Category Archives: Saddleback

Rachel Maddow Dismantles Ex-Gay Industry Leader

Rachel Maddow has continued her reporting on Uganda’s Kill the Gays bill in the last several weeks. Thank goodness she’s on our side, because no one else outside LGBT circles seems to be talking about this attempt at legalized genocide.

Last week Maddow hosted a pair of segments on the ex-gay industry that was the centerpiece of an anti-gay conference in Uganda in March. The second video here was plastered all over the gay blogs last week (and rightly so), but in case you missed it I’m posting it now. Richard Cohen, ex-gay champion and author of Coming Out Straight appeared in an 18-minute segment in which he attempted to defend his dangerous gay cure claptrap.

But first,’s Mark Benjamin stopped by to talk about his undercover work at an ex-gay industry retreat. His 2005 four-part series on the industry can be found at the following links: Part 1: Turning off gays | Part 2: My gay therapy session | Part 3: Getting straight with God | Part 4: True confessions.

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I should mention that Senator Grassley refused to comment on the Uganda Gay Genocide bill for several days after this segment aired before finally speaking (to Maddow’s audience only) against it late last Friday, during the weekend news dump for news that politicians don’t want in the headlines.

Rick Warren also finally denounced the bill, emphasizing that it prescribes lengthy jail sentences for straight people too.

Okay, now to the main event. Rachel Maddow vs. Richard Cohen.

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My thanks to Rachel Maddow for shining a light on the ex-gay industry’s snake oil salesmen. I think she’s right, and I say this completely without hyperbole: Richard Cohen and others in the industry have blood on their hands. Whether it’s Ugandan gays caught in this bill’s genocide or the suicides of their victims, they bear some responsibility.


Behind Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” Bill

Last night Rachel Maddow talked about Ugandan government’s proposed law that would *literally* require the execution of gay people and people with AIDS who have gay sex, as well as prison time for people who fail to inform the government of their loved one’s homosexuality. The law also renders advocacy for LGBT and HIV/AIDS causes *literally* illegal.

Box Turtle Bulletin has exhaustive coverage of this story, beginning in March when members of the Exodus International Board and other anti-gay Americans joined a rather frightening conference in Uganda. Very soon after that conference Red Pepper, a Ugandan tabloid, began printing full page lists of gays for people to target, often complete with pictures.

Anyway, it turns out that there’s more of an American connection that we previously knew. Not only are American anti-gays working in advisory roles, not only is Rick Warren (who swears he’s never been political) associate Martin Ssempa a key player, but the bill was written by a member of “The Family”, an arch-conservative religious group that directly targets politicians to turn their hatred into law. Jeff Sharlet, the go-to guy on The Family since his 2008 book, joins Rachel.

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Marriage is Gay (I think Bryan Safi might be too)

I feel like I need a palate cleanser after all the increasingly offensive news last week. Here’s an awesome video about gay marriage from Bryan Safi of infoMania. The video is several months old, but I haven’t seen it in any of the popular haunts, so what the heck.

Okay. That was funny, but it didn’t quite do the trick. Here’s one about gay characters in commercials.

Oooh, there it is. Oh yeah. Do it. You do it. Yeah, that’s right.

(Thanks Bryan Safi and infoMania. You guys are the best.)

Rick Warren’s Peeps do the Lying For Him

The Rick Warren/Prop 8 fiasco continues, now entering its sixth month. Pam Spaulding has reported that the wikipedia entry for Rick Warren has been a subject of some consternation lately. Some contributors, including one recognized as CarverM, have been attempting to whitewash Warren’s involvement with Prop 8 and the controversy surrounding his giving the invocation at the inauguration.

The problem? CarverM turns out to be Mark Carver, the Executive Director of Purpose Driven Church, a clear conflict of interests.

Among suggestions CarverM and other (still unidentified, possibly on the level) whitewashers:

  • Warren did not compare same sex marriage to incest, polygamy and pedophilia during his notorious Beliefnet interview.
  • Gay and lesbian people have never had the right to marry in California.
  • Controversies surrounding Warren’s position on gay marriage are, according to CarverM, “a tempest in a teapot” and unworthy of more discussion than a link to Wikipedia’s Proposition 8 page.

Head over to Pam’s House Blend for the whole article.

For now, the Rick Warren wikipedia page is closed to editing (in an extremely biased state) and the issue brought by Mark Carver is in mediation, with several of the contributers exasperated by the bias Carver and others want to introduce into what is supposed to be objective.

