Those Evangelical Allies, Again

The word "evangelical" is a troublesome one in religious discourse, as it can mean so many different things, and is used indifferent ways.   Polling firms reporting on social policy issues routinely use it as a contrast to Protestants, as in Catholics, Protestants and Evangelicals - by which they really men Mainline Protestants and Other Protestants. Press releases though have never been given to verbal precision, and we have become accustomed to the usage. To complicate matters further, some of the "Mainline" churches, especially the UK Church of England, are described in news reports in terms of their "evangelical" or "liberal wing. In more theological, less politicized terms, there are many in the Mainline churches who would insist that they too are inherently "evangelical",  in its true sense.
Further complicating the issue is the repeated research finding that it is the "evangelical" wing of Christianity, in the sense of non-mainline Protestant, that is the most implacably opposed to LGBT equality or inclusion in church, which leads to the assumption that one leads necessarily from the other. There is growing evidence though that even in this sense, some evangelical leaders, like many Catholic theologians, are now recognising the fallacies and mistaken assumptions in the Christian opposition of the past few centuries. I have reported on some of these in the past - there are many more.
However, it is the more theological meaning of "evangelical" that Janet Edwards is using when she argues at "Religion Dispatches " that gay rights  are an "evangelical thing".

“We need to out-evangelize the evangelists!”

"Pro-Life" Californian Catholics?

The South African satirist Pieter-Dirk Uys built a highly successful stage career by making fun of South African politicians, other public figures, and a range of South African character stereotypes.  Especially clever were his takes on then President PW Botha, Bishop Desmond Tutu,  the Johannesburg kugel (the local counterpart to a New York Jewish Princess) - and his wonderful glamorous, glamorous alter-ego, Evita Bezuidenhout, Ambassadress to the "homeland" of Baphetikosweti, whose "independence " was as fictitious as its own existence.

"The Honourable Evita Bezuidenhout, (aka Pieter-Dirk Uys)"

With skilled mimicry, quick change wizardry, and sharply pointed scripts, Uys kept us laughing at ourselves as well as our "leaders" through the darkest days of apartheid, and beyond. When asked about his success, he always declined credit for his clever scripts. He did not need to write them, he said- just to listen to the news. His characters wrote their lines themselves.

In that spirit, I fondly recall one specific politician from the bad old days who fed me a particularly good line, which I heard live in a radio interview. This man, a deputy minister in the government, was being asked about the death penalty, which of course he fully supported. The interviewer wanted more, and asked about the alternatives - wouldn't rehabilitation of offenders be more humane? "No, " came the firm and clear reply. "We must have the death penalty. Rehabilitation can come later."

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HIV, Bishop 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.