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Dear Interested Reader:

I was asked to "de-God-ize" the following statement. My comments follow, and then the revision I made but I recommended using the original statement.
Vern
--------------

1. Draft Statement
2. Vern's Comments
3. Vern's Revision
 
     Draft 5/18/02

 LOVE WELCOMES ALL
"A Kansas City Declaration"

On June 22, 2002, "Focus on the Family" is presenting a national conference  in Kansas City promoting the scientifically discredited and immoral claim that "homosexuality is preventable and treatable." As clergy and people of faith, we are responding by lifting our voice in support of our lesbian and gay sisters and brothers.  We believe that "reparative therapy," "conversion
therapy" or any other attempt to alter one's sexual orientation is a harmful distortion of the image of God in which we are all created.

We, the undersigned, recognize that since all persons are made in the image of God, they have value and are to be respected as such.  Any effort to convince people to change the way they were created shows disrespect for the  person and the Creator.

We support the position of the psychological community that has stated since 1974 that homosexuality is within the normal spectrum of human sexuality. We affirm the value of loving, committed families for all God's children. We believe that families are people living in covenant relationships of love and fidelity.  We consider these sisters and brothers to be a unique, holy and precious gift to all of us as we work together to become the family of God.

"Focus on the Family" promises participants that "you'll be reminded of the power of love, and how it will always win out over fear, hatred or ignorance." We also pray that God's love will truly win out, and that fear, hatred and ignorance will one day disappear.

We unite in support of those gay and lesbians who refuse to abandon or be forced out of their faith homes.  We rejoice with other communities of faith that are open and accepting of all people.  We urge families and friends to embrace their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender loved ones, and to celebrate life within the rich diversity of God's creation.

Signed,
Pastor Steve Doe, First Church of Kansas City
Reverend Shelia Jones, Faith Center of Olathe
Rabbi John Smith, Temple Granada

==========

Dear BGLT Friends--

You can't use "image of God" without qualification for Islam because normative Islam does not believe we are created in the image of God since God is image-less. It would be better to speak of the Buddha-nature in Buddhism, of the Noble One in Confucianism, etc. And Buddhists don't believe in a Creator. For some the word "pray" is problematic, but I left it in because it can have the meaning of simply "hoping." (Still you will find Buddhists, etc, willing to sign despite their theologies just because they want to support the cause.) There  are problems with language in other traditions as well. I hope this will be a suitable punt.

 I would have recommended a different approach altogether (the theology here is open to enormous dispute even among sympathetic Christians), but I hope this might help.

I do not agree with the statement and would not sign it because I do not think people are born gay or straight or bisexual, and disputing with Focus on the Family on these grounds is a very poor defense of people loving as they will and a neglect of civil liberties. Saying "we are born this way" easily becomes "we can't help it," which perpetuates victimhood.

Strategically, I would instead argue positively that same-sex love has been an honored part of many traditions, including Christianity, and that the forces of oppression cannot ultimately stand against the power of genuine love. I would not phrase the argument in terms of sexual behavior which is implicit in the way the argument here is present -- that is not necessary. It would be better to focus on love. Why occupy the same field as the enemy if you can win on a higher ground?

I think it is foolish for clergy and religious leaders to climb aboard the psychology band-wagon, as if a religion centered in love is not a sufficient argument. Let the psychologists to that.

But nonetheless, I've done my best to modify the statement.

A better alternative may be to use the original statement and just have Christians sign it because this is an argument primarily within Christianity right now.

Vern

==========================================
 

LOVE WELCOMES ALL
"A Kansas City Declaration"
SUGGESTED REVISION

On June 22, 2002, "Focus on the Family" is presenting a national conference in Kansas City promoting the scientifically discredited and immoral claim that "homosexuality is preventable and treatable." As clergy and people of faith, we are responding by lifting our voice in support of our lesbian and gay sisters and brothers.  We believe that "reparative therapy," "conversion therapy" or any other attempt to alter one's sexual orientation is a harmful distortion of the holy -- what in many of our traditions is called the image of God in which we are all created, and in all traditions is recognized as a holy gift of personhood.

We, the undersigned, recognize that since all persons are given the sacred ability to love others, they have infinite value and are worthy of respect. Any effort to convince people to change the way they naturally love others shows disrespect for the person and the holy power from which we arise, which sustains us, and to which we return.

We support the position of the psychological community that has stated since 1974 that homosexuality is within the normal spectrum of human sexuality. We affirm the value of loving, committed families for all, in the embrace of the sacred. We believe that families are people living in covenant relationships of love and fidelity.  We consider these sisters and brothers to be a unique, holy and precious gift to all of us as we work together to become the a sacred people.

"Focus on the Family" promises participants that "you'll be reminded of the power of love, and how it will always win out over fear, hatred or ignorance." We also pray that sacred love will truly win out, and that fear, hatred and ignorance will one day disappear.

We unite in support of those gays and lesbians who refuse to abandon or be forced out of their faith homes.  We rejoice with other communities of faith that are open and accepting of all people.  We urge families and friends to embrace their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender loved ones, and to celebrate life within the rich diversity with which are are all blessed.
 

Signed,
Pastor Steve Doe, First Church of Kansas City
Reverend Shelia Jones, Faith Center of Olathe
Rabbi John Smith, Temple Granada