#Christianity

Biblical-Themed Ark Park is Just As Homophobic as You Would Imagine

Yeah, there is a Noah's Ark theme park that's here in the same plane of existence that you and I share. Fellow Instinct writer Adam Dupuis has written about it in his post "New Noah's Ark Encounter - It's Got Everything. Even Dinosaurs and Unicorns." According to Vice, visiting Ark Encounter, created by Ken Ham, will not flood you with good times and positive memories, but instead, you'll be inundated with a deluge of homophobia and banal but plentiful ecclesiastical signs.

The fake Ark was created to entertain and reach Christians and non-Christians in order to educate them on the story of the Great Flood and introduce Creationism to people who don't believe in it. Some of the attractions are an animal exhibit with non-animatronic animals in wooden boxes, three displays that depict the pre-flood era which, apparently, had epic human and dinosaur battles (?) and a bunch of text, signs that shoot down the theory of evolution and how Noah's family disposed of their waste (which is what every theme park should have in my opinion), a room in which a video plays on a loop that inaccurately depicts atheists as being mean-spirited, and, finally, bigoted, homophobic literature. 

Anyone who works at Ark Encounter has to sign a statement of faith (for your own sanity, please don't click on the link) in which people have to agree that marriage is between one man and one woman, that LGBT people are abominations, that sex should only be had between a heterosexual married couple, watching porn is a sin against God, and that being pro-life is the only way to live. So basically, LGBT people, people who have a normal sex drive, or people who watch porn need not apply. No thanks! There are also advertisements for the Ark-hosted event “Sacred: Embracing God’s Design for Sexuality” which closely resembles conversion therapy

My takeaway from reading about this... thing... is that there is no way that I will ever attend this excuse for an attraction. Considering the fact that gay rights activists have made so many positive advancements, maybe homophobia would not be the best selling point. Perhaps Mr. Ham should try to reach non-Christians in a less bigoted way. 

But that's just me. 


h/t: Vice, Arkencounter.com, Answersingenesis.com

Man Fighting A Drag Reading Pleaded Guilty To Stalking A Singer And Sending Him Nudes

A man who’s trying to stop his local library from hosting a Drag Queen Story Time has also been connected to stalking and sending nude pics to another man.

Christopher Sevier is currently the lead activist against the city of Lafayette hosting a Drag Queen Story Time at the city library. He does so in the name of the antigay hate group called the Warriors For Christ and Special Forces of Liberty, according to The Daily Advisor.

But, it looks like Sevier shouldn’t be the lead figure in any kind of movement, especially an antigay one, considering his legal past.

Court records from the last decade show that Sevier has a problem with stalking people.

The first incident happened back in 2008 when Sevier got into legal troubles with country singer John Rich. It first started out as a fight over song rights, but the situation soon escalated thanks to Sevier.

Rich later filed for a restraining order on Sevier after noticing the man was stalking him. Unfortunately for Rich, Sevier blatantly ignored that restraining order.

Allegedly, Sevier messaged Rich about private information such as conversations about Rich’s young children. In addition, Sevier even sent Rich a seemingly-naked picture of himself draped in a blood-soaked American Flag, according to the Tennessean back in 2014.

In that same year, Sevier was also accused of stalking a 17-year-old girl. Sevier then confronted the girl at a coffee/ice cream shop in the Nashville-area. During that confrontation, Sevier mentioned information about conversations the girl had previously.

“He knew the conversations that I had had,” she said. “So I was scared.”

Initially, Sevier claimed that his interactions with the two were legal. Sevier says that he was legitimately attempting to end the song rights litigation by reaching out to Rich. Meanwhile, Sevier says the interaction with the girl was his attempt at being “friendly” and helping her get modeling work.

That said, Sevier later pleaded guilty after the chargers were reduced to misdemeanors.

And those are just two of allegedly numerous other criminal issues involving Sevier, according to the Daily Beast. This includes not paying child support, failure to show up to court hearings, violating his restraining order, and assaulting his father-in-law (a fight that resulted in the injury of his then-7-month-old baby).

So again, we must say that the Warriors For Christ and Special Forces of Liberty might want to leave this Drag Story Time alone and instead focus on who fights with them. We think these Christians should be very concerned with the legal history of their outspoken comrade.

h/t: The Daily Advisor, The Tennessean

Catholic Pastor Who Burned A Rainbow Flag Was Removed From Service

Last week, we shared with you the story of Pastor Fr. Paul Kalchik.

Kalchik, who presides over the Resurrection Catholic Church in Chicago, discovered a rainbow flag in his church building. He then announced that he would be burning the flag as sacrilege later this month.

As he wrote in the initial church message:

"We cannot let the current troubles keep us from our mission to go make more disciples for the Lord, nor should modern day distractions like global warming, LGBT 'rights' or even immigration issues ever take precedence over that mission.”

