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  • Alabama Lawmaker to Propose Legislation Backing 'Duck Dynasty' Star

    (CNN) -- The controversial comments about homosexuality made by "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson have come up in conversations across the country in the past two weeks and may make its way to the Alabama state legislature next month.

  • Alumni Outraged Over Firing of Gay Teacher in Ohio

    SANDUSKY, Ohio (AP) -- The Catholic Diocese of Toledo is backing a Roman Catholic school that parted ways with a gay teacher.

  • Anti-Gay Christian Pundit Responds to Honey Maid Commercial

    Axe murder, cannibalism and graham crackers, oh my!

  • Archbishop Accused of Abuse, Takes Leave of Absence

    (CNN) The Catholic Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis on Tuesday denied an accusation of sexual abuse but said he has placed himself on voluntary leave of absence during an investigation.

  • Arizona's Decision On Anti-Gay Bill Unlikely To End Religious Liberty Movement

    (CNN) -- To Arizona's governor, a bill that would have allowed businesses to close their doors to gays and lesbians out of religious conviction was wrong for the state. So, she vetoed it.

    The buck may have stopped with Gov. Jan Brewer in Arizona on Wednesday, but the fight to pass such laws bannered as religious freedom issues is still on in quite a few other states.

    "Right behind it are Missouri and Georgia," said Jay Michaelson, a fellow at Political Research Associates, a progressive political think tank.

    Brewer felt Senate Bill 1062 did not address specific dangers to religious freedom.

    "It could divide Arizona in ways we cannot even imagine," said Brewer, who said she tuned out public pressure and made the decision she felt was right.

    Attention now turns to the following states:

    Georgia

    The Preservation of Religious Freedom Act has been introduced into Georgia's legislature, and it is similar to the one vetoed in Arizona.

    The measure, which is moving through the state House of Representatives, allows a private company to ignore state laws that "directly or indirectly constrains, inhibits, curtails or denies" with a person's religious beliefs.

    An almost identical bill has been introduced in the state Senate.

    Much like the Arizona measure, neither Georgia's House or Senate bills specifically spell out gays or lesbians as the target of the bill.

    Idaho

    There are two bills being considered. HB 426 would protect people making decisions out of religious convictions -- including denying service to someone. HB 427 gives people protection against legal claims made against them in cases involving religious convictions.

    If passed into law, the first bill would likely be vulnerable to constitutional legal challenges. Both bills could cause many disruptions to everyday life in the state, a state attorney general said in an article in the The Spokesman Review.

    HB 427 has been sent back to committee.

    Mississippi

    A bill is being considered to legally protect people against being compelled to take any action against their religion. SB 2681 does not explicitly mention gays, lesbians or same-sex marriage. It has passed the Senate and was referred to House, where it is in a judiciary committee.

    Missouri

    A bill that requires the government to show a compelling interest in any attempt to restrict a person's right to practice religion was introduced this week by Republican state Sen. Wayne Wallingford.

    SB 916 provides for additional civil protections to the state's existing "Religious Freedom Restoration Act," according to the senator.

    But critics of the law say it's a way to discriminate against gays.

    Ohio

    The House introduced HB 376 in December. It also does not single out same-sex relations for discrimination but gives legal protection to individuals acting or making decisions out of religious conviction. It's currently in judiciary committee. Critics say it's aimed at discrimination against same-sex couples, knoxnews.com reported.

    Oregon

    The conservative Oregon Family Council is sponsoring a ballot measure -- the "Protect Religious Freedoms Initiative" -- that would allow private businesses to deny services that would support same-sex marriage.

    The group, which previously supported the effort to ban same-sex marriage in the state, is pushing to get the measure on the November ballot.

    South Dakota

    Conservative senators introduced one bill that would allow businesses or people to deny "certain wedding services or goods due to the free exercise of religion." But its main sponsor withdrew it.

    But there's a second one protecting "speech pertaining to views on sexual orientation." It has been deferred to a late legislative day.

    There are also states where proposed bills have already hit a legislative wall:

    Colorado

    A bill that would have allowed people to defend against discrimination allegations on the basis of religious convictions was killed in committee, The Denver Post reported.

    Kansas

    State representatives introduced a bill in January that would have explicitly permitted religious business people and government workers to refuse serving same-sex couples. It passed the House with a vote of 72 to 49; but failed in the Republican-dominated Senate.

