Planted By the Waters (continued)
© Andy Ryan
A four-year-old by with leukemia and malnutrition.
He weighs 15.4 pounds. He weight should be approximately 34 pounds. Mansure
Pediatric Hospital, Baghdad. From UNSanctioned Suffering, Center for
Economic and Social Rights, 1996.
The issue of whether or not to allow gays and lesbians to serve as clergy has
occupied a segment of the attention of many congregations in recent years.
University Lutheran Chapel in Berkeley called Rev. Jeff Johnson to serve as
their minister this past year. While the Evangelical Lutheran Church of
America permits gays and lesbians to become ministers, it instructs them to
remain celibate and Johnson has openly stated that he will not obey that
requirement. Other Lutheran churches in the Bay area have called gay or
lesbian ministers in recent years, yet the road so far, is not much easier
for University Lutheran Chapel. Earlier this year, their funding for campus
ministry was withheld. Bishop Mattheis of the Sierra Pacific Synod recently
threatened to censure and to file discipline charges on the University
Sex and the Bible?
A Matter of Purity of Heart
by Marilyn Jackson
[EPI Board member Marilyn Jackson shares this struggle going on in her own
church as well as in a number of other faith contexts.]
According to a recent SF Chronicle article, three major religious
denominations have adopted national policies allowing same-sex ceremonies:
the Unitarian Universalist Association, the United Church of Christ and very
recently, rabbis of the Jewish Reform movement. Between May and June,
national policy-making conventions of Methodists, Episcopalians and
Presbyterians will address the issue of homosexual marriage. There will not
be a national church wide assembly of the Lutheran church/ELCA until August
Rabbi Allen Bennett of Temple Israel, a Reform synagogue in Alameda, is
quoted in the Chronicle as saying that he and his colleagues do not believe
the Hebrew Bible condemns homosexuality as it is understood in modern
society. Daniel A. Helminiak, Ph.D. writes in “What the Bible Really Says
About Homosexuality”, that the Bible has been used to justify racial
segregation, slavery, sexist oppression of women, and to condemn basic
scientific theories which are well accepted today, such as whether or not the
earth revolves around the sun.
I suspect that many Christians may not really want to know what the Bible
meant in its original form as it was written in foreign lands many centuries
ago. Customs and cultures were in many ways very different then than what we
in the USA experience today. What has been translated to English has lost a
lot of meaning. To take a few passages literally and out of context as
evidence for discrimination is a subjective reading of the Bible.
The story of Sodom in Genesis, chapter 19, has been used to condemn
homosexuality. Two angels come to the town of Sodom and Lot offers them
lodging. The men of Sodom came to Lot’s door and demanded that Lot turn them
over, so they could “know” them. Lot then offers his two virgin daughters to
the crowd instead but they are fixated on the visitors. The sin of the town
of Sodom was that they wanted to abuse the travelers who Lot offered
hospitality to. Homosexuality in itself was not condemned. Many today might
well feel that Lot's offering his daughters to be raped is just as shocking.
According to Dr. Helminiak, in Leviticus 18:22, lying with a man as with a
woman is an “abomination” or basically, “unclean,” according to the original
meaning. It violates Israeli purity rules. Leviticus 20:13 adds that the
punishment is death. Leviticus also prescribes the same punishment for lying
to one's parents, however. Thus, homosexual acts are forbidden as they make
one unclean; they break Jewish religious and social convention and associate
one with the practices of Canaanites. They are not condemned as being
morally sinful, however, according to Helminiak.
In Romans, Paul begins his letter by describing the degrading passions of
having sex in any unnatural way as well as the breaking of Jewish codes of
purity. However, Helminiak writes that what Paul is building up to in his
letter is a way to make a point about the gospel. Paul finally says to the
Jews that “a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a
matter of the heartit is spiritual and not literal” (Romans 2:29). Paul
states, “I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in
itself.” (Romans 14:14).
Again, in 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy, supposed references to homosexuality
are difficult to translate. According to Helminiak, the original meaning for
what has been translated as homosexuality referred to the use of sexuality
between men that was exploitive.
