Toto, I’ve a Feeling We’re Not in Kansas Anymore.

This, from The Wizard of Oz, is fourth among most quoted movie lines.

Today it refers to a clash between religious-based prejudices and gay people.  It involves the city of Hutchinson, Kansas.

Hutchinson, population about 40,000, has a Human Relations Commission which recently made a recommendation to the City Council for a Human Relations Ordinance.  The idea was to make the City a good place for people of all races, creeds and gender orientations.

Like everywhere else, churches in Hutchinson rent of their meeting rooms and sanctuaries for money to various groups who can use them.  The Ordinance declares if churches are going to be in the business of renting out space, they must treat all members of the public equally.

This brought the predictable outrage from some, but not all, churches.  The churches that consider homosexuality a sin do not want gays in their buildings.

A peculiar argument was made against the Ordinance by someone from the Kansas Family Policy Council.  Instead of just quoting the usual bits of scripture, this fellow said they were opposed to the Ordinance because it would result in sexual predators lurking in the rest rooms preying on children.

This man needs to read the monthly publication of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.  Every month, someone reports all the cases found in the U. S. where clergy are involved in pedophilia, rape and other sex crimes.  There are many new ones each month.

This is a Kansas pot calling the kettle black.

Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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37 Responses to Toto, I’ve a Feeling We’re Not in Kansas Anymore.

  1. Henry says:

    The church should be able to rent out or limit their space to whomever they want.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Henry–That’s what the conservative churches in Hutchinson are saying and what segregationist said before civil rights. The majority decided otherwise in the case of racial civil rights.

      • Henry says:

        Naw, a church should not be obligated to open their doors for a gay meeting or even a swinger meeting. This proosal would even interfere with the facilities being available for weddings of members. Some churches do not marry people outside of their denomination or church body.

      • Jon,
        I would differentiate between a couple things.

        1) I think civil government and business entities are different from religious entities (or even private clubs and groups). Religious groups will be governed by their beliefs for their own respective properties. I think that should be allowed and upheld and be seen as distinct from Hardware Hank hiring someone or a motel renting out a meeting room.

        2) Making argument 1 is definitely different from what that KS gentleman erroneously claimed about homosexuals. You are spot on that there is a problem that includes clergy as well. It is sickening whenever it occurs, whether by clergy or teachers or whomever. Just a couple years ago, the RCC had to back away from someone making a similar claim:
        http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/15/world/europe/15vatican.html
        I have been told there’s a study that is soon to be published or just was that would support the KS man, but I’ve not had a chance to look at that myself. Up to this point, what I’ve seen would validate your implication that the KS man is ignorant.

    • entech says:

      And pay taxes on rental income.

    • Avatar of Demosthenes Demosthenes says:

      No Silly, that’s called segregation. The “Church” cannot offer a meeting room to the public and then segregate based on their beliefs. Simply put, if the “Church” wishes to keep their public offering they must offer it equally. If they wish to segregate they must do so to “Members-Only”. Stop offering a service open to the public, when it isn’t. I agree though that the goverment shouldn’t be telling the “Church” who they can and cannot rent to. There is no new law required just follow the current laws. Stop segregating public space, I think that one is already enacted.

  2. Matt Slocomb says:

    @ Jon So, if a pro homosexual rights group had a facility that they rented out, should they be allowed to discriminate against a group that holds that homosexuality is sinful and not rent to them, even if they do so in a fairly straightforward and peaceful attitude, different from the Westboro crazies…? To be consistent in your position, you would have to say no.

  3. entech says:

    Interesting that in Victoria, Australia, after much public pressure, including from clergy there is going to be a government inquiry into pedophiles in religious organisations and the cover up by these organisations. Not restricted to any one group although the two most publicized are Roman Catholic and Orthodox Jewish schools. The reaction of the Archbishop was to send a letter to all churches in the diocese saying that they had to take up the fight against gay marriage.
    Men that like men like men, men that like children seem to like all children not necessarily gender specific. Not very knowledgeable or interested in these things, perhaps Henry could tell us or provide a reference he seems to have reference library against anything he doesn’t like.

    • Henry says:

      Your claims, please feel free to validate yourself.

      • entech says:

        Merely that you frequently have a reference to newspaper, magazine and government publications that relate to a given topic.
        Suggestions that atheists aren’t so bad gives us Madeleine O’Hare and so on. My assumption is that you have collated some kind of database for yourself that you can draw relevant information from.

  4. They Live says:

    So if a satanist coven wanted to perform a black mass in the “rental” space, the church should just accept that? Please respond.

    • Avatar of Demosthenes Demosthenes says:

      I will make and absurd notion and demand a response. That will show’em!

