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The hundreds of churches in Iowa that you should avoid

Timothy Kincaid

June 1st, 2010

The Iowa Family Policy Center and Purpose Ministries have collaborated on a list of about 500 clergy and ministry leaders who are petitioning the legislature to forcibly divorce same-sex married couples in Iowa. (Sioux City Journal)

Keith Ratliff, pastor of Maple Street Missionary Baptist Church in Des Moines, said the issue is not about hate or homophobia or lack of compassion.

“Just because you disagree with someone, it doesn’t mean you hate them. It can just mean we disagree with their viewpoint, and in this case, their lifestyle,” Ratliff said.

Well, no, Pastor Ratliff.

If I petitioned that you (or people like you) should be treated as inferior to me, I think you would find it difficult to locate the compassion in my efforts. And if I were to do so in the context of fighting the “People like Ratliff Lobby”, you might even identify animus in my motivations. And if I disagreed with other “viewpoints” and “lifestyles” without seeking to make them legally disadvantaged, you would probably discount my protestations and see me as a bigot and hater.

I’m just saying.

Does that mean that everyone on the list hates gay folk? No, of course not.

But it does mean that every single signatory thinks that gay people are inferior and not worthy of equal treatment under the law. And it means that they have aligned themselves with some who do hate us and that they have pledged themselves to be enemies of equality.

And they have conveniently provided us with a listing of who they are.

So if you live in Iowa and worship at any of the churches listed on this petition, you may wish to question your attendance. And if you should feel that you cannot in good conscience go back, please do let the pastor know why.



David Foreman
June 1st, 2010 | LINK

You and I know his statement is true: “Just because you disagree with someone, it doesn’t mean you hate them.”
But I agree with you that his actions betray his words.

I just hope more and more GLBT folks know that this rhetoric does not nearly represent all Christians. Their are many who support gay brothers and sisters BECAUSE of Christian faith.

There’s a great site where faith and acceptance meet. It’s called the “Gay Christian Network.” In case your readers are interested, it’s at

Kel Munger
June 1st, 2010 | LINK

Make sure you ask if they’ve been FORCED to perform a same-sex wedding since marriage equality went into effect.

Since we all know that the answer to that question is “No,” the follow-up question is: So exactly how does marriage equality affect your religious beliefs and freedom to worship?

John in the Bay Area
June 1st, 2010 | LINK

The bigots seem to consistently demand not to be called bigots when they attack gay people. Obviously they care about being challenged on their hate and bigotry, and I think that we shouldn’t flinch from calling a spade a spade.

There is no reason to pretend that advocating discrimination and unequal treatment under the law for gay and lesbian Americans is anything other than the same ugly bigotry that has been advanced in this country against any number of other minority populations.

Mark F.
June 1st, 2010 | LINK

Nobody is ever a bigot. Have you ever heard anyone admit to being a bigot? Therefore, there are no bigots!

June 1st, 2010 | LINK


Does that mean that everyone on the list hates gay folk? No, of course not.

My opinion, regardless of what they actually believe, if they are on the list they are all de facto haters.

Ben in Oakland
June 1st, 2010 | LINK

Let’s keep the list for their lawsuit. And then, when they claim whatever BS they wish, wed can p[ull out the list and starting talking aobut what we sohuld have been talking about for years– discirminaiton on the basis of religious belief.

Priya Lynn
June 1st, 2010 | LINK

David said “You and I know his statement is true: “Just because you disagree with someone, it doesn’t mean you hate them.”

Oh, as a generalization its true given that many disagreements are trivial, but when you disagree with a core feature of a person you have a tough row to hoe if you want to make the case that that’s not hate.

June 1st, 2010 | LINK

What’s interesting is to view the stated purpose for this petition. This claim is made about the Iowa Supreme Court’s ruling:

“None of the rights we hold dear are safe from this kind of despotic action. Our state government has been hijacked. We the people must draw the line in the sand and take our government back.”

Yet then is followed by this inane claim:

“The governor could have put a stay on the court’s opinion until the people of Iowa had had a chance to vote on an amendment, but he did not.”

Unless the Iowa Constitution contains such a clause giving the governor such powers the actions they wanted him to take would themselves have been unconstitutional and “despotic action”.

I love this part where they try and side-step their main bone of contention:

“Regardless about what you believe about same-sex marriage, this is a dangerous development.”

Yep, any day now an American Caesar will arise to overthrow our Republic, our perhaps just in hapless Iowa. Oh the horror. Yet it’s pretty clear that regardless of what mechanism was used to legalize SSM came from it wouldn’t matter:

“I am asking Iowa pastors, and Christian leaders across Iowa to sign the petition below to let our government know that there are still Churches in Iowa who have enough backbone to stand by the scriptures and stand up to those elected to represent us.”

