August 13, 2013

Wild Goose Goes Gay – and a Whole Lot More

A volunteer at the Wild Goose Festival wears the colors of the rainbow in her hair (Photo credit: Luke Moon/IRD).

An annual gathering of emergent, progressive and liberal mainline Christians embraced lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) causes as it met outside of Asheville, NC this week.

Wild Goose Festival organizers maintain that it aims to be a “safe space for dangerous conversation.” Sessions about Christianity and homosexuality in the two previous years have led to festival sponsorship by the homosexual advocacy organization the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

The 2013 festival may have been the most outwardly pro-LGBT to date, with workshops on transgenderism, intersex, an address by an openly gay Roman Catholic priest and a panel discussion led by HRC.

A push for pro-LGBT advocacy even permeated seemingly unrelated workshops, with a speaker from Muslims for Progressive Values touting Islamic gay unions while sessions on immigration reform attempted to find “intersectionality” with same-sex marriage advocacy.

Gay and Catholic

Roman Catholic priest James Alison offered a presentation from the festival’s main stage centered on homosexuality. Alison, who self-identifies as gay, asked how progressive Christians could stretch out a hand toward the scandalized, characterizing opponents of same-sex marriage as the scandalized group facing inevitable defeat.

“If we are in a place of victory but are inclined to despise the losers, then my worry is that we haven’t actually won,” the British cleric shared. “How can we make it clear that this change is of the Bible?”

Alison was dismissive of Catholic opposition to homosexuality, comparing church leaders with Italian traffic cops: well-dressed figures who occasionally feel the need to emerge from their booths and direct traffic, causing more problems.

“They should be ignored,” Alison declared.

Catholic teaching about the “intrinsic evil” of homosexual acts was inconsistent, Alison argued, with the understanding that the attractions themselves were not sinful.

“Most Catholic bishops know being gay is a regularly occurring non-pathological variant condition,” Alison asserted, equating homosexuality with being left-handed. The evil, Alison maintained, is how the left hand is used, not the using of the left hand itself. Listing group rape and pagan orgies resulting in self-castration, Alison suggested that these were in fact what scripture warned against when forbidding homosexual practice.

The Brazil-based priest also waved off religious liberty concerns as bishops “rabbiting on” about fortnight for freedom. Catholicism, Alison suggested, issued rules for a Mediterranean culture with a relaxed view about church authority. American Catholics were in the unfortunate situation of hearing those rules amidst a “Protestant conscience” forcing them to obey.

Fielding questions from the audience, Alison sympathized with a married lesbian from the Archdiocese of Detroit who was struggling with “new, young conservative leadership.” Some Catholics, Alison assessed, were in the unfortunate situation of being in a diocese where “pharisaical” leadership had taken over.


Wild Goose participants were asked to consider how to make their congregations more inclusive of transgender persons. Asher Kolieboi, who was born female and now embraces a male identity, led an afternoon workshop titled for Galatians chapter 3:28. Raised in the Pentecostal Church of God in Christ, Kolieboi now embraces a liberation theology.

“Trans Theology,” is needed, Kolieboi maintained, because of violence against transgender persons in the form of sexual and physical assaults, as well as denial of access.

Suggestions for creating a more transgender-inclusive church included affirming transgender youth.

“Talk about it when they are young – very young,” Kolieboi prescribed. The United Church of Christ candidate for ordination also suggested churches “let kids make choices so boys aren’t all shepherds and girls aren’t all angels [in Christmas pageants].”

Offering naming or re-baptism ceremonies for those transitioning to another gender identity was also suggested, alongside studying “trans folks in the Bible,” of which Kolieboi suggested the Ethiopian Eunuch baptized by Philip was one of many.

“We all need to re-think gender,” the Vanderbilt Divinity School student declared. “It took $40,000 a year of divinity school to show how shockingly queer the Bible is.”

Asking how rural churches could be more inclusive of transgender persons, Kolieboi heard from an audience member from Georgia who flatly declared that “outside of the Atlanta perimeter, we live in hell.” While urban churches were assumed to be more inclusive than rural ones, no mention was made that the vast majority of violence perpetuated against transgender persons occurs in the inner city.

