Sunday, February 7, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell: What the church can learn from President Obama

Some of you may have had a chance to read the blog by Pastor Rudy Rasmus "Don't Ask, Don't Tell: What the Church can learn from President Obama"

Other groups that I affiliate with have re-posted his blog on Facebook and began their own conversations about the blog. If you haven't read it, the link is below.

I'm interested in knowing your thoughts about his blog.

What is the message you get from the blog? How do you feel about it?

Post your comments at MCC PAD on Pastor Rudy's Don't Ask Don't Tell or at!/board.php?uid=287161817875
Rudy's Original Believe Out Loud Post on ...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Tonex Comes Out in The New Yorker

Article by Kelefa Sanneh, Profiles, “Revelations,” The New Yorker, February 8, 2010, p. 48

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ABSTRACT: PROFILE of gospel singer Tonéx. Anthony Charles Williams II has never had a comfortable relationship with the industry that made him famous. Fans know him as Tonéx. His eccentric style and vertiginous high notes helped make him one of the most acclaimed praise singers of the past decade, and, for a time, one of the most successful. He had a certain hip-hop swagger and the status of a sex symbol. A boisterous live double CD, “Out the Box,” won him six trophies at the 2005 Stellar Awards, gospel’s most prestigious event. Tonéx was a welcome guest at all the biggest black churches, a regular presence on BET’s gospel shows, and a headliner at gospel festivals. He has released dozens of CDs, which contain some of the strangest and most seductive Christian pop music since the glory days of James Cleveland; his most evident musical forbears are adventurous pop stars such as Stevie Wonder, Janet Jackson, and Erykah Badu. He made it a habit to tweak old-fashioned, upstanding churchgoers. In 2005, Tonéx was divorced, after four years of marriage to Yvette Graham. This past September, the television host known as Lexi broadcast an interview with Tonéx on the Word Network, a gospel channel, in which he made his clearest public statements about his sexual orientation. He is, within the church world, the first high-profile gospel singer in history to come out of the closet. Within hours, he started to realize what he had done. His relationship with the mainstream gospel industry was effectively over. Tonéx was brought up in the church. The Williams family belonged to the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (P.A.W.), and his father, A. C. Williams, founded Truth Apostolic Community Church,8318 Jamacha Rd Spring Valley, CA 91977. Mentions the Church of God in Christ (COGIC). Nearly all the Pentecostal gospel stars were COGIC. Mentions T. L. Carter. In the nineties, Tonéx was signed by a local Christian label called Rescue, and then by Jive Records. Mentions his first album, “Pronounced Toe-Nay” (2000) and his second album, “Out the Box” (2004). Tonéx sensed early on that he was attracted to other boys, and he spent the better part of three decades trying to figure out what that might mean for him. Along the way, he has honed a style of his own, a sly but ecstatic form of electronic pop. Early last year, he made a major-label comeback with “Unspoken,” but the album was largely ignored by the gospel industry. By going public, and by suggesting that a homosexual relationship can be as godly (or ungodly) as a heterosexual one, Tonéx went from being just another sinner to being a high-profile heretic. Mentions Long Island pastor Donnie McClurkin. As a stock character in African-American folklore, the gay choir director probably predates gospel music. Mentions Alex Bradford, Prophet Jones, and Rev. James Cleveland. In Bishop Yvette Flunder’s view, gospel music is gay music, with vanishingly few exceptions; she estimates that the proportion of gospel performers who are, or have been, same-gender-loving might be as high as ninety per cent. Gospel music has offered generations of same-gender-loving singers a place to call home, in exchange for their obedience, or their silence. By talking plainly about his sexual identity, Tonéx has scrambled his professional identity.

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National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 10th Anniversary, February 7th

I am writing to ask you to hold National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in your prayers and consider ways you can support the efforts of local organizations and individuals making a difference near you.

For current information on local activities, please visit

This year is particularly noteworthy as it celebrates the 10th anniversary of this vital work.

Leaders will be promoting the life-affirming 2010 theme of “HIV/AIDS Prevention – A Choice and a Lifestyle!”

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, February 7th of every year, is a national HIV testing and treatment community mobilization initiative targeted at Blacks in the United States and the Diaspora.

There are four specific focal points:
• Education
• Testing
• Involvement
• Treatment

To support these goals leaders in National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day movement have created an outstanding resource kit, which can help you speak out and take action with the incredible work already being offered locally.

