We’ve tried not to cheer the death of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps, but an Oklahoma liquor store is actually toasting his death: Moore Liquor is offering 10% off all champagne, and touts the Phelps connection in its billboard: “Fred Phelps 1929-2014, Champagne 10% off! Not a coincidence.”
“If they choose to celebrate the passing of a little hate from this world, they can do so and we’re happy to oblige,” owner Bryan Kerr told KOCO TV. “I was a little reticent about putting up the sign in the first place because I have two good parents who raised me not to speak ill of the dead, but I couldn’t help feeling that the world was a better place without Fred Phelps.”
Kerr, who describes himself as a Christian, says response to the deal is “overwhelming”
Christian relief group World Vision has reneged on its promise to start hiring LGBT employees, after facing a major backlash from fundamentalists.
“The board acknowledged they made a mistake and chose to revert to our longstanding conduct policy requiring sexual abstinence for all single employees and faithfulness within the Biblical covenant of marriage between a man and a woman,” said World Vision chairman Jim Beré in a statement. “We are brokenhearted over the pain and confusion we have caused many of our friends, who saw this decision as a reversal of our strong commitment to Biblical authority.”
Just days ago, World Vision declared it was revising its handbook to allow married gay people to work for the organization, one of the largest relief groups in the world.
Blogger Rachel Held Evan, who lauded the change, says the turnabout “feels like a betrayal from every side.” Evan admits “I had not realized the true extent of the disdain evangelicals have for our LGBT people.”
Conservative Christian groups, however are lauding the reversal. “World Vision’s right decision… conveys a spirit of Christlikeness and humility in tone and content,” tweeted Southern Baptist Convention leader Russell Moore. “World Vision has done the right thing. Now, let’s all work for a holistic gospel presence, addressing both temporal and eternal needs.”
Troy Vincent, now the NFL’s vice-president for football operations, says he played with at least a half-dozen gay men when he was with the Miami Dolphins in the 1990s.
“I’m not going to share their names, but in my 15 years, there were six individuals who were at least openly gay in the locker room,” Vincent told the Palm Beach Post. “No problem. From my days in Miami until I ended in Washington, they were just my teammates. Just like my family members. We ate together, we flew together, they’re roommates in hotel rooms. It was what it was.”
Vincent has been an advocate for LGBT inclusion in pro sports, working with You Can Play’s High Five Initiative, which pairs NFL players one-on-one with gay youth.
Securing LGBT rights in America is like plugging leaks in dike: As soon as you solve one crisis, another one springs up. Just weeks after Arizona governor Jan Brewer vetoed a “religious freedom” bill that would condone discrimination against gay people, Tennessee has passed a similar measure.
The new “Religious Viewpoints Anti-Discrimination Act,” which almost unanimously passed both houses of the state legislature, is supposed to protect students from religious persecution by ordering schools to make facilities available for the “voluntary expression of a religious viewpoint.”
We can’t see that getting ugly, can you?
Advocates and allies are turning to Republican Governor Bill Haslam to veto the bill, as Brewer did. To join the fight, message Haslam on Facebook or email, and visit the Tennessee Equality Project website.