“When male and female is not enough”

In a session entitled “When male and female is not enough,” participants listened to the story of Lianne Simon, a woman born with a mixture of ovarian and testicular tissues. Raised for a time as a boy, Simon struggled with anorexia and depression, eventually concluding that she had been incorrectly assigned at birth.

“I still deal with questions of God’s intent, so I have to live by grace even more,” the soft-spoken author shared. “The Gospel is the most important thing that has happened to me.”

Simon was joined by Megan DeFranza of evangelical Gordon College, who read Jesus’ words from Matthew chapter 19 about marriage and eunuchs, suggested it was the way to approach intersex persons:

“Jesus gave me different eyes to see people differently,” DeFranza stated. “How can we make space for those whose identity doesn’t align with their body?”

Both speakers noted that there is not a place in American society for hermaphrodites, and that a child must be raised as a boy or a girl – leaving a child “neuter” until their sex was made clear was not an option.

“Most intersex will tell you they are one gender or another,” Simon reported, adding that only about 5-10 percent would be “flamboyantly other.”

“The idea that gender is learned is not necessarily true,” Simon suggested. The author of Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite noted that a previous generation of physicians told parents of hermaphrodites to choose a gender, operate accordingly to remove unwanted tissues, and then raise the child as that gender without ever telling them. The passing of the older generation of doctors would be necessary before real change could occur, Simon assessed.

“Admitting complexity when we want to put everything into a nice little box is a good place to start,” DeFranza offered.

32 Responses to Wild Goose Goes Gay – and a Whole Lot More

  1. gary says:

    I believe that the only ones facing “inevitable defeat” are the LGBT crowd and their liberal supporters. Although I am probably a little judgmental on this I think God is going to be a whole lot more judgmental.

  2. Ray Bannister says:

    Liberals always bash people who “want to put things in a little box.” Yeah, that little box is actually a great big box, it’s called “common sense.” There are no “intersex” people, there are some very confused ones who discovered to their great delight that we live in a culture that has no space for heroes, but boy to we love to lavish attention on “victims,” so along comes another victim group to pander to. I would be thrown out of that Wild Goose festival, I would probably be either rolling on the floor with laughter or weeping copiously about the stupidity that “Christians” exhibit.

  3. Greg Paley says:

    There is a world’s worth of difference between the Ethiopian eunuch and today’s transgender. Eunuchs in ancient times became that way involuntarily. Today’s transgender makes a choice, undergoes surgery, and spends the rest of his/her/its life taking hormones because its “chosen” gender doesn’t really exist. Of course, the biggest difference is that the eunuch was a “God-fearer,” a non-Jew with a heart for Israel’s God. For te transgenders who are applying the pressure in churches today, God is barely even in the picture.

    • Kevin says:

      The study of “trans folks in the Bible” proposed at the Wild Goose Festival presumably would not mention the statutes in Deuteronomy 22:5 and 23:1.

  4. Kevin says:

    The vast majority of persons calling themselves “transgendered” were not born as hermaphrodites. If Lianne Simon wants to draw attention to the problems of people with this extremely rare birth defect, she should do so in some completely different forum, one not associated with homosexuality.

    • Lianne Simon says:


      The forums that will allow me to share what Christ has done in my life, in spite of my intersex condition, are rather limited. I am open to suggestions.

      Kind regards,
      Lianne Simon

      • Kevin says:

        I regret that I don’t have any suggestions. However, those readers who didn’t know that hermaphroditism is a real medical condition may want to read the Encyclopaedia Britannica article at .

      • Dan H says:

        Did it occur to you that one viable option is NOT to talk about? Why exactly do the various sexual minorities feel this compulsion to talk about themselves – I mean, other than the obvious goal of getting attention? We have laws against indecent exposure, I wish we had laws against people using public forums to discuss their sexual histories. What if gay Joe and trans Cathy just showed up for church one Sunday and did what other people do, just try to mingle, meet people, make new friends, and NOT disclose anything about what’s below the waistline? Sorry, but I just don’t GET this obsession with sexualizing churches. Is the left so desperate for attention that it’s reduced to using sexual minorities as a means to draw people in? Instead of “Dynamic preacher Tuesday at 8pm,” we get “Trans author Tuesday at 8pm.”

