Thursday, March 31, 2005

At Last, Something We Can All Agree On....

There has to be a joke somewhere that starts, "A Rabbi, a priest, and a mufti go into to a bar..." but the news conference in Jerusalem attended by "Israel's two chief rabbis, the patriarchs of the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian churches, and three senior Muslim prayer leaders" was no laughing matter. Does this group signify the nascent emergence of a new interfaith coalition seeking to bring peace to the divided holy land? Not exactly. These religious leaders joined together for a rare display of unity in order to spread a message of love and tolerance hate and bigotry. Specifically, these representatives of the region's religions convened to form a common front against the prospect of a WorldPride festival planned for Jerusalem by an international gay rights organization seeking to raise awareness of gay issues and foster tolerance and acceptance.

The festival is planned for Aug. 18-28 and is expected to draw thousands of visitors from dozens of countries. The theme is "Love Without Borders," and a centerpiece will be a parade on Aug. 25 through Jerusalem, a city that remains deeply conservative, though other parts of Israel have become increasingly accepting of gays in recent years. Other events include a film festival, art exhibits and a conference for clerics.
Although the leaders in question are from Israel, conservative American evangelicals have managed to play a role in countering the event.

Interfaith agreement is unusual in Israel. The leaders' joint opposition was initially generated by the Rev. Leo Giovinetti, an evangelical pastor from San Diego who is both a veteran of the American culture war over homosexuality and a frequent visitor to Israel, where he has formed relationships with rabbis and politicians.
Thanks reverend for seeking to export the more virulent strains of our culture wars. A look at some of the hate-filled rhetoric is enough to make you wax secular. So much for "Love Without Borders," or "hate the sin, love the sinner":

Mr. Giovinetti circulated a petition against the festival, titled "Homosexuals to Desecrate Jerusalem," which he said had been signed by every member of the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party in the Israeli Parliament....

"They are creating a deep and terrible sorrow that is unbearable," Shlomo Amar, Israel's Sephardic chief rabbi...."It hurts all of the religions. We are all against it"...

Abdel Aziz Bukhari, a Sufi sheik, added: "We can't permit anybody to come and make the Holy City dirty. This is very ugly and very nasty to have these people come to Jerusalem"....

Rabbi Yehuda Levin, of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, which says it represents more than 1,000 American Orthodox rabbis...called the festival "the spiritual rape of the Holy City." He said, "This is not the homo land, this is the Holy Land."
On the plus side, there are religious leaders and organizations that encourage the mission of WorldPride and other groups that seek to foster common bonds and a truer sense of love, tolerance, and compassion - central messages of all the religions in question as a matter of fact.

Organizers of the gay pride event, Jerusalem WorldPride 2005, said that 75 non-Orthodox rabbis had signed a statement of support for the event, and that Christian and Muslim leaders as well as Israeli politicians were expected to announce their support soon. They said they were dismayed to see that what united their opponents was their objection to homosexuality.

"That is something new I've never witnessed before, such an attempt to globalize bigotry," said Hagai El-Ad, the executive director of Jerusalem Open House, a gay and lesbian group that is the host for the festival. "It's quite sad and ironic that these religious figures are coming together around such a negative message"....

"I reject that they have the right to define religion in such a narrow way," Rabbi Kleinbaum said of religious leaders who denounce homosexuality. "Gay and lesbian people are saying we are equal partners in religious communities, and we believe in a religious world in which all are created in God's image."
To that last paragraph I say, Amen.

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?