POLITICS

 
Lexington Schools Co-Sponsor Homosexual Fair With the Unitarian Church
Barney Frank Is Keynote Speaker

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By Ed Oliver
November, 2000

Congressman Barney Frank was the featured speaker at Lexington's First Parish Unitarian Church last month at a seminar which was co-sponsored by the public schools. He labeled those who believe homosexuality is a choice as "morons" and "hypocrites," who are disguising their prejudice. 

Ironically, Frank was there as the keynote speaker for a friendly sounding seminar called, "Respecting Differences." 

Earlier, the American Family Association went to federal court in Boston to try to block the co-sponsorship of the program by Lexington's schools, saying it would be promoting a particular religious message in the sanctuary of the lead sponsor, the Unitarian Church. But attorneys defending school officials told the judge there was no evidence that any part of the program would take place in the church's sanctuary.

Surrounded by trappings of spirituality in the sanctuary, Frank delivered his message from the pulpit. Public school teachers earned professional development points necessary for certification by attending Frank's speech, a gay photo exhibit in the church and a religious panel afterward.

Frank didn't disappoint the faithful. "At one time our opponents were more honest. They did not like people who were gay, and said so," said Frank to the full house of homosexuals, Unitarians and educators.

But, "Homophobes have changed their rhetoric. Their argument now is you can't allow rational discussion in the schools because you will be promoting homosexuality. How do you promote homosexuality? How do you take people who aren't homosexuals and make them into one? This notion is, in fact, stupid."

Continuing, Frank ridiculed the idea of a 15-year-old choosing to be a homosexual. "What moron thinks it happens that way?" he asked. "People really do believe you can convert teenagers from heterosexuals to homosexuals by having this discussion!" 

Frank said he doesn't know anybody who chose homosexuality, and that it is something people discover by themselves. 

Frank urged people to take this argument to opponents on an intellectual level. "Take the argument to them. 'What is it you don't like about us?' Most will say you are promoting homosexuality. That is a hypocritical argument that disguises their prejudice."

Frank painted a psychological profile of his "opponents," as people "driven to distraction by the fact that many more people are aware that homosexuals are in their midst and the American people aren't as homophobic as they are supposed to be." He also said opponents fear that homosexuals are having fun.

Contrasting himself to heterosexuals who sin, Frank quipped, "Adultery made it into the Ten Commandments - I didn't."

Frank said he wanted to assure any who might think otherwise, "Do not worry, the chances of homosexuality will not increase because of the curriculum."

Panel of Clergy 
After Frank's speech, there was a discussion about "safer schools" and "more inclusive communities" by a panel of local clergy. Most of the comments were supportive of homosexuality.

Reverend Judith Brain from the UCC/Pilgrim Congregational Church suggested that the Bible is a primary weapon of "intolerance" against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. "We need to learn to read the Bible in a new way," she said.

Pastor Christopher Haydon of Trinity Covenant Church objected to Barney Frank's comments, however, by saying, "I am neither dumb, nor deceptive." He defended those who speak out of sincere religious conviction, saying, "It does not serve the cause of safety in the schools to label those who disagree as haters and bigots."

Haydon was a fish-out-of-water on the panel of nine clergy. The other eight offered no moral objection to the homosexual lifestyle. One Rabbi even said he was a member of the homosexual activist group PFLAG and pumped his fist triumphantly in the air when he said he was from Barney Frank's district.

Haydon, however, diplomatically said that he must be faithful to God first. He said that means he must uphold, as painful as it is, that homosexuality is a moral choice. "I must say that your lifestyle choice is morally wrong. I don't expect that perspective to denigrate you in any way, nor do I expect you to do that to me," he said to the homosexuals in the audience. 

One member of the audience asked Haydon what he opposes about homosexuality. Haydon answered that he does not believe there is a gay gene. He said he knows people who are ex-gays who are now married heterosexuals. "I disagree with Barney Frank," he added.

Of the other eight clergy, only Fr. James O'Donahue of Sacred Heart parish also strayed from the party line when he asked how it was possible to have a discussion of homosexuality in school because there would always have to be leaders of the discussion. "Leaders manipulate," he said. 

O'Donahue also said he sensed a certain amount of smugness upon entering the Unitarian Church, which proclaims they are a "welcoming church," that does not discriminate. "We all have our little discriminations," he said. He inadvertently joined the ranks of the politically correct, however, by reading from an older book of the church's Catechism, which says homosexuals do not choose their condition. [This portion of the Catechism was changed in 1997. See the sidebar.]

Earlier in the day at a worship service, Rev. William Murray, President of Meadville/Lombard Theological School, which is a Unitarian seminary in Chicago, gave a sermon that helps explain the revolutionary mindset of the church - a mindset that is willing to accept and promote alternatives to the traditional family. 

