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Rush Limbaugh Blames Same-sex Marriage, Gay Clergy For America's Decline in Christian Followers: AUDIO

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(Photo via Twitter)

It didn't take long for conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh to weigh in on Pew's recent study showing that the number of identifying Christian's has steadily declined over the last decade, with the radio host blaming, you guessed it, gay marriage.

Limbaugh shared his reasoning on his radio show on Tuesday, specifically citing churches that perform same-sex weddings and ordained gay clergy are the reason for the diaspora:

"They have left their churches because of social issues and the evolution of their churches to social areas they didn't want to go and don't feel comfortable being in. If you look at the evangelical churches, they haven’t lost anything. Their membership is holding pretty steady. Where the message has remained, where the mission has remained the same, where the members of the church don’t think any corruption is taking place. They're still hanging in there.

You can listen to Limbaugh discuss Pew's study, AFTER THE JUMP

[h/t Raw Story]

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European Human Rights Court Rules in Favor of Georgian Gay Rights Activists

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Georgian gay rights activists won a small victory after the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled on May 12 that Georgian authorities must compensate gay-rights activists after they failed to protect them from assaults at a gay-pride event in May 2012 reports RFERL.org

The 2012 incident involved activists attempting to host the nation's first gay pride march in Tbilisi to celebrate the U.N.'s International Day Against Homophobia. However, orthodox clerics and activists attempted to block the peaceful LGBT activists; many of the LGBT activists suffered physical and verbal assaults at the hands of the orthodox activists. 

LGBT Tbilisi-based group Identoba and dozens of other activists are expect to receive between 1,500 and 4,000 euros ($1,675-$4,465) in compensation from the government. The ECHR also ruled that a violation of Article 3 occurred that prohibits individuals from enduring inhuman or degrading treatment in conjunction with a violation of Article 14 that bans outright discrimination.

Since 2012's event Georgian LGBT activists have experienced escalating violence at demonstrations and rallies from Georgian Orthodox Church clerics and proponents.


Phyllis Schlafly: Gay Activists Want To 'Wipe Out' Christianity - LISTEN

Phyllis Schlafly

Anti-gay wingnut and Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly has said that marriage equality advocates are trying “to wipe out the Christian religion”, reports Right Wing Watch.

In an interview with conservative radio host Chuck Wilder earlier this week, Schlafly spoke out for “harassed” business owners who have violated religious right to discriminate laws:

“Have you noticed that only Christian small-businesspeople have been harassed and sued for refusing to participate in same-sex marriages even though our fast-growing immigrant populations, you know of Muslims, Hindus and other faiths are also opposed to that concept?

“They want to wipe out the Christian religion. And most of these other religions do not recognize same-sex marriage. I assume there are some Muslim bakers and photographers and other people who have been harassed, but they’re not being attacked and they’re not being criticized.”

Hmmmm......

Listen, AFTER THE JUMP...

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LGBT Advocates Call On IRS To Investigate Anti-Gay Megachurch In Plano, Texas: VIDEO

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LGBT advocates are calling on the IRS to investigate a Southern Baptist megachurch in Plano, Texas, over a clergy member's involvement in last week's City Council elections. 

Mike Buster, executive pastor at Prestonwood Baptist Church — also known as "Six Flags Over Jesus" — reportedly sent an email to 2,500 church members endorsing candidates who oppose the city's Equal Rights Ordinance, which was approved by the council in December. 

Prestonwood Baptist, with tens of thousands of members, was ground zero for organizers of an unsuccessful petition aimed at repealing the Equal Rights Ordinance. Two candidates endorsed by Buster who oppose the ordinance won contested races on Saturday. 

Prestonwood“It is the responsibility of the IRS to investigate any potential wrongdoings and violations and we believe the executive pastor’s endorsement ... is a clear and blatant violation," said LGBT activist Sean Sala, who launched a Change.org petition. "The IRS needs to investigate this fully."

One of the Plano candidates who won Saturday's election, Ron Kelley, runs a nonprofit ministry at Prestonwood Baptist. Both Kelley and Tom Harrison, who also won a seat on the council, decided to run in response to the ordinance. From The Dallas Morning News:  

Kelley and Harrison say they would be independent voices and were galvanized to enter local politics because of the Equal Rights Ordinance that was approved in December. Petitions to have an election on the measure were deemed invalid by the city.

“That issue should have been put on the ballot,” said Kelley, who runs a nonprofit ministry at Prestonwood Baptist Church. “The citizens of Plano should have had a right to decide.”

Harrison agrees, saying the measure was passed without adequate notice to citizens. “They ignored the people,” Harrison said. “It’s a transparency issue.”