Thus, according to Dr. Helminiak, the Bible makes no blanket condemnation of
homosexuality, but does frown on exploitive relations between people. I have
not read or heard any quotes from Jesus about homosexuality. Thus, upon
closer examination, to use a few passages from the Bible to condemn
homosexuality takes the original meaning out of context, perpetuates
discriminatory behavior, and turns away from the gospel message.
For more information, the University Lutheran Chapel in Berkeley has a
website at www.univelutch.org.
There will be a broadcast premiere of “Call to Witness,” a video documentary
about the courageous struggle for gay and lesbian rights within the Lutheran
June 18, 10:30PM: KQED, Channel 9, San Francisco.
“Call to Witness,” will also be screened at the San Francisco
International Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, June 17, 11AM, Victoria Theater.
Co-Presented with St. Francis Lutheran Church. Check firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leonard Peltier, a Lakota-Chippewa Native American, has been arbitrarily
detained in U.S. federal prisons for 24 years. He has a parole hearing on
June 12, 2000. Supporters are asking that letters be written for
presentation at the hearing, and that the White House be called weekly in
order to remind President Clinton and the Justice Department that he needs to
be released. Amnesty International calls him the most obvious political
prisoner in the U.S. There is a world wide campaign to obtain his freedom.
EPI has supported efforts for his release for many years.
Parole for Leonard Peltier
Mr. Peltier recently had an operation on his jaw, after 4 years of requesting
this surgery. Recovery time will be 6 weeks or longer, but is is a huge step
toward better health for Leonard. He needs to be out of prison in order to
deal with diabetes, heart problems and near loss of sight in one eye. He has
served much longer than other prisoners convicted of the same crime, and
there is a wealth of evidence that shows him to be innocent of the charges
for which he was sentenced.
A clemency petition for Leonard’s release was filed in 1993 and was then
moved to the desk of the President, where it has sat unanswered since. These
petitions are usually answered within 6 months, so the one filed by Ramsey
Clark is still viable, however, this June we need to encourage parole.
President Clinton is being asked to voice his support for Leonard Peltier to
the Parole Board and request that they release him, and the public continues
to ask President Clinton to grant him executive clemency. As in the Elian
Gonzales custody battle, in which the White House referred to public opinion
as a consideration, calls to the White House DO COUNT.
Supporters are suggesting that if Leonard Peltier is not released from prison
this year, they will be discouraged from voting for Vice President Gore in
the coming election. •People are being urged to call the White House weekly.
The public opinion line is 202-456-1111.
•Please send letters urging parole to the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee,
P.O. Box 583, Lawrence KS 66044.
Traditional Dine people continue the struggle to stay on their land in Big
Mountain. Having been denied by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the
Manybeads religious freedom case is being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Individuals, both non-Indian supporters and Navajo from the land itself are
being given exclusion orders prohibiting their entry onto what is now called
Hopi Partition Land. There are attempts to prevent people from coming to
religious events. Plans are clearly in the works to limit further the
livestock permitted to those Dine who have chosen to stay in their homes.
Peace Walk Dates at Big Mountain have been set for July 8 - 16. Tree Day is
set for July 12. Supporters are asked to truck in juice, melons and other
supplies on July 6 & 7. If you want to support or participate in this event,
please call 415-559-1328.
“As members of a recent human rights delegation to Haiti, we wish to express
our grave concerns regarding the electoral process and its potential
consequences. At this time, local and parliamentary elections are scheduled
for May 21, 2000, with Presidential elections slated for late fall. . . . it
appears that serious errors in the planning and execution of the voter
registration drive may irreparably taint the results. . . . According to
numerous reports up to 25% of the eligible voters have been prevented or
deterred from registering. . . . Given that this electoral process was
conceived of and executed with the technical assistance and financial support
of various U.S.-based agencies, this problem raises special concerns.”
Participatory Democracy in Danger
derived from a report co-authored by Pierre LaBoissiere
Many high-ranking members of certain political parties landed positions on
the CEP, Conseil Electoral Provisoire, the agency responsible for organizing
the electoral process, while other parties have complained of exclusion from
the CEP. Money to support the electoral process did not flow through the
appropriate channels in Haiti; funding was passed directly from the United
States Agency for International Development to two U.S.-based organizations
engaged to assist the CEP.
