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Conservative Leaders Push Catholic Church To Backtrack On Gays

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On Monday, news came that the Vatican was ready to acknowledge the “gifts and qualities” gay people have to offer. By Tuesday, conservatives at the highest levels of the Vatican made sure that would not happen.

The headlines read as if there had been a major change in the Roman Catholic Church: Groundbreaking! Revolutionary! A seismic shift! All this for a preliminary draft of a document that is itself merely a recommendation for later documents.

Recently cardinals and bishops in Rome convened for what’s called an “extraordinary synod” – essentially a meeting – to discuss family in the 21st century. On Monday, a spokesman for this meeting referred to a preliminary statement regarding divorced Catholics, gays and lesbians, and challenges to marriage including cohabitation. 

Much of the media coverage was on what was thought to be more inclusive language that was, in reality, less than what the LGBT community and allies deserve.

The draft uses the term “incomplete and imperfect” to to describe LGBT people (and divorced Catholics). That’s more insulting than welcoming.

The document continues a two-tiered system of personhood for legally married straight and gay couples. “The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman. Nor is it acceptable that pressure be brought to bear on pastors or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology.” To the Vatican, the push for equality is “gender ideology.”

Yes, the document says pastors should recognize the “positive aspects of civil unions and cohabitation.” It also notes, “Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community” and asks if parishes are “capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities.” There are some LGBT-affirming Catholic communities, such as St. Francis Xavier on East 15th Street in Manhattan. Other parishes have vocally objected when their pastors fired gay and lesbian lay leaders, ministers and teachers, but their voices fell on deaf ears. To the U.S. Catholic hierarchy, making a doctrinal statement by laying off a gay or lesbian person is more important than that person losing his or her income, health insurance, housing and security. 

Just one day after this document was released, conservative prelates, led by Cardinal Raymond Burke, the head of the Vatican’s version of the Supreme Court, and African Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, attacked the draft document, causing the Vatican to backtrack on its meaning. 

Africa is a growth area for the Catholic Church, as is Asia, both of which are extremely conservative, and in the case of the African Church, very homophobic. Bishops from those two continents will surely join forces with fellow holdovers from John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Those bishops and cardinals make up the vast majority of the “magisterium,” or teaching authority of the Catholic Church. Debate over this document will be a battle royale behind closed doors. The ultimate decision will be made by Francis, but in the spirit of collegiality, will he use the force of his personality to overrule the orthodox hard liners? Can the Church go from calling gays and lesbians “intrinsically disordered” and “suffering from same-sex attraction” to opening its arms in a welcoming embrace?  

Actions will speak louder than words. Will gays and lesbians no longer be fired from churches and schools? Will children of gay and lesbian couples no longer be denied admission to parochial schools? Will LGBT Catholics be allowed to participate in lay ministries? Will they stop drumming gay men out of seminaries? Will legally married gay and lesbian couples be allowed to receive Communion? Will national conferences of Catholic bishops move rapidly to implement changes toward LGBT people, or move at a glacial pace? The final document, due in October 2015, runs the risk of being mere marketing window dressing.

We should wait to see what happens one year, two years, 10 years from now. If warranted, we should reserve a seismic “yay” until then.

 

Image: Prayer Vigil with Pope Francis ahead of the Synod.
Photo by Catholic Church England and Wales, via Flickr

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'ABJECT IDIOT'

Alex Jones declares that he’s Hitler and a child murderer in unhinged interview

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Alex Jones, the host of the conspiracy theory show InfoWars declared that he himself is Hitler and that he shot kids to death in an interview on Channel 5 with Andrew Callaghan.

When Callaghan asked Jones if he felt responsible for what happened to the Sandy Hook parents, meaning the harassment and death threats they faced after Jones told his millions of viewers that they were “crisis actors” who helped fake a 2012 school shooting in order to help the government confiscate people’s guns.

Jones responded, “I went to that school. I pulled the gun out. I shot every one of myself. I mean, I’m guilty.” Later on, he repeats over and over again, “I killed them. I’ll admit it. I did it. I’m the bad guy…. I murdered those children. I did. I did it myself.”

The December 14, 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting left 26 people dead, including 20 children ages 6 and 7. Jones was not the shooter.

“We should bow five times a day to New Haven, Connecticut for the kids that died,” Jones said, before saying that people have been hypnotized into believing that they should give their guns to George Soros, a Jewish billionaire that anti-Semites think controls left-wing politics.

“I was actually Hitler. It wasn’t actually Hitler,” Jones said. “I did it. I was in a time machine in Germany. I did all that.”

Later in the interview, Jones said, “I was being sarcastic earlier. I didn’t kill the children. I’m not Jeffrey Dahmer. I didn’t invent hemorrhoids. I simply questioned things and they’re trying to demonize me to say questioning things is a bad deal.”

That’s a lie though. Jones himself said the shooting was fake, and he has said in court that he believed it was, though he now believes otherwise. He has also claimed that his company is broke, despite raking in millions in online sales.

“Nobody thinks you killed the kids,” Callaghan told Jones during their interview. “Nobody thinks that oh, it’s what you did. What you killed is [the parents’] ability to get over the death of children.”

Jones responded, “Everyone’s like yeah, ‘We’re gonna get him immediately.’ Like, they’ve built me up and like I’m this giant creature like all-powerful, like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, and none of it’s real. So it’s like it’s funny, actually. It’s actually comical. I mean, it’s, it’s actually hilarious.”

