign to allow gay and lesbian couples to get married in Scotland so it is not surprising that we would want to be able to offer such weddings in the cathedral itself.
Honduras: One of ‘world’s most dangerous cities’ sponsors first Pride celebration
Hundreds of people took part in a Pride parade in San Pedro Sula, which the Washington Blade’s Michael Lavers describes as “one of the world’s most dangerous cities.”
Freddy Funez, a local LGBT rights advocate, told the Washington Blade the first Pride parade in Honduras’ second-largest city took place in 2000. He said people lined the streets on Saturday and watched the parade as it made its way through the city.
“What we want is that our vote, our voices are included in these public political processes,” he told the Blade.
Funez told the Blade a group of “homophobes” shot guns into the air during the parade. He said a group of evangelical Christians with loud speakers gathered in a park in downtown San Pedro Sula, but parade participants “did not realize what they said because we were in our celebration.” …
A lack of employment, education and health care and poverty have made many members of San Pedro Sula’s LGBT community susceptible to violence and discrimination. Many of them have chosen to flee the country for Mexico, and ultimately the U.S.
“We marched with the entire LGBTI community for a more inclusive society,” Javier Carrington, a local LGBT rights advocate, told the Blade.
The parade took place less than a week after David Valle of the Center for LGBTI Development and Cooperation, a Honduran advocacy group, was brutally attacked inside his home in Tegucigalpa.
Bermuda: Government will not appeal marriage equality ruling, promises to protect churches.
Premier Michael Dukley said that while the government will not appeal the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling, his party, the One Bermuda Alliance will introduce legislation “to protect churches from being forced to perform any services that are contrary to the central tenets of their faith.” The platform of the opposing Progressive Labour Party says it believes that “same-sex couples should have similar legal benefits as heterosexual couples, save for marriage, and will introduce legislation to achieve this aim.”
Israel: Protesters challenge government decision to oppose adoption by same-sex couples
After the government announced that it would oppose changes to the law that would allow gay couples to adopt children, ten people protesting the government’s position were arrested in Tel Aviv. More from the Jerusalem Post:
Television anchor Nadav Borenstein, who emcee’d the rally, said “Me and my partner went around the entire world to try and be parents, and the country that we’re citizens of is refusing to accept that our daughters are ours.”
“We pay taxes like straight people, go to the army like straight people, why can’t we have kids like straight people?” he continued.
Zehava Gal-On, the head of Meretz, said “In Israel in 2017, we will not just let homophobia be. So many children are lookoing for a warm and loving home, and they’re finding one just because of a conservative and ignorant government.”
The head of the Knesset’s LGBT Caucus, Michal Rosin, said that the government is “ignorant and prejudiced” and blamed the religious monopoly on the government for “giving up on beautiful families” simply because they aren’t ‘traditional’ families.
Human Rights Watch called on the Israeli government to reconsider.
Germany: Marriage equality law signed; activists look to adoption issue
Just before Berlin’s celebration of Christopher Street Day, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier signed the country’s marriage equality law, which should go into effect on October 1. Reuters explains:
The annual parade comes several weeks after Germany’s parliament backed the legalization of same-sex marriage in a historic vote, bringing the country into line with many other European nations including France, Britain and Spain.
“Same sex marriage is a step in the right direction but there is still a lot to do,” said Samuel Monars-Bellmont, one of the revelers.
Christopher Street Day commemorates the riots that broke out in New York in 1969 after police raided a gay bar — an event seen as a turning point for the gay rights movement. It has been celebrated in Germany since 1979.
Richard Grenell, an openly gay foreign affairs commentator, is reportedly going to be nominated by U.S. President Donald Trump to be ambassador to Germany. During Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, the candidate named Grenell to serve as his spokesperson on foreign policy and national securities, but resigned from the campaign after an aggressive response from the Religious Right.
India: Privacy ruling may lead Supreme Court to reconsider sodomy law
The Supreme Court, which effectively re-criminalized homosexuality when it overturned a lower court ruling that abolished the country’s colonial-era sodomy law, may reconsider that ruling based on a right to privacy.
Taiwan: City government moves to treat same-sex couples equally in housing
Taipei’s city government amended its housing regulations to allow same-sex couples to apply as a family for affordable housing.
Isle of Man: Equality legislation goes into effect with royal assent
The Equality Act, which “aims to combat discrimination in the workplace and in the provision of goods and services, on various grounds including race, religion, sexual orientation, age, disability, and gender reassignment,” received royal assent. The Isle of Man is a dependency of the United Kingdom.