        We get bombarded with sexual images from the secular world 24/7. Enough already. Can’t we gather together as Christians and maybe, for an hour or two, think about spiritual things? I guess to the left, it’s some kind of bizarre pleasure to sit in church and think “Oh, there’s Rick, he used to be a woman, there’s Joan who is married but bi, there’s Ken and Ann and Bob who are in a throuple.”

        So, Lianna, seriously: why do you have this compulsion to turn the church into the Jerry Springer Show? Nothing personal, but I don’t care to know the details about your “intersex” status or anyone else’s. This is a very childish way of getting attention and it’s not worthy of someone trying to live as a mature Christian.

        • Lianne Simon says:

          Really Dan? I presented information on rare medical conditions that affect sex development. Two examples were newborn babies. One a teenage girl. The other was me, an old married lady who only ever had sex with her husband. I doubt that more than two people in my church are aware of my medical history. If there’s no appropriate place for Christians to discuss children with such disorders, then how will Christians learn that these kids aren’t out to destroy the family or the space-time continuum. BTW, if you stood in front of my church and called me a leftist, people would laugh you out of the building. Psalm 2:12

          • Dan H says:

            I don’t particularly care if you’re left, right, or middle, I just don’t get this obsession with “intersex” people. Maybe there’s some medical condition that makes some people’s skin blue, but I can’t imagine going to my board of deacons and telling them, “Hey, red alert! There are blue people out there, and it’s VERY important that our kids learn at an early age to treat those blue people like royalty!” Most people are concerned about urgent matters, like, you know, math and history and spelling. I just don’t see it as a high priority for some goofball couple who are raising their son as if he’s a girl. Let them go the Unitarians, they love to put their turbo-inclusiveness on display.

            I can understand that you have your own personal ax to grind, I just don’t see it being some kind of high priority for any church, brainwashing children especially, that is not right. There are plenty of rare medical conditions in the world, I guess we’ll somehow just muddle through and take them on a case by case basis. Maybe I should be thankful that the people at my church seem to have a rather clear vision of whether they are male and female.

            I wish you the best. Not being inclined to ax-grinding, I have to admit I don’t get it, but the liberal churches do kowtow to any groups who have a lot of grievances.

  5. Chris Lang says:

    Gary, gay people used to be imprisoned, subject to chemical castration or sexual aversion therapy, barred from professions and service in the military, bashed in the street, and subject to ridicule throughout the media and society. What “judgment” of God could be any worse than that?

    • Joe says:

      Chris, is that a serious question? You think the wrath of a righteous God could possibly be less than what mortal man can inflict?

      Whatever your view on the sexuality issue, it’s odd to think that man can concoct anything to compare with the wrath of an omnipotent God. No, I don’t think the things you’ve mentioned are anything remotely like the full force of His wrath.

      • Greg Paley says:

        He’s just playing the victim card. It’s 2013, but victimhood requires you to bring up incidents from the past 5,000 years. When you’re a “victim,” you can’t be a sinner. In the left’s worldview, the only sinners are “oppressors.” And all victims are saints. Yeah, it is warped, but that’s how they see things.

        • Chris Lang says:

          Actually, everything I mentioned has happened within living memory.

          • Greg Paley says:

            Well, gosh, I’m sorry to hear that. Which have you experienced personally? Prison? Bashing in the street? Chemical castration? History comes alive when people like you share their personal stories of their sufferings.

  6. Just A Forgiven Sinner says:

    The gay community views the Bible through a sexual lens, allowing everything from gender to sexuality to become cloudy and ambiguous – therefore opening the door to every deviant variation of gender and sexual sin imaginable. Better that Christians of all walks of life view their sexuality through a Biblical lens, which provides rather distinct clarity regarding gender, sex and sin.

  7. Doreen A Mannion says:

    Very shoddy reporting. Mr. Kolieboi did NOT say “Talk about it when they are young – very young;” that was an audience suggestion. He also did NOT say, “Let kids make choices so boys aren’t all shepherds and girls aren’t all angels [in Christmas pageants].” I said that. It really makes me wonder how much is factual in the rest of the article.

    • Greg Paley says:

      In other words, you prefer that the truth not be reported.
      Whoever said “get ’em while they’re young” ought to be ostracized. People who wish to brainwash children so that they have no trace of common sense or rationality are bad people.

