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Dr. Minor and the Fairness Project in the News

From Liberty Press, July 2008

Liberty Press columnist offers his thoughts on life and love:
Bob Minor speaks to the Baby Boomers
By Matt Hanne

LAWRENCE - As of July 2005, there were an estimated 78.2 million Baby Boomers, a term used to refer to those born between the years 1946-1964. The oldest persons among that generation are now 62 years of age, and they are facing new chances for growth as they move closer towards retirement. One of those challenges is as old as the human race: How to deal with the pressures of dating, relationships and romance?
      Fortunately, there is a new source of information for the Boomers to consult. The Liberty Press’ own Bob Minor has recently begun writing an online column for experienceseniorpower.com, a website designed to “provide Baby Boomers a free, online community to call their own, where they can connect with resources, services and products designed just for them,” according to Tony Fama, the website’s editor.
      “My friend and men’s issues counselor Dale Ross suggested I contact Bob when I was looking for authors who could provide substantive Baby Boomer dating, romance and relationship articles,” Fama said.
      Minor’s first two columns were read more than 200 times in the first three weeks that they were available online. His first column focused on ideas on how to meet people, and his second column ventured an answer to the questions “Where am I going and who will go with me? His second column was even reprinted for the Oakland Press, out of Oakland, Michigan.
      For those who may be worried about a gay author writing a mainstream relationship column, fear not: Both Fama and Minor are committed to making the columns as inclusive as possible. “I wouldn’t even have considered it otherwise,” Minor said. “Tony knew it would be that way when he first asked me to do it. Gay people are mentioned from the very first column and all the writing in my column is inclusive.”
       “My hope is that with [experienceseniorpower.com’s] growth, we can leverage our success to address discrimination in its myriad forms: ageism, sexism, racism, lifestylism,” Fama said. “For all of our individual differences we share some basic hopes and desires. We’d all like to be happy, free of fear, healthy and accepted. Regardless of gay, straight, bi, lesbian, black, white, male or female, all of us can benefit from this information. My hope is that in emphasizing our common hopes and dreams we will see we have much in common that binds us together. We need to get beyond the ignorance that breeds skepticism, fear and hate.”
      When jokingly asked if he plans on becoming the next Dan Savage, Minor replies that he is “not that funny or focused on sex.” Although he does concede that he is “supportive of people having all the safe and consensual sex they want.”
      For more information about Minor’s columns or any of its other offerings, visit experienceseniorpower.com and look under the heading of “Romance and Dating” for “The Same But Different” or “Popping the Bigger Questions.”

From Liberty Press, October 2005

“Coming out” not just for GLBT folks anymore
Upcoming conference to address identifying as progressive
By Milton W. Wendland, staff reporter

KANSAS CITY - In this time of constitutional amendments, state and federal elections, and judicial nominations all working against LGBT rights, the progressive movement seems fractured and wounded or at least “wishy-washy” and ineffective. But it is exactly at this moment that progressives must come together and “come out” of the closet of recent defeat and self-doubt and into the light of conviction and assertion.

A three-day Fairness Project Summit to be held at the historic Broadway Church, Oct. 21-23 in Kansas City, will offer spiritual progressives a place to convene, regroup, and energize through breakout sessions, panels, and inspiring speakers. Highlights include opening comments by Paul Loeb, progressive activist and author of popular books aimed at helping people activate hope and change in an era of apathy: Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in a Cynical Time and The Impossible Will Take a While: A Citizen’s Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear.

Loeb will open the conference by speaking on “Coming Out Progressive.” In addition, there will be a full-day of interactive training, a documentary and short-film showcase at the Tivoli Manor Square theaters, and an ecumenical workshop service and brunch to conclude the conference.

Conference organizer Robert Minor says that the idea for the conference literally followed on the heels of the 2004 presidential election. Over a post-election breakfast, Minor and co-organizer Jamie Rich “decided we needed to do something that helped and supported progressives, especially religious progressives, to ‘come out’ as progressives to stand up against the religious right-wing.”

