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Carrie Underwood's Evangelical Megachurch GracePointe Comes Out for Marriage Equality: VIDEO

Grace[pointe

GracePointe Church in Franklin, Tennessee has joined the small but growing number of evangelical megachurches that have come out in support of marriage equality, TIME reports.

The church's three year "listening process" on the issue began when country star Carrie Underwood, who attends GracePointe, spoke out in favor of marriage equality in 2012 - a move that led Westboro Baptist Church protesters to show up and picket outside GracePointe.  

via TIME:

For congregants on all sides of the debate, the conversation over the past three years has been at times painful, even devastating. For [pastor Stan] Mitchell, it has been a deeply personal as well as a spiritual journey, especially as he has seen it divide friends and family. And on Sunday, Jan. 11, the church reached a conclusion, as Mitchell shared:

Mitchell“Our position that these siblings of ours, other than heterosexual, our position that these our siblings cannot have the full privileges of membership, but only partial membership, has changed,” he said, as many in the congregation stood to their feet in applause, and other sat in silence. “Full privileges are extended now to you with the same expectations of faithfulness, sobriety, holiness, wholeness, fidelity, godliness, skill, and willingness. That is expected of all. Full membership means being able to serve in leadership and give all of your gifts and to receive all the sacraments; not only communion and baptism, but child dedication and marriage.” [...]

GracePointe’s move is not without concrete consequences. January giving usually is about $100,000–so far this month the church has brought in an estimated $52,000. When GracePointe began the listening process in 2012, Sunday attendance averaged 800-1000. The Sunday he preached the inclusion sermon, attendance was 673, and two weeks later, it was down to 482. “It’s a gut punch,” Mitchell says. “I know a year from now, I’m going to feel a whole lot better, but right now it is just hard.”

For now, spiritual and Biblical convictions are pushing GracePointe and its pastor forward. Pastors are coming to him quietly and undercover from all over town, he says, to talk with him about how to have this conversion in their own evangelical churches. And, while a three-year conversation is ending, another one is just beginning. “Could you be a church in Selma and not march, just handle your own community?” Mitchell asks. “I don’t think I can do that. We are on the front edge of a movement that means so much.”

Watch Mitchell's powerful sermon announcing the change, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Carrie Underwood's Evangelical Megachurch GracePointe Comes Out for Marriage Equality: VIDEO" »


Sources Confirm Bruce Jenner is 'Transitioning into a Woman'

After months of media speculation surrounding Bruce Jenner's changing appearance, a source close to the family has confirmed the former Olympic track and field athlete is in the transition process.

People reports:

Jenner"Bruce is transitioning to a woman," says a source close to the family. "He is finally happy and his family is accepting of what he's doing. He's in such a great space. That's why it's the perfect time to do something like this." 

And according to a different Jenner insider, the 65-year-old reality star is filming his momentous journey, to be shared with viewers on a docu-series this year. "It will air when he is ready to be open about his transition," the source tells PEOPLE. "But he's acting more and more confident and seems very happy." 

The docuseries, set to air on E!, does not have a title or premiere date yet, but Variety reports reps at the network have already planned a meeting with GLAAD on how to handle the subject of Jenner's transition appropriately. 

Earlier this month, gossip rag In Touch started a minor firestorm after publishing a photoshopped picture of Jenner as a woman with lipstick and blush on their cover. 


GOP Congressman Chris Smith: 'I Do Not Construe Homosexual Rights As Human Rights'

Smith

Republican New Jersey Congressman Chris Smith made the anti-gay remark during a House Foreign Affairs Committee meeting on Wednesday where the subject on hand was human rights in Nigeria.

Smith, who is also the chairman of the Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organization Subcommittee, made the comment in response to Ambassador Robert P. Jackson, who had addressed LGBT rights in that African country to the full committee. Smith's comments in full:

"As you know there are fundamental differences in the United States over the whole LBGT (sic) issue. I am a strong believer in traditional marriage and do not construe homosexual rights as human rights. Others have a different view and I certainly respect them."

