Cinnamon Stillwell

I’m the West Coast Representative for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum that focuses on Middle East studies. I was a political columnist for SFGate.com (San Francisco Chronicle online) from 2004-2008. I've written for the American Thinker, Frontpage Magazine, Family Security Matters, Accuracy In Media, Newsbusters, Israel National News, The Jewish Policy Center, J-The Jewish News Weekly of N. CA, Intellectual Conservative and many others. More info at CinnamonStillwell.com.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence: Perpetually Juvenile

My latest SFGate column looks at San Francisco's Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, whose fixation on the Catholic church misses the mark in terms of the religion that constitutes a true threat to gay rights:
While the famously liberal city of San Francisco is known for its anti-military shenanigans, it's the anti-Christian and, in particular, anti-Catholic sentiment emanating from activist elements of the city's gay population that's been getting all the attention as of late. Most notably, it's been coming from the Fox News Channel, where "The O'Reilly Factor" host Bill O'Reilly, a practicing Catholic, is sick and tired of those who target his religion not only for ridicule, but outright hostility.

The latest instance of such sentiment originated with an all too familiar source: San Francisco's notorious Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The "sisters" are a group of gay men who dress up as nuns — of the drag-queen variety — in an attempt to parody Catholicism and, in a larger sense, Christianity, for what they perceive as its intolerance towards homosexuality. Their motto is "go forth and sin some more" and members have adopted satirical names such as "Sister Chastity Boner" and "Sister Constance Craving of the Holey Desire."

The sisters can be seen every year at the Gay Pride Parade, strutting their stuff and giving the press a taste of San Francisco outrageousness at its finest. And it's not unusual to see them out and about on any given afternoon in full regalia, never subtle about the object of their scorn. Indeed, I walked past one of the sisters standing outside a bar on Polk Street last weekend, joking loudly, with beer in hand, about going to "receive communion" later that day.

Receiving Holy Communion is exactly what two members of the group set out to achieve earlier this month. The sisters attended Mass at San Francisco's Most Holy Redeemer Parish on Oct. 7 and, in effect, forced Archbishop George H. Niederauer to deliver the Eucharist to them as his rather stunned congregation looked on.
Continue reading "Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence: Perpetually Juvenile"

11 Comments:

Anonymous Paul said...

These sisters are an abomination!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007 3:19:00 AM  
Anonymous rocknocker said...

As expected your most excellent article drew the usual SF loonies who can't see their double standards even when they are beat over the head.

Keep up the good work.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007 8:31:00 AM  
Anonymous GM Roper said...

"The very nature of organized religion is to present human beings with a set of standards by which to live, and this includes taboos."

Remarkably insightful. Thanks Cinnamon, that was a excellent read.

I might add that the comments on the SFGate article are so outreageous as to be laugable. That community just doesn't get it. Calling the Christians intolerant is akin to the pot calling the kettle black.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007 9:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am rather disappointed in your two dimensional view of the Sisters, who yes cause a fair amount of religious controversy, although frankly in most cases it has been the Cahtolic Church who have sought them out, not the other way around (following them around with cameras at Pride events, reporting them to the Vatican, yada yada).

You completely ignore the very mature and amazing services that the Sisters have provided the Castro over the last couple decades. The raise a tremendous amount of money in support of the HIV/Community, and they work tirelessly to promote safe sex. In fact, in the entire world, they were one of the very first groups of people to take the mysterious disease that we know now as AIDS seriously.

If everyone else had taken it as seriously as the Sisters, maybe millions of people would not be sick, dead or dieing in third world nations globally.

I found your article to be sanctimonious and contrite. You have your own double standards to deal with. In fact, if you want to be more then a mere borish talking head, I invite you, no, DARE you to attend one of the Sister's weekly bingo games. I doubt you will have a more religious experience in your life. :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger RedNeckoBlogger said...

Like so many lefties.. they confuse disapproval with hate... because they are the ones that hate first, and think everyone is like them.

I would suggest to the "sisters" that without the required contrite spirit, you can drink the wine and eat the bread ALL DAY, and NEVER reach Communion!

But they won't understand that... nor do they want to... 'cause in the final analysis it's ALL about them!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007 1:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is always so easy to sit back and place judgment on others without having truly spent some time learning their point of view.

So some Sisters came to a religious ceremony at a Catholic church and participated. Isn't this something you'd want them to do? Don't you want them to come to church? I highly doubt Jesus cares how they're dressed. "Let He who is without sin cast the first stone." (If you need me to tell you where that quote is from, I think the conversation can cease here.)