So despite their call for supporters of SSM to join them to stop this “tyranny”, it doesn’t matter in the end because they are standing by the Scriptures. Okay. Good to know.

June 1st, 2010 | LINK

Oh sorry, here’s a link to the page from their site I was commenting on:

Lindoro Almaviva
June 1st, 2010 | LINK

I wonder what would they think and how would they feel if thousands of people petitioned the government for those churches to loose their tax exempt status. I wonder if they would talk about how those people are lovingly trying to keep them from meddling in the stat’s business.

Just wondering.

June 1st, 2010 | LINK

@Ben in Oakland – Right on! I’ve been scratching my head for a long time as to why we haven’t been more aggressive in making this case of religious discrimination. After all, the polls conclusively demonstrate that it is the most religiously fundamentalist people who are opposed to equality. If you took all the fundamentalists from every religion out of this country, then you’d have near unanimity in favor of marriage rights. It certainly DOES say something! The resultant unanimity through taking them out of the mix clearly demonstrates the causal variable in this: Religious Bigotry! And Both THEY and WE KNOW that this is true.

June 1st, 2010 | LINK

Just because you disagree with someone, doesn’t mean you need to legislate away their freedom.

June 1st, 2010 | LINK

Gee – according to Focus on the Family the definition of marriage never changed in Iowa because, according to them, only the Legislature can change the definition and since the Legislature never acted – there is no same sex marriages happening in the state. So this letter is not needed.

(I really wish the wingnuts could keep their talking points straight)

June 1st, 2010 | LINK

Well, Pastor Steven Jewett of the New Horizons UCC in Akron will be getting some SERIOUS flack over this.

The UCC absolutely does NOT support this position. He will be hearing from UCC members all across the country.

I did notice that New Horizon was the ONLY UCC on the list. I think he is pulling a Palin and “Going Rogue” on this one. I wouldn’t be surprised if his own congregation doesn’t call him out.

Regan DuCasse
June 1st, 2010 | LINK

Kel has a good point. If the complaint is about not being forced to perform same sex marriage ceremonies, how does it square to force gay couples to divorce?!

I think the question of religious freedom is a lot like the comment I make often about organ donation and contraception.

These are aspects of medical intervention, cooperation between people (donor/receptor/doctor) and although such medical practice is unacceptable to several faiths, no one OF these faiths complain that their religious freedom is denied when other people accept such practices.

And there are no political actions to interfere in the ability for other people to have such an option.

That is to say, this is a coexistent matter.
So, how can claims that religious freedom is compromised by marriage equality?
There are already a lot of things that people do that contradict someone’s religion.

Making same sex marriage exceptional to this already evident coexistence requires a lot of denial of facts, doesn’t it?

Jon Trouten
June 1st, 2010 | LINK

I checked over the list for local churches. I wonder how many of the churches listed actually support this amendment. Trinity Episcopal Church of Iowa City, for example, is a gay-friendly church with a large GLBT membership. In fact, their church is listed in the local Gay Pride calendar for an event of GLBT spirituality.

Some of the signers on that petition have religious titles. Others don’t. It would be interesting to see how many church members have gone rogue and included their gay-friendly churches on this anti-gay list.

June 2nd, 2010 | LINK

I “disagree” with the “Christian lifestyle” and think all Christians should be forcibly divorced to prevent them from breeding and creating more Christians.

But I don’t hate them. It’s because I love them that I want to make them miserable.

So yeah…

Ben in Oakland
June 2nd, 2010 | LINK

TJ–thank you for your kind words. I wrote this (part of a larger piece) after Prop. 8 passed.

“I’m not a lawyer, but I do have my 58 years of life, and 37 years as an out, proud, and happy gay man to guide me. Very frankly, it seems to me that these lawsuits are being conducted from the closet as well, and in exactly the same way as the campaign was. Once again, I see these three words being avoided: children, religion, and prejudice. And if this is indeed the case, then I truly fear that result will be the same. It will allow our opponents to say once again, “We don’t hate you. We’re just trying to preserve heterosexual marriage/the family/traditional values,” by which they mean the myth of heterosexual superiority and the realities of heterosexual privilege and prejudice. It will also allow them to continue to claim that somehow, if gay people are protected from discrimination, whether in marriage or the usual employment/housing/accommodations, that their freedom of religion is compromised, by which they mean their freedom to discriminate against gay people on the basis of their religious belief.