Jones is being sued for defamation by several parents of Sandy Hook victims who said they experienced hardship stemming from his claims. In court, Jones said he was tired of apologizing for his statements about the shooting being a hoax.

In August 2018, Jones and InfoWars were both banned from YouTube, Apple, Facebook and Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) for repeatedly violating their policies forbidding hate speech and glorifying violence. Twitter banned him a month later for “abusive behavior.”

Jones said his banning was political censorship because the mainstream is afraid of “the truth.”

Jones has claimed on InfoWars that the government is controlling the weather; Democratic politician Hillary Clinton runs a child sex ring out of a gay-owned D.C.-area pizza restaurant (something known as Pizzagate); that the transgender rights movement is a plot to allow people to have sex with their cars; and that millions of undocumented immigrants illegally voted in the 2016 presidential election (echoing a baseless claim repeated by then-President Donald Trump).

In a child custody case, Jones’ lawyer said that he is an actor whose words shouldn’t be taken seriously.

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'A WAR FOR AMERICA’S DEMOCRACY'

Extremist expert predicts political violence during the 2022 midterm elections

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Andy Campbell, a senior editor at The Huffington Post who is the author of the book We Are Proud Boys: How a Right-Wing Street Gang Ushered in a New Era of American Extremism has said that The Proud Boys and other far-right vigilante groups will likely commit violence during the next two upcoming elections.

In a recent interview, Campell noted the Proud Boys were founded by right-wing commentator Gavin McInnes to fight in ways that other straight-laced Republicans wouldn’t.

Campbell also noted former President Donald Trump’s ominous command for the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” during his final September 2020 debate against now-President Joe Biden.

Several Proud Boys members are currently on trial for sedition for their involvement in the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

“I think we might learn some bombshells about their connection to Trump’s inner circle,” Campbell said. “And the fact that several top-level Proud Boys have already agreed to testify against their own means we may learn a lot.”

Trump also recently said that the nation would face “problems … the likes of which perhaps we’ve never seen” if he is indicted for taking classified documents after leaving office. His comment was widely seen as a call for his followers to commit violence if he’s ever criminally charged.

“I think Trump knows that everybody is going to react violently to this,” Campbell said. “The pipeline between the rhetoric and the violence in the street is so short now. How many hours was it between the time he was complaining about the FBI going through Mar-a-Lago and somebody showing up with a gun to an FBI field office? He knows he has people waiting to mobilize.”

Campbell added, “There will absolutely be Proud Boys violence in 2024 and I think in the 2022 election, too,” noting that Arizona Republicans have called for vigilante justice around ballot boxes.

“I think they are absolutely going to show up in force for Trump’s election regardless of what happens. I think we have to realize that the violence has trickled out to everyday Americans. It’s not just extremist groups anymore. Trump pointing to the back and calling the press the enemy, Trump glorifying Jan. 6 rioters,… that has come full circle.”

He concluded, “I think the spirit of January 6 is still here. All of the groups involved are still here, and everyday Americans have joined them… It’s going to be scary.”

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'ADVANCE TEAM FOR TRUMP'

Mike Lindell discourages Republicans from early voting so they can “overrun the algorithms”

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Mike Lindell, the far-right extremist and conspiracy theorist who is also CEO of My Pillow, is continuing his inexplicable battle against Democracy and voting machines by telling fellow Republicans not to vote early in the upcoming midterm elections.

Lindell made his comments while speaking to Steve Bannon, former advisor to ex-President Donald Trump, on Bannon’s broadcast on the right-wing media outlet Real America’s Voice. Bannon asked Lindell what Republicans could do to ensure that they win the midterm elections and that the elections aren’t “stolen” from them. Both Bannon and Lindell have repeatedly pushed Trump’s baseless claims that the 2020 election was “stolen” through an unprecedented, nationwide voter fraud conspiracy that hasn’t been proved in any courts or publicly exposed in the media.

“Well, the number one thing that everyone should do is vote day of,” Lindell said, adding that voters can defy “lying” pollsters by voting only on Election Day.  “We can overrun the algorithms. Everybody has to get out and vote — everybody you know — and same day. Don’t vote two days early, don’t vote one day early, vote same day.”

“It’s a lot harder for them when they don’t have days to pull names from the voter rolls with these machines and computers that are done the same day,” he continued. “And know, if we all get out and vote and overrun the algorithms, and even the ones we don’t, we are watching this time. We are watching everything.”

It’s not entirely clear what Lindell is talking about, though it seems he believes that computer algorithms use early voting counts to help decide which votes to throw out, even though voting machines don’t actually make such determinations.

Since the 2020 presidential elections, Lindell, a longtime supporter of Trump, has used his public platform to accuse various election officials of wrongdoing.  He now faces a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems for his repeated claims that their machinery played a role in “stealing” the 2020 election from Trump. He also held a televised 3-day-long cyber symposium last year that he said would prove fraud occurred in the 2020 presidential elections — it didn’t.

Steve Bannon, Bannon co-founded the right-wing news site Breitbart and was chief executive officer of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. He also served as White House chief strategist and senior counselor to the president from January 2017 until August 18, 2017, when Trump fired him.

In August 2020, Bannon was indicted by a federal grand jury, accused of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering connected to the “We Build the Wall” campaign, a $25 million GoFundMe crowdfunding, which claimed to be raising money to help Trump construct a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

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