The idea of progressives “coming out” is akin to GLBT people coming out. It’s an act that is risky and that makes us vulnerable, but it is also an act of strength in which we proclaim our pride in ourselves, proclaim our own values, and demand fairness and justice. Minor suggests that it is now time for progressives “to ‘come out’ as progressives and to be willing first to lose for our values, principles, and beliefs. We have not been able to convince people we really mean what we say, that we really value something important. We have to be willing to say publicly when our opposition is wrong that it is ‘wrong.’ We can't be wishy-washy in this political climate.”

The conference theme – “Strengthening the Bond: Progressive Values, Gay Rights and the Faith Community” – brings together activists, scholars, journalists, and religious progressives. Conference sessions will provide attendees practical tools and strategies for use in framing conversations about progressive values, working with the media, enacting progressive values in everyday life and from the pulpit, and learning how to use successful strategies of the religious right in the service of progressive values.

Part of the emphasis of the conference is on taking a stand – among other progressives and in relation to the religious right. “The right-wing is powerful, smart, organized, and committed,” Minor said. “Their opposition seldom speaks as if it is any of those things. People want conviction. We need to be able to say, as Bush did successfully in his campaign: ‘You may not agree with me but you know where I stand.’”

Registration fees for the conference are $89 in advance or $99 at the door. Admission to individual conference events are also available. For conference schedule and registration information, visit www.fairnessproject.org or telephone (816) 931-0738. For more information on the work of Paul Loeb, visit www.soulofacitizen.org.

From The Liberty Press, October 2005

Noted Author Will Speak at Kansas City Summit
By Milton Wendland, staff reporter

KANSAS CITY – Paul Loeb, author of the new book The Impossible Will Take a Little While, will be speaking at the upcoming Fairness Project Summit, which will be held in Kansas City Oct. 21-23. I had a chance to speak with Loeb about his upcoming visit to Kansas and his thoughts about the current political climate.

Liberty Press: Your first book focused on some of the major movers and shakers of our time. Your book – Soul of a Citizen – focuses more on the everyday person and the little adjustments that we can all make. Is this in response to the religious right's enviable grassroots mobilization of its members? Does the left have something to learn from the right?
Paul Loeb: We definitely have something to learn from the grassroots political right. They offer people a strong sense of community, and of purpose. They've been exceptionally persistent. And they get their message out through stories, even though the truths behind those stories are often distorted, while we often rely far too much on abstractions. We need to persist just as they do, and to convey our message in terms of specific examples and specific lives that are affected by larger policy choices. When we do make progress it's attributable to doing this.

LP: In an age of self-help books, have we forgotten how to take action? Do we spend too much time anticipating, analyzing, wondering? Is action the best antidote to cynicism?
PL: Action is definitely an antidote to cynicism. It's easy to hold back and erect what I call a Perfect Standard, where too many people feel they don't dare take a stand unless they know every 17 decimal point statistic on every conceivable issue, and are eloquent as King, saintly as Gandhi, and ready to debate George Will at the drop of a hat. But that just leaves us powerless. When we stake a public stand — which includes telling the story of who we are in contexts that may be resistant — it gives us back a sense of power and dignity.

LP: As you know, Kansas is currently in the news for a number of reasons. We recently amended our state constitution to ban same-sex unions. Our state school board is embroiled in a debate about whether "intelligent design" theory must be taught alongside evolution in science classes. How do we take stock of where we're at? How do we maintain the energy to keep struggling for equality?
PL: Community helps. It's essential. But also reaching out beyond the bounds of our core communities to enlist new supporters. And thinking about the progress we've made - far easier in terms of dignity and respect for gays, where huge progress has been made, than in terms of economic divides that are widening. And also reaching out to other social justice movements, so that we're not just speaking for ourselves, but for a broader vision of respect for ordinary humans and respect for the earth. I think a lot of the political right is driven by a sense that the fabric of the world is being ripped apart, and that if they just go back to "the old ways" everything will be fine. Their world is being ripped apart, but by the Wal-Marts and Enrons and preemptive wars. If we address this enough, they may recognize that the reason their lives are increasingly difficult - and they often are - isn't because some people of the same sex choose to love each other, but because huge forces of greed have contempt for everyone.

