Ken Paxton’s George Wallace Moment

As my friend Elliot said this morning,

BREAKING: Texas AG supports the right of Baptist firefighters to refuse to put out a fire at a Catholic Church on the grounds of religious liberty.

Like it or not that is the logical conclusion of the statement released by AG Paxton’s office yesterday.

County clerks and their employees retain religious freedoms that may allow accommodation of their religious objections to issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

According to the Texas Association of Counties, the County Clerk (I have added my commentary in bold):

[S]erves as clerk of the court for all misdemeanor county, criminal and civil courts including commissioners’ court and probate court; maintaining the official records of the courts they serve. The county clerk records the acts and proceedings of each of these courts, entering all judgments, recording all executions issued and the returns issued on the executions as applicable,(Unless they have a fundamental religious disagreement with those judgements) and administers trust accounts for minors and registry accounts (Unless they have a fundamental religious disagreement with the way trust account funds are spent); additionally, the clerk must keep an index of the parties to all suits filed in the court, and make reference to any judgment made in each case.  As clerk of the county courts, the county clerk collects and is responsible for money paid in court costs, fines and fees and for the payment of juror fees. (Unless they have a fundamental religious disagreement with those fines and fees)

The clerk is the custodian of all county records including birth, death, cattle brands, hospital liens, deeds, deeds of trust, liens, Certificates of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (DD 214), and a variety of other important records both public and non-public. The county clerk also issues and maintains marriage licenses and records assumed name certificates. (Unless they have a fundamental religious disagreement with who is listed as parents, who is discharged from the military, whether someone should be allowed to change their name and of course who gets a marriage certificate!)

As with all elected county officials, both the county clerk and the district clerk have ultimate authority over the operations of the office, including the authority to hire and fire  personnel (People who agree with their particular fundamental religious beliefs and to exclude atheists, Catholics, Muslims and anyone else they deem to hold the wrong religious views) and direct their daily activities. Both the county clerk and district clerk also have authority to determine how to use all other resources allocated to the office during the budget process. (They can, of course, use their fundamentally held religious beliefs to decide what budget items should and should not be funded.)

Seriously Mr. Paxton? The George Wallace route seemed like the best option to you? I assure you, your tantrum will end in the same way his did. It is time to face the facts. The issue has been decided. Liberty won. Love won. Your side lost. It was appealed to the highest court in the land. If your side had won you would be calling for everyone to abide by the Court’s decision. It is now time to get on with life. Uphold the laws of our great nation as you have promised to do.
One more thing lovlies (and this is for those who claim to be followers of Jesus), I wrote a post way back in September of 2012 called, Render Unto God that which is Caesar’s? in which I said:

They in effect want the United States to be a theocracy. They would like to effectively take away the religious freedom our founders fought for from people who’s beliefs differ from theirs. The problem with people of faith making laws based on what they believe to be sinful or permissible is three fold: First you must decide who’s religious tenants you are going to make law (i.e. Will we allow drinking? What about dancing? Will all women have to wear skirts and long hair?); Second, you must go against God’s design by denying people the liberty and freedom of will to choose how best to follow God. God gives humans free will, forcing people by law not to “sin” as you define it does not change hearts. Paul actually discusses this in Colossians.

Lastly, when you enact laws based on preferences or even deeply held religious beliefs rather than on “liberty and justice for all” (even when the majority of the people happen to agree with you) you run the risk of someday having laws enacted based on someone else’s religious beliefs. (They  are fine with someone else’s beliefs being trampled but don’t realize their own could be next.) Jesus expects more of us than that. He says, “Love your neighbor as yourself” with no qualifier. That includes your Muslim neighbor, your gay neighbor, your Democrat neighbor, your Jewish neighbor and your Palestinian neighbor. You MUST love them as yourself in order to follow Jesus.