Thankfully, the Archidose of Chicago stepped in and told Kalchik that he couldn’t go through with the burning. At the time, Kalchick regretfully followed the orders.

Though, he didn’t follow them for long.

We now learn that Kalchik later went through with the burning despite the orders placed upon him.

After he did so, Kalchik’s life took a drastic change, according to the Chicago Tribune. He allegedly received multiple hate messages and even death threats from the community around him. These threats became so bad that Kalchik had to start using police escort to travel to and from the church and his home.

In addition, the Alchidose of Chicago has decided to remove Kalchik from his position at the Resurrection Catholic Church effective immediately. He was then replaced with Monsignor James Kaczorowski.

“For some weeks now, I have become increasingly concerned about a number of issues at Resurrection Parish,” read a letter by Chicago’s Archbishop, Cardinal Blase Cupich. “It has become clear to me that Fr. Kalchik must take time away from the parish to receive pastoral support so his needs can be assessed.”

“I do not take this step lightly,” the note read further. “Rather, I act out of concern for Fr. Kalchik’s welfare and that of the people of Resurrection Parish. I have a responsibility to be supportive of our priests when they have difficulties, but I also have a duty to ensure that those who serve our faithful are fully able to minister to them in the way the Church expects.”

That said, Annel Maselli, the spokeswoman for the archdiocese, says that this removal of Kalchik was not based on the burning of the rainbow flag.

“He is taking some time away from the parish,” Maselli said in an email on Saturday. “This has been in the works for some time and is not directly due to the flag burning.”

There’s currently no word on whether this removal is permanent or not.

As for Kalchik, who says he was sexually abused by a Chicago priest while he was a seminarian, his only words on the issue are that he doesn’t hate gay people. He says he only has hate for homosexuality itself.

“I’m about as much of a ‘gay basher’ as Mother Teresa of Calcutta,” the 56-year-old said in an interview with the Tribune on Friday. “Love the sinner, hate the sin — that’s as harsh as I get.”

h/t: Chicago Tribune

Catholic Priest Thwarted From Burning A Rainbow Flag As Sacrilege By Chicago's Archdioceses

A Chicago priest was stopped from burning a rainbow flag in front of his church members.

According to the Windy City Times, Resurrection Catholic Church Pastor Fr. Paul Kalchik posted earlier this month that he would be burning a rainbow flag.

Kalchick shared this message in the post-script of his Homily message on September 2. The message then spread to news sources like the Windy City Times, the Conservative Christian-based Church Militant, and more.

In the message, Kalchick said that he had found a Rainbow flag inside the Resurrection Church, which is in Chicago’s Avondale neighborhood. He planned to burn the flag, and parishoners’ pledge cards mixed with incense, in front of the church as sacrilege during a prayer service later this month.

In addition to that announcement, Kalchick shared the message that the teachings of the Orthodox Roman Catholic Church needed to be restored.

"We cannot let the current troubles keep us from our mission to go make more disciples for the Lord, nor should modern day distractions like global warming, LGBT 'rights' or even immigration issues ever take precedence over that mission,” he wrote.

Thankfully, the Archdiocese of Chicago stepped in and told Kalchik that he couldn’t go through with the burning. Kalchik, regretfully, agreed not to do it.

According to the Windy City Times, DignityUSA President Chris Pett shared his thanks to the Chicago Archdiocese for stopping Kalchik.

"It appears that this pastor was hijacking the parish to promote an extreme, ultra-conservative agenda promoted by the Church Militant group which is not officially recognized by the Church and is rejected by most Catholics. National polling over the past number of years consistently shows that a majority of Catholics support LBGTQ people and our issues. While we continue to challenge the institutional Church to reject its harmful and incorrect teachings about homosexuality, we are glad to see this decisive action on behalf of all LGBTQ Catholics."

h/t: Windy City Times

Viral Instagram Post Shows Church Goers Giving Hugs To Austin Pride Paraders Who Need It

Austin Pride may have finished up, but Instagram users are still talking about it thanks to a heartfelt post from a Texas church member.

According to Pink News, Jen Hatmarker, a religious writer who has faced backlash for her support of LGBTQ people and her opposition to President Donald Trump, organized a free hug “giveaway.” This “giveaway” saw church goers attend the Pride parade and offered hugs to anyone who wanted them.

She then created an Instagram post about the event, shared several photos of these now famous huggers, and shared an endearing message about the moment.

 

A post shared by Jen Hatmaker (@jenhatmaker) on

“Our arms were never empty. We ‘happy hugged’ a ton of folks, but dozens of times, I’d spot someone in the parade look our way, squint at our shirts and posters, and RACE into our arms. These were the dear hearts who said:”

‘I miss this.’
‘My mom doesn’t love me anymore.’
‘My Dad hasn’t spoken to me in three years.’
‘Please just one more hug.’

“You can only imagine what ‘Pastor Hugs’ did to folks. So we told them over and over that they were impossibly loved and needed and precious. And we hugged until our arms fell off. This is what we are doing here, what we are here for.”

There are plenty of wonderful moments that happen at Pride parades across the globe, but its good to focus on a specific sweet one like this every now and then.

h/t: Pink News

Religious Scholar Says An Original Draft Of The Bible Allowed Gay Sex

What would the world have looked like if the Bible never called homosexuality an “abomination?” That’s the question many will be asking after a recent statement from a Bible scholar.

Harvard fellow and Biblical scholar Idan Dershowitz recently wrote an article through the New York Times that shares the idea that the infamous Leviticus 18:22, which states: “You shall not lie with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination,” wasn’t in the first draft of the bible.

Dershowitz claims that this section, that has altered history greatly, was a later edition to the religious text.

“Like many ancient texts, Leviticus was created gradually over a long period and includes the words of more than one writer.”

“Many scholars believe that the section in which Leviticus 18 appears was added by a comparatively late editor, perhaps one who worked more than a century after the oldest material in the book was composed.”

He added: “There is good evidence that an earlier version of the laws in Leviticus 18 permitted sex between men.

“In addition to having the prohibition against same-sex relations added to it, the earlier text, I believe, was revised in an attempt to obscure any implication that same-sex relations had once been permissible.”

What makes Dershowitz believe this? He says there are clues of a shift in the incest laws of Leviticus or a  “strong evidence of editorial intervention.”

According to Pink News, Dershowitz believes there are signs that the passages used to refer to banning incest between female and male relatives.

The idea is that the existence of a ban on incest between men implies that sex between two non-related men would be legal.

As Dershowitz explained:

“Now, apply this principle to Leviticus 18: A law declaring that homosexual incest is prohibited could reasonably be taken to indicate that non-incestuous homosexual intercourse is permitted.

“A lawmaker is unlikely to specify that murdering one’s father is against the law if there is already a blanket injunction against murder.

“By the same token, it’s not necessary to stipulate that sex between two specific men is forbidden if a categorical prohibition against sex between men is already on the books.”

As he simplifies, “that made sense when sex between men was otherwise allowed.”

Certainly, Dershowitz has led the door to a very interesting conversation about homosexuality and the bible. Hopefully, other scholars and religious leaders will pick up on the topic and not chastise it.

Only time will tell.

h/t: New York Times, PinkNews

Gay Couples To Be Added to The Mormon Church's Genealogical Database

Are Mormons becoming more accepting of LGBTQ life?! Well, not exactly, but things are looking up a little with this recent update.

The Mormon Church is getting ready to update its genealogical database to allow the submissions of names of people in same-sex relationships, according to the Columbian.

The Mormon Church’s genealogical database, called Family Search, is used to search for genealogy, for church members to record changes such as marriage or death, and to request church services.

In April, the website released a statement saying that several of its systems will be redesigned to expand its functions. This wish to expand was initially announced in 2015, but this statement announced that it's finally being worked on and will be completed sometime in 2019.

“The goal of FamilySearch.org is to capture, store, and provide records and an accurate genealogy that represents past, present, and future families of the world,” the statement said. “To support this goal, same-sex relationships, including same-sex parents and same-sex couples, will be provided in FamilySearch Family Tree.”

It’s important to note that this doesn’t mean the Mormon church will suddenly start approving of same-sex relationships or parenting. Instead, it’s more like the Mormon Church is willing to acknowledge same-sex couples in order to have accurate records.

“No judgments are made as to the legitimacy or character of the relationships found in these public records, nor can they be,” church spokeswoman Irene Caso said in a statement. “They are simply collections of data to be assessed for their genealogical value by each researcher.”

In addition, some functions on the website will not be accessible to same-sex couples such as requests for temple sealings for ancestors.

This is just another way that the Mormon Church has tried to appeal sympathetic towards LGBTQ people while still condemning the act of homosexuality.

Again, the FamilySearch update is expected to be completed in 2019.

h/t: The Columbian

Irish Priest On "Personal Leave" After Viral Video Shows Him Having Sex On A Church Altar

An Irish priest went on leave after he was a part of a gay sex scandal.

Earlier this year, a video emerged of two men having sex in St. Bartholomew’s Church in Kildorrery, Ireland. The video also showed that one of the men was wearing priest vestments.

After catching wind of the video, Bishop Pat Buckley brought it to the attention of his church superiors.

He added: “I reported the images to the Catholic Church hierarchy and I am told they have gone to the gardai.”

Now, the Irish Mirror reports that church authorities discovered who the priest, who's identity is being withheld, was. Plus, the priest later went on personal leave.

A source for the news outlet said:

“He has taken so-called personal leave to deal with his issues.