The Sisters have attended many religious ceremonies at a number of different religious institutions. In the same vein as the congregants of Most Holy Redeemer, they were welcomed.

My question to Cinnamon & Co. is have you spent some time with the Sisters? Have you walked with them in the Castro and elsewhere to witness their ministry to people in need of a kind word, a hug, and a smile? Have you traveled with them as they perform a hospice visit and see the joy and comfort that they give their fellow human being, in any manner of dress, experiencing their last days? Have you witnessed the gratitude of the many volunteer charity workers who can continue to help their community with a grant from the Sisters' fund-raising?

It is somewhat ironic that the Sisters should be plagued with such easy non-Christian judgment considering their apparent lack of judgment on others.

At any rate, I look forward to seeing you at a Sister event, Cinnamon.

Monday, October 29, 2007 1:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From LavenderLoungeBlog.com:

http://www.lavenderlounge.com/blog/2007/10/bill_oreilly_threatens_sisters.html

Today's Chronicle had an opinion piece from way out in right field by someone named Cinnamon Stillwell full of faulty fact-checking. Who could take a journalist seriously with a name like Cinnamon? Isn't that why writers create pen names?

I am not going to legitimize her remarks with a grown-up response. Instead I offer a decidedly "juvenile" bit of namecalling. From here on, the esteemed journalist will be called Sister Cinnabon Shakewell.

Monday, October 29, 2007 1:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It is always so easy to sit back and place judgment on others without having truly spent some time learning their point of view."

"It is somewhat ironic that the Sisters should be plagued with such easy non-Christian judgment considering their apparent lack of judgment on others."

Its also obvious the Sisters are judging Christianity. Please drop the charade--once we stop the BS we can be honest with each other.

Practicing Christians view the Sisters entering a Church to "challenge" the congregation the same way gays would view a Christian evangelist storming into a gay bar and preaching everyone to convert and learn the way of Christ.

Both are obnoxious behaviors that treat the other group as inferior and as the enemy.

But not every Christian sitting in a church supports obnoxious evangelists. And what we could hope for is that not every gay person supports obnoxious drag queen nuns.

Because isn't that what we want in the end? To have everyone mutually respected? (Even if in the end people still disagree with each other)

IF so, lets make it happen, instead of justifying and excusing every obnoxious incident like this. Because thats the only way we'll get the tolerance we want. Thank you.

Monday, October 29, 2007 6:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Its also obvious the Sisters are judging Christianity. Please drop the charade--once we stop the BS we can be honest with each other."

How is it obvious? Once again I'd like to ask how well do you know the Sisters and their work?

"Practicing Christians view the Sisters entering a Church to "challenge" the congregation the same way gays would view a Christian evangelist storming into a gay bar and preaching everyone to convert and learn the way of Christ."

Not all practicing Christians view it that way. This practicing Christian doesn't, nor do countless others that have expressed their support for the Sisters.

Not all gays view evangelists storming into a gay bar preaching conversion as a challenge. We're dealing more with a spectrum than black and white.

"Because isn't that what we want in the end? To have everyone mutually respected? (Even if in the end people still disagree with each other)"

Indeed. The problem is the judgment that was placed on two Sisters attending mass. What you term as obnoxious I simply call two people attending mass.

How much mutual respect are you giving the Sisters?

As far as it being an incident...I believe it was Cinnamon, Bill O'Reilly, et al. hitting the press with it, not the Sisters. It's only an incident because people blew two people in flambouyant dress attending mass out of proportion.

Once again I maintain that Jesus wouldn't care about how someone was dressed. Why do you?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007 10:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, I posted a response and it didn't appear, I don't know what will show up or won't so I'll repeat:

"Not all gays view evangelists storming into a gay bar preaching conversion as a challenge. We're dealing more with a spectrum than black and white."

Its exactly the point though. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence may think going to the church is innocent and if anything will just challenge the church goers. But an evangelist may walk into a gay bar and to start conversation there about Christ, just innocently wanting to challenge these people conversationally.

But we know that some people will view the first situation as innocent, and the second one as an affront--or vice versa.

Each group has a license to view what it wants as obnoxious, its their identity and each is involved in doing their own activity. Obnoxious is not determined by argument, but perception.

Some people want to determine this uni-directionally: pamper one groups feelings, while ignoring the other groups feelings.

Tell me, please, that you don't want this uni-directional, and I won't believe that you do.