People in Jesus’ time looked for him to be a political or military savior. He was neither. When asked point blank he said give to Caesar that which is his and God that which is his. Jesus was not concerned that his name be on the money or that the Jewish people were being required to pay taxes to Caesar (who the Roman’s regarded as divine). Once again, HE DIDN’T CARE. I think we often spend our time as American Christians fighting battles Jesus would be unconcerned about such as prayer in school, gay marriage and having his name on the money when we should be loving our neighbors, caring for the “least of these” and reconciling people to the lover of their souls. Everything already belongs to God (“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” Psalm 24:1). Giving tribute to Caesar or taxes to the US government that they in turn spend on things you may or may not agree with cannot change that.

God will not be erased from existence because we don’t have specific time set aside for praying in the school day, his purpose will not be thwarted nor his cause advanced depending on whether his name is on our currency. His love cannot be stopped because of who we elect as President of the United States or even whether or not the government recognizes same sex marriages. God is not American nor is he partisan. God belongs to all nations and peoples and is at work everywhere in every culture. He is much MUCH bigger than our politics or even our religious beliefs (none of us has everything right, just ask a Pharisee).
Jesus, It seems, is much more concerned with whether his name is written on our heart than on our money.

It. Is. So. Ordered.

And with those 4 words marriage equality became the law of the land.

Today is an historic day. I am so happy and proud to have played even a small part in the tide having finally turned. We, as a nation, will look back on this day as a turning point for the cause of true equality and equal protection under the law. Is our work here done? Not by a long shot. But I do believe change is in the air. Justice has rolled down like a river. Let’s stop just for today and dance.

I encourage you, one and all to do something special to commemorate this day. To show your support and to celebrate today’s victory of love over hate and equality over bigotry.

Some of my friends are lucky enough to live close enough to be headed to SCOTUS right now to celebrate. Others of us will gather at a pub with our faith community (me) and raise a glass together. Today is a day for celebration.

It. Is. So. Ordered.

Year 3: Time to Send Some Girls to School!!

product_a_year_of_school_NYTThe past two years for my birthday we have been sending girls to school. The original challenge was to send one girl to school for every year I have been alive. We did great the first year (my 44th birthday) but we didn’t quite make our goal. Last year for my 45th birthday we went over and above our goal of 45 and sent 48 girls to school in 2014-2015. I am hoping this year we can beat not only the goal of 46 for my 46th but maybe even beat last year’s total of 48. How awesome would that be.

I am hoping you all will help me. There A LOT more of you this year than last year. I believe we can do it. Like last time, I will kick it off by sponsoring two girls, 2 down 46 to go!

Here are some statistics for inspiration:

  • For each year, a girl stays in school, her future income can increase by 15-25%.
  • Girls with secondary schooling on average have 2.2 fewer, yet healthier children.
  • If 10% more girls attend school, a country’s GDP increases an average of 3%.

For just $58 you can send a girl to school for a whole year. That is only $1.11 a week.

Come on, let’s change the world for the better again this year!

Click this link to get started.

As always, let me know if you sponsor a girl or two (or more) so we can keep track together!!

Did God really place me in this very moment?


I have had this meme or one very much like it in my feed a lot over the years. It always leaves me with a few questions.

What if:

  • You are a kid who is being bullied?
  • You are a woman who has had acid thrown in her face?
  • Your spouse/child just committed suicide?
  • You are a victim of domestic violence?
  • You are currently being raped?
  • You are gay and your parents threw you out of the house and now you’re 15 and homeless?
  • You just buried your child?
  • You have been forced into sexual (or some other form of) slavery?
  • You are currently on the lethal injection table about to be executed for a crime you didn’t commit?
  • You were a Jew who was incinerated in an oven at Auschwitz?
  • You are a young girl who is having her genitals mutilated?
  • You are a child who has been abandoned? or beaten? or sexually abused?

I find it ironic that this type of meme is meant to be a comfort to people. How is it comforting to place my trust in a God who has put me in such horrific and terrifying situations on purpose just so he can come to my rescue or teach me a lesson? I would never treat my children that way and if I did I would be convicted of child abuse.

I refuse to believe in or worship that God. That God is a monster.

A Melancholy Lament –OR– Things I Lost While Listening to Contemporary Christian Music

“Wish You Were Here” – Pink Floyd

So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell, blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?

Did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
Did you exchange a walk-on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?

