Archives: December 2003
Reports from all of November are listed on the
November archive page.
For links to earlier archive pages,
Polling by conservative group still reflects strong support
for same-sex marriage
"America's Poll on
Homosexual Marriage," posted and reported by the American Family
Association, continues to grow in its number of responses, with almost 60%
favoring the legalization of same-sex marriage, and another 8% supporting
All this is being reported by one of the leading
organizations working to defend the "traditional family."
The details, as of Monday, December 29:
|I oppose legalization of homosexual
marriage and "civil unions"
|I favor legalization of homosexual
|I favor a "civil union" with the full
benefits of marriage except for the name
To be sure, a recent poll by the New York Times and CBS
News finds that 55% of Americans
favor a Constitutional amendment banning homosexual marriage.
archived on the NYTimes website (so it'll cost you a bit to see the
It is also
posted in full (and free) by "The Daily Camera."
It is probably more accurate statistically than the AFA
poll, but given the anti-gay values reflected in that organization, the
results are surprising and interesting.
If you haven't voted, you can do so by going to
TWO DISCUSSION STARTERS -- on
gay marriage and
It appears that our Issues Analyst, Gene TeSelle, has never
met an issue he didn't at least like to think about. Here are two
reflections, one on an issue -
same-sex marriage - that is of direct concern to the PC(USA), the
other - legislative redistricting in Texas
and Colorado - that is a matter of "good citizenship" for all of us.
He offers these points with the hope they will generate
some good conversation, and perhaps ideas for actions to be suggested at
the 2004 General Assembly.
If you have thoughts,
please send a
note and we'll share it here!
When God goes to war
Armstrong considers what's going on "when God goes to war." Noting that
the major religions, including Christianity and Islam, seem to support
peace and goodwill, she asks why they in fact inspire so much hatred and
violence, and why their scriptures depict a God that is so "militant."
The answer, she suggests, is that "religion is the
creation of human beings, who are biologically programmed for aggression.
We dream of peace but slaughter our own kind, and from the very start our
faith systems have reflected this tragic dualism."
Her essay is posted on The Guardian Unlimited. She is the
author of A History of God.
Thanks to Dugan Frederick, of Denver, CO
We've just repaired and updated our
index page and archive pages on the
war in Iraq.
SPEAKING TO POWER - a NOW
with Bill Moyers special edition
NOW with Bill Moyers will present a special program on Friday, Dec. 26,
tracing the theology and history of Riverside Church in New York City,
along with its commitment to social justice, political witness, and
the details, and for local listings go to
to Harold Barton
and the American Conscience"
Brian "BJ" Jordan, of Palm Coast, Florida, sends these
reflections as a "Gen-Xer" who shares his cohort's skepticism about
romance, yet sees a need for a new romanticism, a new ability to care, to
love beyond ourselves.
surprising poll on marriage
Just yesterday we announced a "poll on
homosexual marriage" being taken by the
Association, which "represents and stands for traditional family values."
encouraged anyone who wanted to add a bit of diversity to the poll to
register their own opinions on the AFA website.
mid-day on Saturday, Dec. 20, 2003, they report these results:
I oppose legalization of
homosexual marriage and "civil unions"
38.78% (164946 votes)
I favor legalization of
52.88% (224886 votes)
I favor a "civil union"
with the full benefits of marriage except for the name
You can check their latest reports, and add
your own vote, at
You may also want to look at the
statement of purpose of the
American Family Association.
|We just got
this interesting note. Have you had a similar problem??
Please let us know. Just
send a note!
I don't know where else
to express my bewilderment,
but when I tried to fill out the poll with Yes, I believe that
Homosexual marriage should be legal, I received a message that I had
already taken this poll. I have not. Any ideas as to what I should
do? I would hate to think someone had registered No with my name.
What's the true meaning of marriage?
Gordon Shull, reflecting on the diverse realities of his own family,
suggests that marriage is defined not by labels but by "attitudes and deeds
that sustain the relationship. Love. Faithfulness. Respect. Thoughtfulness.
Wherever we find these in a couple, we find marriage defended - no matter
the gender, and no matter what we call it."
Another bump in the road
In a blow to corporate-driven agenda, the U.S. has been
forced to complete a scaled-down CAFTA
(Central American Free Trade Agreement) without Costa Rica.
