CULTURE DIGEST: ‘Brokeback Mountain’ hides the truth, expert says; Soulforce plans Easter takeover on White House lawn

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--On the day the controversial film “Brokeback Mountain” was lauded with eight Oscar nominations, a former homosexual sounded the alarm about the dangers such a film can pose to society when it only tells half the story about the experience of homosexuals in American culture.

“The real truth is that those who struggle with homosexuality, like the two lead characters in Brokeback Mountain, can leave homosexuality and the pain and emptiness that so often accompanies it,” Mike Haley, director of gender issues for Focus on the Family, said in a news release Jan. 31. “Thousands of men and women have done just that -- have decided to come to terms with what lies at the roots of their same-sex attractions to work diligently toward overcoming them.”

Haley, cofounder of the Love Won Out conferences designed to provide support for those who struggle with same-sex attractions, said Brokeback Mountain wrongly leads people to believe there is only one option -- to behave as homosexuals even if they choose to hide their same-sex attractions from their families and society.

Brokeback Mountain is a “well-made film with moving performances,” Haley said, but its message is dangerous, particularly to teenagers and young adults who are questioning their sexuality.

“This movie spotlights a tragedy that is avoidable, and almost seems to suggest that the damage the two lead characters do to their families is somehow forgivable because they are in love,” Haley, who is now a husband and father of two, said. “But it’s not society’s disapproval of homosexuality that causes the characters’ physical and emotional abandonment of their families. It’s the choices they make, choices the movie suggests are the only ones available to them. That simply is not true, and it’s something our young people must be told isn’t true.”

Also among those nominated for the 78th annual Academy Awards was the motion picture adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ children’s novel “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” which will compete for achievement in makeup, achievement in sound mixing and achievement in visual effects.

SOULFORCE MAKES EASTER PLANS -- Soulforce and other homosexual rights advocates are planning to make a statement in Washington this spring by lining up 1,000 “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender” families to participate in the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, which has been a favorite among children since the Civil War.

“The media will be there (they are always there for the egg roll) and millions of Americans -- many for the first time -- will meet our families,” Soulforce said in an e-mail to its supporters. “This is an amazing opportunity to reach homes in blue states and red states with positive images of our families participating in this great American family tradition.

“This event will be like nothing anyone has ever seen before,” Soulforce said. “The White House lawn -- the Bush White House lawn -- will, quite unexpectedly, be filled with gay and lesbian families. This is something people will be talking about for a long time, an event that will make history!”

But the letter ended with a directive to be “discreet” about the plans because the “success of this action depends on keeping it under the radar of the media and the administration!!!”

More than just blending in, Soulforce and their fellow activists plan to wear coordinating T-shirts to identify them as homosexual families.

POKER CRAZE SWEEPS NATION -- Poker has become so commonplace in America within the past five years that many people forget it’s illegal in various situations. With shows like “Celebrity Poker Showdown” and a vast array of available games on the Internet, a “royal flush” is becoming as familiar a sports phrase as a “Hail Mary,” USA Today said Jan. 18.

But as the card game grows in popularity, law enforcement officials are taking extra measures to ensure it stays within the legal bounds, which means folks who run poker games for profit are at risk of getting arrested. But an innocent game of poker among family and friends at home is OK, according to the law.

“There are different sets of laws for players as opposed to operators,” Nelson Rose, a professor at Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa, Calif., and an expert on gambling laws, told USA Today. “Most of the time, players are not breaking the law. Most of the time the operators, if they are running it for profit ... are.”

Poker has become so popular in America that many people may not realize they’re breaking the law, USA Today noted, including a business group in San Jose that had planned to host a poker tournament in order to raise money for a library and was warned it would be illegal.

EMINENT DOMAIN LURKS OVER CHURCH -- It could be a matter of time until a 2005 Supreme Court ruling forces people out of their pews to make way for a Wal-Mart Supercenter or another such retail giant, at least if a particular situation in Oklahoma is any indication.

Centennial Baptist Church in Sand Springs, Okla., which is not affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, is at the center of a land dispute because it is located in an industrial hub west of Tulsa where the city plans to move ahead with a redevelopment plan to clear the church and other occupants from the area to make room for retail stores, according to The New York Times Jan. 23.

If the city and the church cannot agree on a selling price for the property, the city, under the Supreme Court ruling, could use eminent domain to acquire the property and then sell it to developers.

“It’s not just grandma’s house we have to worry about,” Heather Wilhelm, communications director for Americans for Limited Government, wrote in an article posted on National Review Online Jan. 17. “Now it’s God’s house, too.”

In response to the court’s ruling on eminent domain, BB&T Corporation, which owns banks along the East Coast and in the Southeast, announced Jan. 25 it will not lend to commercial developers that plan to build condominiums, shopping malls and other private projects on land taken from private citizens by government entities using eminent domain.

“The idea that a citizen’s property can be taken by the government solely for private use is extremely misguided, in fact it’s just plain wrong,” John Allison, chairman and CEO of BB&T, said. “One of the most basic rights of every citizen is to keep what they own. As an institution dedicated to helping our clients achieve economic success and financial security, we won’t help any entity or company that would undermine that mission and threaten the hard-earned American dream of property ownership.”


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