How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have we found?
The same old fears.
Wish you were here.

Today on the way to my son’s basketball practice a song from 1997 came on that I didn’t know I loved until at least 2003.I hadn’t really heard it until then. It was How’s It Gonna Be by Third Eye Blind.  And so it began. The rest of the drive was spent mourning the loss of the music, the people, and the parts of myself that I couldn’t reconcile with my conditioning.

I lamented the beauty and the pain, the melancholy and the truth that I had been conditioned to discount in “secular” music during the season of my life where my personal soundtrack was made up of CCM (for the uninitiated that stands for contemporary Christian music). Little did I know I had been bamboozled (mostly by other well-meaning bamboozlees) into exchanging a sanitized and tamed version of life for what I was told was a life apart from God and truth. In reality, what I was exchanging was a small and bland life for the technicolor version. (Not unlike exchanging the Chris Tomlin version of Where the Streets have no name for the U2 original).

It is funny, but we were talking at Novitas this week about asking the hard questions. The questions we were taught not to ask. The questions we were told were a slippery slope. And guess what? They were.

FLASHBACK: When I was in high school there was little I allowed to stop me from loving my friends. It did not matter if we shared the same faith tradition or the same family structure. I loved them and they loved me. Interestingly enough, the more I immersed myself in evangelicalism and the gospel of less of me more of you. (a “gospel” I could never quite stomach in the secret places of my soul)  the less inclusive, less loving and more judgmental I became. Funny, that I have now come full circle and have reconciled the cognitive dissonance I used to experience when I believed the Bible contained ALL the answers to EVERY situation and was without error. I still believe the Scriptures contain the answer: LOVE.

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. -Romans 13:8-10
We have been doing a series of discussions/debates/meanderings at Novitas called the lies we’ve been told and the truth that sets us free. In this case the lie I was told was that there was a difference; a difference between sacred and secular, a difference between the redeemed and the damned, a difference between Jesus and the least of these. The truth that sets me free? There is only sacred. There is only redeemed. We are all reflected in the face of Jesus.

So yes, today I lament my losses. I lament the rejection of the poetry of Kurt Cobain that moves me to tears. I lament the loss of the connections I had with the friends of my youth. Friends I began to see as other when they were the marrow of life in my bones all along. I lament the loss of books and poetry and music and the people I floated by in my evangelical bubble thinking that what they needed was a bubble when what I desperately needed was a pin to burst mine.

Enter the slippery slope.

How I love the slippery slope.

I am going to let you in on a little secret, “they” are right about the slippery slope! It is slippery as all get out and it is the best ride going.

When you start asking questions and refuse to be silenced by easy answers, platitudes, accusations and apologetics, one thing happens…you have MORE QUESTIONS. Can this be unsettling at first? Of course. Is it the best thing that could have happened to me at this point in life? Without a doubt.

Because of the slippery slope, I am a better follower of the one who commanded us to love one another than I ever was when I thought I had all the answers. Funny how that works. Sometimes when we let go of the thing we have clung to the hardest we find the freedom we thought we already had.

In my uncertainty I am certain of one thing. Love wins. (Nod to Rob Bell) It is THE thing. The one big idea that if embraced could change literally everything.

So yes, I lament what I have lost. And yes, I rejoice in what I have gained. Perhaps it is like the prophet Joel said, God has restored to me what the locusts (of my evangelical years) have eaten. My bubble has burst. I can hear the music. And guess what? It sounds like teen spirit.

The American Taliban and the Problem of Free Birth Control Reducing Abortions.

The Republicans in Colorado have killed the program that reduced the teen pregnancy rate by 40% and the teen abortion rate by 42% by voting not to spend the $5 million necessary to keep the program going for another 5 years.

Why? WHY? What could possibly be their reason?  After all Republicans have said over and over and over again that they want to reduce abortions. And now that they have a program with proven and sustained results, what do they do? They end it!!!