The agreement remains a threat to
workers, environment, public health, faces uphill battle in Congress,
according to the Citizens Trade Campaign.
Keeping an eye on Bush's stealth attacks on the environment
provides accurate and timely information on the Bush Administration's
assault on our environment and public health.
The site's creators say "We are dedicated to expanding
media coverage and public awareness of the many vital environmental and
public health issues affected by the administration's anti-environmental
agenda, which consistently places the interests of corporate donors above
the public good."
BushGreenwatch is a project of
Environmental Media Services,
a nonprofit communications clearinghouse, with support from
the online advocacy group.
Please stop by our page for
Advent and Christmas greetings!
"We Got Saddam, What Now? "
Witherspooner Brian "BJ" Jordan asks this question in an
op-ed piece he submitted to a local paper in the Daytona Beach, FL area.
We also offer links to a couple other comments on the
capture of Saddam Hussein, as seen from the perspective of those who have
questioned or opposed the war in Iraq.
The latest issue of Perspectives, the PCUSA on-line journal,
is now available.
Perspectives offers an
exploration of issues facing the church as well as some reflective
analysis of our life together as a denomination through the lens of
scripture, our Reformed theology, and a constitutional and confessional
Click on the link below to enjoy new articles in the December
"A Church of All and for All"
World Council of Churches
"A God's Eye View"
Susan R. Andrews
Click here for a
glimpse of this issue's contents.
from the American Empire
Sojourners offers holiday insight into the
American Empire through the holiday greeting cards being sent for
Christmas 2003 by President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
Peace on Earth
Your WebWeaver has been looking for a suitable Christmas
gift for all our website friends.
Jack King, formerly campus pastor at Indiana University
and my brother, has written a poem that does the job well.
It comes to you with our warm greetings and prayers for
peace in these troubled days.
"Changing Families" report
goes through more changes
The latest draft of a much-contested policy paper on
families has a new name, a new theological backbone, and a new emphasis on
what it calls the "marital-biological" relationship between a man and a
woman as the ideal foundation for the Christian family. Its key
assertion is that it is "preferable, on the whole," for children to be
raised by a mother and a father who are married to each other and live in
the same home. It also repeats the key assertion of the original,
controversial version, that "God works through all kinds of families" --
but takes pains to point out that some kinds are better than others.
marriage and family and change ...
Subject: "Save the
The American Family Association seems to be preparing a
gay marriage poll to deliver to Congress, presumably to prove how all good
Americans want to outlaw any such thing. We're sure they will appreciate
having a large number of people from a broader background participate.
Just go to:
Thanks, and blessings to all of us -- and all our
varieties of families and singles -- at Christmas!
Americana, or The New American Empire
issue of Witherspoon's Network News features a number of discussions of
the current policies of the U.S. government to impose our dominance on
Just posted here is a feature essay by Ross and Gloria
Kinsler on "Pax Americana: an
Inter-American Perspective," as seen from their long experience in
Central America, with Biblical and practical reflections on how we might
respond to it.
For other discussions of Pax Americana," or the "new
American Empire," you might look at "Empire
and Church," by Rick Ufford-Chase, and "Pax
Americana: a crisis for the Church," by Kent Winters-Hazelton.
Kurt Kremlick has
offered a helpful comment on these articles.
More comments on "why we
Since we posted
the first few responses to Dr.
Douglas Ottati's theological reflections on
"why we shouldn't wait" to
ordain LGBT people, the stream of comments has continued.
Here are two comments agreeing (more or less) with
Ottati, followed by
two more (much
longer!) that take issue with his views.
Flags in church: a student reports on his
Some time ago we posted
notes in an
e-mail conversation on the question of the display of U.S. flags in
church sanctuaries. We recently received an interesting comment, based on
empirical research, from a student at Presbyterian-related Centre College.
Bell boycott is a strong commitment of one Florida congregation
Faith Presbyterian Church in Dunedin, Florida, is deeply involved in
efforts to bring a decent life to farm workers in Immokalee who pick
tomatoes that go into tacos and chalupas served by Taco Bell restaurants.
The congregation, along with many other religious groups in the area, is
supporting the boycott of Taco Bell.
Petersburg Times reports on the boycott, both locally and nationally.
Thanks to Presbyterian News Service for providing this
Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace
with Justice will be held on March 5 - 8 in Washington, DC.