LP: What's the biggest obstacle to progressive movements these days? Is it the organizational savvy of the right? Is it cynicism?
PL: I'd say it's the fracturing of our movements, our inability to tell the powerful stories that exemplify our causes, and our inability to reach out to ordinary citizens who are good-hearted people in many ways, but come from very different experiences. Of course the right's manipulative politics doesn't help, nor does the all-too-frequent caving of the Democrats, but we're going to have to be the ones to spearhead needed changes.

LP: Cynical attitudes, busy lives, fatigue - these and other factors might keep any of us from taking action. What's the one thing we can do right now to start the change?
PL: We can all do something, and I don't just mean donating to the Red Cross for Katrina - personally I'm giving to the NAACP, which is helping and organizing, and to funds to help the local social change groups revive themselves. We can begin by connecting with some other people or some other groups so we don't feel so alone, and doing something that has an impact on the culture — writing a letter to the paper, calling in to a talk show, even a conservative one, having a conversation with a coworker or neighbor, registering some sympathetic voters. They all carry some risks, at least psychologically, but as Nelson Mandela says, change happens through the "multiplication of courage."

LP: Hurricane Katrina's devastation seems to me to be a metaphor for the sort of uphill battle that many of us feel we are facing. Do you think the recent events on the Gulf Coast will end up helping each of us recognize the power within ourselves or will the sheer magnitude of the devastation serve only to entrench our cynicism or feeling of helplessness?
PL: This could be a turning point. I actually write about this in the most recent article on my website, www.paulloeb.org. I think it's a potential wakeup call for a whole lot of people who've not been addressing larger issues, but whether they then continue to grapple with the hard issues or go back to ignoring them really does depend on what we do.

LP: You'll be speaking on the topic of "Coming Out Progressive" at the Summit. Can you give us a teaser of what that means and what you'll be addressing?
PL: I'll talk about how we can learn to take a stand and keep on going. I'll talk about how different movements interweave with each other. I'll talk about how others have achieved amazing victories, from Montgomery, Alabama to South Africa and Eastern Europe, and what it might take to help ourselves act and keep on acting for the long haul.

From The Lawrence Journal-World, April 16, 2004

KU professors say Bible often a political tool
By Dave Ranney, Journal-World

Americans are not above using the Bible to promote their politics, a Kansas University professor said Thursday.

In the 1950s, for example, the Bible was used to push the importance of mothers staying home to raise their children while, at the same time, making room in the work force for servicemen returning from World War II.

"Religion was used to promote a cultural value: in this case, the nuclear family," said Robert Minor, a religious studies professor at Kansas University.

The fact that several passages in the Bible openly endorse polygamy was conveniently overlooked, he said.

Minor's comments were part of "Religion and Oppression," a panel discussion at the Kansas Union coordinated by Queers & Allies, an association representing gay, lesbian and transgendered students.

Abolitionists, too, used the Bible to attack slavery, Minor explained, adding that passages condoning slavery and calling on slaves to "obey their masters" were rarely mentioned.
It's no surprise, Minor said, that the Bible today is being used to condemn homosexuality and gay marriage.
"There are seven passages in the Bible that are used against gay people," Minor said. "But the debate among biblical scholars is not whether they are pro or anti (gay)."
He added: "The word homosexual does not appear in the Bible."

Agreeing with Minor, fellow religious studies professor Daniel Breslauer said among biblical scholars the often-cited passage "Lie down with no man as you would a women" is thought to have more to do with gender -- men's power over women -- than with homosexuality.

Tim Miller, another religious studies professor, encouraged the 25 students in the audience to recognize the differences among religion, politics and culture.

"I don't think religion is inherently oppressive," he said. "But I think people can be oppressive and are capable of using the Bible as a tool of oppression."

Andrew Stangl, a Wichita freshman, asked why the nation's mainstream churches have been less than outspoken in support of gay rights and in opposition to the Iraq war.

"Where is the outrage?" Stangl asked.

Breslauer replied: "The Vietnam War made (church leaders) realize their patriotism could be called into question."

Miller added that many churches were "truly internally conflicted" over whether to extend an open door to gays and lesbians.

From The Breeze (James Madison University's Student Newspaper), January 29, 2004

Men taught to be warriors
Professor speaks about society's views of what makes someone 'more of a man'
by Stephen Atwell / senior writer
Speaking about cultural influences in the United States that scare people into being straight, a professor of religious studies at the University of Kansas talked Monday night in Grafton-Stovall Theatre to a crowd of about 200.