People with long memories will remember Mr. Carver from his involvement in a bit of scandal over the video game Left Behind: Eternal Forces a few years ago. From what I’ve read, he was aware of the objectionable (I’m being charitable) content of the game since the company’s formation in October 2001. He distanced himself only after word got out and people started asking questions.

He fits right in at Purpose Driven!

Rick Warren Lies Again. (Let me put on my shocked face.)

Oh hey, how about that Rick Warren? It’s been awhile since we checked in on him, and fortunately enough, he happens to be in the news again! And wouldn’t you know, he’s doing what he loves most: Lying.

Rick was on Larry King Live Monday night, and King asked him about the kerfuffle a few months ago when he said that gay people are the same as pedophiles. Here’s the video.

I’m so bored with Rick and his shenanigans. So, so bored. But in the interest of sharing information, here’s some specific refutations. (Full transcript of Larry King Live here)

Yes, you know, Larry, there was a story within a story that never got told. In the first place, I am not an anti-gay or anti-gay marriage activist. I never have been, never will be.

During the whole Proposition 8 thing, I never once went to a meeting, never once issued a statement, never — never once even gave an endorsement in the two years Prop 8 was going.

Let’s look past Prop 8, though, and see what Rick said about gay marriage in 2004. Four years ago, he listed gay marriage as one of the five non-negotiable and non-debatable issues for Christians. The pastor of a huge church directed his congregation that if they were okay or even undecided about gay marriage, then they were necessarily bad Christians. That’s some powerful activism, don’t you think?

The week before the — the vote, somebody in my church said, Pastor Rick, what — what do you think about this?

And I sent a note to my own members that said, I actually believe that marriage is — really should be defined, that that definition should be — say between a man and a woman.

Okay, so when Rick here talks about how he “sent a note to [his] own members”, he’s telling a truth. (Shocking, I know!) What he’s not telling you is that there are 22,000 of his “own members”, and that in the video (not note) he encouraged them to re and fwd the heck out of the thing. Here’s the video from October 23, 2004.

Now let me say this really clearly: we support Proposition 8 — and if you believe what the Bible says about marriage, you need to support Proposition 8. I never support a candidate, but on moral issues I come out very clear.

[…] This is not even just a Christian issue — it’s a humanitarian and human issue that God created marriage for the purpose of family, love, and procreation.

So I urge you to support Proposition 8, and pass that word on. I’m going to be sending out a note to pastors on what I believe about this. But everybody knows what I believe about it. They heard me at the Civil Forum when I asked both Obama and McCain on their views.

(BTW, I addressed the 2% and the “every culture, every religion, 5,000 years” lies last December in this post.)

Back to Monday night:

There were some things said that — you know, everybody should have 10 percent grace when they say public statements. And I was asked a question that made it sound like I equated gay marriage with pedophilia or incest, which I absolutely do not believe. And I actually announced that.

That’s a lie. Rick was not asked a question that made it sound like he equated gay marriage to pedophilia. He came up with that horrible perverse bit of political slinging-quality mud all on his own. From the same post as above:

Rick Warren: But the issue to me is, I’m not opposed to that as much as I’m opposed to the redefinition of a 5,000-year definition of marriage. I’m opposed to having a brother and sister be together and call that marriage. I’m opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that a marriage. I’m opposed to one guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage.

Steven Waldman: Do you think, though, that they are equivalent to having gays getting married?

Rick Warren: Oh I do. Most people, you know… I have many gay friends, I’ve eaten dinner in gay homes, no church has probably done more for people with AIDS than Saddleback Church. Kay and I have given millions of dollars out of “A Purpose-Driven Life” helping people who got AIDS through gay relationships. So they can’t accuse me of homophobia. I just don’t believe in the re-definition of marriage.

Beliefnet’s Steven Waldman went in for a clarification and received a hearty “Oh I do.” You can’t lay that one on him, Rick. It’s a little bit unfair for you to try blaming him in the first place, but to do it dishonestly… Ninth Commandment, man. Look into it.

Okay, one more and I’m out.

KING: [Gay marriage is] not high on your road of issues?

WARREN: No, no, it’s very low.

Again, in 2004 gay marriage was the #3 non-negotiable, non-debatable issue. Now that more people are paying attention to what he says, it’s become “very low”.

The best part of all this is that all this damage control isn’t just grabbing the attention of the gay community, but also the Religious Right. One News Now, Donald Wildmon’s anti-gay propaganda machine, has an article today taking Rick to task for lying on CNN. The commenters, never known for their gentility, have been especially savage.