In February, Buster called the ordinance a "travesty" and suggested businesses should be free to discriminate against LGBT people, according reports from Fox 4:   

"Anytime you criminalize people of faith in the workplace by handcuffing them and not allowing them to make decisions and to serve the people that they want to serve and to hire the people they want to hire, you are stripping them of religious freedom,” said Rev. Mike Buster.

WFAA-TV investigated Buster's email last week: 

Referring to Kelley, Pastor Buster writes in the e-mail:

"We need to make sure we are electing local leaders who support our Christian values and who stand for the people."

Kelley is with Prestonwoood's ministerial staff and is director of the Prestonwood Foundation. Pastor Buster ends the e-mail writing:

"Let's send a statement that it is time for 'We the People' to take back our city!"

Experts said although Buster's email raises red flags, it's unlikely the IRS will get involved. 

Watch WFAA-TV's report, AFTER THE JUMP... 

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STUDY: Number of People Calling Themselves 'Christians' Dives Over The Past Decade

Christians

A new study conducted by the Pew Research Center finds that the number of adults who identify as Christian in the U.S. is steadily falling reports The New York Times. Pew's study finds that the number of identifying Christians fell eight percent since 2007; a decline of five million adults across various denominations, age and race.

The study doesn't reveal an exact explanation behind the decline of identifying Christians, but the low numbers of identifying Christians among millennials and educated youth indicates that a religiously unaffiliated generation is rising. The study shows that the number of the religiously unaffiliated increased to 56 million, up from 36 million in 2007; a 16 percent increase. Notably, ex-Christians, or those who left the faith, now represent 19 percent of adults.

Another trend in the data shows that as time goes on, younger millennials are more likely to be less affiliated with religion than their older cohorts. Many argue that the declining number of Christians amongst youth is a result of political backlash against Republicans and conservatives' religious association with political values; Mike Hout, a professor of sociology at New York University, concurs with the findings:

"The two are now intertwined. You can't use one to predict the other, because if the Republicans switched to more economic or immigration issues, then perhaps the rise of the unaffiliated will slow down."

However, non-Christian faiths within the U.S. remained relatively unaffected, with Judaism, Islam and Hinduism either remaining relatively unchanged or experiencing slight growth. Islam grew the most experiencing a .5 percent increase in practitioners and followers.


Can Eureka Springs, Arkansas Buck Recent Trend Of Voters Repealing LGBT Protections?

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Voters in Eureka Springs, Arkansas — known as "the gay capital of the Ozarks" — will decide today whether to repeal the town's LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance. 

The Eureka Springs City Council hurriedly approved the ordinance in February, hours after the Arkansas Senate passed a bill prohibiting cities from adding classes to nondiscrimination ordinances that aren't included in state law.  

Council members in the gay-friendly enclave hoped to send a message to state lawmakers and set up a possible future court challenge to the law. However, opponents of the Eureka Springs ordinance gathered the 96 signatures needed to place a repeal on the ballot. Even if the ordinance is upheld, the city will no longer enforce it after July 20, when the state law takes effect.  

Nevertheless, today's vote has plenty of symbolic significance and has drawn national attention. In addition to its designation as "the gay capital of the Ozarks," Eureka Springs is overlooked by the 66-foot-tall "Christ of the Ozarks" statue, the site of a play depicting Jesus' final days. 

The Associated Press reported this weekend: 

CHristOpponents of the ordinance argue it's another step in a direction that they say threatens the future of the Great Passion Play, a seasonal outdoor production that draws about 50,000 people a year to a campus that includes a Bible museum and the statue of Jesus.

Randall Christy, the play's chief executive officer, has been among the most vocal opponents of the ordinance, arguing it would unnecessarily split the town and force churches to perform same-sex weddings.

"They have divided this city," Christy said.

But supporters of the ordinance say the pro-repeal campaign is one doing the dividing with a campaign they say is preying on voters' fears. Signs hung on residents' doorknobs urge voters to "keep our daughters safe in Eureka Springs bathrooms" and argue that sexual predators would use the law to falsely claim they're transgender.

The divide in Eureka Springs was evident last month when a pro-LGBT church was excluded from a "Celebrate Jesus Easter Parade." 

If voters uphold the ordinance, they will buck a recent trend in the region. Voters in Fayetteville, Arkansas and Springfield, Missouri, have recently repealed LGBT protections. 

More from the AP

Mayor Robert "Butch" Berry, who supports the ordinance, said he believes his town eventually will come together.

"It doesn't matter which side of the fence you're on, let those without sin cast the first stone," Berry said in Biblical terms. "There's been a lot of stones cast."


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