The HRC immediately issued a statement and made note that his comments fell on the same day a dozen people were arrested in Nigeria for taking part in a same-sex wedding:

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“On a day when 12 men were reportedly arrested for simply attending an alleged LGBT wedding in Nigeria, and as reports keep emerging about the impact of Nigeria’s anti-LGBT law on the lives of Nigerians, it is unconscionable that Representative Smith would not only object to the basic human rights of LGBT people, but argue that their rights should not be part of the administration’s policy in Nigeria,” said Ty Cobb, Director of HRC Global.

The LGBT Caucus of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee also slammed Smith:

“It’s simple: LGBT rights are human rights. It’s shocking that Smith — or anyone in his position — would make such close-minded comments to the contrary."

Even his fellow Republicans have criticized his anti-gay comments:

“Despite Congressman Smith’s views on civil marriage equality, the Board of Directors of Equality GOP New Jersey have long respected his outstanding record on Human Rights and his courage to fight a just fight for the good of humankind and to promote the dignity and welfare of human life.

Mr. Smith’s recent remarks. however, are completely outside the recognized global human rights framework, inconsistent with his solid pro life record, contrary to Catholic teachings regarding violence against LGBT people, and not at all reflective of the values of equality and inclusion that have been the bedrock of the U.S. Republican Party and the values of life and liberty that have been the foundation of American democracy.

You can watch the House Foreign Affairs Committee meeting here. Smith's anti-gay remarks come in at 1:42:26. 


Nine Ugandan Men Detained And Sexually Abused By Police For Suspected Homosexuality

Uganda

Nine Ugandan gay men were accosted by a homophobic mob as they departed from the Rainbow Health Foundation’s STI health clinic in the rural western part of the country.

Police purportedly took the men into custody for their own protection, but upon arrival at police headquarters, the men were immediately charged under Ugandan sodomy laws. The men were subjected in invasive anal examinations to prove that the detained men were gay.

VIllage officials like the local council chairman have acknowledged that the men were detained, but have expressed that they have no sympathy for them.

The Rainbow Health Foundation has stepped forward and is now trying to raise funds to move the men to a safer location nearer to a city where they may be safe from further persecution. Funds can be directed to the organization through their PayPal e-mail address donate2rhfm@gmail.com.

“The young men are living in fear for their lives,” said Denis LeBlanc, editor of the 76Crimes blog. “Some are house hopping, others are hiding in fields; these young men are in real danger should they be found.”


The Church of Scientology Wants You To Know The Many Different Names For Poppers

Screenshot 2015-01-30 15.13.35

The Foundation For a Drug-Free World, an organization founded and funded by the Church of Scientology, has been on a tour through New York City public schools teaching children about the evils of some of the world’s more popular recreation drugs.

While there’s nothing wrong with spreading useful information about the risks associated with drug use, the Foundation’s lesson plans, which have been published online, give the impression of being a little less than helpful.

Of particular interest are the massive collection of street names compiled for inhalants, all of which are generally undifferentiated from one another. For example did you know that poppers were also known as Satan’s Secret? Neither did we. Poppers' safety has, in fact, been the topic of debate in a number of medical circles recently, but somehow it seems difficult to imagine that sudden vision loss came up during these health "seminars."


12 Men Arrested In Northern Nigeria In Violation of Sharia Law Forbidding Gay Marriage

NigeriaYet another group of men suspected of being gay have been arrested in Nigeria, this time in the northern, predominantly Muslim city of Kano where Sharia law is in effect. The 12 men were accosted by Sharia law enforcement at what was described as a “gay wedding.”

“We got information of the wedding four days earlier and our men stormed the venue while the wedding was about to start,” said commading officer Aminu “We have 12 men in custody, including the bride. We arrested them at the venue of a planned gay wedding.”

Faruk Maidguri claims that the people taken into custody had actually gathered to celebrate his birthday. He went on to accuse the police of singling out his friends because of their outwardly feminine demeanor.

In accordance with Nigerian law same-sex marriage is expressly forbidden, as is being a part of LGBT activist organizations. Sharia law in Nigeria features similar prohibitions, but carry much more severe, though rarely exercised, penalties such as physical punishment and death.


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