Marquette Warrior: Marquette Campus Ministry, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. Invite Gay Marriage Advocate to Campus

Monday, August 28, 2006

Marquette Campus Ministry, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. Invite Gay Marriage Advocate to Campus

An e-mail sent to a large number of faculty:
To whom it may concern:

Peace and justice advocate Chuck Booker Hirsch will be speaking on Marquette’s campus at the Weasler Auditorium on October 12, 2006 at 7:30pm (Indigenous People Day) as part of a forum on the effort to close the School of the Americas/WHINSEC hosted by University Ministry and J.U.S.T.I.C.E. Besides practicing civil disobedience and working on immigration issues Chuck leads a parish in Ann Arbor, Mi and travels to universities around the country outlining the history of the United States foreign policy in Latin/South America and the effects it has had on the people of those countries. Chuck would be happy to make presentations to individual classes on the evening of the 11th of October or during the day on October 12. If this fits into your schedule or would like more information please contact [redacted]

Chuck’s bio sketch is at the bottom of this note and please pass this on to whomever you believe might find it relevant.

All the wealth of earth and heaven,
Pat Kennelly
[phone number redacted]
The following biographical sketch was included in the e-mail:
The Rev. Charles Booker-Hirsch has served as Pastor of Northside Presbyterian Church in Ann Arbor since June 1998 (see for more about this dynamic congregation). From 1989-93, Chuck worked in the Sanctuary Movement in California and Arizona, an underground railroad of faith communities assisting hundreds of thousands of Central American refugees as they fled U.S.-backed political oppression, particularly in Guatemala and El Salvador.

In the mid-1990s, aided by the Academy Award-nominated documentary short School of Assassins, Chuck and many others were introduced to the strong link between the refugee outbreak and the terrorist training received by Latin American military at the School of Americas (SOA) in Ft. Benning, GA. In November 1998, Chuck joined over 2300 in trespassing onto Ft. Benning in an annual nonviolent protest of this school – a protest that now draws nearly 20,000 persons annually to its rally and vigil outside the gates.

No one was arrested that year; all who “crossed the line” were transported to a nearby city park in school buses and dumped there. But when Chuck joined approximately 100 others in a solemn nonviolent funeral procession onto the base in November 2001 – circumventing the post-911 chain-link fence in the process – all were arrested. Five months later, Chuck was among 43 trespassers selected for indictment. After a five-day trial in Georgia, 30 received prison time for this Class B misdemeanor, ranging from 90 days (Chuck’s tour of duty) to six months. Fines ranging from $500 to $5000 were also levied.

With the full support of his family, congregation, and the Presbyterian Church (USA), Chuck served his three months at a minimum security federal penitentiary in NW Pennsylvania from September to December 2002. He has addressed over 40 university and church audiences in five U.S. states and Canada about the importance of closing the SOA – renamed in 2001 the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) – and has debated both an Army lieutenant colonel and WHINSEC’s public relations officer in a public forum at their request.

Chuck met his life partner, the Rev. Amy Booker-Hirsch, while they were working with refugees in Tucson, AZ in 1992. They have an eight-year-old son, basketball fiend Andrew Booker.
OK, so we have the leftist University Ministry and leftist J.U.S.T.I.C.E. bringing in a leftist speaker.

Dog bites man. Not news.

But what’s interesting is what’s not mentioned.

Brooker-Hirsch is a big advocate of gay marriage. Indeed, he is such an advocate that he refuses to sign marriage licenses for heterosexuals until gays can get married too.

Pastor refuses to sign marriage licenses - Lack of gay marriage recognition protested

by Catherine O’Donnell

As a Presbyterian pastor, the Rev. Charles Booker-Hirsch has signed dozens of marriage licenses.

But for the foreseeable future, he won’t be signing any.

Earlier this month, Booker-Hirsch told leaders of Northside Presbyterian Church that he will no longer be an agent of the state at weddings until both gay and straight couples can enter into legal marriages.

“It’s all about being on a level playing ground; it’s a simple matter of justice,” said the 45-year-old minister, who has led his north Ann Arbor congregation almost eight years and has been ordained for almost 11.

“It’s hypocritical for me to collect money from couples who can be legally married when there are others who can’t.”

Booker-Hirsch’s decision could mean turning his back on $3,000 to $4,000 worth of wedding fees each year. He has officiated at weddings not only for his own congregation, but in the past has made himself available for weddings at Weller’s Carriage House in Saline.

He estimates that one of four people in his 60-member congregation is gay. Booker-Hirsch has officiated at ceremonies for both gay and straight couples at Northside and said he will continue to do so. “But I won’t sign marriage licenses,” he said. “Couples will have to go to a justice of the peace for that.”

Booker-Hirsch added more about his beliefs in an e-mail published on the same web page:
Friends, this is a matter of living w/ my conscience. It is my hope and prayer that we as progressive clergy will stop trumpeting equal rights rhetoric for same gender weddings -- as weddings or holy unions or however the couple chooses to call it -- all the while holding our hands behind our backs and raking in big dough from heterosexual couples because we are coopted by Caesar to be agents of the state. In other words: Is Caesar Lord, or is Jesus Lord? I think we really need to choose, at least here. It at least sends a strong statement about where we really stand.

Grace & Peace, Chuck B-H
Pastor, Northside/Ann Arbor, MI
Booker-Hirsch’s church, in fact has (or at least had as of 2003) a policy of performing gay marriages.
We have a marriage policy. Five years young, as of this fall. Revised, if you can call it that, by our Session last February.

. . . [A]ny couple, regardless of gender, who meets the Book of Order-based premarital counseling standards I use (and they’re not that easy) as well as a few Session standards (not easy, either), can celebrate a blessing of their lifelong, loving commitment here at Northside – regardless of what the couple chooses to call the blessing.

How does presbytery feel about about our marriage policy, you may wonder? Hear these words from an erstwhile ally serving on the Committee on Ministry, the committee to which we officially report such things.

“Of course, we know about your policy”, he said to me in May. “Just don’t use it.”

“Just … don’t … use it.” Well … we’ve used it. And, if the gracious occasion offers itself again, we will continue to use it.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with having an advocate of gay marriage speak on campus -- although it might be nice to have somebody on the other side of the issue speak too (fat chance that J.U.S.T.I.C.E. or the University Ministry will arrange that).

But isn’t it interesting that the blurb announcing his visit to campus says nothing about the issue?

There is, quite simply, a leftist axis around the University Ministry, J.U.S.T.I.C.E., and the Office of Student Development which views pretty much any issue the same way secular leftists do. Indeed, for practical purposes they are secular leftists.

But they apparently find it worthwhile to show at least a bit of deference to the Cathoic mission of the University. But full-hearted support? Never.


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