Title: Firstblight: "Coming out" wrong Credit: Craig Young Comment Friday 19th December 2014 - 10:33am1418938380 Article: 16210 Rights
***image1***Seventh Day Adventism is a tiny conservative sect. So why is it picking a fight with the New Zealand LGBT community? Adventism was founded in the United States by Ellen White, a nutritional folk guru and evangelical Christian, in the 1860s. Like other evangelical and fundamentalist Christians, it believes in the existence of the Christian Trinity and "infallibility" of the Bible. It promotes specific diet and health regimes and operates numerous schools, hospitals and publishing houses. It believes that souls "sleep" until "Judgement Day" and that constant surveillance and 'auditing' of sins has been occurring since 1844. However, Seventh Day Adventists number only 17,085 New Zealanders, according to the 2013 New Zealand Census. This adds up to less than 0.38% of the total New Zealand population- there are far more Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims and slightly more Sikhs and Spiritualists. Even fundamentalist Protestants don't consider them orthodox. LGBT television viewers may be forgiven for flicking their digital channel remote rapidly over Adventist-owned Firstlight Television on the Freeview platform. Usually, the fare consists of dreary nonsense trying to shoehorn the almost non-canonical phantasmagoria of the Book of Revelation into contemporary and Middle Eastern current affairs and attacks on the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution. Unfortunately, the church is also opposed to LGBT rights. In California, it actively endorsed Proposition 8, which temporarily halted marriage equality until the US Supreme Court struck it down. It didn't put up much of a fight here, probably because the sect is so miniscule compared to others. Added to which, its doctrines aren't considered orthodox by most fundamentalist Protestants, who view the sect as a 'cult.' As noted above, the Seventh Day Adventist Church control Firstlight, and one of the programmes that they air is entitled "Coming Out." Unfortunately, it's not our sort of "Coming Out." Apart from a small but feisty band of progressive Adventist alternatives within the progay SDA Kinship organisation who support LGBT rights, this programme segment is heavily into largely unvarnished 'exgay' propaganda. God (read: the SDA General Council, its supreme administrative body) believes that lesbian and gay relationships are "unbiblical" and that gender "essences" are rigidly fixed. In 1980, the sect set up Homosexuals Anonymous. In 1983, one of HA's founders, Colin Cook, resigned because it turned out he wasn't so "ex" gay after all but had had gay sex with twelve to fourteen men during his time with the ministry. Regardless of Cook's "fall" from "grace", the Adventists carry on with their 'exgay" propaganda. One such outlet is "White Horse Media," based in the United States, which produces "Coming Out", the aforementioned exgay propaganda programme. Also available as a set of DVDs as well as its current Firstlight screening, "Coming Out" is subtitled "Former Gays Testify of God's Saving Love." From what I've seen of the "Coming Out" programmes so far, there's an emphasis on recidivist fundamentalism as a prelude to conversion back to Adventism or another form of fundamentalist Protestantism. There is none of the lurid, mendacious and vitriolic stigmatising propaganda of the likes of Paul Cameron and Judith Reisman. Instead, we are told that "god does not like homosexuality" and that the "Bible tells 'us' so." Homosexuality "is" a "sinful habit," and "learnt," but it can be "unlearnt" through contact with "Coming Out Ministries," for whom White Horse Media produced this series of thirteen DVDs. Never mind the fact that repeated scientific and medical rebuttals of the pretensions of "exgay" propagandists have been made in reputable scientific and medical journals, "all that matters" is biblical literalism in the truncated Adventist worldview on display here. Notably, "exgay" Adventist figures Mike Carducci, Ron Woolsey and Wayne Blakeley all seem rather long in the tooth, suggesting that this series is targeted at older adult recidivist fundamentalist men who have sex with men. On the "Coming Out Ministries website, only a single "exlesbian" features at all, and younger such men don't at all. Is there a New Zealand connection here? Regrettably, yes, and it's called the "Jason Foundation" although given the size of the denomination in question, it isn't at all large- according to its website, it has only nineteen New Zealand members. It appears to be run by a "Bishop Paul Andrews," although I'm not sure whether or not the bishop in question is affiliated to the Seventh Day Adventist Church, from which he states that he is currently retired, or whether he fulfilled such a role within another stated organisation, the "Christian Missionary Association International." Given that the Jason Foundation apparently runs the "Homosexuals Anonymous" franchise down here, it is intriguing that it does not use the designation "Homosexuals Anonymous." Although this isn't lurid or deliberately offensive, I suggest that someone send a complaint about this programme's mendacious misinformation about so-called "reparative therapy" to both the broadcaster, Firstlight Television, and then the Broadcasting Standards Authority. In the case of the BSA, breached standards may include Standards 4 (Controversial Issues and Viewpoints), 5 (Accuracy), 6 (Fairness) and 7 (Discrimination and Denigration). Because the straight figures depicted here, such as White Horse Media's Steve Wohlberg and Adventist televangelist Doug Batchelor, have indeed campaigned for Proposition 8 and against marriage equality. Wohlberg believes that homosexuality is 'caused' by 'absent parents' and that overriding Proposition 8 and reintroducing marriage equality in California after the US Supreme Court voided it "led" to the Californian Drought of 2013. Apparently, Wohlberg will also be visiting New Zealand in January 2015, with appointments in both the North and South Island. I'd like to know why this is the case- neither the Seventh Day Adventist Church, "Jason" Ministries or "Homosexuals Anonymous" made parliamentary submissions here back in 2013 when the Marriage Amendment Act was amended. This seems to be a tiny encapsulated conservative religious subculture. Until I started digging, I had no idea that it was active in New Zealand. Not Recommended: White Horse Media: Coming Out Ministries: Coming Out Ministries: Firstlight Television: Jason Foundation: Homosexuals Anonymous: Recommended: SDA Kinship: Broadcasting Standards Authority:http://www.bsa.govt. nz/standards/free-to-air-code/   Craig Young - 19th December 2014    
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