"Just because you are heterosexual does not make you straight," Robert Minor said. "We have to scare people into being straight, into acting straight, into looking straight, into thinking straight, into feeling straight, into voting straight - and that is what I want to talk about."

Minor discussed a pervading theme in American culture that's focused on war. As a result of this preoccupation with war, men are taught six elements in order to convince them that they are warriors. He mentioned the war on drugs, the war on terror and the war on poverty as examples.

The first of these is to convince the men that if they are willing to kill other men and risk being killed in the process, then they are more of a man.

"In our culture, you get medals for killing another man, but you can be killed for loving another man, can't you?" Minor asked.

Another factor in the evolution from boys to soldiers is the tendency to separate them from their emotions. Minor explained that boys are taught to avoid expressing fear, hurt and confusion. Instead, they are taught that anger is an acceptable alternative to being afraid, hurt or confused.

"Isolation and anger are the key male responses to separating men from their emotions," Minor said.

Men also are taught to separate themselves from their bodies in order to not acknowledge hurt. Once a man does not acknowledge that something hurts, it is much harder for him to realize when something may hurt someone else, according to Minor.

Men are instilled with homophobia, which Minor described as "the fear of getting close to your own sex."
He said, "The U.S. culture is the most homophobic culture that has ever existed on this earth."
At some point, men are taught that they are getting too close to other men, Minor said. This is an essential process to making men into warriors. If they are expected to kill someone, they can't feel attached to them.

He also said men are taught to devalue what is feminine. These values are learned by such common phrases as "you run like a girl" or "you throw like a girl," which emphasize a woman's status.

Finally, in order to make men into warriors, they are taught to "demonize" gay men.
"The worst thing you can call a kid in first, second and third grade is stupid or gay," Minor said.

Similar values, he said, are instilled in women so they value what is masculine and are taught to support the "warriors."

When women started getting close to each other, they started seeking reproductive rights and equal pay, Minor said. As a result of this, any woman who would do something for her own interest is rumored to be a lesbian.

He urged students to step outside of their gender roles. He said that things were not going to change until men become accepting of their feelings, and women learn to protect themselves.

"I think they have to step outside of a very fear-based society, which is forcing them into roles as men and women - including what I call the 'straight role,'" Minor said. "They have to have the courage to know who they are and decide what is now important is that they live as their full humanity."

Students reacted to Minor's speech.

"I like that he makes jokes and cultural references to things everyone can relate to and know about, so that it is not just some over-your-head scholarly thing," senior Amy Ray said.

The lecture was sponsored by a number of campus and community organizations.
One of these groups was Harmony, an organization for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons as well as straight supporters.

Junior JohnAlex Golden, president of Harmony said, "To think about it as the way we build up society and the way we survive as a society - it's not something I'd ever really thought about."

The departments of anthropology and sociology also sponsored the lecture.

"[Minor] tries to distance himself from [attacking people based on their sexual orientation] and talks about how this cultural conditioning hurts all of us regardless of our sexual orientation," sociology professor Christine Robinson said.

From Gay Today, December 5, 2003

Groundbreaking Book Challenges Old-Fashioned Social Concepts
Savvy Scholar Examines Personal Relationships and Core Issues
Gay & Healthy in a Sick Society Points to a Brave New World

By Jack Nichols, Editor, GayToday

Cocoa Beach, Florida - During what appears to be a promising Winter season in the publishing industry, a revolutionary new work titled Gay & Healthy in a Sick Society offers unique challenges to the gay and lesbian community, questioning antiquated attitudes that have too long been taken for granted.

The topics in this book are familiar, but Professor Robert N. Minor's commentaries have surprised readers and reviewers alike with insights that strike a familiar cord, as if they'd uncovered things that they'd known all along. Dr. Minor addresses a variety of core issues that go deeper than daily conversations. And he challenges his readers to overthrow those perspectives that are stifling their lives as well as the lives of friends and loved ones around them. Their solutions are woven, he says, out of each person's uniqueness.

