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Religion blog: Did you see the elephant in the room during the raid on the Eagle?

There is an old story that has been around for a long time and told with many variations to the moral of the story and so today this story sums up the raid on the gay Midtown bar the Atlanta Eagle, the Atlanta Police Department and some of our brothers and sisters in our community.

One day three blind men encountered an elephant.

Upon touching the elephant's tail, the first blind man exclaimed, "I declare, an elephant is exactly like a rope."

The second blind man, bumping into the elephant’s side, said, "No sir, you are wrong. An elephant is exactly like a wall."

Then the third, having grasped the elephant's trunk, declared, "You are both mistaken. The elephant is exactly like a snake!"

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Rev. Michael Piazza: Religion, house hunting and good barbecue

Rev. Michael Piazza

On May 22, Rev. Michael Piazza was officially installed as Virginia-Highland Church’s new senior pastor. Originally from Georgia, Piazza was the pastor at Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender church in the nation. The church cited just 280 members when Piazza took the helm in 1987 and eventually reached a membership of more than 3,500 people.

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Religion blog: Forgive me if I don’t raise a toast to bin Laden’s death

Let me start by saying that in the deepest part of my soul I am opposed to “capital punishment." The hairs on my neck crawl when the state of Georgia injects killing poisons through the veins of anyone allegedly on my behalf. I take seriously the teaching of Jesus, which says the “one without sin” gets to cast the first stone.

However, I also know if at 2 a.m. someone breaks into my house and has gotten past CoCo and Koda (our dogs) and is coming up the stairs to my bedroom, the phrase, “Your soul had better be with God, because your ass is mine” comes to mind. I will do everything in my power to stop the criminal up to and including killing him. With that I would probably spend the rest of my life in therapy trying to get rid of the nightmares of taking a human life.

Interestingly, my husband, if faced with this situation, would simply shoot the intruder dead, go back to sleep and call the trash people in the morning. He would not feel an ounce of remorse because that person was there to do him and his family harm.

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Pat Robertson chimes in on King & Spalding DOMA decision

You know you've done something right if you get Christian televangelist Pat Robertson in a tizzy. Last night on the Christian Broadcast Network's “The 700 Club,” Robertson blasted the recent decision by law firm King & Spalding to not represent the United States House of Representatives in the ongoing legal battles over the Defense of Marriage Act.

Robertson encouraged his viewers who do business with the law firm to have a “long re-examination of your association.”

“It is a law that corresponds to the belief of the majority of the American people,” Robertson said. I guess he hasn't seen new polling data that suggests otherwise.

Anyway, check out a clip below for the crazy (courtesy of RightWingWatch.org):

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Thoughts on how Christianity should embrace ‘radical inclusion’ on this Good Friday

This being Holy Week I have been spending a lot of time wrestling with what it means to be an independent, affirming, progressive Christian.

If you have followed my blog or preaching, the you are familiar with those scriptures that drive me both as a person of faith and a pastor.

As long as I can remember these words of scripture have rested in my soul:

John 3:16
Micah 6:8
Matthew 22:34-40
Matthew 25:31-40
James 3:17
John 14:1-4
Romans 8:31-39

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Gay-inclusive Atlanta churches partner for Holy Week

Four Atlanta churches are partnering to offer Holy Week worship services this year.  Virginia-Highland Church, Decatur UCC, Kirkwood UCC and Praxis UCC will offer combined observances during one of Christianity's most important week-long celebrations.

Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday (April 17) and culminates with Easter Sunday the following week.

Virginia-Highland Church will host on April 21 a joint Maundy Thursday service at 7 p.m., while Decatur UUC will hold a A Good Friday Tenebrae service the following day on April 22. Each congregation will host its own Palm Sunday and Easter service.

All services are free and open to the public.

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Religion blog: Hell is just a state of mind

Here is a thumbnail sketch of what I think is wrong with the modern day church — ”hell.”

The modern church teaches hell, lives in hell and promotes hell. In fact the whole premise of the church has become do as it says or experience the fear of a God who will send you straight to hell.

The church will fight to the bitter end arguing that those who does not fear God will be sent to hell if they do not live in one accord to its traditional rules, polity and dogma.

The most recent target of the wrath of the church is Rev. Rob Bell. Bell is an evangelical preacher who founded the 10,000-member megachurch Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Mich. His bestselling book, “Love Wins,” challenges the belief of hell.

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Religion blog: Acceptance Strategy. Ain’t it grand?

Well, it certainly has been an interesting few weeks. First, after a community meeting to find some common ground as to how to handle a belligerent homophobe in the Georgia State House, I was told point blank that I had no clue as to how to get things done with legislators. I was also told I had no idea of what it was to be a target every day at work.

Then a couple of weeks, later the Georgia State House passes a resolution honoring an openly gay politician for achievements including work in our community, and our community is no where to be found in the document except in code. The word “gay” just doesn’t exist.

GA Voice Editor Laura Douglas-Brown wrote a column questioning the legitimacy of the honor if it is handed out in code. “It's one thing to utilize a subtle strategy to pass laws that benefit LGBT Georgians — like a general bullying bill that will help gay students, or a broader bill about hospital visitation when LGBT people are particularly vulnerable in these areas. Such an approach can be necessary to keep progress moving, even slowly, in a hostile legislature.

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Sunday services

LGBT-friendly churches host plethora of Sunday worship services

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Faith & Religion: How to counter anti-gay religious arguments

The Holy Bible

From slogans to the so-called “clobber” passages, verses in the Bible commonly used to condemn homosexuality, we as LGBT people frequently encounter religious objections to everything from our full equality to our very existence.

Rev. Mel White, a former speechwriter for Jerry Falwell turned openly gay religious leader, attacks these arguments head on in “What the Bible Says (And Doesn’t Say) About Homosexuality,” a 24-page booklet available through Soulforce, the organization White founded to counter anti-LGBT religious bigotry with non-violence.

Here are excerpts to help you counter and understand the passages commonly used against us. You can download the entire PDF for free or order a print copy for $3 at www.soulforce.org.