A schism of the soul: Being LGBT and Mormon

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is okay with Mormons being LGBT — so long as they don’t act on their attractions. “There’s a kind of schism within our souls when we’re being told we have to c...
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Topher Payne: Have a little faith in faith

Playwright and writer Topher PayneMy Aunt Trish was passing through Atlanta, and stayed in our guest room for the night. I had to work late, so by the time I got home, she and my husband Preppy were already pretty deep into their second bottle of wine. The conversation had turned to big ideas, as the second bottle of wine tends to dictate.

Trish was reminiscing about her mother, my Grandmama, a fiercely loyal, funny, incredibly opinionated, strident woman. She was the sort of person who always let you know exactly where you stood with her, and if you stood in the wrong place, it would send a cold chill down your spine. I long ago made my peace with how much I take after her.

Grandmama died before I came out, and I’ve always felt that was for the best. She was a Depression-raised churchgoing conservative. My wanting to kiss other boys would have probably stuck in her craw, even if I did marry a nice fella from Mississippi.

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Religion blog: Priorities of faith

I was digging around for something to write about for this week’s blog, and came across the blog I wrote for the last election cycle. I'm not sure if I'm happy to have found it.

We have indeed made history by electing the black person to the office of President of the United States. This president has done more for the LGBTQIA community than all previous presidents combined. So yes, I'm happy about that, excited even.

While I am excited about these things, it appears not much has changed in three years since it was written. So here is a retread with a few edits here and there to bring it up-to-date.

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Gay Ga. mega-church pastor reflects on year of coming out

Bishop Jim Swilley a year after coming out

Last year, Bishop Jim Swilley spoke from his heart to his congregation at Church in the Now in Conyers, Ga. He came out as a gay man, shocking many of his mega-church congregants and making national headlines.

The Oct. 13, 2010, sermon sparked a mass exodus from the church. Attendance dropped from approximately 2,500 on any given Sunday to only about 500. The church was forced into foreclosure on its massive property and is now renting one of the buildings back from the bank for worship.

The Georgia Voice spoke with Swilley last year about his coming out, and recently went back to follow up on how he, his family and his church are doing a year later. Despite the changes to his Conyers congregation, Swilley remains confident in his journey as a gay Christian and hopeful for his new project, Church in the Now Midtown.

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Pride Eucharist offers unconditional affirmation

A visit to church might not be an obvious entry in a Gay Pride itinerary, but for more than two decades Integrity Atlanta has made sure the affirmation of Pride extends to the spiritual realm. “So many people ...
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Religion blog: ‘To Serve and Protect’

Leave it to the Atlanta Police Department to give me more grey hair, something to write about or maybe just vent. It seems the Atlanta Police Department is in what is known in the world of sports as a "prolonged slump."

Generally, in major league baseball when a prolonged slump gets too long, the President of the ball club fires the manager. In the case of Atlanta, the manager is the Chief of the Atlanta Police Department George Turner and the President is Mayor Kasim Reed.

Mayor Reed appointed Turner to his position after being less than honest during his campaign for mayor by saying he was going to do a national search and get the best person for the job in the country.

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Religion blog: Our spiritual Titanic

If there is one thing that's as sure as the rising or setting of the sun, it's that Christians don't like to be called out on their crap.

After my last blog, I caught more then my share of grief from folks who think the Christian faith is the one and only answer in the universe – there is nothing they could do that could be considered terrorism.

They hide behind theology that says the only way to God is through Jesus the Christ.  They measure a person’s worth by whether they are “saved” or not.  They say they help those who are hungry, homeless or on society’s edge because it's the right thing to do.  Lurking behind that hypocrisy is the real reason: to win souls for Christ.

It is precisely this kind of arrogance, questionable traditions and just flat out power and control issues that have left churches empty, struggling to pay the bills and worship services looking more like a Hollywood production than actual worship.

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Religion blog: Are Christian extremists that much different than foreign terrorists?

"I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." — Mahatma Gandhi

Maybe it is because I am getting old and my ability to just blow things off takes more energy then I have or it may be because Mahatma Gandhi’s observation of Christianity is right on the mark. Sadly in this day to call oneself a Christian has become embarrassing in the world we find ourselves living.

So if this blog today seems like a rant, maybe it is. However, I would like to think it is a call to those in the Christian faith who see the teaching of Jesus as far more important than the institution of the church, to start speaking loudly and clearly, as it seems the extremists now own the faith. I really think it is time for those who follow the teaching of Jesus to take back the conversation rather then letting the extremists destroy us.