A new provision was also made for those who were ’asexual’, recognising those who have no sexual attraction to people of either sex.
Crucially, when the bill was drafted, same sex marriage and opposite sex civil partnerships had not been made legal. It has since been legalised and a number of amendments were made to incorporate that into the legislation.
The provisions of the act are expected to be phased in over a 24-month period.
Curaçao: Equality activists oppose referendum on marriage
Activists said that a referendum on marriage equality “is predestined to give an unbalanced result” because “there are many assumptions about homosexuality and a large group of people in Curaçao are insufficiently familiar with the topic.”
Singapore: Court voids marriage of couple after one spouse makes legal gender transition
Singapore voided the wedding of a couple who wed as man and wife before the husband transitioned . When the couple later applied for subsidized housing when both were legally recognized as female, the Registry of Marriages voided the wedding the the Housing and Development Board denied them marital housing.
China: Activists angered over ban on LGBT content online
A government ban on online content featuring same-sex relationships has angered many activists, reports the BBC:
There are 84 categories of material that were banned from online video programmes by Chinese censors, including prostitution, drug addiction, extra-marital affairs and what authorities deem to be “unhealthy” views of the family, relationships and money. A ban on the portrayal of “erotic behaviour” includes kisses which last for a long time.
The guidance stipulates that all online content should help “realize the China dream of a great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”
Indonesia: Public officials respond to outcry by moving floggings inside, away from cameras
Human Rights Watch reported that officials in Aceh province are responding to international outcry over recent public floggings be moving the floggings “indoors, away from the cameras”:
Aceh’s position within Indonesia is unique. A 30-year separatist armed conflict seeded deep distrust between Acehnese and the national government. The 2004 Boxing Day tsunami led to a ceasefire that soon ended the war but wrought unprecedented devastation. A 2005 peace agreement made Aceh the only one of Indonesia’s 34 provinces that can legally adopt bylaws derived from Sharia – although such provisions, modeled on Aceh’s, are spreading nationwide. The province’s 2014 criminal code prohibits all same-sex relations and mandates public caning as punishment.
Under its Sharia bylaws, Aceh caned 339 people last year for offenses ranging from gambling to adultery. The May caning of two gay men, who received 83 lashes each, appears to be Indonesia’s first public caning for homosexuality and sparked considerable international outrage. Flogging as punishment is also recognized under international law as a form of torture, but that doesn’t seem to have deterred Acehnese authorities so far. So what prompted the decision to end floggings in public?
Media reports suggest that Acehnese leaders are now worried that videos of May’s flogging, which were widely circulated online, make the province unappealing for investors.
Mexico: Activists in Queretano state call for legislation on marriage equality and gender identity
LGBT equality supporters in the Queretano Front for the Right to Non-Discrimination and the Lay State urged the state legislature to debate and vote on marriage equality and gender identity legislation, saying that the issues had been put “in the freezer” by being sent to a legislative commission for study. Anti-equality activists with Con Familia and the National Front of the Family recently described LGBT activists as intolerant, aggressive, delinquent, and quarrelsome after opposing groups faced off in public protest earlier this month.
Hong Kong: Trans woman’s death spurs call for legislation
The death of a transgender woman, who fell from a bridge after saying on Facebook that she felt unable to fit into society, has spurred a petition campaign urging the government to act on a gender recognition ordinance, according to HKFP:
Ray Chan, Hong Kong’s first openly-gay lawmaker, spoke to HKFP about the government’s “inertia” in enacting legislation that would ban discrimination and recognise diverse gender identities.
“Those who [are] opposed to legislation, and those who use the worst language and exhibit egregious behaviours to reject us as full members of society have blood on their hands.”
East Timor: First Pride celebration held in capital city
Asian Correspondent reports on the country’s first Pride parade, reporting a celebratory, “carnival-like” atmosphere:
Marching through the streets of East Timor’s capital Dili with a rainbow flag in his hand, Natalino Guterres was overwhelmed with emotion, reminding him of how he felt 15 years ago when he saw the Timorese flag raised for the first time.
“It was an emotional moment,” he said of the pride parade.
“The sense of euphoria … I saw happiness written on people’s faces and some teared up. It reminds me of Independence Day in 2002.”…
Campaigners say the parade last month was a milestone for the tiny, half-island nation – Asia’s youngest democracy – and a beacon of hope for a region where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights are under increasing attack.