      If the space is to rent for the public then ANYONE can rent it that wished too. If the church wished to segregate black masses in preference to white masses they must stop offering it to the public. Cause segregating isn’t really equal is it?

  5. Henry says:

    This doesn’t seem to be about churches not wanting gays in their church building as Jon seems to have misrepresented. A church is for the sinner. This is about church sovereignty over their property and retaining a say in what activities occur with their property that are in acordance with their beliefs.

    If the gays want in so bad, I say great. Enter during a church service and repent like all the other sinners with their many sins.

  6. Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

    Some who have commented here have been close to the point, but still miss by a little. Under the proposed Ordinance in Kansas, a church does not have to rent to anyone that wants to rent. It’s the same for my house, I don’t have to let someone in that I don’t want in here.

    But, if I put a sign on my lawn that says, BED AND BREAKFAST, I have entered a new ballgame–I have to conform to public laws of many kinds.

    Thus, if churches refuse to rent to anyone, period, they would not have to rent to gays or devil worshipers under the proposed Ordinance. Things would change if they made their spaces available to make money for themselves.

    Churches have gotten a pass on all kinds of issues like this because of their political clout. The effort in Kansas is to apply a human rights Ordinance to everyone fairly.

    • Henry says:

      A separate issue is the validity of the “equal” laws landlords have to comply with. I disagree with those laws, but abide by them. I like to think I live in America, not Ameri☭a.

      So we have to balance the equal opportunity for gay groups to squat on someone else’s property against the church’s right to not aid a group whose beliefs are contrary to the church’s?

      • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

        Henry 2:13 “A separate issue is the validity of the ‘equal’ laws landlord have to comply with.”

        Correct, a separate issue. I suppose most of us have not experienced the worst of discrimination because we are in the majority group, so we do not see it in the same way as someone who has experienced it does.

        To me, allowing religion to be used as justification to discriminate in the commerical marketplace opens the door to the entire widespread practice of segregation we’ve spent decades trying to leave behind us.

        • Henry says:

          The attempt at “equalization” is over-reaching. Special rights for special folks.

          Like I previously said, if the gays want in so bad, I say great. Enter during a church service and repent like all the other sinners with their many sins.

  7. Bob says:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-215_162-1933687.html

    There are a lot more sexual predators in schools than there are in churches according to some sources.
    But the media just focuses on religious predators. Which isn’t right.
    No sexual predators should get away with it, anywhere.

  8. Bob says:

    Just leave gay people alone already. Life is too short, let love flourish where it will. There’s already too much hate, we don’t need it coming from religion anymore.
    Peace.

  9. Henry says:

    I am a little confused. Jon, a non-church member, wants to make by force of law the church setting to be inclusive for gay people AND their ideals. Bob wants gay people to be left alone. Which way do you want it, inclusiveness or “left alone” (exclusiveness)?

    • Bob says:

      Henry 4:20 I know you’re confused, its okay, we all have patience with you, we’ll try slow it and dumb it down for you Henry dear.

  10. loki says:

    Looks like we are talking about different subjects. What are you saying when you say renting? Are you saying rental housing? Renting space available for meetings-seminars? Or are you talking about the Church Santuary, and adjacent supportive rooms like sunday school rooms, church basement, fellowship hall? If you say rental housing, I could understand the inclusionary nature of the property. If you say the Sanctuary and related facilities, that must be at the descretion of the church.It is my understanding that a very few churches own housing properties. This has nothing to do with the function of the church, other than possible income. I personally know of no church that does. There are churches that let out their facilities such as their fellowship hall, adjacent rooms, and basements for functions like blood drives, used clothing drives, food bank, etc, that charge nothing other than a suggested donation to compensate for lights, heat, etc. Not rent. Other than that, it looks like someone is looking for a controversy that does not exist. The business of the church is not to rent out anything,or own properties other than to provide a suitable place of worship , education of the faith, and shareing of that faith, which includes fellowship. This is open to all, and they are welcome if they wish.
    There are rare exceptions, such as what exist after a tornado goes through a town, and a lone standing church is used as a meeting-gathering place for the community. Sometimes, even different denominations share the facilities-invited at different times so worship can continue until new construction is provided, but this is rare, and unusual.

  11. Bob says:

    As long as churches aren’t getting tax breaks, or any other kind of tax supported money, they shouldn’t have to include gay people, if that’s what we’re talking here.

    But the second any religious establishment accepts tax money or tax breaks, its over, the government owns them, they SHOULD have to do what the government says, including including anyone the government says they have to include. Its that religions own fault then, for accepting public money or tax breaks.