An early review captured the Professor's approach: "In this ground-breaking book, Minor does away with the need so many of us have to justify, defend, and play the victim role as gay people. Instead he shows us, by example, how to realistically see ourselves, respond to our critics, and define our own lives and community."

Dr. Minor puts U.S. society itself on the defensive. Nothing is assumed to be true, healthy, or humane. The sickness is what we're being taught to value and it's everywhere hurting relationships from friendships to committed partnerships, the political climate that is given to LGBT people, and a variety of issues about self-esteem.

There's something that becomes apparent as Gay & Healthy proceeds: what Dr. Minor is talking about to LGBT people ought to be said as well to improve the lives of straight people. What he has had the audacity to proclaim in an easy-going style, is that people are healthy to the extent that they don't ape society's ways of seeing and doing things.

He's not talking about anarchy, but something at the core of human being and human existence as well as the core of American dreams that are betrayed by mainstream views of "the American dream." And he is getting at something we seem to all know within ourselves but seldom articulate.

Tackling topics from self-images to politics and romance, the professor has rejected the victim role. "No matter how much LGBT people have been victimized, and are continually being victimized in U.S. society, we don't have to frame our lives, sexual expression, relationships, politics, and movements in terms of the evaluations of a larger society that can't solve it's deepest problems."

On sex, Minor argues, that it's hard to find a society in history that is so confused, even dumbfounded, when it comes to issues of sexual commerce, activity, intimacy, and partnering. Sexual addiction, he says, is rampant, even mainstreamed, including our institutions' emphases on celibacy and abstinence. "Sexual addiction therapists know that celibacy often can be a sexual addiction when there is an obsession with it." That describes the Roman Catholic Church and other denominations, he observes in a chapter entitled "Priests, Sexual Abuse, and Sexual Addiction."

Minor's criticisms of the current state of politics include not only exposure of "The Faithless Business of Faith-Based Initiatives," and "Weapons of Mass Distraction," but the "Pitiful State of LGBT Politics" confronting us from both major parties. We are living a victim role when we "settle for Republican dismissal and Democratic compromise."

Minor's chapters on "Leadership," arise out of workshops he does nationally for activist leaders, such as has been the case during the last four years at NGLTF's "Creating Change" Conferences. "The victim role of any marginalized group is acted out in our criticism and distrust of leaders. It's easier to eat our own than to fight what's really hurting us all."

Beyond sections on coming out, growing up in the USA, gender, holidays, histories, and society, Gay & Healthy in a Sick Society examines the self-image of LGBT people as it's often acted out publicly. Minor argues that there are issues that we should no longer be caught up in. When we are, the right wing is winning and the LGBT community is not acting out of its best self-concepts. "The Psychological Debate is Over" suggests new strategies to stop getting caught up in the right-wing ex-gay debates. Minor also wants us to ask whether the portrayal of LGBT people as valuable consumers is really a mark of poor self-image, not pride.

There are tender moments in Gay & Healthy. Sections on "Relationships," and "Becoming Families" challenge why we need and want relationships or children and describe how we can make our relationships and child-rearing better than the limited norms of society today.

In "Just as Good Isn't Good Enough," Minor says acceptance of lesbian and gay parenting by the American Academy of Pediatrics is great but still too low a standard for raising healthy children. And though Minor prefers that we emphasize friendships to solve our problems with coupling, he has practical advice for couples, such as chapters on "That Romantic Touch" and "Seven Messages that Wreck a Relationship."

Toby Johnson, editor of the literary periodical, White Crane Journal and author of Gay Perspective: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe, says: "Dr. Minor demonstrates that a sex-positive and gay-positive perspective on life naturally results in socially and ethically desirable attitudes and behaviors. In transcending polarized gender roles and gender expectations, gay people are a beacon to a society hopelessly drowning in anti-sexual and life-denying attitudes. Minor holds up that light for all to see. Readable, entertaining and unfailingly sensible, these analyses of modern life, especially modern gay life, deserve this second incarnation in Gay and Healthy in a Sick Society."

In an advertisement for the book, I too expressed my enthusiasm: "Minor's gift for clarity turns this amazing new book into the most compelling and consequential reading experience conceivable. I cheered his illuminating viewpoints from cover to cover. As a stellar contribution to current dialogues, Gay and Healthy in a Sick Society will remain unsurpassed for many years to come."

