Stop Hate 2000 Newsletter May, 2005

Dear Friends,

The May, 2005 newsletter is just highlighting a few developments of the past month. The newsletter is divided into different categories.

May is the anniversary of a very sad event. May 8, 1995 Bill Clayton took his life after being assaulted for being bisexual. We mention Bill's death to honor him and to bring attention to the serious problem of suicide among gay, bisexual and questioning youth. During the month of May, we encourage people to honor Bill Clayton by reaching out to a straight, gay, bisexual or questioning youth and show a love and acceptance. A small act of kindness that takes seconds could make a big difference. Another way to honor Bill Clayton is to speak out against homophobia and to ask people to not make homophobic comments around you.

Homophobia:

World anti-homophobia day was celebrated during the month of May. There is mixed news this month. We will touch on several items.

Canadian federal government legislation allowing for gay marriages is slowly working its way through Parliament. The bill passed second reading and is in committee now. The Liberal government is in a minority situation and came close to being defeated recently. We are not certain if the same-sex marriage legislation will pass Parliament. That depends on how long it takes in committee and if the Liberal government is able to stay in power long enough for the bill to be passed.

During the month of May, Soulforce lead a group of volunteers to protest at the Colorado Springs, Colorado office of Focus on the Family. A family of three wanted to deliver letters of concern to James Dobson. They were arrested and charged with trespassing. Details about the protest can be read at the Soulforce web site. We were forwarded a letter written by an individual to James Dobson regarding the protest. The letter can be read on the editorial pages of the Stop Homophobia web site.

A Canadian man who depicted gay people in a negative manner was directed by a Saskatchewan human rights tribunal to stop passing out materials that promotes hatred against people on the basis of their sexual orientation. The complete article can be read on the 365Gay.Com web site.

Nebraska's constitutional ban on gay marriages was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge. A news story about the decision appears on the Advocate web site.

The powerful computer software company, Microsoft, came out in favor of gay rights. After receiving strong complaints, the company changed its position. Then Microsoft changed its position again, supporting gay rights. More information about Microsoft and gay rights can be found on the Advocate site.

Religious Concerns:

The United Church of Christ has been advertising for people who do not feel welcome in other churches. Gay people is one of the groups of people the United Church of Christ has been seeking. The advertising program is part of the God is Still Speaking program.

A Florida United Church of Christ congregation was damaged by arson. We are not sure what the motive was. Guessing motives is difficult. This could be a random act. The motive could be either homophobia or religious hate. The church had a God is Still Speaking banner. The banner was slashed and a fire was set. An article about the arson can be found at the United Church of Christ web site.

Our heart goes out to the United Church of Christ and to the members and adherents of St. Mark's. They are in our thoughts and prayers.

Anti-Semitism:

The Canadian B'nai Brith web site reports that anti-Semitism in 2004 was up by over 46% from 2003. The details of the report can be read at the Canadian B'nai Brith web site.

In July 2004, some Jewish leaders met with officials at the Vatican to express concern over negative views of Jewish people among recent Hispanic immigrants to the United States. An article about the meeting can be found on the Catholic News Service web site. One concern noted in the article is that recent immigrants tended to feel Jewish people were responsible for the death of Jesus Christ. This concern points to the need for Christians to carefully and sensitively express the faith, in an effort to reduce the possibility that others could be injured by a few poorly chosen words.

We encourage people to carefully read a passage of the Bible that is not commonly remembered. John 10:17-18 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. According to this Bible text, Jesus chose to give up His life. Nobody actually took Jesus' life, as He willingly gave up His life for humanity. Christian theology holds that Jesus died for the sins of humanity. Because Christianity holds that all people have sinned, Christians do not need to hold any specific group of people responsible for Jesus' death.

An interesting article in The Jewish Week proposes a few possible reasons why recent Hispanic immigrants might have less favorable attitudes toward Jewish people. We will only mention one of the factors mentioned. Recent immigrants might have had less contact with Jewish people, and, as a result might have more negative views of Jewish people. One way to combat personal feelings of mistrust and negative feelings about any specific group of people is to get to know about the history, values and contributions of that group of people to the world. Forming personal friendships with people from a minority group also helps to reduce potentially damaging stereotypes.

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