It is sponsored by PC(USA) and many others, with focus on themes such as Jubilee and
economic justice (trade and debt), and nuclear disarmament, along with
regional issues around the world.
On getting and
keeping 501(c)(3) status
Washington Office informs us that the IRS has published two helpful
resources on how to apply for 501(c)(3) status -- and then how to comply
with the rules governing that status!
panel recommends withdrawing validation of Parker Williamson's ministry
Presbyterian News Service reports on the COM vote in the
Presbytery of Western North Carolina, recommending that the Presbytery not
validate the ministry of the Rev. Parker T. Williamson as chief executive
officer of the Presbyterian Lay Committee and editor in chief of its
This vote would not, as suggested by earlier reports in
The Layman Online, strip Williamson of his ordination. It would place him
on inactive status, and if his validation were not renewed in three years,
would revoke his ordination.
Presbytery's Committee on Ministry recommends not
validating ministry of Parker Williamson
The Layman Online reports the Committee on
Ministry of the Presbytery of Western North Carolina met and voted in an
executive session Tuesday to recommend that the Presbytery "not validate"
the ministry of Parker T. Williamson as chief executive officer of the
Presbyterian Lay Committee and editor-in-chief of its publications.
Executive Presbyter William "Bill" Taber and Walter Johnson, chair of the
committee, told Layman reporter John Adams that the committee's vote was
More on "why we shouldn't wait"
We've received interesting comments on
Dr. Doug Ottati's essay on "why
we shouldn't wait" to ordain gay and lesbian people who are called to
offices in the Presbyterian Church. So far one writer agrees
strongly with Ottati, while two are less than enthusiastic.
We welcome your comments, too.
send a note!
marriage -- two views
Christian ethicist concludes same-sex marriage is
okay -- but marriage is not for everyone
Same-sex Marriage? A Christian
Ethical Analysis, a new book by
Marvin M. Ellison, co-editor of Body and
Soul: Rethinking Sexuality as Justice-Love, examines the arguments
for and against same-sex marriage and concludes that as a matter of
justice, the institution should be open to same-sex couples. But he adds
the interesting point that marriage is not necessarily ideal for all
lesbian or gay people, and that marriage is not for all straight people
Law prof suggests that the issue of "gay marriage"
could be settled by separating the civil and religious dimensions
In an article in the L A Times, Harvard law professor and
noted attorney Alan M. Dershowitz urges that our nation, like many others,
might ease some of the tensions about "gay marriage," while offering
guarantees for the rights of lesbian and gay couples, by observing the
distinction between the government's role in recognizing stable, committed
relationships and supporting them by protecting "the secular rights and
responsibilities that are currently associated with the sacrament of
marriage: the financial consequences of divorce, the custody of children,
Social Security and hospital benefits, etc."
That would leave religious institutions free to
recognize and affirm committed relationships in whatever way they choose,
and within whatever limits they choose. (Your WebWeaver has to note one
error in the article, though: Dershowitz follows President Bush's mistaken
assumption that all religious communities consider marriage a sacrament.)
We've just added
an index page for the growing list
of reports and comments on same-sex marriage, civil rights, and such.
Check it out!
The threat of Pax Americana
Kurt Kremlick, a retired Presbyterian
minister, sent a comment in response to the latest issue of Witherspoon's
Network News, which includes a
talk by Rick Ufford-Chase on
"empire and church,"
with another article by Ross and Gloria Kinsler on "Pax Americana:
an inter-American perspective."
He expresses his own sense of urgency
about what's happening in American world power today, and points to a
number of resources that he has found helpful in studying this huge issue.
we shouldn't wait
Ottati writes a regular column of "Theological Musings" for Witherspoon's
Network News. In his new column, in the current issue, he
considers the reasons why "we shouldn't wait to ordain called and
qualified gays and lesbians to all offices of the church, and to endorse
same sex unions and / or gay marriages between persons committed to a
loving relationship of mutual help and care."
Ottati is Professor of Theology at Union
Seminary/PSCE in Richmond, VA
Thoughts on Advent:
"Oh my Goodness God, is this what you had in mind?"
The Rev. Bobbie McGarey, who serves the
Southwest Oklahoma Parish, offers a
provocative reflection on Advent -- a season where a shopper gets
trampled, but where there's much more, too.
For earlier reflections on the holy season of Advent:
We welcome your contributions of thoughts, poems, hymns,
even maybe sermons -- that might enrich this season for others.
Just send a note!
Task force of the Presbytery of Western North Carolina
recommends that Parker Williamson, Layman editor-in-chief, be
placed on inactive status
The Layman Online reports that a task force of the Presbytery
of Western North Carolina has recommended that Parker T. Williamson, chief
executive officer of the Presbyterian Lay Committee and editor-in-chief of
its publications, be denied validation as an active member of the
presbytery. If the presbytery's Committee on the Ministry and the full
presbytery concur with the task force's report, Williamson would be
demoted to inactive status and no longer be granted voice or vote at
More on Miami and the
shrinkage of human rights in the USA
Police actions against mostly peaceful demonstrators in Miami have drawn
more attention and analysis as an example of the continuing expansion of
government power against dissent - and against basic human rights.
Sojourners points to
three good sources, while the LA Times on Nov. 23 published a provocative opinion piece under the
headline, "Mission Creep Hits Home: American armed forces are assuming
major new domestic policing and surveillance roles"
join others in support of new "Geneva Accord" for Middle East peace.
On the day after a new Middle East peace accord was signed
in Geneva, 31 U.S. Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders today
announced in Washington a new collaborative effort -- "Walk the Road to
Peace" -- to mobilize public and Bush Administration support for the plan.
The Independent of the United Kingdom provides a
good report on the Geneva Accord under the headline,
"Geneva Accord points way to Arab-Israeli settlement."
Now's the time
to urge the President to provide new funding for child nutrition
As the President and others in the Administration are
currently shaping their FY2005 budget, people concerned about improved
funding for the child nutrition programs may want to e-mail or call the
According to The Layman Online -
Covenant Network will seek repeal of 1978 "Authoritative Interpretation"
At the 2004 General Assembly, the Covenant Network will
seek repeal of the Authoritative Interpretation of 1978, the first action
of the PC(USA) to ban the ordination of lesbian and gay people.
The Covenant Network
announced this plan in September, but the Layman article
explains more detail (and its own slant) on the issue and the proposed
|40 protesters arrested at
demonstration against School of the Americas
Nonviolent protest met with US military violence
Police repression of protests in Miami took on a military
Russell Mokhiber, editor of the
Corporate Crime Reporter,
and Robert Weissman, editor of the
reported on the military-style police repression of mostly nonviolent
protests against the FTAA meeting in Miami on
Leif Utne, managing editor of
provided reports of the conference, and also of the actions in the
streets, where "Miami police suppressed peaceful protesters with a
shocking display of force."
So ... is this a
great country or what??
A few observations about the curious
characteristics of the U.S. of A.
Some of our good visitors have let me
know occasionally of their outrage at our occasional postings that they
view as close to treasonous because they sound a bit critical of our
President's ever-growing "War on Terrorism." Well, we hope this will
provide some balance!
Reports from all of November are listed on the
November archive page.
For links to earlier archive pages,
ratified (or not) by the presbyteries
A number of the most important actions of the 219th
General Assembly are now being sent to the presbyteries for their
action, to confirm or reject them as amendments to the PC(USA) Book
We're providing resources to help inform the
reflection and debate, along with updates on the voting.
Our three areas of primary interest are:
which would remove the current ban on
lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender persons being considered as
possible candidates for ordination as elder or ministers.|
which would add the Belhar Confession to our Book of
10-1, which would adopt the new Form of Government
that was approved by the Assembly. |
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Some blogs worth visiting
Mitch Trigger, PVJ's
Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where
Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and
views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both
personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!
You can post your own news and views,
or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.
Voices of Sophia blog
Heather Reichgott, who has created
this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:
After fifteen years of scholarship
and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the
voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy,
students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers
and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God
in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God
through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through
articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and
John Harris’ Summit to
Theological and philosophical
reflections on everything between summit to shore, including
kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology,
politics, culture, travel, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New
York City and the Queens neighborhood of Ridgewood by a progressive
New York City Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the
Witherspoon board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian
Church in Flushing, NY.
John Shuck’s Shuck and Jive
A Presbyterian minister, currently
serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton,
Tenn., blogs about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized
and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and
Got more blogs to recommend?
send a note, and we'll see what we can do!