Read the online archived version of the above article.

From the The Word, June 2003

Scared Straight Author to Lead Seminar at Ghost Ranch Abiquiu, N.M.

Robert N. Minor, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas and author of the book Scared Straight: Why It's So Hard to Accept Gay People and Why It's So Hard to Be Human will teach "Getting Unstuck: Making Progress on Sexual Orientation and Gender Issues"28 July-3 Aug. at Ghost Ranch Education and Retreat Centre here.

Minor wrote Scared Straight as a result of 10 years of workshops on homophobia and gender issues. Within a month of publication, the book was named Book of the Week by www.Menstuff.org In 2002 it was a finalist for both a Lambda Literary Award and an Independent Publisher Book Award.

In keeping with the theme of the book, the seminar will allow participants to explore the personal and social issues that keep them from being creatively engaged.
It is open to people of all ages and orientations, including young adults, pastors, and counsellors. It is intended for people at both beginning and advanced levels of dealing with gender issues and homophobia.

For more information, ring 505/685.4333.

From the Midwest Times, Jan 30-Feb 5, 2003

Bob Minor in the interest of Fairness
By Gaby Vice, Community Editor

Ever been caught in an argument about being gay and then told that there are "proven" religious and psychological reasons that the LGBT community is in the wrong? When you are caught in this situation, ever wished you had the resources at your finger tips to deal with these repetitive and pointless arguments once and for all? Now thanks to the on-going work of The Fairness Project and their new series of pamphlets, there is!

The Fairness Project was founded by Dr. Robert Minor, a Kansas City local and Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas. Minor is also active in the local and national LGBT Community and is president of the Board of the Lesbian and Gay Community Center of Greater Kansas City (LGCC-KC) as well as a respected author (his most recent book Scared Straight: Why It's So Hard to Accept Gay People and Why It's So Hard to Be Human, was named a Finalist for both a Lambda Literary Award and the Independent Publisher Book Award). He leads workshops on gender roles, homophobia, and racism for universities, colleges, churches, businesses, government organizations, and community and religious groups throughout the US as well as workshops for non-heterosexuals on personal growth beyond "coming out" and how to be a healthy activist
The mission of The Fairness Project is to promote fair and positive understanding of all human beings regardless of sexual orientation, sex, gender identity, nationality, race, ethnicity, age, or abilities, by educating and advocating for fundamental structural change and personal healing. "I am convinced that all issues of fairness are related, that all
oppressions are connected, and that all discrimination must end so that every human being can live and flourish as a full human being," Minor explained. "I have the belief that if we want to eliminate oppression of LGBT people, then we need to eliminate all oppression because it all goes together and to end one oppression we have to end them all," he added.

The Fairness Project has just released three pamphlets "When You're Having a Religious Argument," "Case Closed! Responding to Psychological Arguments Against Gay People," and "Burnout, Blowout & Breaking Up - Navigating the Hazards of Activist Leadership." Minor wrote the pamphlets and is making them available as a resource to the LGBT Community because he has found that the LGBT Community has for many years been put into the victim role and is often expected to explain itself with a victim's response.

"We are treated as if we have something to explain, defend and catch up to, when in fact we are ok and need to break out of the victim response. We need to take a proactive stance, beginning with how we feel about ourselves and our leadership. We must show the institutions around us that we have nothing to apologize for. We need to get out of the habit of wanting to be liked by straight society. The issue is not if we're liked but how
to get our rights and live our lives on our terms," Minor explained passionately. He hopes that these pamphlets will be a valuable resource in taking that proactive stance and living our lives on our terms
"In Burnout, Blowout, and Breaking Up: Navigating the Hazards of Activist Leadership," Minor says: "Decide not to wait for someone else to take the initiative in stopping something in the dominant society that is hurting us. When we take the lead, we are stepping out of a victim role that is stuck in repeatedly pointing out one unmet need after another, complaining about things not getting done, and deferring action to others. We no longer act as if our lives depend on whether others do or do not take the initiative".