"It is understood he has been suffering from some mental difficulties and some addiction problems.

“When the video came to public attention he suffered a lot of adverse attention and in discussions with his bishop it was decided he would take time out.

“This has been a major scandal in the area and people are devastated by it all.

“The guards are investigating the incident and it is ongoing.”

Chile's Pedophilia Scandal Has Led To The Pope Accepting Three Bishops's Resignations

Pope Francis has a lot on his hands as he has to deal with the after effects of a large Chilean sex scandal (and his direct fault in it).

In 2011, Rev. Fernando Karadima, a preacher who was close with Chile’s Catholic elite, was sentenced to a lifetime of penance and prayer after engaging in multiple sex crimes. This would become the start of a decade of investigation into the cover-ups of sexual abuse all throughout the country of Chile.

As ABCNews reports, the most recent event involved Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno, whom many didn’t want in the position of leadership to begin with.

A recent Vatican statement announced that Pope Francis has accepted the resignations of Bishop Barros as well as Bishop Gonzalo Duarte of Valparaiso and Bishop Cristian Caro of Puerto Montt. Francis then named a temporary leader for each diocese.

It was Pope Francis himself who appointed Barros in his position in Chile just three years ago in 2015. When that happened, the decision was met with intense pushback. This is because Barros was already known for ignoring the sexual abuses caused by his colleagues and superiors.

While Barros denies those charges to this day, Pope Francis admits his mistake after he read a 2,300-page report compiled by Vatican investigators Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Spanish Monsignor Jordi Bertomeu. The report explained the depth of Chile's scandal.

Pope Francis also came to this conclusion after speaking to Juan Carlos Cruz.

We shared with you last month that Cruz, who was a victim to sexual abuses by Catholic officials, admitted to having a one-on-one conversation with the Pope.

Cruz shared that the Pope not only apologized to him but allegedly said, “Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like this and loves you like this and I don’t care. The Pope loves you like this. You have to be happy with who you are.”

Those two conversations led to Pope Francis summoning Chile’s Church leaders to the Vatican last month to finally address the issues. That meeting resulted in the resignation of 30 active bishops, including Barros.

After hearing of Barros’s resignation, Juan Carlos Cruz tweeted out the following:

"A new day has begun in Chile's Catholic Church"

“I'm thrilled for all those who have fought to see this day," he added. "The band of criminal bishops ... begins to disintegrate today."

While 30 Bishops offered their resignations, Pope Francis has only recently accepted three of them. Barros’s resignation was joined by the other two bishops mentioned earlier who say they only wanted to retire. That said, victims of the sexual abuse cover-ups say the Bishops were also involved in it all.

It seems that Pope Francis has his work cut out for him.

Hong Kong Has A Conversion Therapy Problem

To date, 12 US states have banned conversion therapy for minors. As we celebrate when a new state bans the practice, we also have to remember that it’s still fully legal in many other countries.

One territory that’s had many problems concerning LGBTQ people, and specifically gay men, of late is Hong Kong. Primarily, Hong Kong is having a growing problem with conversion therapy.

Christianity is one of the main religions in Hong Kong. There are about 480,000 Protestant Christians and 379,000 Catholics in the city. Yet, it seems that conversion therapy is becoming more prevalent in the Asian territory.

As the Thomas Reuters Foundation reports:

“Stop watching porn, look ‘macho’ and avoid spending time alone with other boys - this was the advice Alvin Cheung in Hong Kong received after reaching out for help when he realized he was gay.”

“He began going to regular counseling and prayer sessions, during which he was told he could become straight.”

“Soon he was struggling to sleep, he lost weight and had trouble focusing on his final year of undergraduate study. Doctors diagnosed him with depression.”

“‘It made me feel guilty all the time. I felt ashamed and blamed myself for being different to other people,’ Cheung said. ‘I wanted to commit suicide.’”

Scientists and researchers have yet to be able to prove that conversion therapy works. Instead, they’ve been able to prove that it’s damaging.

“It is hugely damaging for the mental health of LGBT individuals,” said tycoon heiress Gigi Chao. After coming out, Chao’s father offered a $65 million reward to whatever man could get his daughter to marry.

All of these negative attitudes towards them has led many LGBTQ people to leave Hong Kong for other countries such as New Zealand.

“A lot of my close friends who I grew up with, for example - gays or trans - they have chosen not to come back to Hong Kong,” Chao said. “They have chosen not to be part of this homophobic culture.”

As for the LGBTQ people who stay, there’s now a steady rise in HIV rates and chemsex happening in Hong Kong.

With problems like depression, stds, and drug use taking over LGBTQ people, conservative citizens and government officials need to stop trying to force extra pressure onto them. Instead, special attention should be turned towards helping them find safety and health in the city.

Otherwise, they may turn to other locations.

h/t: Reuters

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