    Maine

    A conservative senator introduced a religious freedom bill that would have protected people making decisions out of religious convictions that other legislators felt interfered with other people's civil rights. The state Senate and House both voted it down, Bangor Daily News reported.

    Tennessee

    Tennessee legislators introduced a bill in early February that proponents said would protect businesses if they refused services to gays and lesbians. Critics called it the "Turn the Gays Away" bill.

    The measure has been withdrawn from committee, CNN affiliate WSMV reported.

    Utah

    Conservative state Sen. Stuart Reid introduced a bill similar to the Arizona bill that was vetoed, but it has since been shelved, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

    CNN's Julie In,Ben Brumfield and Tom Watkins contributed to this report

  • Catholic School Vice Principal Forced Out Over Same-Sex Marriage

    Sammamish (KCPQ) -- The sudden resignation of a beloved swim coach and school administrator because of his gay wedding has shocked the students and staff at Eastside Catholic School.

  • Church Leaders Denounce Charity's Decision to Hire Married Gays

    SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Leaders of the Assemblies of God and the Southern Baptist Convention are denouncing World Vision's announcement that it will start hiring Christians in same-sex marriages.

  • Dalai Lama Says No Problem With Gay Marriage

    The Dalai Lama has thrown his moral weight behind gay marriage, condemning homophobia and saying he was not bothered by consensual sex among people from other traditions.

  • Evangelical Charity To Hire Married Gay Christians

    NEW YORK (AP) - The prominent Christian relief agency World Vision said Monday it will hire Christians who are in same-sex marriages, a dramatic policy change on one of the most divisive social issues facing religious groups.

  • Fred Phelps' Death: Don't Celebrate, Some Say

    It's highly unlikely that any LGBT identified person will be mourning the passing of the virulently anti-gay Rev. Fred Phelps, who spent decades spewing anti-gay hate. Phelps, founder of Westboro Baptist Church,  was best known for picketing funerals and taunting the mourners. Church members participated in these actions.

  • Gay Bishop Gene Robinson Leads White House Easter Prayer

    Gene Robinson received quite a surprise this Monday, April 14, when President Barack Obama unexpectedly tapped the former first openly gay Episcopal bishop to lead the closing prayer at the White House Easter celebration.

  • Gay Boston Man Says Catholic School Rescinded Job

    BOSTON (AP) — A Boston man says in a complaint filed with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination that a Roman Catholic school rescinded a job offer after finding out he was married to another man.

  • Gay Hiring Fears Hurt Baptist Agency Fundraising

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Uncertainty over a short-lived proposal to open employment to gays at Kentucky's largest private child care agency prompted many supportive churches to withhold giving last year, creating a multi-million dollar shortfall.

  • Gay Marriage Foe to March in NYC LGBT Pride Parade

    The Catholic League will be allowed to march with an anti-gay-marriage banner in New York City's annual Pride parade, organizers said on the heels of a St. Patrick's Day parade prohibition on gay-rights signs and subsequent boycott that drew widespread attention.

  • Gay Student Says Baptist School Denied Readmission

    ST. LOUIS (AP) — An honors-caliber college student who recently disclosed publicly that he's gay said he was denied readmission to a northern Missouri Baptist school because of that declaration.

  • Homeless Transgendered Woman Murdered in Rome Honored by Jesuits

    ROME, Italy (CNN) -- Andrea Quintero was described by those who knew her as a gentle soul and a devout Catholic.

  • How Evangelicals Won A Culture War And Lost A Generation

    (CNN) -- On March 24, World Vision announced that the U.S. branch of the popular humanitarian organization would no longer discriminate against employees in same-sex marriages.

    It was a decision that surprised many but one that made sense, given the organization’s ecumenical nature.

    But on March 26, World Vision President Richard Stearns reversed the decision, stating, “our board acknowledged that the policy change we made was a mistake.”

    Supporters helped the aid group “see that with more clarity,” Stearns added, “and we’re asking you to forgive us for that mistake.”

    So what happened within those 48 hours to cause such a sudden reversal?

    The Evangelical Machine kicked into gear.

    Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said the decision pointed to “disaster,” and the Assemblies of God denomination encouraged its members to pull their financial support from the organization.

    Evangelicals took to Twitter and Facebook to threaten to stop sending money to their sponsored children unless World Vision reversed course.

