Monday, July 18, 2011

M. G. Radhakrishnan of India Today: "This meeting is absolutely important. For it is the first of its kind to happen in Kerala."

"The first of its kind in Kerala" - to talk about LGBT issues "within a Christian theological context" - M. G. Radhakrishnan, Associate Editor, India Today
By Rev. Steve Parelli
July 19, 2011
Classic Ave Hotel, Trivandrum, Kerala, India
Just hours ago, here in Trivandrum, Kerala, India, Rev. Steve Parelli and Jose Ortiz, Other Sheep Executive Director and Other Sheep Coordinator for Asia respectively,  spoke “On being evangelical Christian and gay in the USA” to an audience consisting of  three LGBT activists and Kerala University students who were primarily Hindu, two each of the Christian and Muslim faith, and two who identified as non-religious.  At the door, 24 individuals registered with name and contact information. 

Mr. M. G. Radharishnan, Associate Editor of the India Today magazine with a readership of over 20 million, “one of the very few newsmen in Kerala who are at home in both English and Malayalam, handling both with equal ease and consummate fluency” sat with the audience and asked questions, made comments, and at times translated from Malayalam to English when Malayalam was used by individuals in the audience.

Following the meeting, Mr. Radhakrishnan spontaneously left an unsolicited written comment on a sheet of paper at the registration table in his own hand writing which he signed.  It reads:  “This meeting is absolutely important.  For it is the first of its kind to happen in Kerala – where issues like sexuality, homosexuality, etc., are openly discussed – within a Christian Theological context.” Signed, “MGRadhakrishnan”

Quoting Manvendra Sigh Gohil, member of the royal family of the princely state of Rajpipla, as saying he wanted to come out “because I wanted people to openly discuss homosexuality because it is a hidden affair with a lot of stigma attached,” Parelli said by telling their story as gay and Christian he hopes to show the Christian community worldwide that “homosexuals are as common within religious communities as they are in every area and walk of live.”  He said he hopes “the Christian community will fully accept homosexuals as part of God’s diversified creation.”

Coming from the evangelical Christian tradition themselves, and noting the strong presence of evangelicals in Kerala, Parelli cited Faith Baptist Bible College of Ernakulam, and the ministry of Pastor G. S. Nair, Field Director of Fundamental Baptist Mission to India as two evangelical ministries in Kerala in association with the evangelical circles in the States to which Parelli belonged at one time.  Highlighting the evangelical’s absolute belief in the Bible, Parelli said “Generally, for the (fundamentalist) evangelical, the Bible trumps experience, social science, psychology, science, and culture.” 

Parelli said Christians use six different passages from the Bible to condemn homosexuals.  He gave a brief overview of the passages and a pro-LGBT rendering of each.  He said the story of the destruction Sodom and Gomorrah, from which the word “Sodomy” is derived, is found in both the Bible and the Koran.  Referring to Chuck Colson’s doomsday remarks on same-sex marriage in California as an example, Parelli said, American evangelicals justify their certainty of God’s eventual judgment upon America from the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone. 

Parelli, to show the correlation between Indian and American evangelicals, said an Old Testament professor of a Bible college of the state of Tamil Nadu (India), after hearing
Steve and Jose tell their story as Christian and gay, last week, to faculty members and the college president (by invitation of the president and a faculty member), emailed them saying “I pray God may open your eyes to see your folly of misinterpreting the Word of God . . . Because of these abominations USA is under condemnation and under the judgment of God.  So God’s plea to all the people like you, the blind leaders to truth, is Repent! . . . “

As a young gay Christian adult, Ortiz said he “was overwhelmed with guilt and inner turmoil to the point of even wishing that God would just ‘take me home to heaven.’ That was a ‘spiritual’ way of saying I no longer wanted to be in this earth – a death wish!’  Ortiz said he agonized over the realization that the Christian community would reject him if they were to learn he is gay. “My experience,” he said, “is shared by many other gay Christians all over the world.”

Two Kerala University students, both heterosexual and interested in human rights, arranged the July 18 student meeting after having met Jose and Steve in Trivandrum, Tuesday evening, July 12, outside their college hostel (student dormitory) where Jose and Steve were handing out leaflets on the new Malayalam publication (an abridged version) of Rev. Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley’s book The Children Are Free:  Reexamining the Biblical Evidence on Same-sex Relationships.

The Children Are Fee in Malayalam was distributed at the July 18 student meeting.  From the audience, the comment was made that there has not been since the translation of the Bible itself, as revolutionary a book in the Malayalam language as The Children Are Free.

The 5:00PM student meeting was held at the Dr. G. Mirmalam Memorial Hall Kerala Veterinarian’s Building on Dharmalayam Road in Trivandrum.


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