The closet is about living a lie. It IS a lie, it is based on lies, and it engenders lies. It distorts, perverts, and debases everything it touches, as the sorry life of Ted Haggard will attest. And like all lies, the bigger it is, the longer it is told, the more damage it ultimately causes. One lie, that the Jews were responsible for Jesus’ death, as told in the Gospel of John, ultimately led to centuries of anti-Semitism, the murder of six million Jews, and 250,000 murdered gay people as an afterthought. John was, of course, justifying the Jewish heresy that became Christianity, and was sticking it to the Jewish authorities of the time. The Christians won and the Jews lost. Another lie, that gay people are responsible for child molestation, has impeded so much progress in the battle to protect our children. After all, if you can blame it on the queers, you don’t actually have to look at child molestation and where it actually occurs most often– the family.

As a Jew, I’m weary of losing. As a gay man, I have no use for the closet.

There is only one answer to a lie, and that is the truth. By hiding us, hiding our families, we are complicit in this lie. Jesus said “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” So when do we start telling the truth? I, for one, wish to be free.

For 2000 years or more, gay people have been subject to a vicious, virulent, and consistent prejudice , a veritable avalanche of outright falsehoods, made up “facts”, agenda-based “research”, and distortions of religious teaching. We have been imprisoned, slandered, criminalized, degraded, pathologized, and murdered for being different. There are many people who deem it a good thing to make our lives as difficult and unpleasant as possible, often under the guise of “We love you” and “This is for your own good”. That this prejudice exists is beyond all doubt. The bulk of the Yes on 8 campaign was a conglomeration of known lies, distortions, and the-gays-are-gonna-get-your-children fear mongering, all very consistent with the existence of a prejudicial mindset. Prejudice and bigotry are not good bases for either law or public policy, and as we have progressed as a society, we have consistently rejected them.

So why is prejudice apparently not a part of our legal and strategies? Are we still afraid to call the people prejudiced who have slandered us for two millennia– or for twelve months straight– especially since we know it is true? Whether it is presented as sincere religious belief, or admitted for what it is, it is still prejudice. Why can we not say that absent a compelling, factual, and real reason, our equality before the law cannot be compromised by someone else’s prejudice? I know the argument goes that we win no converts by calling people bigots. As far as I am concerned, if we are willing only to be silent about it, we are consenting to it. We can be polite, but we have to start being truthful. The closet depends on both lies and silence for its power over gay people and its support from heterosexuals. We don’t have to call people bigots. We do have to start talking about bigotry. We are not responsible for how people to react to us. We are only responsible for who we are, and to tell the truth.


It has been documented over and over again that the Catholics and the Mormons, along with other religious conservatives, were the primary organizers, financiers, movers, and promoters of Yes on 8. In fact, they are proud of it. Their arguments were primarily religion based: it’s against our religion, God ordained that marriage is between a man and a woman, ministers will be jailed, churches will be taxed and/or sued, religious freedom violated. The President of the Mormon church sent out a letter encouraging Mormons to “do what they can”, resulting in millions in out of state donations. Pastoral letters from the Catholic Bishops were read in church; Bishops Niedeaur and Mahoney have trumpeted their parts in this, claiming that they are only doing their Catholic duty. Brigham Young university students were encouraged to phone bank. All of this to enforce a certain, conservative religious view about homosexuality, and place a religious view about same-sex marriage onto the civil contract of marriage. The state, by virtue of the First Amendment, is supposed to be neutral in religious matters. By enforcing 8, the state is not being neutral. My marriage is a civil matter, with nothing to do with anyone’s religion but my own. We don’t have to attack people’s religion. But we to have to start talking about religion, freedom of religion, and the difference between religious belief and civil society.

David Foreman
June 2nd, 2010 | LINK

Great comment!
And I say that as a man happily married in a monogomous heterosexual relationship.

June 2nd, 2010 | LINK

Desiree – as a Christian gay man, even I can laugh out loud at that one ;)

Ben – well written piece, it certainly comes from the heart. The founders were so wise with the first amendment. The irony of it all is that it is the people who stand to benefit most from its being upheld that so often want to trample it. I’m hoping for a decision from Judge Walker sometime soon on the Prop 8 law. Does anyone know when that decision is expected? Also, I hope Boise and Olson make the case you’re making, Ben.

Ben in Oakland
June 3rd, 2010 | LINK

TJ: thanks for your kind words. This was just a portion of a much longer piece i wrote.

June 18, the last I heard.

And no, from what I could tell, the one subject O&B avoided was religious prejudice. But I didn’t follow every muinute of the hearing.

Karen Nichols
June 18th, 2010 | LINK

I am upset that Trinity Episcopal in Iowa City is included in this list. The person who signed the petition on Trinity’s behalf is not a lay leader in our church; she isn’t even officially a member. Trinity is a very gay-friendly church, and our pastors do perform gay marriages.

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