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Fourth Member Leaves Westboro Baptist Church, Touts Newfound 'Unconditional Love'

Zachphelps-roperThe fourth Phelps-Roper sibling has left the compound and gained an entirely new perspective on life. 23-year-old Zach Phelps-Roper (right) abandoned his sign-wielding, hate-mongering post with the Westboro Baptist Church on February 20, 2014, and while he says it has been difficult in many ways, it seems that the separation has also been a breath of fresh air.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports:

“I feel like I have unconditional love for every person around the world,” Phelps-Roper said Friday. “The Westboro Baptist Church sees things differently than I do now.”

He expressed a desire to extend that love and aid the community around him, as others have aided him over the past months.

Doctors have treated the back pain his parents wrote off as an attempt for attention.

Homosexuals have offered to buy him meals, drinks and shown him empathy and love.

At least 20 family members he was banned from speaking with for half a decade — including two sisters and a brother — have surrounded him with warmth and support.

The process was not altogether simple or easy, though. Phelps-Roper reportedly had a difficult time moving anything out of the house because of feelings of guilt and sadness around his decision to leave. However, his new perspective on God--as a benevolent rather than sadistic force--was enough to encourage the move.

Of course his level of contact with the family inside the compound has shifted.

If he wants to get in touch with someone inside, he said, he has been directed to contact another member of the family, though he wouldn’t disclose who.

Phelps-Roper said he harbors no ill will toward his family, understanding they are acting out of the same unshakeable beliefs in the Bible to which he once subscribed.

Shirley Phelps-Roper, mother to Zach and nine siblings, claims that her son's soul hangs in the balance with his decision to leave. A soul which, he claims, has never been stronger.

In his time outside the compound, he has grown to learn and appreciate different perspectives. He has identified his own “mind traps” — assumptions, beliefs, comparisons, desires, expectations and ideals that “keep you from being empathetic” — and debunked each one of them.

“I see so many problems, from economical to emotional,” he said. “Now that my mind is free from these mind traps, I can see clearly what needs to be done. I believe that empathy and unconditional love are what is absolutely necessary for us to free ourselves and each other from mind traps and from the many problems that are plaguing our society.”


Small Michigan Town Outraged By Statue: VIDEO

Blue Human Condition sculpture

Mark Chatterley's "Blue Human Condition" features seven genderless humanoids leaning against each other in various poses to represent interconnectedness and reliance. The citizens of Adrian, Michigan saw a gay sex orgy and demanded the sculpture's removal a week after it was installed. One person, apparently utterly unaware of how children's minds actually work, commented on the city website:

I believe it is very unfair and unkind to infer that those of us that [view the sculpture as sexual] have “dirty minds” and are “sexually repressed prudes”. If so, my children are “dirty minded, sexually repressed prudes” at the ripe age of 10, 11, and 13.

StrawcutterAnd of course no moral outrage is complete without the input of religious leaders. Local pastor Rick Strawcutter views the combination of the sculpture and the recent passing of an LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance as a conspiracy by city officials to turn Adrian into Sodom.

The sculpture has since been moved to a less public part of the city, and Chatterly has received support from members of the community for creating his work. For his own part, Chatterly says that he makes his works for himself first, and that all of the accusations of lewdness show "what people are really thinking about."

For entertainment value, you can watch Pastor Strawcutter's personal video of the sculpture, complete with righteous indignation, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Small Michigan Town Outraged By Statue: VIDEO" »


Mirror Reveals the Self-Awareness of Elephants: VIDEO

Elephant

A recent clip from the Science Channel show Through the Wormhole which asks whether elephants might have the capacity for spirituality using several devices (including a mirror) that test their self-awareness.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Mirror Reveals the Self-Awareness of Elephants: VIDEO" »


After Coming Out to Students, Gay British Teacher Resigns in Response To Parent Complaints

When some of his 10 and 11-year-old students held up a sign saying "Gay Is Good" at a school assembly, assistant head Andrew Moffat of Chilwell Croft Academy in Birmingham - UK, not Alabama - felt it was a good time to come out to show his students that they knew someone gay. That decision wound up costing him his job.

Andrew MoffatWhen word got out, a minority of parents began loudly complaining that they didn't want Moffat teaching their children. The parents, predominantly of Muslim faith but with some Christians as well, said that they didn't want their children being taught that being gay is ok. Moffat resigned under the pressure and has accepted a teaching position outside Birmingham.

Presently, a dozen schools in Birmingham are under investigation for financial mismanagement and the introduction of Islamic religious teachings into the curriculum. Last month a document called "Operation Trojan Horse" was circulated and is allegedly a guide on how Islamic fundamentalists could take over schools.


Bishop Encourages Priests To Marry Gay Couples

Reverend Alan Wilson, the Bishop of Buckingham, suggests priests get a little creative and go ahead and marry any gay and lesbian couples despite the rules from the Church of England.

The Telegraph reports:

Bishop-alan-wilson11Gay clergy should follow their conscience and defy the Church of England’s restrictions on same-sex marriage, a prominent bishop has said as the most radical change ever made to the legal definition of marriage in Britain comes into force.

The Rt Rev Alan Wilson, the Bishop of Buckingham, said priests should be “creative” to get around restrictions on blessings for same-sex couples and that gay clergy who wish to marry should do so in defiance of the official line.

Joined by an alliance of seven retired bishops, he condemned the Church’s position on gay marriage as “morally outrageous” and said it made him “ashamed”.

Wilson is embracing the newlyweds and is also calling on closeted gay priests to come out and marry their own partners.

He also claimed that several current serving bishops are themselves in gay partnerships, and urged them to publicly acknowledge their status for the sake of “honesty and truthfulness” and even consider marrying.

“If you start to live in a society where there is no longer shame just in being gay I think it is like frostbite coming off – it hurts.

Wilson isn't the only key religious member to praise the new marriage equality law. According to The Guardian, Reverend Nick Holtam, the bishop of Salisbury also applauded the newly married couples:

Gay marriage, the bishop said, "embodies a commitment to be faithful, loving, and lifelong. These are virtues which the Church of England wants to see maximised in society."

Watch video of the a few of nuptials and reactions from British citizens, AFTER THE JUMP

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Obamacare, Religious Exemptions, and Gay Rights: Hobby Lobby at the Supreme Court Today

By ARI EZRA WALDMAN

SupremesToday, the Supreme Court is hearing arguments in a case about Obamacare. The last time that happened, the Court determined by a bare 5-4 majority that the so-called individual mandate, the requirement that everyone has to buy health insurance or pay a tax, was constitutional. Now, the Court is considering whether corporations can refuse to provide insurance plans that include contraception if doing so would violate the religious beliefs of those corporations' owners.

This matters, not just to those of us in need of health care and not just to those of us who work for companies run by religious people. It matters to all LGBT Americans because the scope of this particular religious exemption could affect the scopes of other religious exemptions.

The cases -- Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius -- will determine the breadth of the religious exemption from Obamacare. Unfortunately, the pretext of religious freedom has gained much traction of late in justifying continued discrimination. And this Court's conservative majority has set itself up to strike a blow against equality.

AFTER THE JUMP, I will construct the argument I expect the Court's conservatives will use to expand the religious exemption. I will show how that argument is deeply flawed. And then I will show how dangerous it is for the LGBT community.

Continue reading "Obamacare, Religious Exemptions, and Gay Rights: Hobby Lobby at the Supreme Court Today" »


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