    Within a day of the initial announcement, more than 2,000 children sponsored by World Vision lost their financial support. And with more and more individuals, churches and organizations threatening to do the same, the charity stood to lose millions of dollars in aid that would otherwise reach the poor, sick, hungry and displaced people World Vision serves.

    So World Vision reversed course.

    Stearns told The New York Times that some people, satisfied with the reversal, have called World Vision headquarters to ask, “Can I have my child back?” as though needy children are expendable bargaining chips in the culture war against gay and lesbian people.

    Many of us who grew up evangelical watched with horror as these events unfolded.

    As a longtime supporter of World Vision, I encouraged readers of my blog to pick up some of the dropped sponsorships after the initial decision. I then felt betrayed when World Vision backtracked, though I urged my readers not to play the same game but to keep supporting their sponsored children, who are of course at no fault in any of this.

    But most of all, the situation put into stark, unsettling relief just how misaligned evangelical priorities have become.

    When Christians declare that they would rather withhold aid from people who need it than serve alongside gays and lesbians helping to provide that aid, something is wrong.

    There is a disproportionate focus on homosexuality that consistently dehumanizes, stigmatizes and marginalizes gay and lesbian people and, at least in this case, prioritizes the culture war against them over and against the important work of caring for the poor.

    Evangelicals insist that they are simply fighting to preserve “biblical marriage,” but if this were actually about “biblical marriage,” then we would also be discussing the charity’s policy around divorce.

    But we’re not.

    Furthermore, Scripture itself teaches that when we clothe and feed those in need, we clothe and feed Christ himself, and when we withhold care from those in need, we withhold it from Christ himself (Matthew 25:31-46).

    Why are the few passages about homosexuality accepted uncritically, without regard to context or culture, but the many about poverty so easily discarded?

    As I grieved with my (mostly 20- and 30-something) readers over this ugly and embarrassing situation, I heard a similar refrain over and over again: “I don’t think I’m an evangelical anymore. I want to follow Jesus, but I can’t be a part of this.”

    I feel the same way.

    Whether it’s over the denial of evolutionary science, continued opposition to gender equality in the church, an unhealthy alliance between religion and politics or the obsession with opposing gay marriage, evangelicalism is losing a generation to the culture wars.

    A recent survey from Public Religion Research Institute revealed that nearly one-third of millennials who left their childhood faith did so because of “negative teachings” or “negative treatment” of gay and lesbian people.

    Christians can disagree about what the Bible says (or doesn’t say) about same-sex marriage. This is not an issue of orthodoxy. But when we begin using child sponsorships as bargaining tools in our debates, we’ve lost the way of Jesus.

    So my question for those evangelicals is this: Is it worth it?

    Is a “victory” against gay marriage really worth leaving thousands of needy children without financial support?

    Is a “victory” against gay marriage worth losing more young people to cynicism regarding the church?

    Is a “victory” against gay marriage worth perpetuating the idea that evangelical Christians are at war with LGBT people?

    And is a “victory” against gay marriage worth drowning out that quiet but persistent internal voice that asks, "what if we get this wrong?"

    I, for one, am tired of arguing. I’m tired of trying to defend evangelicalism when its leaders behave indefensibly.

    I’m going AWOL on evangelicalism's culture wars so I can get back to following Jesus among its many refugees: LGBT people, women called to ministry, artists, science-lovers, misfits, sinners, doubters, thinkers and “the least of these.”

    I’m ready to stop waging war and start washing feet.

    Rachel Held Evans is the author of "Evolving in Monkey Town" and "A Year of Biblical Womanhood." She blogs at rachelheldevans.com. The views expressed in this column belong to Rachel Held Evans.

  • IN Bishops Issue Letter on Proposed Marriage Amendment

    INDIANAPOLIS — Bishops representing Indiana's five Roman Catholic dioceses have issued a pastoral letter in response to a proposal to add a ban on gay marriage to the state constitution, but didn't take a side.

  • In Depth: Gov. Jan Brewer Vetoes Religious Bias Bill

    Republican Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has vetoed the religious bias bill.

    Nearly all political pundits were predicting she would veto the bill allowing people to discriminate based on self-claimed religious beliefs. On Wednesday, former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney joined the chorus of prominent Republicans who said she should.

  • Is Gay Former Saudi Diplomat Victim of Politics?

    (CNN) -- While President Barack Obama has made promoting rights for gays and lesbians worldwide a key foreign policy goal, that is little comfort to Ali Asseri, a former Saudi diplomat who is gay.