I will tell you what their reason for ending this super successful, life and money saving program is: It is their belief that IUDs might cause abortions. Yes, you read that correctly. They stopped a program that decisively and dramatically reduced abortions because they believe one of the methods used might cause abortions in a small number of cases. Nevermind that this theory has been debunked by scientists. Nevermind that we can actually point to a 42% reduction in ACTUAL abortions. No, the Right-wing Evangelical Republicans have decided that the only acceptable way to reduce abortions is for people to just stop having sex.

Me: NEWSFLASH: Right-wing Evangelical Republicans, People are not going to stop having sex. Not all people have the same rules for sexuality that you do. Yours are fine. FOR YOU. But this is the United States and we have the freedom to make these choices for ourselves. Each and every one of us.

Oh I know, I know, you are worried that your taxes mean you are paying for it and therefore directly responsible for it. Let me ask you this? Did Jesus pay his taxes to Rome? Yes. I believe he did. Does that make him complicit in every sin committed using those tax denarii?


Does it?

[You may enjoy this post from a while back: Render Unto God that Which is Caesar’s?]

It seems to me that many of these folks would like nothing better than to legislate their own purity code where virginity (at least for women) determines their worth. NO abortion -AND- preferably NO birth control (at least not for single women). And God forbid, Absolutely NO free or low-cost birth control. Even-if-it-has-been-proven-to-reduce-the-number-of-abortions-which-these-same-people-say-they-want-but-really-only-want-if-you-reduce-abortions-in-a-way-of-which-I-approve-because-I-say-that-is-what-God-says-even-if-he-never-said-it-because-birth-control-didn’t-exist-in-biblical-times. I have two words for you: American Taliban.

Yes, I know that is harsh, but tell me what the difference is when both groups want to force compliance with their own religious beliefs?

Nevermind that these tactics don’t work. Nevermind the fact that Evangelical Christians have the same abortion rates and divorce rates as the general population overall. Never mind that the Bible Belt is also the Porn Belt (even Gay Porn), the Teen Pregnancy Belt, the Divorce Belt, and the Domestic Homicide Belt. Forget about all that. Dammit, what we say works even if all the evidence says it doesn’t work at all. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

UPDATE: Amy Schumer is hilarious and you should watch this video:

It Isn’t Power. It’s Fear.

This morning my friend Sheryl LeSage posted that if she had a blog she would write a post today. I was so moved by what she had to say that I asked her if I could share it with you all here. It is a powerful and important message.

It isn’t power. It’s fear.

If I had a blog, today I would make a couple of points. People in the US like to point out that GLBT people and women don’t have it so bad here–after all, they say, “you people are executed/raped/murdered/outlawed in Iran/Sudan/Russia/Uganda,” by which they seem to imply that we should stop whining about whatever protections we don’t yet have here.

Those same people–Mike Huckabee, for instance–say that gay people in particular “already have too much power,” by which I believe they mean “are not all in prison, or the closet, or dead.” The Huckabees and O’Reillys and Limbaughs and Pences of the world feel as if they are backed into a corner and might have to start treating some of us as if were fully-equal human beings.

But I can’t quit thinking about that too-common statement, “women/gays need to shut up about not having enough ‘rights’ here, because in Iran you’d be dead.”

Do you all not understand how we hear that? We hear it as a threat. We see you ALIGNING YOURSELF with the people in those places. And we are not imagining this: Evangelical Christians applauded the American “Christian” who helped craft the law in Uganda that calls for the execution of gay people simply for being gay.

When you roll your eyes and suggest that we could certainly have it a lot worse, and then you support a law that attempts to make things a lot worse for us–and THEN you cry foul when your hero-governor alters the law so that it keeps you from treating us–and no one else–as second class citizens, we see that you AGREE WITH THE LAWS OF IRAN or SOMALIA or UGANDA or RUSSIA.

And we don’t feel powerful. We feel afraid in our own homes. And that is not a new fear for us. We can still be fired for being who we are in many states. And unlike American Christians, many of us personally understand and feel that fear every day; it isn’t theoretical. We are only just now discovering what it feels like to be almost-protected by the laws of our own country, and the smug, comfortable “Christians” in many states are trying to rescind those protections.

So, do we know how people like us are treated in other countries? Damn right we do. And it would be nice if some Americans were not appearing to champion those policies or bring them here.