Authentic Christianity & the Belhar Confession.

I was reading this article about the PCUSA decision on ordination of gay and lesbian clergy, when I was struck by two features that hadn’t fully registered before. The first was the narrow margin that stood between simple passage, and the need for the proposal to first go through local ratification.  Just nine more votes in favour, and ratification would not have been required.  The second was the note that a second proposal that passed, but requires ratification, was the acceptance of the “Belhar Confession.

Those outside the Reformed or wider Protestant tradition, and unfamiliar with South African history may be unfamiliar with this document, but it has powerful resonance for me, as a South African whose faith was strongly influenced by the long struggle against racial injustice – which has been transformed in my own story to the struggle against gender and sexual injustice. Here is a snippet from Saffer religious history.

Rev Dr Allan Boesak

 

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HIV/AIDS, Bishops Kevin Dowling, and Me

One of the oddities of my personal journey as an out gay man is that, entirely by chance and without any credit on my own part, I found myself twenty five years ago organizing what I believe may have been the first ever public meeting on HIV /AIDS awareness in South Africa –  two of them! I have had a deep and personal interest in the “progress” (and anger at the lack of progress) of Aids prevention in the country ever since.  This gives me a particular interest in the story of Bishop Kevin Dowland, and his courage in speaking the truth on the topic.

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Gay Weddings, Cape Town

South Africa has provided full marriage equality for four years now. A report in the NYT featuring weddings in Cape Town has prompted some reflection on what makes the Saffer version of gay marriage special.

First, the story of marriage rights is totally tied up with the story of “the struggle”, as South Africans describe the long,  slow path to democracy and freedom.  When the new constitution was negotiated, it was a fundamental principle from the start that a strong bill of rights would be at its centre, providing protection from discrimination on the grounds of race, language or gender. Far-sighted negotiators were also able to introduce age, disability – and sexual orientation.  In the early years of the new government, the government had many other priorities, so that legislating protection for queer citizens languished on a back burner. (Sound familiar?)

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Elfbaby’s Holiday Snaps

Every time my granddaughter Claudia Paige Thalia Ruude-Weldon (known by her mother as “Elfbaby”) goes on holiday, my partner Raymond demands to know, ex-headteacher that he is, whether she has yet written her “What I Did in the Hols” essay.   This is not easy for her, considering that she is not yet a year old.  Now, she has just returned from a long holiday in the southern sun (while I continue to shiver in the UK’s longest, coldest winter in decades.)  She has not yet managed to write her own essay, but she did communicate, through good graces of Mom, that travel is “Awesome”, but home again is even more “Awesome.”  She has also posted online some holiday pics of her “Awesome” good time, which I have snaffled from Mom’s blog to show you.  (For Mom’s commentary, you will have to go to Spring on Mars). Read the rest of this entry »