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Texas High School Responds To Gay Vlogger's Viral Video Saying He Was Threatened With Expulsion for Being Out

Wallis.Austin

Earlier this week, Towleroad's Kyler Geoffroy broke the story about gay teen vlogger Austin Wallis, who posted an emotional video recounting how he was forced to leave his high school because of his sexual orientation. 

Since then, Wallis' video has been viewed more than 170,000 times. Today, we learn that the school that threatened Wallis with expulsion if he didn't go back in the closet is Houston's Lutheran High North, a small, private, religious school with 162 students.  

The Texas Observer reports: 

Dallas Lusk, head of school at LHN, sent the Observer a statement from Wayne Kramer, executive director of the Lutheran Education Association of Houston. The association covers three schools, including LHN, which has an enrollment of 162.

“Lutheran High North welcomes all students and their families to the LHN community,” Kramer said in the statement. “We profess and proclaim our Christian beliefs with the foundations and authority taught in the Bible, all within the teachings of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. We respectfully require students to adhere to these accepted values and moral beliefs. Sometimes, as in this case, students have to make choices and decide whether their beliefs align with our community and we respect their choices. We also respect student privacy and do not comment on any individual student or their actions.”

The Observer reports that Lutheran High North also has a Morals Clause in its student handbook which states: 

“Lutheran High North reserves the right, within its sole discretion, to refuse admission of an applicant and/or to discontinue enrollment of a current student participating in, promoting, supporting or condoning: pornography, sexual immorality, homosexual activity or bisexual activity; or displaying an inability or resistance to support the qualities and characteristics required of a Biblically based and Christ-like lifestyle,” the clause states.

In addition, the Observer reports that the school is part of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, which takes this position on homosexuality: 

“The Missouri Synod believes the Bible teaches homosexual behavior is contrary to God’s Word and will, and the LCMS seeks to minister to those who are struggling with homosexual inclinations,” the denomination’s website states.

Ken Upton, senior counsel at Lambda Legal, told the Observer that although he believes the school's actions qualify as abuse, Wallis has little recourse:

“The short answer is that if it’s not a government school, if it’s a strictly private school, the First Amendment doesn’t apply to them,” Upton said. “If they’re a private school, then I think it’s game over. They’re entitled to discriminate.”

Watch Wallis' video if you haven't already, AFTER THE JUMP ...  

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Thousands Resign From Finland's Lutheran Church After Archbishop's Pro-Gay Marriage Comments

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 5.06.53 PMAlmost 7,800 Finnish citizens resigned from the Lutheran church after the government voted to legalize same sex marriage and Archbishop Kari Mäkinen immediately lent his vocal support for the vote reports The Independent. In the short amount of time between the vote passing on Friday Nov. 28 and midnight, Saturday Nov. 29, 7,800 church members completely resigned from the church primarily through a website aimed at fast tracking the process reports YLE Uutiset. A large number of commenters wrote on the site that it was Archbishop Mäkinen's comments that caused them to resign. 

The mass resignations could significantly affect the Church's revenue, as members who resign no longer have to pay taxes to the church-its main source of income. Immediately following the Friday vote that legalized same-sex marriage in Finland, which will also allow gay couples to adopt children and share the same surname, Makinen issued positive commentary about the new legislation and attempted to calm church members fears.

Said Mäkinen:

"I know how much this day means for rainbow people, their loved ones and many others. I rejoice with my whole heart for them and with them...I would like to warmly thank the proponents of the law, and all those who have taken part in the debates, regardless of position.

"There are many who are now disappointed and feel concern. This is understandable. Their experience will be respected, and the Church will listen to their fears in the future, as well as in society as a whole."

Mäkinen assured church members that their marriages are not cheapened because of the passage, and that neither the Church's faith nor human dignity will suffer. However, Finland's Christian Democrat leader Paivi Rasanin vowed that she intends on fighting against the legislation. Should the measure stand, the first gay marriages in Finland are set to occur in 2017. 