    • loki says:

      Bob–So what you are sayin then, is that for churches to retain their non-profit status, They must accept the gay lifestyle, and even courage it. This is not seperation of church and state. This is the government demanding what churches teach and believe, intimidation, and blackmail. As you said, ” But the second any religious establishment accepts tax money or tax breaks, its over, THE GOVERNMENT OWNS THEM, THEY SHOULD HAVE TO DO WHAT THE GOVERNMENT SAYS, INCLUDING ANYONE THE GOVERNMENT SAYS THEY HAVE TO INCLUDE.” “Owns them”?

      • Bob says:

        Loki 5:40 Its not separation of church and state for religions to get government stolen tax payer money Loki. Damn straight the government, the tax payers, own that church. Gay people pay taxes too. Gays then have a stake in those church/business’s that got their hard earned tax money, either through tax breaks, or other monies they got from tax payers. Don’t act dumb, you know this.

      • loki says:

        And this is Bob’s political philosophy taken to completion. Damn straight. Get out the jack boots.

        • Bob says:

          loki 6:16
          This means that your tax dollars then have to support a Wiccan temple, a mosque, or any other wack job religion you want to support through your tax dollars loki.
          go at it then, but leave me the hell out of it!!!!

          • loki says:

            So then you are equating the tax advantages of non-profits on the law books as theft or stealing. We will then have to do away with all the non-profit organizations nationwide, to make them competative with the marketplace. Do you realize all the nonprofits out there, and the benefits recieved by them? No fireman’s auxiliaries, scouting, Salvation Army, Red Cross. I believe the American Legion is included, also the Masonic Lodge, etc. The list is almost endless. They do pay taxes, just not all the property taxes you wish. I will admit that some are top-heavy in property. They do pay all the employment taxes involved with employees. And the social volunterism goes a long way in offsetting those tax benefits. If the Wiccans, mosques, or Freethinkers want the benefits, let them compete. They do now. A lot of recent laws passed have seriously reduced the amount of viable volunteerism available.

          • loki says:

            Many of the non-profits meet in the facilities of the non-profits that do have real property. They then recieve the benefits of that property without having to own themselves.

    • loki says:

      I think there would be a high probability that there are many congregations that have members that have homosexual leanings that don’t exhibit them, or act out on them. With them, there would not be a bit of difference between them and heterosexuals who have secret yearnings for a married man or woman sitting in the pew ahead of them. According to the Bible, even the desire to act it out is a sin, a sin which is forgiven, even daily when repented of. The conflict comes when they publically, and sometimes privately act it out in defiance to the teachings, and continue in it. Then it isn’t the church’s responsibility to comply, rather the actor. They are free to leave. And free to return if they have seen their sin, and repented. Sometimes the repentence happens before they even leave, and the congregation may not even be aware of it. And they go and sin no more. There is not one person in the church that is sinless, and that is the reason they go to church to be strengthened in the faith of being forgiven through Christ’s payment of all sins on the Cross. Those who don’t believe they have sin have no need of repentence, or the church.

  12. Avatar of seaofstories seaofstories says:

    This just seems dumb to me. Is there a critical shortage of conference space in Hutchinson Kansas?

    Wouldn’t a more fruitful target for reform be say anti-cohabitation laws?

    • Well, that assumes that such legislation is the appropriate means for addressing the issue. I think the majority of Christian beliefs should not be legislated. We need some basic ones legislated, akin to Mill’s “no harm principle,” and I realize that there will not always be agreement on those, either, but anti-cohabitation laws seem a stretch–at least to me. I’d vote against such legislation. I don’t think that’s the way to respond to the matter.

      That said, there are a lot of churches and pastors that don’t seem to discuss the issue of cohabitation. So, there’s a lot of work to be done there–a least from a morally conservative Christian standpoint.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Sea 5:26 “This just seems dumb to me.”

      I have to say I don’t know why battle lines were drawn over the issue of church rental space. There must be something going on there in Hutchinson that made this an issue to fight over. In most communities from what I’ve seen, there are liberal churches that will rent space for liberal performers or meetings and visa versa. A “community standard” is nice to think about–but not always practical.

      • Henry says:

        Jon: “I have to say I don’t know why battle lines were drawn over the issue of church rental space.”

        Human Relation Commissions are agitators. That is the reason.

  13. entech says:

    Anti-cohabitation laws :?: That sounds pretty wide ranging. I am not a Christian but was in cohabitation with a woman for about 45 years, we had the church sanction even had a piece of paper to say it was real, issued by church as a legally binding document, In Australia at that time the Church of England was the only one that had the legal right, every other church had to have a civil certificate. Church and State anyone.
    The problem is widespread, the church expects privileges, respect and exemptions while trying to influence policy both in their favour and for what they favour, but still demand to be given exceptions to laws they don’t agree

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