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Leaders of the three faiths unite in support of homo-hating

Religious leaders met on Wednesday in Jerusalem in a united protest against a gay pride festival planned there in August. From left: Sheik Abed es- Salem Menasra, deputy mufti of Jerusalem; the Rev. Michel Sabbagh, the Latin patriarch; the Rev. Aris Shirvanian, the Armenian patriarch; Rabbi Shlomo Amar, the Sephardic chief rabbi; and Rabbi Yona Metzger, the Ashkenazi chief rabbi. The man at right was not identified. (European Pressphoto Agency)

This is a sad landmark event — faiths at the center of wars and countless deaths over the millennia because of conflicts with one another unite to bash gays. Jerusalem WorldPride 2005 (the theme: “Love Without Borders,”) is under attack by major leaders of Christianity, Judaism and Islam in a way that suggests some kind of fall of civilization will occur if the event takes place. (NYT):

“They are creating a deep and terrible sorrow that is unbearable. It hurts all of the religions. We are all against it.”

— Shlomo Amar, Israel’s Sephardic chief rabbi

“We can’t permit anybody to come and make the Holy City dirty. This is very ugly and very nasty to have these people come to Jerusalem.”

— Abdel Aziz Bukhari, a Sufi sheik

[It’s] “the spiritual rape of the Holy City. This is not the homo land, this is the Holy Land.”

— Rev. Leo Giovinetti, an evangelical pastor from San Diego’s Mission Valley Christian Fellowship, author of the petition against the festival, “Homosexuals to Desecrate Jerusalem”

[It’s an] “offense to the Christian values of a city that is so dear to the hearts of Catholics across the world.”

— Pope John Paul II, in reference to the first WorldPride festival, held in Rome five years ago.

WIth all the ills and suffering in the world today, this is what leaders of diverse faiths can come together over in the spirit of brotherhood. Perhaps they should focus and speak out on these kinds of problems with equal vigor:

* Chief Rabbi accused of sexually harassing 4 males
* Rise of Extremism, Islamic Law Threaten Iraqi Women
* Priest faces 29 child sex charges

Aside from the supporters of this bigotry, why is there little response by American religious leaders to this sad statement of unity overseas? At some in the thick of things are speaking out.

“That is something new I’ve never witnessed before, such an attempt to globalize bigotry,” said Hagai El-Ad, the executive director of Jerusalem Open House, a gay and lesbian group that is the host for the festival. “It’s quite sad and ironic that these religious figures are coming together around such a negative message.”

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, co-chairwoman of the festival and the rabbi of Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, a gay synagogue in New York City, said the controversy was another sign that each religion had become polarized between its liberal and conservative wings.

…”I reject that they have the right to define religion in such a narrow way,” Rabbi Kleinbaum said of religious leaders who denounce homosexuality. “Gay and lesbian people are saying we are equal partners in religious communities, and we believe in a religious world in which all are created in God’s image.”

Thanks to House Blend reader (and Julien’s List contributor) Holly for the pointer.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding