Dec 30

U.S. to Allow Homosexual Men to Donate Blood if Abstinent for at Least One Year

U.S. to Allow Homosexual Men to Donate Blood if Abstinent for at Least One Year

By Heather Clark |

Bloodbank-300x300WASHINGTON — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued its final guidance on allowing homosexual men to donate blood, stating that men should be allowed to do so if they have been abstinent for at least one year.

As previously reported, the FDA first announced its intent to loosen its restrictions on blood donations from homosexual men last year, stating that it would “take the necessary steps to recommend a change to the blood donor deferral period for men who have sex with men from indefinite deferral to one year since the last sexual contact.”

The administration said that it compared its policies with current scientific evidence surrounding HIV transmission, as well policy changes implemented by other countries, before making its final guidance announcement on Monday.

“In reviewing our policies to help reduce the risk of HIV transmission through blood products, we rigorously examined several alternative options, including individual risk assessment,” explained Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., deputy director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, in a statement.

“Ultimately, the 12-month deferral window is supported by the best available scientific evidence, at this point in time, relevant to the U.S. population,” he continued. “We will continue to actively conduct research in this area and further revise our policies as new data emerge.”

The FDA noted that the UK and Australia both have a one-year deferral period.

The administration first enacted its policy in 1983 during the height of the AIDS crisis, but some have decried the ban as being discriminatory toward homosexuals. The National Gay Blood Drive released a statement on its website this week that while it is “pleased to see the FDA has issued the final guidance” on homosexual blood donation, it still finds the rules tantamount to discrimination.

“While gay and bisexual men will be eligible to donate their blood and help save lives under this 12 month deferral, countless more will continue to be banned solely on the basis of their sexual orientation and without medical or scientific reasoning,” it wrote.

The group wants homosexuality removed as a stigma surrounding blood donation.

“So today we begin the final push to eliminate discrimination based on sexual orientation from the blood donation process altogether. We strongly encourage the FDA to move toward a deferral based upon individual risk assessment,” it said.

But others state that they are concerned that the FDA has loosened its restrictions at all.

“There are several highly disturbing aspects to this politically-motivated change in the United States’ blood donation policy,” Peter LaBarbera, president Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, told reporters. “First of all, homosexual activists frame this entire issue in terms of so-called ‘anti-gay discrimination’ and equality, instead of prioritizing above all the safety of the American blood supply.”

“Secondly,” the FDA’s report shows that a small percentage of homosexual men have ignored the blood donation ban,” he continued. “Now we are going to trust practicing homosexuals with an even looser regulation?”

“Thirdly, the FDA report shows that the new standards are more lax than Australia’s policy—which threatens violators with prosecution if they are found to have lied about their behavior in making their blood donation—even though Australia was cited as the model for the U.S. making the change,” LaBarbera said.

Heterosexuals who are involved in prostitution, those who have had sex with a prostitute, or those involved in illicit drug activity are also included in the ban.

Dec 29

Losing my religion for equality


Losing my religion for equality

By Jimmy Carter | | July 15, 2009

Clementine Ford: Jimmy Carter was right

Carter’s message: the fight continues

Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.

1428458125032I HAVE been a practising Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices – as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.

I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy – and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.

The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares: “The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable.”

We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world’s major faiths share.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place – and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence – than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.

I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn’t until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had – and still have – an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions – all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.


Jimmy Carter was president of the United States from 1977 to 1981.


Dec 28

New Reality Show Pastor Rich Wilkerson Jr says, “People Don’t Want Bunch of Religion”

Heartbreaking’ New Show Follows ‘Pastor’ Friend of Kimye, Bieber: People Don’t Want ‘Bunch of Religion’

By Heather Clark |

MIAMI, Fla. — A new reality show that follows the life of a so-called “celebrity pastor” who married Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, and whose congregation attracted a visit from pop star Justin Bieber, is being characterized as “heartbreaking” by a pastor who speaks and writes about the glorification of ungodliness in Hollywood and the secular music industry.

“Rich in Faith” began airing on Dec. 2 on the Oxygen channel and features Rich Wilkerson, Jr., as he launches a new congregation called “Vous Church.”

