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A Rib-cracking Bear Hug: The Russian Orthodox Church Embraces Gays:

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Two of the biggest problems Christian churches have today: people either blindly trust them OR... they don't trust them at all. I admit I'm one of the latter, but with good reason: I saw one of history's greatest hypocrisies play out before my very eyes in our own "Age of AIDS." No, I won't go into my story because a great many people already know it and for those who don't, here's an open invitation to contact me to find out why I am so mistrustful of organized religion. For argument's sake, however, let's just say that I know a little about the whys and wherefores of religious organizations.

From 365gay.com

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church says that, although the church views homosexuality as a sin, homosexuality is a personal choice.

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Patriarch Kirill says gays and lesbians must not be persecuted or discriminated against in any way, though the church still opposes same-sex marriages.

The patriarch's statements, a breakthrough for the Russian church, were made during a meeting Wednesday with visiting Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland.

Opposition to gay rights remains widespread in Russia, where homosexuality was decriminalized only in 1993.

Several high-profile Russian politicians have spoken against gay rights. Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov has described homosexuality as "satanic" and blamed homosexuals for spreading AIDS.

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Some people have hailed the Patriarch's move as "embracing" while others look at it suspiciously: too little and waaaay too late. Russia's love affair with homophobia is so entrenched in the culture that patriarchs placing pink triangles on their foreheads would be met with derision and onion-domed churches set ablaze (for good measure). And although one could argue "it's better than nothing," we've heard that song before and it's rather depressing: "Second Hand Rose". It's as if gays are getting the crumbs off the table of Patriarch Kirill's table. One comment the Associated Press article got was quite apropos, although acidic in temperament:
Why do we care what is said by a group which believes in bronze age mythology about a sky deity who sends his son, who is really himself on a suicide mission so he doesn't have to send everyone on earth into eternal burning torment? Talking snakes with feet? Guys living inside of giant fishes? It's like some sort of really badly written and edited science fiction novel. And yet we listen to what they have to say about us? Why? I don't give a rat's ass what they think. The sooner they drift into the debris of history, the better off we will all be.
The last two sentences are a bit too negative. The part that I focused on immediately: "And yet we listen to what they have to say about us?" Yes, we do. Or more correctly, yes, they do. And they outnumber us. They are high on self-righteousness. They glory in their "true church" hubris.

The embrace? ...hypocrisy. If they think gays are sinners who choose to sin, then why the anti-discrimination, anti-persecution declaration? Is it possible that the church is making slow moves towards full acceptance? Possible, but not likely. The compassion that is stated by organized religion could very well be a smokescreen: it's the "love the sinner, hate the sin" meme used to lull and dull.

Cynical? Of course. Cautious? Yes. And although we'll have to wait and see how much effect their "compassionate" declaration has on the Russian public, I should give everyone a caveat here:

Don't hold your breath.


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Rev. Dan Vojir is has been writing/blogging on religion and politics for the better part of ten years. A former radio talk show host (Strictly Books " Talk America Radio Network) and book publisher, Dan has connected with some of the most (more...)

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