Minor's vast religious education and knowledge also gives him the insight to take on Religious Bias against the LGBT community and in "Case Closed: Responding to Psychological Arguments Against Gay People" he takes a direct hit at those who say being gay is psychologically wrong. He says: "It's not that "ex-gay" "experts" don't know that they are acting like enemies of mainstream science. They just refuse to change the prejudices upon which they've built their self-image."

Minor gives us all some excellent advice on how to deal with a religious argument in "When You're Having a Religious Argument" saying: "Anyone growing up in our culture receives widespread and general religious abuse. The most pervasive form of American religion is that of tele-evangelists, right-wing ministers, and conservative religious authorities who confront people with threats, humiliation, negative and demeaning self-valuation, subordination to others, denial of our own insights, and a variety of tactics
meant to protect religious institutions. Even people who did not identify with the religious position grow up with such abuse in our culture because it is constant, widespread, dominant and multi-dimensioned."

"I honestly believe there is something sick about US society. This is reflected in the fact that it won't accept us as LGBT people. We are regarded as inhuman and unhealthy. Society's sickness is reflected in the way they treat us and the way they deal with sex, gender, race, consumerism, and even war. People who want to discriminate against us
will use any excuse. The good thing is they have used all the excuses, and we as a community must now move on. The question for us is how can I gain my life and my freedom, whether they like it or not. All the objections have been heard over and over again; through these pamphlets, all the answers to the same old questions are readily available if society as a whole has a desire to hear them, and in the mean time we need to get on with our lives," Minor explained.

For more information about Dr. Minor, The Fairness Project or his book or pamphlets, visit his website at www.fairnessproject.org.
Robert N. Minor, Ph.D. will be the featured speaker at the First Friday Breakfast Club on February 7, 2003. For more information on this event, please contact ffbckc@hotmail.com
Location: Four Points Sheraton at 45th and Main
Cost is $8 per person for first-time attendees and $15 for non-members.

From National Public Radio "Morning Edition," December 23, 2002

"Sacred Texts" by Roger Martin

'Tis the season to recommend a book to buy, right? Well here's one way to think about it.
There are 2 billion Christians, 1.2 billion Moslems and 800,000 Hindus -- that's about half the people on Earth.

So why not buy that special someone a good translation of the sacred text of one of those religions?

The hard part is choosing from among the dozens of Bibles, Qurans or Bhagavad-gitas out there.

So I asked several scholars in the University of Kansas Department of Religious Studies to recommend translations: Tim Miller, Paul Mirecki, Richard Jeske, Dan Breslauer, Margaret Rausch and Robert Minor. Here's what they said.

Miller, Mirecki and Jeske recommended either the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, or its successor, the New Revised Standard Version from among the 25 or so translations or paraphrases of the Bible available in bookstores.

The Bible was written in Greek and Hebrew and these translations are faithful to the original, understandable and relatively free of editorial bias, the scholars say.

Jeske, a member of the Translations Committee of the American Bible Society, praises both revised standard versions for including excellent notes about portions of today's Bible that don't appear in some of the ancient manuscripts.

Everything you read in the Bible is a copy, or a copy of a copy, Jeske says, so it's important to know which passages aren't present in all the manuscripts.

For Mirecki, editorial slant is an important consideration in picking a translation. He says that the Douay Version of the Bible reflects a Roman Catholic viewpoint, for example, the New International Version a conservative Evangelical bent.

If you like literature, the Jerusalem Bible or its successor, the New Jerusalem Bible, might be what you're looking for.

The Jerusalem Bible was originally a French translation produced by eminent Roman Catholic scholars, Jeske says. The English translation from the French version included the hand of J.R.R. Tolkien, author of Lord of the Rings.

The disadvantage, say Jeske, is that it's twice removed from the original source material.
The sacred text of Judaism is called the Hebrew Bible. Its chapters are the same as the Protestant Old Testament, but they appear in a different order. Dan Breslauer's favorite translation of this text is the Jewish Publication Society version.

If you're thinking of a Quran, Margaret Rausch recommends The Meaning of the Holy Quran, by Abdullah Yusuf Ali.

Despite its title, it's not a commentary. Muslims believe that the Quran and the Arabic language are inseparably interwoven. Thus, any translation is necessarily an interpretation.

As a result, Rausch says, sensitive translators call their work "the Message of the Quran" or "the Meaning of the Quran," not just "the Quran."