“I come from a different perspective. I don’t think people are interested in a bunch of religion, like tell me what I can and can’t do,” Wilkerson says in the promotional video for the reality show. “But I think people are interested in having a relationship with a higher power.”

The preview shows Wilkerson getting a tattoo, lying on the beach with his bikini-clad wife, and telling his parents that he plans to hold his first service at a bar.

“You’re starting in a bar?” asks his father, Rich Wilkerson, Sr., who leads Trinity Church in Miami Gardens.

“What are people going to think, Rich?” his mother Robyn chimes in.

Wilkerson, who previously led a 1,500-member young adult group called “The Rendezvous” at Trinity, became known for marrying rap star Kanye West and Playboy cover model Kim Kardashian last year. He had met the couple two years prior after they visited his father’s congregation.

 “It began a relationship; we (Wilkerson and West) started emailing and calling each other. We collaborated on a few things: art, fashion, music, Jesus,” Wilkerson told People Magazine last year. “He invited me to write a few things for his tour, and I’ve been able to counsel him on a few things.”

Kanye West is known for his album “Yeezus,” and for bringing a man dressed as Jesus on stage during a show in Seattle.

“White Jesus, is that you?,” he asked on stage. “Oh [expletive]!”

Pop star Justin Bieber also visited the congregation, and Wilkerson recently praised him in an interview with Cosmopolitan.

“I think he is doing great,” he said. “I just saw him three days ago in L.A. He’s doing awesome. We are proud of him.”

As previously reported, in an interview with Complex Magazine in October, Bieber spoke much about his views on Christianity, criticizing churches that warn about Hell and Christians who are “overly churchy.” He stated, however, the he personally desires to be more outspoken about the Christian faith and just wants to “live like Jesus.” Days after the interview was released, Bieber made headlines for smoking marijuana and drinking Hennessy on stage.

Joe Schimmel, pastor of Blessed Hope Chapel in Simi Valley, California, and host of the documentary “They Sold Their Souls for Rock and Roll,” said that it “breaks his heart” in considering what he called the “greasy grace” and “circus”-like “gimmicks” that Wilkerson is employing.

“When Wilkerson’s church was new, one gimmick he employed was to offer to eat a live gold fish if 300 people attended. Some time later, he offered to be zapped with a stun gun when they hit 2,000 attendees,” he explained in a blog post.

While Wilkerson says that he believes in Hell and acknowledges that a person goes through a process of sanctification after coming to Christ, he says that specific sins are not discussed much from the pulpit.

“At our church, homosexuality is not a topic I like to chat about very much, but I don’t talk about a whole lot of issues,” Wilkerson told the Miami New Times last year. “I talk about what Jesus is for, not what he’s supposedly against.”

“I don’t know who’s going to Hell. I just know that followers of Jesus are going to Heaven — that’s what the Bible says,” he said. “My message isn’t ever who’s going where.”

Schimmel said that he is concerned with this characterization.

“Wilkerson’s church is a place where one can feel comfortable while involved in any number of sins and scandals,” he stated. “Wilkerson’s church one can be involved in adultery or homosexuality and not be concerned about hearing about who will go to Hell as Jesus often preached (Luke 16:19-31; Matthew 7:21-23; 25:31-46; Revelation 14:9-12; 21:8).”

“In Rich Wilkerson’s book ‘Sandcastle Kings,’ whose artwork was done by Kanye West at Wilkerson’s request, he claims that no matter how wicked one’s chosen lifestyle, one is permanently in Christ no matter what he does,” Schimmel further noted.

“When God looks at us He sees Christ,” Wilkerson writes. “But when we put our trust in Jesus, we are reminded that our performance does not dictate our position. His performance has already secured our position, in Him.”

Schimmel asked that Christians pray for Wilkerson, as well as West, Kardashian and Bieber.

“Please pray for Rich Wilkerson and other teachers who are preaching the false gospel of prosperity and greasy grace,” he said. “As a pastor, my heart breaks for those who are teaching such serious false doctrines and condoning the wickedness of the world system that so plagues the Church.”

“My heart breaks because I fear and tremble, knowing that the Scriptures declare that we will have a stricter judgment (James 3:1-2), give an account for souls (Hebrews 13:17), and that the blood of those who perish, will be on our heads if we fail to preach repentance and the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:21, 26-27),” Schimmel lamented.



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