Murray, who commented that the apostle Paul was "by far not one of my favorite people," said, "The genius of our faith is that having no creed, we are open to new ideas." He said logic and reason need to be applied to religion to arrive at truth. He said that social justice requires more than charitable works, but the "need to change the structure of society." 

Outside the church, a small band of protesters held signs protesting the homosexual issue in the schools. Bob Bennett, who has eight children, told Massachusetts News, "This has nothing to do with hate or intolerance. It's our responsibility and our right to teach our children. Parents are co-opted by the schools on these issues because when we think they are at the appropriate age, we won't be able to tell them what is right or wrong. The school already has."



Federal Judge Refuses to Stop Lexington Schools from Co-Sponsoring Religious Event

By Ed Oliver

A federal judge denied an emergency request last month to block the Lexington Schools from co-sponsoring a seminar by the Unitarian Church called "Respecting Differences" which gives its approval to the homosexual lifestyle. 

If granted, the Temporary Restraining Order would not have stopped the event but would have prevented teachers from receiving up to ten hours of professional credits for attending activities there.

Stephen M. Crampton, Chief Counsel for the American Family Association which filed the complaint on behalf of five Lexington residents, told Massachusetts News, "The schools hide behind the so-called 'wall of separation' when they disagree with the religious message, but they rush headlong into the very sanctuary of the churches when the message is one they prefer."

The lawyer argued to Judge Joseph Tauro that Lexington school administrators are attempting to put a stamp of spiritual approval on their policy of training teachers and students to view homosexuality as acceptable. "Why do the schools ask the churches to endorse this activity, but not other things?" Crampton argued. "The evidence is clear that there are all kinds of religious connotations to this" seminar sponsored by the Unitarian Church.

His memorandum filed with the court argued that, "Applying the settled law to the facts here shows that the schools' policy and sponsorship of the program violate the Establishment [of Religion] Clause. As stated above, the schools have actively promoted, sponsored and participated in this essentially religious program, held in large part in the sanctuary of First Parish Church on a Sunday, a day traditionally devoted to worship. 

"In addition, the schools carefully scheduled the program to coincide with First Parish's special worship service addressing the topic of homosexuality, presumably from a distinctly spiritual perspective. An objective observer could hardly conclude otherwise than that the government has endorsed the religious views of First Parish church and the other churches represented in the program and the panel discussion. The union of the government and religion has rarely been more obvious...

"They have also determined to reward teachers for attendance by providing them 3 hours of Professional Development Points for listening to the religious leaders espouse the government-preferred viewpoint on the issue of homosexuality in the sanctuary of a church."

Crampton entered into evidence promotional flyers distributed by the schools. He also showed the judge a page from the local weekly paper, The Lexington Minuteman, featuring side-by-side articles by Superintendent Pat Ruane and Unitarian (First Parish) Pastor Helen Cohen. Both articles touted the upcoming pro-homosexual weekend. The pastor wrote that she believes that homosexuality is as natural as heterosexuality and the church considers them to be equal.

Defending Lexington school officials, Attorney Jordana Glasgow of Palmer and Dodge said the American Family Association was really trying to "squelch the message" of the weekend activities, rather than protect the First Amendment rights of the plaintiffs. She denied that there was any funding by the schools and said there was no evidence that anything would take place in a church sanctuary. "There is no religious message or content in "Respecting Differences," she said. 

However, a Boston Globe article produced by Crampton stated that about two hundred dollars was contributed from the state's safe schools initiative to the event.

Glasgow told the judge, "This is a secular discussion. There is a law in this commonwealth that schools must protect children from discrimination." 

When asked by Judge Joseph Tauro if all the churches in Lexington were participating, Glasgow said she didn't know but all were invited. Tauro asked, "What do teachers attend to get credit?" Glasgow answered, "They attend two days."

Crampton countered that not all churches in Lexington are participating. His brief stated that the schools were seeking to "endorse a particular religious viewpoint on the issue of homosexuality, namely that homosexuality is a valid alternative lifestyle and not sinful."

He said the Restraining Order would not cancel the event or "squelch" the church's teachings at all. He said the order would merely cancel school sponsorship of a religious event and nullify the validating effect that official school department approval lends to the church's viewpoint and vice versa. 

Despite the church-state entanglement, Judge Lauro denied the request for a Restraining Order, ruling that "the weight of the evidence shows this is a secular event," and he sees no irreparable harm that can come to the plaintiffs.

An appeal has been filed with the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.


Catechism of the Catholic Church

Because some people at the Lexington seminar may have been confused about what is in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we print the 1997 version here in its entirety. The second sentence of sect. 2358 used to read, "They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial." That was written in 1992 when the "gay gene" theory was extant. It has been changed to "this inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial."

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved. 

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition. 

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection. 

2396 Among the sins gravely contrary to chastity are masturbation, fornication, pornography, and homosexual practices.