Tell me, please, that you think an evangelist can try to convert people in a gay bar, without being obnoxious, just like the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence can attend mass in a church without being obnoxious, and I won't believe otherwise.

Tell me you aren't a hypocrite, and I won't believe you are.

And if the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence repeat the same thing, I'll believe the same about them as I do about you.

Its also a fools argument to say Christians aren't supposed to judge others, as much as its a fools argument to say gays aren't supposed to judge others. The point isn't to get rid of opinions--have judgments--but act in a just and charitable way--being able to go past those judgments.

This may have been worthwhile for the Sisters to do in the 50s, but whether you agree, I think its causing more than helping problems now. Cinnamon giving her opinion, that its causing problems or is juvenile, is not out of line. O'Reilly isn't out of line either.

Anyway , there isn't much more to say . You may choose to think the response to the Sisters is the problem, or the Sisters are the problem. Or believe neither are the problem. Just don't judge people for disagreeing with you.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007 10:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Its exactly the point though. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence may think going to the church is innocent and if anything will just challenge the church goers. But an evangelist may walk into a gay bar and to start conversation there about Christ, just innocently wanting to challenge these people conversationally."

The Sisters were not there to challenge anyone as far as I can find from their statements, radio interviews, etc. They were there to meet the archbishop and to participate at mass.

That said, there are certainly ways to start a dialog about evangelist faith in a gay bar in a way that wouldn't be considered considered obnoxious or challenging. (As you've stated though, what determines the obnoxious is perception. That's my perception and feeling, others may not perceive such things the same as you or I would.)

"Each group has a license to view what it wants as obnoxious, its their identity and each is involved in doing their own activity. Obnoxious is not determined by argument, but perception."

Yes, each group does have a license to term what they feel is obnoxious. However, each group also needs to acknowledge the fact that it is their determination and not one that is universal, even among members of their own group.

"Some people want to determine this uni-directionally: pamper one groups feelings, while ignoring the other groups feelings.

Tell me, please, that you don't want this uni-directional, and I won't believe that you do."

I certainly do not want this uni-directional. I fully appreciate the value of diversity and the discussions it brings forth, such as this one.

"Tell me, please, that you think an evangelist can try to convert people in a gay bar, without being obnoxious, just like the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence can attend mass in a church without being obnoxious, and I won't believe otherwise."

I think an evangelist can try to convert people in a gay bar without being obnoxious just like the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence can attend mass in a church without being obnoxious. The rule is the evangelist must behave as the Sisters did. Participate in the same activities as the rest of the congregation and dress to impress. Considering some of the activities that can occur in a gay bar (drinking, checking out other guys, etc.)...you may be hard pressed to find an evangelist willing to take on such a task.

"Tell me you aren't a hypocrite, and I won't believe you are."

I'm not a hypocrite.

"Its also a fools argument to say Christians aren't supposed to judge others, as much as its a fools argument to say gays aren't supposed to judge others. The point isn't to get rid of opinions--have judgments--but act in a just and charitable way--being able to go past those judgments."

It's not a fool's argument. It's scripture. Further, it is a direct quote from Jesus himself. (So long as you hold the Bible to be fully accurate.)

Part of being human however is being susceptible to failure. That doesn't mean, however that we should stop our attempts to live judgment-free, whether we are gay, straight, bisexual, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist, etc. The infinite pursuit of perfection need not be abandoned.

"This may have been worthwhile for the Sisters to do in the 50s, but whether you agree, I think its causing more than helping problems now. Cinnamon giving her opinion, that its causing problems or is juvenile, is not out of line. O'Reilly isn't out of line either."

What cuts to my heart is the idea that those two Sisters, who simply participated in mass, were judged and spoken ill of due simply to their manner of dress. They stood out from the crowd. In the community I grew up in, I didn't need a feather boa or exquisite makeup to stand out. I was just built that way. People cast similar judgments on me for the way I was made. I spent decades taking an assimilationist stance believing that it was important to be the same as everyone else. It was self-destructive and wrong. I've finally broken that mental prison and am now loving myself the way God made me. These Sisters, in the same vein, were just being themselves. These Sisters were just being the way God made them, charitable, spiritual, and fabulous.

We all need to support our diversity, to "Live and Let Live", as well as the right to "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" without the oppressive nature of those who would want us all to be the same.

I thank you for making your points so politely and eloquently. I hope my rambles have also reached you in a similar manner.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007 12:42:00 PM  

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