LGBTQ&A: Clay Cane

Clay Cane

Clay Cane is a New York City–based award-winning journalist, author, television personality, documentary filmmaker, and CNN.com contributor. Cane is the creator and director of the critically acclaimed original documentary Holler If You Hear Me: Black and Gay in the Church. We chatted with the Philadelphia native on his career, identity, and debut memoir.

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Anti-Religious Group Fighting Proposed Villanova Bridge

Church Walk bridge

A rendering of the proposed Church Walk bridge over Lancaster Avenue.

Last month Radnor Township approved a new pedestrian bridge over Lancaster Avenue that Villanova wants to build. The bridge design has proven controversial due to the presence of two four-foot-tall crosses on opposite ends.

“The size of it and the safety of it concern me first,” one woman said to the Delaware County Times last month. “The crosses disturb me second. I don’t think if we had Beth Hillel University down the street in the next block that we would like to see the Star of David on that.”

But the bridge was approved. Game over? Not necessarily. Read more »

Local Religious Leaders Condemn Jewish Cemetery Vandalism

Mount Carmel Cemetery

Image via Google Street View

Almost 200 local religious leaders gathered this afternoon for an interfaith press conference denouncing the vandalism of the Mount Carmel Cemetery in Northeast Philadelphia. The Jewish cemetery is the second in about a week to be vandalized, following the vandalism at a suburban St. Louis cemetery the previous weekend.

“When we are all one, we are stronger,” said Rev. William Worley, head of the Pennsylvania Southeast Conference of the United Church of Christ. “What happened in the cemetery, in the dark of night to defenseless people who are remembered there, was an act of cowardice.” Read more »

NATIONAL NEWS: San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus Insulted at Padres Game

San Diego Gay Men Chorus (Screenshot)

San Diego Gay Men Chorus (screenshot)

The members of the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus claim they were insulted with homophobic slurs while trying to perform the National Anthem.

Saturday night “turned into a nightmare” for the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus, according to a recent statement from the organization. The Padres, which sponsors an annual “Out at the Park” event geared toward LGBTQ patrons, invited the chorus to perform the National Anthem. However, once the 100 volunteer gay vocalists reached the field, their microphones were turned off and a recording of a female voice was played. The chorus also claims its members were subjected to homophobic slurs as they left the podium. “No attempt was made to stop the recording and start over,” the chorus remarked in a public statement on Saturday night. “No announcement of apology was made to the singers or their friends and families in the stands.” Read more »

LOCAL NEWS: Faith Leaders Are Advocating for Pennsylvania Fairness Act

Bible

Faith leaders and congregations have joined Equality Pennsylvania in pushing state legislators to pass the Pennsylvania Fairness Act.

Last weekend, 18 Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Jewish and Episcopalian congregations joined forces with Equality Pennsylvania to push elected officials in Harrisburg to pass the Pennsylvania Fairness Act. The act, currently known as HB 1510 and SB 974, would add protections for gender identity/expression and sexual orientation to Pennsylvania’s existing Human Relations Act,, which was passed in 1955. Read more »

NATIONAL NEWS: Pope Francis Disappoints With Trans Comments

Pope Francis blesses baby  while in Philadelphia.

Pope Francis blesses a baby during his Philadelphia trip in September 2015.

Pope Francis makes discouraging remarks about trans youth identity and same-sex marriage.

Pope Francis has disappointed members of the Catholic church on matters pertaining to LGBTQ relations in his recent letter Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”), which covers marriage and the family. In his writing, he supports the College of Pediatriciansrecent claims that “conditioning children into believing a lifetime of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex is normal and healthful is child abuse.” “The young need to be helped to accept their own body as it was created,” Pope Francis states. He further asserts that if individuals believe they have “absolute power over our own bodies,” it could potentially imply that “we enjoy absolute power over creation.” The 261-page document also included statements that there are “absolutely no grounds” for sincerely acknowledging “homosexual unions.” All of this comes as another reminder that Pope Francis is not as socially progressive as many followers had initially hoped. Read more »

Bullets and Bigots: Remembering Philadelphia’s 1844 Anti-Catholic Riots

It started with a Bible, of all things. Bishop Francis Kenrick, who, like many of the newest Philadelphians in the mid-1840s, had come to America from Ireland, learned that the city’s public schools, which started each morning with a Bible reading, were using the King James version of the Good Book. That was the Protestant Bible; Catholics used what was known as the Douai Bible. Different books for different faiths. Anyway, the Bishop — he’d founded St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in 1832, the same year he earned commendation from Philly Mayor John Swift for his and his fellow Catholics’ service to the city’s sick in a cholera epidemic — had asked the Board of Controllers of the Philadelphia schools if Catholic children might read the Douai Bible instead of the King James. The Board of Controllers approved the use of other versions of the Bible, and that was that.

In one sense, the board was yielding to the inevitable. Irish Catholics were pouring into the city; between 1830 and 1850, the Catholic population rose from 35,000 to 170,000, and the number of Catholic churches from 22 to 92. As always happens in such paroxysms of change, the extant population wasn’t thrilled with the newcomers. Imagine if, say, thousands of Syrian refugees suddenly descended on the city, with their own peculiarities of language and culture and a different religion. There was gossip about the Irish. Innuendo. Insinuation. Talk of a papal plot to rule the whole world and stamp out other faiths …

It took another year and a rumor to light the fire, though. The story spread that a school director in Kensington, a Catholic named Hugh Clark, had visited a girls’ school and demanded that its principal put a halt to Bible reading completely. Clark insisted he’d been misunderstood; when he observed a group of Catholic students leaving class for their own Bible reading, he merely remarked that if the Bible was causing such division in classrooms, perhaps it would be better if it wasn’t read. But the rumor grew, and flew, among the city’s less-recently-settled Scots-Irish Protestants: Hadn’t it been Bishop Kenrick who wanted the different Bible? There was no pleasing those people. What was wrong with the King James, for heaven’s sake? (Just imagine what Twitter would have made of all that.) Read more »

Philly Religious Leaders Condemn Donald Trump’s Anti-Muslim Rhetoric

Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump, speaks during a rally coinciding with Pearl Harbor Day at Patriots Point aboard the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., Monday, Dec. 7, 2015.

Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump, speaks during a rally coinciding with Pearl Harbor Day at Patriots Point aboard the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., Monday, Dec. 7, 2015.

Yesterday, prior to speaking at a campaign event in South Carolina, Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump issued a press release calling for a total ban on Muslims entering the United States.

The call has drawn fire from other Republican politicians, including several who are critical of the Obama administration’s strategy for combating the fundamentalist Islamic State organization, also known as ISIS or ISIL. It also may have played a role in acts such as last night’s desecration of the Al-Aqsa Islamic Society mosque by an unidentified man who threw a severed pig’s head at its door. It’s also led to the Philadelphia Daily News likening Trump to Hitler on today’s cover.

But as Trump has seized on Islam itself as the grounds for the ban, we thought it more appropriate to ask leaders in the local religious community to respond. Several did: Read more »

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