CULTURE DIGEST: Homosexual bishop courts Planned Parenthood; Roy Moore considers run for governor

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--New Hampshire's V. Gene Robinson, the Episcopal Church's first openly homosexual bishop, told a Planned Parenthood audience that they must use people of faith to counter the faith-based arguments against them, specifically opposition to homosexuality and abortion.

"We have allowed the Bible to be taken hostage, and it is being wielded by folks who would use it to hit us over the head," Robinson said at Planned Parenthood's fifth annual prayer breakfast in Washington April 15, according to The Washington Times.

"We have to take back those Scriptures. You know, those stories are our stories. I tell this to lesbian folk all the time: The story of freedom in Exodus is our story. ... That's my story, and they can't have it.

"This current administration notwithstanding, the world is not black and white," he said. "We need to teach people about nuance, about holding things in tension, that this can be true and that can be true, and somewhere between is the right answer. It's a very adult way of living, you know.

"What an unimaginative God it would be if God only put one meaning in any verse of Scripture."

Robinson's appearance at the breakfast merged two lightning rod issues within the Episcopal Church, which is facing controversy from its members over its decision to elevate Robinson to bishop and which opposes most cases of abortion based on a 1994 resolution.

The church's official position on abortion says, "While we acknowledge that in this country it is the legal right of every woman to have a medically safe abortion, as Christians we believe strongly that if this right is exercised, it should be used only in extreme conditions.

"We emphatically oppose abortion as a means of birth control, family planning, sex selection or any reason of mere convenience."

Planned Parenthood has reportedly performed 3.5 million abortions since 1970 and operates 850 clinics nationwide.

"Bishop Robinson has been an inspiring religious leader and a compelling moral and ethical force in the struggle for reproductive rights, human rights and sexual equality," said Ignacio Castuera, the national chaplain for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "His work mentoring everyone from youth to clergy on issues ranging from healthy sexuality to conflict mediation has shaped generations of believers who share his progressive spiritual values."

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said bringing together homosexual activism and abortion on demand hardly seems the best way to reach most people of faith in America.

RIFT CONTINUES WITHIN EPISCOPAL CHURCH -- When the Anglican Consultative Council meets in June, delegates from the U.S. Episcopal Church will not be allowed to participate, because of the ongoing dispute over homosexuality.

In February, 35 top leaders of world Anglican churches requested that the American leaders withdraw their delegates in response to conservative demands that the Episcopal Church be suspended from full participation in the Anglican Communion after it consecrated the openly homosexual Bishop V. Gene Robinson and has allowed blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples, according to the Associated Press.

U.S. representatives will be present at the meeting but will simply observe discussions and be open to answer any questions, and the Episcopal Church will provide the council with a formal theological explanation of its homosexual policies, AP reported.

In related news, six Episcopal priests in Connecticut are facing possible suspension and defrocking for rebelling against their bishop's support for homosexual clergy members. Andrew D. Smith, the bishop of Connecticut, is considering what action to take against the six after they rejected his plan for letting them report to an alternate bishop and stopped paying their diocesan dues.

Smith described the priests as local troops in a nationwide strategy by conservative Episcopalians to secede and establish a "replacement" church that would take the place of the Episcopal Church U.S.A. in the world Anglican Communion, according to The New York Times.

ROY MOORE CONSIDERS RUN FOR GOVERNOR -- His face was prominent in the national media for weeks at the height of the showdown over the Ten Commandments monument in the Alabama Judicial Building, and now former Chief Justice Roy Moore is said to be considering a run for his state's gubernatorial post.

Moore would likely face incumbent Gov. Bob Riley, a Republican, in the race, though neither has officially declared his intentions regarding the 2006 election. While speaking at a Republican breakfast in Huntsville in March, Moore said his decision to run would be more about choice than division, according to The Huntsville Times.

"Choice is appropriate in every election," he said. "All I can say is that people have asked me to consider running, and I am considering it."

One indication Moore might be able to raise sufficient funds for a campaign is that the Foundation for Moral Law, where he serves as chairman of the board, raised $1.3 million in donations its first year. The foundation was organized in 2003 as a way to raise money for Moore's legal defense in the Ten Commandments case and has a mission to defend through litigation Americans' right to acknowledge God. Were he to run for governor, though, money raised through the foundation could not be used for his campaign.

Moore is the author of a new book, “So Help Me God: The Ten Commandments, Judicial Tyranny, and the Battle for Religious Freedom" and is scheduled to address the June 19-20 Southern Baptist Convention’s Pastors’ Conference in Nashville, Tenn.

NEXT TREND COULD BE VAPORIZED ALCOHOL -- Florida lawmakers are trying to outlaw a machine that vaporizes alcohol with oxygen to produce a no-carb, hangover-free buzz before it becomes a dangerous fad.

The device resembles a hookah-like asthma nebulizer and is being sold on the Internet by a European company called AWOL, which stands for "alcohol without liquid," according to The Miami Herald.

The machine consists of an oxygen generator that blasts air into a hand-held vaporizer containing the liquor of choice, and it ranges in size from desktop- to industrial-sized pipes for multiple users in a club, The Herald reported.

Bipartisan support in the Florida legislature is behind a bill that would make the use of such devices illegal. So far, the measure is backed by the distilled-liquor lobby, touted as public safety legislation and seems to have no major opponents.

"It's not something I wanted to see proliferate throughout the state," Rep. Bob Henriquez, D-Tampa, told The Herald. "We're getting ahead of the curve here. I'm no prude. I just see this as a cheap and trendy way" to abuse alcohol.

If the legislation passes, an AWOL seller would face a first-degree misdemeanor charge of up to one year in prison, second-time violators would face five years in prison, while anyone who uses the product would face a $250 fine.

Thirteen other states are considering similar legislation.


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