      • Doreen A Mannion says:

        I am sorry you are having trouble reading. No one said, “Get ’em while they’re young,” and that was not reported here. The issue was to ensure that when there is a transgender child among other children in a Sunday school class, the other children should be aware of that. Is that really so difficult to understand?

        • Tim Vernon says:

          He might have trouble understanding just what a “transgender child” is, since there is no such thing. My sister has worked in obstetrics for many years, she’s never seen a transgender baby. Even an untrained layman can determine the sex of a child very easily, and, due to ultrasound, the sex is known even before birth. So the fear of “offending” a transgender child is quite silly.

    • Ray Bannister says:

      I wrote a review, on Amazon, for The Resignation of Eve – terrible book, with the author admitting that the hard data indicate that the majority of women in traditional churches LIKE it there, so he had to “spin” the data by selectively interviewing the curmudgeonettes who did NOT like their churches.
      I have to question the motives of anyone who enters the ministry with an ax to grind. Instead of “God wants me here,” it’s “I belong to this victimized group, and I’ll use the church to help myself and my fellow victims.” That’s a selfish motive, isn’t it? Alas, the ministry has always attracted the lazy, the disturbed, the misfit. Thankfully there are a few gems among the pebbles. When I read the stories of peevish women entering the ministry because of their own personal demons, it makes me so thankful for my own dedicated pastors.

  8. Jennifer Berry says:

    We could all hurl bibles and verses at each other and all we’d have are a pile of bibles in the middle of the room. However, the language in the bible that is, seemingly, averse to homosexuality, is actually about power. Search “war herem” for some starter info. Swords pepetrate, so anything/one who can be or is willingly penetrated must be weak and threatens the group strength. This ideology was further ingrained in a Greco-Roman context through the notions of the paterfamilias. Power and domination are the issues here, and when some folks challenge our understanding of who is supposed to have power and how they are supposed to use it, that makes us uncomfortable – the easiest response is to start crying sin and casting stones. But the Greek meaning of sin is to miss the mark, to err, or misdirect. And if we have misunderstood, and caused deep wounds to our sisters and brothers in the process, well then, there is the sin. And that’s in my bible – which I have neither thrown, nor thrown away.

    • Ray Bannister says:

      Sounds like material that was lifted from some feminist/gay website – and probably was. That has to be one of the stupidest explanations I’ve ever read of the Bible’s prohibitions of homosexuality – but I must admit, it was amusing to read!

      In terms of “offending our gay brothers and sisters”: been there, done that, heard it all. Yes, traditional Christians get the picture: we’re the one group in American society that still says homosexuality is not right. So what? Go live your life apart from the churches and forget we exist. Why do you want or need our approval? Maybe it comes down to something you mentioned: power. You like the idea of emotionally manipulating Christians to throw aside their moral standards. Well, in the left-wing churches, you used that power and got what you wanted. They caved in completely to the pro-gay agenda. So a few of us are still holding out. Deal with it. Practice that “tolerance” and “inclusiveness” that you pay lip service to. You won the culture war. Go celebrate. Leave the Christians to believe what we know is true. Surely the culture is big enough to accommodate a handful of nonconformists who won’t cave in to Political Correctness.

  9. Jon Altman says:

    In Greek “Satan” means “accuser.” EVERYTHING that you people publish is “accusing.” You aren’t FOR anything.

    • Ray Bannister says:

      Yeah, we know what “Satan” means. Big deal. there is a lot of “accusing” to do in this degenerate culture. Speaking for myself, I am FOR a lot of things – God, Christ, faith, love, marriage (the old kind, involving male and female), commitment, patriotism (up to a point), families, children. That’s a pretty long list of things to be FOR.