Archbishop Of Finland Apologizes For 'Cruel Treatment' Of Gays

Kari Mäkinen

The Archbishop of Finland’s Evangelical Lutheran Church has apologized for the cruel treatment of gay people and other sexual minorities, reports YLE Uutiset.

Speaking at the public forum SuomiAreena, Kari Mäkinen said:

“When I think of the outside pressure and treatment that we have been guilty of displaying towards sexual minorities as a church and as a society for decades and how it still continues, I think it’s time for an apology.”

Mäkinen said he hoped his apology would encourage others to follow suit.

In June, Finland’s Parliament rejected a measure that would have legalized “gender-neutral marriage”, making it possible for same-sex couples to marry.


Five Religious Faiths File 42-Page Brief Supporting Gay Marriage Bans in Utah and Oklahoma

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, National Association of Evangelicals, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod filed a 42-page amicus brief to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday arguing in support of Bans on gay marriage in Oklahoma and Utah.

LdsThe filers argued that they aren't against same-sex couples:

"Our faith communities bear no ill will toward same-sex couples, but rather have marriage-affirming religious beliefs that merge with both practical experience and sociological fact to convince us that retaining the husband-wife marriage definition is essential," the brief explains.

The AP adds:

The coalition struck back at the notion that opposing gay marriage makes one anti-gay, irrational or bigoted.

"The accusation is false and offensive," it says. "It is intended to suppress rational dialogue and democratic conversation, to win by insult and intimidation rather than by reason, experience, and fact."

...Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said Monday that religions will always be free to choose which marriages they perform.

But in a statement, Minter added that "the state cannot exclude any group of people from a fundamental right based on religious views held by some. Our society is strengthened when the law both supports all families and protects the freedoms of conscience and belief."

Download the full brief here (PDF).


Lutheran Church Elects First Openly Gay Bishop

Rev. Dr. R. Guy ErwinThe Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has elected the Rev. Dr. R. Guy Erwin to a six-year term as bishop of Southwest California Synod, which covers the greater Los Angeles area. It is the first time the church has elected an openly gay bishop. 

GLAAD reports

This is a significant step for the ELCA, who, until 2009, had banned clergy in same-gender relationships. Prior to 2009, hundreds of gay and lesbian clergy were forced out of congregations or served under secrecy. Hundreds of seminary students were not granted ordination, simply for being gay. Many left the denomination to more welcoming denominations or to join a roster of Lutheran pastors who refused to comply with the policy.

Dr. Erwin is a native of Oklahoma and an active member of the Osage Tribe of Indians. Dr. Erwin also sits on the board of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, which expands ministry opportunities for publicly-identified LGBTQ people called to leadership in the Lutheran church as ordained pastors and rostered lay leaders.

"I know that many will see my election as a significant milestone for both LGBT people and Native Americans, and I pray that I can be a positive representation for both communities," said Erwin about his election. "There was a time when I believed that I would not be able to serve as a pastor in the ELCA. Our church has now recognized the God-given gifts and abilities that LGBT people can bring to the denomination."

In 2009 the ELCA voted to allow gay people living in committed relationships to work for the church. Prior to this they had been banned. 


Entire Lutheran College Men's Golf Team Suspended After Dropping Pants for Team Photo: VIDEO

Bethany

The entire men's golf team at Bethany College, a Lutheran college in Kansas, has been suspended after dropping its pants for a team photo in which they covered their man parts with golf clubs.

Hicscock Yahoo reports:

Jon Daniels suspended every player on the Fighting Swedes for three tournaments because of the photo he called, "a case of young people who just don't think beyond the moment and don't realize who they're hurting."

"Until someone sat them down and explained that they did something wrong, they didn't have any idea," Daniels said. "But I think they understand now."

Team captain (pictured) Jack Hiscock (for realz), a Brit, insisted it was all in good fun:

"It was only intended as a bit of fun with the lads."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

And check out the full photo above over at Deadspin (possibly not sfw).

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