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Posts for June, 2009

Hagee and Soulforce Meeting Goes Well

Timothy Kincaid

June 29th, 2009

The San Antonio Express-News had a write-up on the visit that Soulforce and Atticus Circle made to The Cornerstone and their meeting with John Hagee.

Hagee addressed them at a reception after the 11 a.m. service and later spoke privately with LGBT leaders.

If any of them expected fireworks from the gatherings, none erupted. Everyone seemed surprised there were no surprises.

The visit, initiated by two Austin-based groups, Soulforce and Atticus Circle, were portrayed as groundbreaking. It was the first in a series of meetings called Sundays of Solidarity, in which the LGBT community will meet with faith communities. Its goals are to have tough conversations, but Sunday’s was to connect with people on a personal level.

Cornerstone members reacted positively.

“We really enjoyed the people we met,” said Buzz Park. “It was a pleasant experience.”

Kelli Busey, who traveled from Dallas, said Hagee’s welcome “couldn’t have been nicer, more heartfelt and productive. He opened the conversation in a very positive way.”

As expected, this visit did not coincide with Rev. Hagee’s miraculous reunderstanding of the scriptures that have been used to alienate, denigrate, and demonize his gay neighbors. But perhaps the next time he finds the hand of God in a natural disaster he may at least have faces to go with the denunciations he is making.

Small steps, but necessary steps.

LaBarbera Award Winner Hagee Meets With Gay Supportive Group

Timothy Kincaid

June 27th, 2009

NOTE: The original title of this commentary was “LaBarbera Award Winner Hagee Meets With Gay Christian Group”. At the request of the Jeff Lutes, we have revised the title to be more accurate. See update below.

John Hagee, pastor of the Austin San Antonio mega-church The Cornerstone, is well known for his nonsensical rants about gay people. For example, he announced that Hurricane Katrina was God’s judgment on New Orleans for a planned gay event (he failed to explain why God chose to spare the French Quarter – but maybe God just has bad aim).

It was nutcase hatery like that which won him our coveted LaBarbera Award for the “most outrageous, offensive, malevolent, crazy or excessive statement or claim.”

Well, proving that the best policy is to never confuse the unlikely with the impossible, gay groups have scheduled a sit-down discussion with Hagee this Sunday. (Statesman)

Members of [Austin-based advocacy groups Soulforce and Atticus Circle], which support equal rights for the LGBT — lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender — community, wrote to the senior pastor of the church, the Rev. John Hagee , in early June to ask for a meeting.

Hagee invited them to services Sunday and agreed to sit down with organizers afterward.

I don’t think Soulforce or Atticus Circle are fooling themselves into believing that they will change Hagee’s theology. And Hagee seems mostly to be patting himself on the back for even meeting with them.

In an e-mail statement this month about his decision to meet with Austin advocates, Hagee said, “We gather in the spirit of Christ that commands us to ‘love our neighbors as ourselves.’ ”

But if this helps rachet down some of the hateful rhetoric then my hat is off to these groups.

Update: Jeff Lutes, the Executive Director of SoulForce, has provided clarification about my miscategorizing them as a gay Christian group:

One very important point of correction is that neither Soulforce or Atticus Circle identify as “Gay Christian” groups. Soulforce members include a diverse array of folks who simply believe in nonviolent direct action as a method to achieve social justice; Atticus Circle focuses on recruiting straight allies to join in the fight for equality. Because we challenge religion-based discrimination, we are frequently mistaken as religious organizations – which automatically excludes many LGBTQA people who don’t identify as people of faith. We want all those who seek justice to get involved in our efforts, so anything you can do to help us undo the “Gay Christian” misnomer would be greatly appreciated.

LaBarbera Award: Pastor John Hagee

Jim Burroway

June 2nd, 2008

The LaBarbera AwardI don’t know how we managed to overlook John Hagee when handing out LaBarbera Awards. He’s uttered so many doozies in the past, so much so that presumptive GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain was finally forced to distance himself from the man whose support he once courted.

But this latest discovery looks like it’s about as good a reason as any to recognize some of the lunacy which runs rampant among anti-gay extremists:

On March 16, 2003, on the eve of the United States’ invasion of Iraq, Pastor John Hagee took to the pulpit to warn of the coming Antichrist. In his sermon, “The Final Dictator,”Hagee described the Antichrist as a seductive figure with “fierce features.” He will be “a blasphemer and a homosexual,” the pastor announced. Then, Hagee boomed, “There’s a phrase in Scripture used solely to identify the Jewish people. It suggests that this man [the Antichrist] is at least going to be partially Jewish, as was Adolph Hitler, as was Karl Marx.”

You see? Fred Phelp’s Westboro Baptists aren’t a complete aberration. You can get the full effect here:
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Now you see, that’s how you win the LaBarbera Award.

By the way, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) still says he’s going to deliver the keynote address at Hagee’s Christians United For Israel (CUFI) summit. Also scheduled to attend is Rep. Elliot Engel (D-NY). No word yet on whether Engel has reconsidered given this latest outburst.