The Bhagavad-gita, the Hindu sacred text, is the briefest of the three, at just 700 verses. Robert Minor recommends Barbara Stoller Miller's translation, titled The Bhagavad-gita: Krishna's Counsel in Time of War.

A central idea in the Gita is that one should act without regard to the fruits of one's actions. And Mahatma Gandhi took away from the Gita the idea that one must fight the evil in one's own heart, Minor says.

Even better than giving just one of these sacred texts as a gift, you might consider giving all three.

If you do, though, you'll have to package the texts in shrinkwrap yourself.

My web search using the words "The Bible, the Quran and the Bhagavad-gita three-volume gift set" didn't turn up a thing.

Liberty Press,
November 2002

Tips on religious arguing offered in new series

by Trent Koland, staff reporter

LAWRENCE — The famous South African playwright Athol Fugard once said: "We compound our suffering by victimizing each other." That self-victimization, visible in the LGBT community, is the same concept Dr. Robert Minor hopes to eradicate by publishing his series of pamphlets entitled The Fairness Project Series.

The Fairness Project was created by Minor in 2001 to coincide with the release of his book Scared Straight: Why It's So Hard to Accept Gay People and Why It's So Hard to Be Human.

The mission of these educational pamphlets is to "promote fair and positive understanding of all human beings regardless of sexual orientation, sex, gender identity, nationality, race, ethnicity, age, or abilities, by educating and advocating for fundamental structural change and personal healing," according to the Project's website.

Minor says he was tired of seeing gays and lesbians corner themselves into the role of sufferers.

"I wanted LGBT people to get out of the victim role -- that's the position which starts with the idea that WE have something to explain and justify," Minor said. "We don't. They need to get over it and we need to stop taking the defensive position.

The first pamphlet in the series is entitled "When You're Having a Religious Argument" and describes strategies for keeping cool and refuting common arguments against homosexuality.

There are three major points the pamphlet discusses. They include: advising people to confront their own shortcomings and relationships with religion; understanding the inaccurate claims used by many theologians; and confronting the real motives and issues hidden under the veil of religious argument.

Minor says the LGBT community needs to be more focused in its presentation to mainstream society.

"[I] want us to develop our own set of sound bites," Minor said. "We've not been good about our public presentation. We've been right but not as effective as we could be. We're good at talking to ourselves while conservatives dominate talk radio. People remember the conservative sound bites, 'It's Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,' but what do they remember from liberals as we weigh the various opinions and issues and lose our audience?"

There are several other pamphlets on the way according to Minor. The second in the series will be titled "Burnout, Blowout and Breaking Up: Navigating the Hazards of Activist Leadership" and will deal with the pressures LGBT advocates face by being at the head of the activist movement. Two more pamphlets are in the making but are, as of yet, untitled.

Ultimately, the series is about the empowerment of the LGBT community, Minor says.

"The truth is LGBT people are fine," Minor says. "Society and its prejudices are sick. Let's believe that and act like we believe that."

Pamphlets are $2 apiece. To order any of the series send a check to The Fairness Project, PO Box 45604, Kansas City, MO 64171. © Liberty Press, 2002.

From Outlook News (Columbus, OH), September 13, 2002

Author to lead workshop on understanding Catholic crisis

COLUMBUS — Robert N. Minor, professor of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas and author of Scared Straight: Why It's So Hard to Accept Gay People and Why I's So Hard to Be Human will conduct a workshop on understanding homophobia during the PFLAG national conference.

Minor will discuss, "When Religion Compounds the Oppression: A Look at the Catholic Church Crisis" in which he strategizes how individuals can personally move beyond arguing religion and the Bible to get down to the deeper issues that need to change so that real change will take place.

Minor said, "… religious groups sanctify prejudices that our cultural hangs on to because something deeper is at stake."

Minor discusses this "something deeper" in his book, which was named a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award and an Independent Publisher Book Award.

"Issues of religious power, hierarchical authority, and institutional protection coupled with fear of loss and change are threatened when religious institutions are forced to rethink this issue. To protect the current status of the institution and prevent change, the institution responds in fear with doctrinal grandstanding, and diversionary tactics which at times may look like partial concessions," he said. © Outlook News, 2002.