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The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • Paul Rawlings: Who am I to judge?

  • Pope Francis in a recent news conference said: "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will who am I to judge? We shouldn't marginalize people for this. They must be integrated into society."
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  • Pope Francis in a recent news conference said: "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will who am I to judge? We shouldn't marginalize people for this. They must be integrated into society."
    A Catholic commentator said Pope Francis's statement revealed great mercy which comes from Jesus and we can never have enough mercy. These comments did not signal any change in church policy but is consistent with the catechism which teaches that gays should be treated with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Such comments however would indicate a shift in "tone" under Pope Francis that the church in the future will be more inclusive and merciful rather than critical and disciplinary.
    Francis DeBernardo, executive director of U.S. based New Way Ministry said he was overjoyed at the Pope's comments because "for decades we've had nothing but negative comments coming from the Vatican."
    Mercy is defined as compassion or forebearance to one having no claim to kindness. Christian writers in the 6th century referred to mercy as the reward for kindness to those who do not necessarily have a claim to such mercy and from whom no recompense is to be expected.
    When Americans in a Gallup poll in 2011 were ask "what percent of Americans today are gay or lesbian" answered more than 25%. The Williams Institute at UCLA Law School, a gay and lesbian think tank released a study based on its research indicating 1.7% of Americans are gay or lesbian, 1.8% are bisexual and 8.2% had engaged in some form of same sex activity.
    Only 13 states allow Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Trisexuals (LGBT) to marry.
    Only twenty-one states have outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientiation.
    Only 23 states allow adoptions by same-sex couples .
    In 2008 the voters of Arkansas approved Act 1 prohibiting same sex couples from being foster parents or adopting children. In 2011 the Arkansas Supreme Court held the law unconstitutional.
    In 2011 the FBI reported 20.4% (1,572) of the total hate crimes committed that year were against people because of their sexual orientation.
    For 20 pages of single spaced names,dates and places of violent acts against LGBT people from 1970 to 1979 go to Google and type in "history of violence against LGBT people in the United States."
    Dr. Martin Luther King on August 28, 1963 (50 years ago) in his " I Have A Dream" speech, which many regard as the greatest human rights speech ever made, said essentially what Pope Francis was saying in 2013 --people whether Africian American or LGBT should be integrated into society.
    Dr. King in that speech said: "In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificient words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the ineable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
    Page 2 of 2 - LGBT Americans, like Dr. King, believe the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence guarantee them the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
    Pope Francis and Dr. King apparently believe that all people, LGBT, African Americans, Jews, Gentiles, Protestant, Catholics, Muslims should be treated with respect, compassion and sensitivy.
    Did Lee Atwater have it right when he said: "My illness helped see what was missing in society is what was missing in me: a little heart, a lot of brotherhood."
    Do Americans have enough heart and brotherhood to welcome LGBT in our churches, our schools, our neighborhoods, and work places?
    "Those who would deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves." Abraham Lincoln
    To paraphrase the Golden Rule: "Do not do to LGBT's what would anger you if done to you by LGBT's."
    Can the U.S. rightfully claim to be the "melting pot" of the world where different nationalities, ethnicities and cultures are fused together or claim to be living up to the motto on the Lincoln penny e pluribus unum (out of many one) if any group, LGBT, African Americans, Jews, Gentiles, Protestant, Catholics or Muslims are denied the right of life,liberty or the pursuit of happiness?
    (Paul Rawlings of Heber Springs contributes monthly to the editorial pages of The Sun-Times)

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