Please forward this information to your lists and check out the powerful work being done to bring an end to the overwhelming impact of HIV and AIDS on Black communities.


Joshua L. Love
Metropolitan Community Churches Global HIV/AIDS Ministry
Metropolitan Community Churches Drug Literacy Program
Uncommon Hope, author

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Statement of The Rev. Elder Darlene Garner
from Metropolitan Community Churches

2 February 2010

My name is Darlene Garner. I am among the spiritual leaders of Metropolitan Community Churches and provide ecclesial care and oversight for our ministries in the Southwest and Mid-Atlantic areas of the United States, Mexico, Central America, South America, and portions of the Caribbean. Metropolitan Community Churches is an international Christian denomination with churches in 28 nations. We are also a global human rights movement with a particular concern for sexual minorities, women, children, and people living with HIV and AIDS around the world.

The sexual minority community in Uganda recently emerged with dignity and hope to claim their human rights. Unfortunately, among the very first-responders to their pleas for legal protection from violence were right-wing religious fundamentalists from the United States. They went into Uganda preaching a blatant lie that God had somehow cursed sexual minorities and condemned people living with HIV. By exporting their own brand of hatred to Uganda, those religious extremists from the U.S. intentionally manipulated the Ugandan leaders, fanned the cultural flames of homophobia among the people, and set the stage for yet another round of civil unrest and genocide in Africa. Aided and abetted by American religious fundamentalists, many Ugandans are now prepared to destroy their own families – to kill their own sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends – for the sake of an agenda that is not even their own.

What is happening today in Uganda is and has been going on within the United States, in Africa, in parts of Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Indeed, the issue of human rights abuses transcends national boundaries.

In 2006, in response to well-documented patterns of abuse, a distinguished group of international human rights experts met in Yogyakarta, Indonesia to outline a set of international principles relating to sexual orientation and gender identity. The result was the Yogyakarta Principles: a universal guide to human rights which affirm binding international legal standards with which all States must comply. The Principles have been adopted by judges, academics, a former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN Special Procedures, members of treaty bodies, non-governmental organizations and others. They promise a different future where all people born free and equal in dignity and rights can fulfill that precious birthright.

Indeed, the laws of a nation should protect our lives, not seek to take them. Yet, in spite of the Yogyakarta Principles, the real life experience of millions of sexual minorities around the world is that wherever religious fundamentalism prevails, the lives of sexual minorities are at great risk.

• Lives are still at risk in Moldova where fundamentalist religion causes the police to stand silently on the sidelines doing nothing as an angry mob surrounds a bus filled with a dozen or so young spiritual sexual minority activists, pelts the bus with rocks, and tries to overturn it .

• Lives are still at risk in Jamaica where fundamentalist religious belief is that sexual minorities peacefully gathering for worship deserve to have their worship space surrounded by police bearing guns and neighbors with machetes, police and neighbors alike all threatening the worshipers with eternal damnation and immediate death0.

• Lives are still at risk in the Middle East where fundamentalist religion teaches that sexual minorities should be killed for supposedly bringing shame on their family just by virtue of their mere existence.

• Lives are still at risk in South Africa where as many as one in four lesbians in townships has been brutally raped because fundamentalist religion teaches that rape is a cure for their homosexuality.

• Lives are still at risk in the United States where fundamentalist religion makes it possible for sexual minorities to be forced to participate in so-called reparative therapy that kills their natural spirit or where sexual minorities can be strung up on a fence and left to die.

For over 40 years now, Metropolitan Community Churches has witnessed to and spoken out against neo-colonialist right-wing religious fundamentalism as it wreaks havoc with human rights around the globe. It is time for the abuse to stop.

The world cannot remain silent as Uganda’s Parliament once again prepares to legalize murder. The United States cannot be silent as hate-mongers from this nation continue to export violence and abuse. People of faith cannot be silent as right-wing religious extremists distort the sacred texts and holy scripture for their own twisted and hateful purposes.

Now is the time to speak and to pray! U.S. religious extremism must be expelled from Uganda. Indeed, U.S. right-wing fundamentalism must release its hold on all nations, including the United States. Now is the time for all of us to tear down the walls that divide and oppress us and to build up hope for the day when all people can enjoy full human rights and equality under the laws of our nations.

Video from event