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CULTURE DIGEST: Hillary Clinton promotes gay agenda; Christian school to train Muslims

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a recent speech that the State Department is committed to advancing the homosexual agenda around the world.

“This is a human rights issue,” Clinton said June 22 at a State Department event celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Month. “Just as I was very proud to say the obvious more than 15 years ago in Beijing that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights, well, let me say today that human rights are gay rights and gay rights are human rights, once and for all.

“So here at the State Department, we will continue to advance a comprehensive human rights agenda that includes the elimination of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” Clinton said. “We are elevating our human rights dialogues with other governments and conducting public diplomacy to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.”

Clinton said she was the first First Lady to march in a “gay pride” parade, and “it was so much fun.”

“And I’m very proud that the United States, and particularly the State Department, is taking the lead to confront the circumstances that LGBT people face in just going about their daily lives,” she said in a transcript available at state.gov.

Clinton referred to an annual Human Rights Report produced by the State Department that includes a section on how LGBT persons are treated in every country, and she said regional bureaus are working closely with embassies on the issue.

“I’m asking every regional bureau to make this issue a priority,” Clinton said.

The secretary of state told about a young man in Albania who disclosed his homosexual tendencies on a popular television show and who then received public support from the U.S. ambassador, also on television.

“He visited his hometown and he invited him to an event at our embassy, conveying to all Albanians that the United States supports his rights and respects his courage,” Clinton said.

In June, the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs issued new regulations making it easier for transgender Americans to amend their passports, “ensuring dignified and fair processing,” Clinton said.

She urged government officials to do what they can to “create that safe space” where people can declare their sexual orientation and gender identity.

“As we continue to advance LGBT rights in other countries, we also must continually work to make sure we are advancing the agenda here,” Clinton said.

OKLA. VOTERS COULD BAN SHARIA LAW — Voters in Oklahoma this November could decide to ban state judges from relying on Islamic sharia law when deciding cases.

State Rep. Rex Duncan, a Republican, sponsored the measure as part of a “Save Our State” amendment to the Oklahoma constitution that was approved by the legislature and will appear on the ballot this fall.

Duncan described the ban as a preemptive strike against Islamic law, which has gained a foothold in some western countries, most notably Great Britain, ABC News reported. There, five sharia courts have been established to settle certain disputes among Muslims with the government’s approval.

“I see this in the future somewhere in America,” Duncan told ABC. “It’s not an imminent threat to Oklahoma yet, but it’s a storm on the horizon in other states.”

Only about 30,000 Muslims reside in Oklahoma, but Duncan said the proposal is aimed in part at “cases of first impression,” which are legal disputes in which there is no law or precedent to resolve the matter.

The ballot initiative also would ban judges from using international laws as a basis for decisions, something ABC said Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has been known to do.

“It should not matter what France might do, what Great Britain might do or what the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia might do,” Duncan said. “Court decisions ought to be based on federal law or state law.”

Sharia law influences the legal code in most Muslim countries and includes cruel punishments such as amputation and stoning as well as unequal treatment of women. Duncan expects the ban to pass overwhelmingly in Oklahoma.

THEOLOGY SCHOOL TO TRAIN MUSLIMS, JEWS — The Claremont School of Theology, which has functioned as a Methodist theological school in California since its founding in 1885, has announced a program to train religious leaders in Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and other religions.

“We envision a model of theological education in which students are educated rigorously and intensively in their own religious traditions and in contact with the other religious traditions that are thriving throughout our society,” the school said in a statement unveiling the University Project.

“We aim to instill our students with a strong sense of their own religious identities and the integrity of the religious traditions that they represent, while simultaneously teaching them to recognize the legitimacy and integrity of the other religious traditions which they will encounter at Claremont and the world beyond,” the school said.

Claremont will continue to prepare leaders for the United Methodist Church, but it also will develop a consortium that “clusters several collaborating graduate schools and centers around a religiously focused University.” The partners in the consortium will train imams, rabbis and other religious leaders.

“We are convinced that by studying, working and praying together, people of diverse religious backgrounds will be better prepared for cooperative leadership, service and study in a world that needs repair,” the schools said.

Jerry Campbell, the school’s president, said educating people in a segregated environment does not teach them to be peacemakers and instead steeps them in their own religion. So he is leading a program to throw various faiths together in hopes the people it produces will work toward world peace. The project, though, has yet to be approved by the school’s accreditation agency.

CONDOMS OFFERED TO STUDENTS — A school board in Massachusetts has approved a policy to provide condoms to students if they ask a school nurse for them, and parents will not be contacted.

“The thing is, sexual activity starts younger and younger. We don’t know what age that is, so we just said, ‘We’ll make it available to all of them,'” Peter Grosso, chairman of the Provincetown school board, said. “We didn’t want to pick an age, and I really don’t believe we’re going to get first graders asking for a condom, as a practical matter.”

Provincetown is a tiny tourist town on the tip of Cape Cod, and school board members unanimously approved the policy, which will start in September. Some even complained that students shouldn’t have to ask a nurse for condoms and hear information about the shortcomings of the device.

“I don’t like that students can’t be discreet about this,” one board member said.

Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, said the idea is “totally absurd.”

“What’s next? Birth control pills?” Mineau said, according to the Boston Herald.
Erin Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press.

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