Weird. We agree on something.

Gay Bishop Comes to The Daily Show

Bishop Gene Robinson was on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Tuesday night after the inauguration. Though it’s only a three minute interview via satellite, he was a marvelous guest, made a few salient points (even talking ever so briefly about Rick Warren), and got in one fabulous joke that got me out of my chair.

A New Beginning with President Barack Obama

Well, the inauguration is over. President Obama (tee hee) took the oath of office 1, gave a phenomenal address, and with a lot of time-honored pomp and circumstance 2, we have a new president.

I’m obviously bothered by Rick Warren’s presence in the festivities, and I found his invocation to be far too Christian a prayer, not terribly fitting for such an occasion. (For a primer on reasonable public service prayer, see Bishop Gene Robinson’s un-televised invocation of Sunday night.)

We're counting on you, Mr. President. Don't let us down.
We're counting on you, Mr. President. Don't let us down.

But this afternoon the game is changes. The lead up between November 4th and January 20th was the equivalent of a political scrimmage, a testing of each side to see what we can expect from each other in the real season. President Obama showed us that his support for our cause is negotiable, especially if there’s a major gain to be had by putting our rights aside. In return, we hopefully have shown him that that isn’t okay, and that we’ll make noise if it comes to it.

In other words, we should bear what we’ve learned in mind, but proceed with a certain amount of trust for what President Obama has said.

President Obama has pledged to support hate crime laws such as the Matthew Shepard Act, support the ENDA for both orientation and gender identity, expand adoption rights, end DADT, oppose legislation like DOMA, and support civil unions. He says he’s on our side and though he doesn’t exactly support marriage equality, he’s not talking about ripping our families apart either.

But there’s more to today’s events than just what it means for LGBT Americans. Politics aside, the fact that a majority of voting Americans voted for an African American man is huge. President Obama’s parents wouldn’t have been able to marry in at least 18 states when he was born, and now he’s in the Oval Office. I watched with the rest of the nation today as we took a big step toward full inclusion of African Americans.

The reactions of people, especially people of color, has been a sight to behold. One picture I found (below, courtesy AP) strikes me as an important piece of this day. The picture is of Farrington James, a man without a home, crying as he watched the inauguration from the Lord’s Place homeless shelter in West Palm Beach. For many like Mr. James, this is more than just a change from GWB. It’s the fulfillment of a promise that they hardly dared to believe.

Yes, Mr. James. It really did happen.
Yes, Mr. James. It really did happen.

As I said in yesterday’s post, the election of Barack Obama isn’t the end of racism. But every once in a while you get a clear sign that we’re getting there. I daresay that Mr. James got that sign today.


1 By the way, it wasn’t President Obama who messed up the oath. Chief Justice Roberts mixed up some words and Obama stumbled and waited for him to correct himself. Then Roberts made another mistake.

2 By the way, did you catch Anthony McGill, that fine piece of clarinetist? I’d like to get some pointers on proper tonguing technique from him sometime, if you know what I mean!

Obama Makes Bishop Robinson Invisible

See update at the bottom of the post!

It’s been five days since it was announced that Bishop Gene Robinson would be giving the invocation a pre-inaugural concert tonight. The concert was broadcast by HBO, and since I don’t have cable anymore I’ve been sitting at the computer here at my folks’ house waiting excitedly for a video clip of the event to appear on youtube or at another blog. Something to show the world that not only do LGBT people exist, we can be as spiritually fulfilled as anyone else.

So imagine my disappointment when reports started coming in that HBO decided not to air Bishop Robinson’s invocation, either on the live broadcast or on the immediate re-broadcast tonight. No word on why HBO decided to black out the moment, but this has been major news for nearly a week. It’s not as if they weren’t aware of how much people were talking about Robinson’s appearance.

It’s a new disappointing twist in this embarrassing start to President-elect Obama’s presidency. To add insult to injury, I’ve also seen reports that Robinson’s prayer was nearly inaudible to the crowd at the Lincoln Memorial. The cherry on top is that the DC Gay Men’s Chorus was apparently the one and only participating group not to be identified tonight.

I won’t bother to wonder whether Rick Warren’s prayer will be blacked out Tuesday. He’ll be front and center with working microphones and several cameras capturing the moment in high definition as a man who considers me and my LGBT brothers and sisters no better than incestuous pedophiles, undeserving of equal protection under the law and in need of repair by whatever means he deems possible.