    • Tim Vernon says:

      Mr. Altman, I worked for the UM Board of Discipleship back in the 1980s, I watched with both amusement and disgust as the bureaucrats gave their approval to whatever gimmicky, trendy sort of “ministry” was coming out of the seminaries at that time – clown ministry, interpretive dance (apparently an excuse for the artsy women to wear leotards in church), and other such fluff that apparently still goes on and is typified by the nonsense at this Wild Goose festival. Enough time has passed to prove that this foolishness is not going to retain membership, and in fact has driven many people out in search of churches with some substance. Instead of giving congregations red meat – biblical sermons and study groups, a grounding in basic Christian beliefs – you give them gimmicks. Ironically, at the same time that the mainline churches were making their services into carnivals, the clergy put aside their old black gowns and started wearing the “clerical drag” favored by the Episcopalians – an attempt to look dignified in the midst of very ridiculous “playtime liturgies.” It appears you find these kinds of criticism offensive. well, frankly, the criticisms are deserved. I don’t happen to think that a church needs to be pastor-centered, but I notice that the best churches (ones that grow and retain) have dynamic and charismatic clergy. Joel Osteen (not someone I particularly admire, btw) can hold thousands of people spellbound Sunday after Sunday – just him on stage by himself. Obviously thousands of people feel he has a message worth hearing, so they keep coming back. There are few men like that in the UM and other mainlines, so they fall back on gimmicks, like the “green liturgies” and such ephemera. That doesn’t keep the people in the pews.

      I’ve been around way too many UM clergy to feel any sense of awe toward them, so your scolding didn’t affect me except to raise a smile. Of course the articles on this site criticize the Wild Goose festival. Putting it bluntly, it’s crap, spiritually worthless. There are good churches, real faith fellowships that don’t rely on such antics. I am FOR churches like that, where the focus is not theatrics but heartfelt preaching, a sense of spiritual connection instead of just an audience watching some spoof of worship. Pastors may enjoy being part of a comedy troupe, but in the long run youre going to lose the most committed people of faith.

  10. Kay Glines says:

    Asher Kolieboi was born female and still is. You can’t change DNA. The so-called “transgendered” have to take hormones for the rest of their lives, so when your condition requires major surgery and a constant intake of hormones, it’s hard to make a case that Asher is “really” male. She’s a woman with some major emotional issues. I’m truly amazed that the feminists, with all their “woman power” talk, have been silent on this issue, it seems they would react in horror at any woman who doesn’t accept who she is – the same way liberals insist that if a person is “born gay,” that’s just it, accept it, and get on with your life. This Gordon professor may impress her students with nonsense like “their identity doesn’t align with their body” ought to be aligned out of her job. Are Christian parents really shelling out thousands of dollars to expose their kids to such rubbish? How about something more basic like, align your brain with reality.

  11. Kevin says:

    One often encounters the term “LGBT agenda” or similar expressions implying something monolithic. But I’ve never understood how lesbians and gays (who for the most part regard homosexuality as natural and normal) could ally themselves with the transgendered (who for the most part regard homosexuality as unspeakably wicked or shameful). The two views are utterly incompatible.

    • Ben Welliver says:

      Kevin, it works this way: the various sexual minorities are aware they are outside the norm, this makes them insecure, so in order to feel good about themselves they pose as Champions of Justice, which requires them to sniff around looking for various groups who are being treated unjustly. Coincidentally, all those groups are people whose sexual practices would have been called “perversion” up until maybe 30 years ago. they’re so eager to fight for justice that they even create whole new categories, such as “transgender children.” You have to look past the propaganda – “We work for justice” – to the reality, which is some very troubled misfits working very hard to prove they are not “abnormal,” rather they are world-savers. If they truly accepted themselves and felt good about who they were, they wouldn’t be on this endless quest to prove how compassionate and caring they are. People who are at peace with God and leading lives that would please him don’t need to be such drama queens. Paraphrasing C. S. Lewis slightly, it’s a sure thing that the person who says “I’m just as good as you!” doesn’t really believe it, and that person is bound to be a thorn in society’s side. I learned this from observing a lesbian professor back in my college days, one of the most shrill and unpleasant people I ever met, on a mission to prove to the world how righteous she was. The religious left today is run by people like her.

  12. Jane Rager says:

    Just so YOU are clear. THIS pic is of my daughter. She is not a lesbian. She is not bi-sexual. She is not transgender. She simply loves rainbows. You should be ashamed at this article. The Wildgoose Festival is a festival that loves. We love like Christ loves. Stop worrying about what people do with their genitals and worry about what people do with their pocketbook. We would love to have you come back with an open heart. Sit down and have a meal with someone you just met. Sit by the river and have a conversation with the trans teen that has been bashed by people like you. There is no agenda. It is spirituality, justice, arts,music, dancing, singing, and love. There is love.

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