There is reason to fear that elections will be highly exclusionary in nature
because of several problems including the requirement of photo ID cards for
voting, a first in Haiti's history, and the short registration period. There
was a scarcity of bureaus for registration, far fewer than provided in 1995,
and even those were closed for hours and even days at a time. The delegation
heard reports that cameras were missing or broken and film ran out.
Registration lists have been lost or withheld by CEP employees who claim they
were never paid.
Jean Dominique, a famous and popular 70 year old journalist, was shot to
death in front of Radio Haiti Inter. He had been investigating the electoral
process, and had been highly critical in his commentaries.
Readers of Planted wanting to get the full report of the delegation seeking
to get involved in some manner, are encouraged to call the EPI office at
510-548-4141. We will forward your interest to Pierre.
Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121
Ask your congressperson or senator to co-sponsor:
•H.R. 4357, East Timor Repatriation and Security Act of 2000, introduced
“To continue the current prohibition of military relations with and
assistance for the armed forces of the Republic of Indonesia until . . .
until the President determines and certifies to the Congress that the
Government of Indonesia and the armed forces of Indonesia provide for the
territorial integrity of East Timor, the security and safe return of
refugees, and have brought to justice those individuals who have committed
murder, rape, torture, and other crimes against humanity in East Timor and
elsewhere.” (excerpted from text of bill)
Penalty Moratorium bills, a very small step in the right direction.
•S 2463, the National Death Penalty Moratorium Act of 2000. S 2463 which
would immediately suspend executions in the United States while a national
commission reviews the administration of the death penalty. The moratorium
would bar execution of individuals sentenced under either state or federal
statutes. S 2463 would create a commission to determine whether the
constitutional principles and requirements of fairness, justice, equality and
due process are upheld in the administration of the death penalty.
•HR 4162, the Accuracy in Judicial Administration Act of 2000. This bill
would also establish a moratorium on all executions in the U.S. The
moratorium would continue for a minimum of seven years in order to ensure
that persons able to prove their innocence are not executed. It would also
provide certain resources to assist them.
In addition to this Web site, PeaceHost.net hosts School of the Americas
Watch West, dedicated to shutting down the infamous “School of Assassins”,
and Daniel maintains the Web site for Guatemala News & Information Bureau (GNIB),
a human rights watchdog organization. He designed all three sites.
An Ecumenical thanks
to Daniel Zwickel, the PeaceHost.
Daniel's most active personal site is PacifistNation.net which he dares you
to visit, but be warned: Pacifist Nation is no place for wimps!
You can still e-mail EPI
Ecumenical Peace Institute/CALC would like to share information with your
congregation, adult class, youth group, social justice committee or other
group regarding the situation in Iraq and to help you find ways to respond to
this ongoing tragedy.
End the Sanctions
Stop Killing Iraqi Children
Among the possible actions for individuals and groups:
•the anti-sanctions vigil each Tuesday noon at the Oakland Federal Building,
1301 Clay Street, near 12th Street BART
•lobbying congresspeople and senators. We can let you know of congressional
letters and measures as they arise. Email is the fastest if you have it.
•support of acts of resistance. This includes raising funds to send needed
materials whose import has been hindered by U.S.-dominated UN committees.
•sharing of information. We keep the EPI website posted with timely
information on this and other subjects. Feel free to download and print
anything you find useful.
T-shirts and films are available.
Please get in touch.
Ecumenical Peace Institute • www.epicalc.org
P.O. Box 9334, Berkeley, CA 94709 • (510) 548-4141
Regarding that Envelope included in each issue of Planted by the Waters. If
each person who received Planted By the Waters put a check into the envelope and
mailed it to EPI/CALC, it would greatly improve our ability to do the work for
justice and peace which we are called to do together. It doesn't have to be a
lot. Every little bit counts.
Please help by being part of the Peace and Justice work of
Ecumenical Peace Institute/CALC and sending your tax-deductible contribution
____$35 for annual membership ($10 for low-income subscribers)
Or, pledge $_________ monthly,
Please make checks payable to E.P.I., and thank you for the generosity
of your your support.
"Planted By the Waters" has been archived. You may access past issues by clicking on the date (just
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