Fortunately, we have unofficial video and a transcript of Bishop Robinson’s prayer thanks to Christianity Today magazine. HBO may not have run it and millions around the world may have been kept from hearing the words, but the invocation, in all its inclusive, healing, uplifting glory is available to be seen and read. More importantly, these words made it to the throne room of heaven with or without HBO’s approval.

A Prayer for the Nation and Our Next President, Barack Obama
By The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire

Welcome to Washington!  The fun is about to begin, but first, please join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God’s blessing upon our nation and our next president.

O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…

Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic “answers” we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be “fixed” anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and  warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe.  We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one.  We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe.  Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.


(Just two days left, Mr. Obama.)

update: According to the Box Turtle Bulletin’s recounting of Bishop Robinson’s interview today on NPR, he was unaware of the plan for his invocation to be unaired until he saw a schedule of events shortly before he went on.

Further, neither Barack Obama nor Joe Biden were present when Bishop Robinson was on stage. This was not an accident, as there very well could be political fallout if pictures of the president-elect and vice-president-elect were taken with a gay bishop.

HBO says it’s the Obama camp’s fault, the Obama camp says it’s HBO’s fault. I’m inclined to believe HBO right now, so I’ve changed the title of this post accordingly.

Fellow Gays, this does not bode well. Even on simple symbolic gestures that have no policy ramifications, Barack Obama seems to be willing to sacrifice us to gain support from the Religious Right. (You know, the ones who think we’re just like pedophiles and need to be put in therapy until we stop feeling our feelings.)

I hope I’m wrong. I really, really hope I’m wrong.

Rick Warren’s Christianity Exposed

Something else bugged me about the Rick Warren video I posted yesterday, and it took me a bit to unpack it all. I’m still not sure I’m done, but here’s my analysis so far. As a refresher, here’s the video:

Let’s start with the card Warren had people hold up, the declaration he demanded. Whatever it takes means that everything is allowed and nothing is off limits as long as you have the right goal. Jesus never said to do whatever it takes to make disciples.

He said that we would get into trouble for following Him, and He said that we would have to make pretty big sacrifices and pretty big decisions, but He never, not ever, said anything that could be reasonably construed as do whatever it takes. In fact, Jesus told one parable where Abraham specifically didn’t do whatever it takes to save a person.

But what bothers me the most is that earlier in the speech (transcript at HuffPo) he says:

So the kingdom is multinational, it’s powerful, it’s eternal and, number four (this is the best news), it’s inevitable because God is in control of history. History is his story.

And the Bible says this in Matthew 24: ‘The Good news about God’s kingdom will be preached into all the world, in every nation, and then the end’s going to come.’

And you can go argue about prophecy all you want but Jesus Christ is not going to conclude history until everybody he’s wanted to hear the world has had a chance to hear the word. But one day God’s going to bring everything to a culmination.

Rick Warren makes it clear in this speech that he is trying to bring about a version of the Rapture. Others have documented Rick Warren’s ties to the New Apostolic Reformation 1 (also called dominionist or Joel’s Army) philosophy, which claims that the Bible gives the church the authority and mandate to literally take over the world both socially and culturally.

About that Bible verse Warren quoted: NAR proponents read this as an immediate sequence of events, like a combination to a safe 2. Their goal is to complete the combination with the singular purpose of bringing about the Rapture. Of course, that’s not the point of Christianity, and it’s extremely offensive to try to force God to do something.

Maybe Rick Warren and those who follow him would be better served by turning back one chapter to Matthew 23. Jesus had a lot to say about religious leaders like Rick Warren.

“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either.

“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!

“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. Blind guides! You strain your water so you won’t accidentally swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel!

“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.

“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Mr. Obama? Three days left. Time is running out.

1 Please follow that link. It’s a very long read, but it’s essential that people know what’s out there pretending to be mainstream theology when it’s actually pretty crackpot. ⇧

2 In my opinion that is an incorrect reading of the verse, specifically the word then. Strong’s Greek Dictionary translates the Greek word τότε as “the when, i.e. at the time that (of the past or future, also in consecution”. Consecution, however, doesn’t infer timeliness.

For example, on Monday I’ll go to work, do some work, then go home. Consecution only indicates a logical succession of events. Obviously I won’t go home first, then do some work, then go to work; the events take place in a logical order. Jesus wasn’t saying that He would return the second the last person on Earth hears the Gospel, just that the Gospel would be heard throughout the world before he comes back. (This is why interpreting the Bible in its original languages is important.) ⇧