January 30, 2009

Witch hunt in California

There was a troubling court ruling out of California (of all places) this week.

A private religious high school can expel students it believes are lesbians because the school isn't covered by California civil rights laws, a state appeals court has ruled.

Relying on a 1998 state Supreme Court ruling that allowed the Boy Scouts to exclude gays and atheists, the Fourth District Court of Appeal in San Bernardino said California Lutheran High School is a social organization entitled to follow its own principles, not a business subject to state anti-discrimination laws.

The troubling part is not that a private school can discriminate against a student's sexuality. It's the fact that the court said they could discriminate on the belief that a young person is gay or lesbian. There does not appear to be any evidence that the students in question were actually lesbian or in a relationship, only the rumor based on something someone else saw on MySpace. Makes you wonder if the principal of California Lutheran posted a reward for the outing of suspected gays. (This school is part of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, which is very much on the conservative end of the spectrum.) I'm saddened that they are so exclusionary towards gays and lesbians, but I do uphold that as their right.

What is dangerous is telling any young person who may be question his/her sexual orientation that they are wrong, do not belong, or are bad. Any modern educator, like the principal at this school, should know that. The statistics about teenagers who are in some quandary about their orientation who take their own lives or attempt to take their own lives are staggering. Most often, those young people have been told or made to feel that their "choice" is going to tear up their family, anger God, cause a spike in crude oil prices, bring about Armageddon, etc. OK, maybe those last two are a bit of an exaggeration, but (as my late grandmother would say) the fact remains... It's not enough that they can't keep up with the "normal" stresses of being a teenager, but throw in the added confusion of trying to figure out their sexuality and life just got a whole lot more complicated.

If California Lutheran High School, or whatever private school, wants to disallow students because of their race, sexual orientation or nation of origin, that's their loss. But to expel a student because of that rumor is not only wrong, but seems to fly in the face of Christ's command to love one another as He loves us.

January 19, 2009

January 20th, 2009 = HUGE

There are many, many things I would like to say about the inauguration of Barack Obama on January 20th. I can't fit them all into one blog post, and if I tried to say everything, it would come across as bumbling. So allow me attempt to convey a few thoughts about the momentous occassion that will occur in just under 12 hours here in Washington, DC.

When he was elected, I stood in my den and watched his acceptance speech with my then-two-week old son. I was not afraid to weep. Today (January 19th), Emily & I took Ollie down to the National Mall to see the sights and sounds of the day before what may be the most historic presidential inauguration in American history. Emily & I were amazed. Simply amazed. It wasn't just the sheer numbers of people. It wasn't the name and face of Obama (and his family) on just about anything you can imagine (the football jersey was my favorite). It was the level of energy that everyone had. It was like 10 football fields worth of 7 year olds on Christmas Eve. As I told Ollie on November 4th and again today, he may not remember any of this, but we will never let him forget.

Don't get me wrong. It was a mad house, and I can't imagine how it will be tomorrow. (We will be watching from our TV.) But everyone was really glad to see each other and people were patient and kind and just glad to be a part of the moment.

All of our problems will not be solved simply because Barack Obama is sworn in as President, any more than simply buying a vaccuum cleaner will make your carpet cleaner. It will take work, it will take sacrifice and most of all it will take courage and patience.

I thought Bishop Gene Robinson's prayer before the concert yesterday was quite amazing. Here is the video of it with a link to the transcript.

Without a doubt, our nation and our national leaders stand need of prayer. Inspired by the Rev. Linda Kauffman's sermon on Sunday, I will be setting the alarm on my cell phone to remind me everyday at noon to pause and pray for President Obama. I invite you to do something that will remind you to pray for him, too.

Tuesday is a huge day, a day which our nation has been longing for and needing. I am excited to be in Washington, DC, for it, and more proud than ever to be an American at this time in history.