Tuesday, September 26, 2017

In the News: SF Examiner

Patriot Prayer group leader says they’re returning to SF

Here we go again: Patriot Prayer announced they’re coming back to San Francisco.
On Sept. 17 the right-wing group’s organizer, Joey Gibson, wrote on Facebook that the group would return to the Bay Area.
“Berkeley and San Francisco heads up…. Patriot Prayer will be in town and march next week,” he wrote.

That’s seemingly set to be timed to coincide with Milo Yiannopoulos’ free speech week, which reportedly has been canceled. Still, the “Berkeley Rally Against White Supremacy” counter protest is scheduled for Monday.
Gibson told me via text message his group would be in the Bay Area Tuesday and Wednesday. When I asked where Patriot Prayer would go, he texted me, “Everywhere.”
I asked what he meant.
“We will be everywhere,” he replied.
Short of turning into the Flash, I was still a bit confused, and asked him to illuminate again. Gibson wrote, “I can’t give you specific details on what we are doing but it will be different but the same as what we did last time in SF.”
Different but the same? Well, that clarifies everything!
To be clear, what he did last time was cancel his rally a day before it was set to take place Aug. 26 at Crissy Field, and and instead hopped over to Pacifica as 15,000 or so San Franciscans marched in opposition to Patriot Prayer. Gibson and his followers eventually swung back into The City, and led counter-protesters and journalists on a merry chase from neighborhood to neighborhood.
At one point, he made his way to Civic Center, where counter-rally was held to promote love earlier in the day.
One of the few stragglers was a self-identified transgender woman who calls herself The Supergirl. She told me she felt Gibson and Patriot Prayer were misunderstood, and that she cried as she hugged Gibson and could feel his positive “energy.”
Well, to be fully accurate, I told her I needed to leave and walked away as she continued to sing Gibson’s praises loudly enough her voice echoed around City Hall’s dome a block away. Yeesh.
By contrast, the Rev. Megan Rohrer, a frequent rabble rouser in San Francisco, tweeted earlier this month that “On Aug 15, 2017 Joey said ’there are good members of Antifa.’ He is on whatever side the person he is talking to is on.”
It should be mentioned that the Oath Keepers, a militia that likely would not find many supporters in our lefty town, backed out of Patriot Prayer’s rally (before it was canceled) partly because Gibson scheduled Kyle “Based Stickman” Chapman — who allegedly has direct white nationalist ties — as a speaker.
Still, Gibson was vague enough that I’d take it all with a huge ol’ grain of salt. If he does come, it’s a shame it may be Monday and not this weekend …
Can you imagine the right-wing Patriot Prayer accidentally finding themselves wandering through the leather-filled Folsom Street Fair on Sunday? Now that would’ve been a serious hoot.
On Guard prints the news and raises hell each week. Email Fitz at joe@sfexaminer.com, follow him on Twitter and Instagram @FitztheReporter, and Facebook at facebook.com/FitztheReporter.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

In the News: Bay Area Reporter

Online Extra: Political Notes: Poll finds many LGBT people eschew religion


Christ the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in San Jose recently marked its 30th anniversary as a Reconciled in Christ (welcoming and affirming to people of all sexual orientations and gender identities) congregation. Photo: Jo-Lynn Otto
New polling results have confirmed what faith leaders have long known, that many LGBT people eschew religion.

According to Public Religion Research Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization, nearly half of LGBT Americans, at 46 percent, are religiously unaffiliated. The finding is roughly twice the number of Americans overall (24 percent) who are religiously unaffiliated.

The findings are from the firm's "America's Changing Religious Identity" report, which was released last week. It is the largest survey of American religious and denominational identity ever conducted, according to PRRI.

"I thought it was very accurate based on what I see among LGBTQ folks. I think it is harder in the Bay Area to come out as a Christian than as a queer person," said the Reverend Megan Rohrer, Ph.D., who is transgender and the pastor at Grace Lutheran Church in San Francisco.

Michael Chertok, a gay man who is president of San Francisco's LGBT Jewish synagogue Congregation Sha'ar Zahav, was also unsurprised by the findings. "In general, Americans are less religiously affiliated today. This is even more so in urban areas where many LGBT people live," Chertok, who was out of town attending a conference for LGBT Jews, wrote in an emailed reply. "And it is further exacerbated in the LGBT community, where some have not been accepted as who they are by their faith – and even worse, sometimes persecuted."

The report is based on findings from PRRI's American Values Atlas and interviews with more than 101,000 Americans from all 50 states. It found that only 43 percent of Americans identify as white and Christian, and only 30 percent as white and Protestant. In 1976, roughly eight in 10 (81 percent) Americans identified as white and identified with a Christian denomination, and a majority (55 percent) were white Protestants.

"For a long time a lot of this was anecdotal. Now, we can more clearly see this decline in religions and can see it with greater accuracy," said the Reverend Jim Mitulski, a gay man who is the interim senior minister at the Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ in Needham, Massachusetts.

Mitulski said the largely white congregation is emblematic of the churches in decline. "And we are liberal," he said. "In a sense, while I hate to see the decline, I am seeing it firsthand."

Thus, the PRRI poll "does confirm what I have been seeing," added Mitulski. It also should be a wake-up call for political leaders, he said.

"The political message is they need to stop making alliances with conservative religious leaders who are trying to use religion to control people," said Mitulski. "They need to stop seeing their alliances with religious leaders and religious organizations as something they can translate into votes."

As for the findings about LGBT Americans, the report found few identify as Christian. Only six percent of LGBT Americans are white evangelical Protestant, according to PRRI, while similar numbers identify as white mainline Protestant (8 percent) and white Catholic (6 percent).

Fewer than one in 10 identify as black Protestant (6 percent), Hispanic Catholic (5 percent), or Hispanic Protestant (3 percent), reported PRRI.

The report found stark generational differences among LGBT Americans in their religious identity. A majority (56 percent) of LGBT young adults (age 18 to 29) are religiously unaffiliated, compared to one-quarter (25 percent) of LGBT seniors (age 65 or older).

Notably, Buddhists and Unitarian-Universalists have a much higher proportion of LGBT members than other religious traditions, reported PRRI. One in seven Buddhists (14 percent) and Unitarian-Universalists (14 percent) identify as LGBT.

As for LGBT Jews, the survey found that LGBT Americans are somewhat overrepresented among non-Christian religions with 6 percent identifying as Jewish, compared to 2 percent of the general public.

"Particularly over the past year, we've seen a sharp upswing in the number of people attending our prayer services and programs – and some of the highest numbers of new members joining our community in our history, including many young people," wrote Chertok.

The Reform Jewish movement (URJ) has embraced LGBT Jews, noted Chertok, ordaining gay, lesbian, and transgender rabbis, permitting rabbis to marry same-sex couples for many years, and encouraging congregations to reach out to LGBT Jews. The Conservative Jewish movement has followed this trend, he added, noting that even some of the most fundamentalist Orthodox Jews "are starting to show openness" toward LGBT Jews.

"In general, the American Jewish community has been relatively accepting of LGBT people, compared to some other faiths," wrote Chertok. "Jewish synagogues in most major American cities, like Sha'ar Zahav in San Francisco, have had an outreach to the LGBT community for more than 40 years."

While certain Christian denominations continue to preach against LGBT people, there are those that are LGBT-affirming, pointed out Rohrer, and welcome LGBT individuals looking for a religious home.

"I think in the same way people would understand if you go to one Chinese restaurant that serves terrible food it is not emblematic of all Chinese restaurants. Research churches like where you want to go to the movies or eat food," said Rohrer. "It is work to figure out what is a safe or supportive space. We can't just assume every faith community is going to be terrible because we had abusive experiences with one faith." Despite the poll findings, Mitulski said he doesn't believe that Americans' "religious impulse" is on the decline. Prior to his moving to Boston last year, he worked in Denver and in Dallas "where church-going – even among LGBT people – is very strong," he noted.

And many LGBT people "are still gravitating," added Mitulski, to more liberal religions. "All of this is to say church leaders need to take notice that LGBT people are spiritual people but not interested in homophobic, oppressive religions," he said. "In the end I don't think anybody is."

The full report can be found online at https://www.prri.org/research/american-religious-landscape-christian-religiously-unaffiliated/.

Keep abreast of the latest LGBT political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/politicalnotes.

Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail mailto:m.bajko@ebar.com.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

In the News: Nonviolence Radio

1 PM “Nonviolence Radio” Empathic listening can do powerful work in nonviolence. In this episode, we talk with Edwin Rutsch about Empathy Tents and share a dialogue that he facilitated between Joey Gibson and Megan Rohrer, two key organizers (at political odds) from this past weekend’s rallies in SF/Berkeley.     Audio here: http://kwmr.org/broadcasts/10438

In the News: ESPN

Lincoln High School Announces 2017 Hall of Fame Class 
by Jeff Thurn September 5, 2017 11:15

Photo courtesy of SiouxFallsSchools via YouTube

 Lincoln High School in Sioux Falls will induct 10 new members into their Hall of Fame class in 2017.

Those members include Aaron Hove, Patrick Munson, Taun Toay, Frank Thomas, Bob Carlson, Chris Harper, Linda Yang, Megan Rohrer, Mary Cogswell and Thomas Lubeck.

If you want to get involved, you can contact Lincoln Athletic Director Joey Struwe at 605-367-7900.
The ceremony will take place Saturday September 23 at the Sioux Falls Convention Center and will include a meal with a ticket cost of $35.

Read More: Lincoln High School Announces 2017 Hall of Fame Class