Category Archives: homophobia

Jack Crum Conference on Love Our Neighbors

I came home from the Jack Crum Conference on Prophetic Ministries in Durham this evening both encouraged and discouraged. I was encouraged by the prophetic voices that spoke and encouraged us to keep on in the struggle to make the United Methodist Church live up to its motto. I was discouraged that in spite of weeks of publicity and promotion, only 63 people (not counting speakers and guests) showed up. I think it is indicative of how the progressive arm of the United Methodist Church is struggling to find traction in the recalcitrant majority of clerics who are fearful of their careers and unwilling to take risks if it involves their retirement benefits. We have a sympathetic Bishop in North Carolina who is restricted by the legal authority of her position to uphold the Book of Discipline, and who even advertised the meeting on the NC Conference web site.

The fact is the Methodists are dragging their feet on LGBT issues in comparison with the other mainline denominations that have moved on to other issues.   Some of the clergy present acknowledged that they have moved on to other denominations where they serve as ordained elders without fear of reprisal or intimidation. Such is the hypocrisy of the United Methodist Church that clergy who lie or wink can be ordained, but those who are truthful or honest cannot. That was the traditional practice 50 years ago, but it is an abomination today.

I also was struck by the fact that the majority of those in attendance at the conference were allies rather than gays or lesbians. That is only a reflection of the obvious fact we as a group have either never been a part of an organized church or have left because we were unwelcome and regarded as second-class members. The church will take our money, but we can’t serve in leadership positions or be openly recognized, particularly if it involves our spouse.

A friend and I discussed the criticism that he has received for remaining as a member of the church that is so backward in its polity.   Why doesn’t he just leave and go to another denomination that is more relevant to the needs of today’s society? It’s simple. We were born and raised Methodists, and that not only reflects our common belief, but also is the home and source of our support in spite of what the official policies of the church may be. We are in communion with others in our congregation, and that is where we feel at home.

The church is SO distracted by the issue of same-sex marriage and unthinking of the idea of evangelism to the disposed that we risk the hazard of becoming irrelevant in the face of an increasingly secularized society. Are we presumptuous to claim that (LGBT) people are the new face of the civil rights movement in America, and that it is being fought not only in the legislatures but also in the churches? I think not. Today the parallels between homophobia and racism were again brought clearly into focus. We have not resolved either issue, and it is a long road ahead that deserves our best energies and efforts.

 

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Filed under gay christians, homophobia

Religious Freedom Restoration Acts

A lot of news coverage recently has focused on discriminatory laws in Indiana and Arkansas restricting services to legally married same-sex couples and pending legislation in other states. Most reports have ignored the fact that LGBT people can be denied employment and housing in the majority of states. Gays and lesbians can be fired simply because of their sexual orientation without any protection from discrimination. Federal legislation, dubbed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), has been pending since 1993 that would add LGBT as a protected class similar to the other classes of people cited prior laws.

In common practice, fewer gays and lesbians are being fired in spite of the fact that is legal to do so because businesses and other organizations have found that to be damaging to their images if they discriminate. It’s simply bad business practice if you want to recruit and keep good employees, including many straight allies. But that doesn’t excuse the practice that still exists among some companies, and particularly churches, who still discriminate based solely on sexual orientation. Some church-related colleges recently have been in the news because of their discriminatory practices. They claim their religion protects them from claims of discrimination because of their belief that homosexuality is a mortal sin and therefore all homosexuals are unworthy of employment. Of course, some people go even further and say that all LGBT people are worthy of death, imprisonment, or at least physical and mental abuse.

In those cases where such acts of violence occur, some states are including LGBT people along with race as a categoryin their hate crimes laws. Basically those laws impose additional punishment if the motive to a crime can be proven to be the result of a person’s hate of another individual and not just a crime of passion. Such situations are very hard to prove in court and probably offer little protection or deterrence. So-called “bullying” laws against abuse of LGBT youth have been much more effective in that they impose responsibilities on teachers and administrators to act when bullying occurs rather than to ignore it.

Some would say that all this proves the point that you can’t legislate morality, and where discrimination and abuse exist in the name of religion you simply have to wait until time brings about the change in the public’s beliefs and perceptions about homosexuality. Public opinion is changing along with the laws that have decriminalized homosexuality and legalized same-sex marriage, but the radical right is still a holdout in the cultural changes of recent decades. Their hatred of Obama because of his race is re-enforced by his support of LGBT issues. The politics of fear mongering has been successful through the ages, and as long as you continue to tell the big lie it works. It only unravels when the lies are revealed. The radical right group LGBT people with Muslims and Jews and other people they hate and justify their hatred in the name of religion. Their religion, however, is the antithesis of Christianity and everything that Jesus preached. In reality what they want is a theocracy similar to Iran when the majority can impose their religious beliefs and practices on everyone so that there is no freedom of religion and the state and the church are one. Our founding fathers learned from the abuses in Europe of those practices and set America on a course to separate the two. Thus we have the hypocrisy of Religious Freedom Restoration Acts.

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Filed under homophobia, Public Policy Issues

Westover Baptist in Kansas and other freaks

The former pastor of this “church” is dead, but the legacy lingers on. I see on my Facebook and Twitter updates numerous reports of people declaring that gays should be stoned, hung, burned, or otherwise murdered. I understand that such outrageous statements are intended to appeal to their hate-filled supporters and to generate controversy in the media (doesn’t the media live on controversy?) But I say the media coverage should not be a question of presenting opposing views on the issue of homosexuality. It is clearly an effort by these radicals to intimidate and encourage violence (even murder).

The Supreme Court has stated that yelling “fire” in a theater is not protected speech, and statements deliberately intended to incite violence are not either. A single incident of homophobia may not be criminally liable or subject to prosecution, but repeated public pronouncements are criminal and should be prosecuted. Some media consider them simply laughable. They are not funny; they are serious and dangerous, and the consequences can be life threatening or worse.

The LGBT media is perhaps the worst in repeating these gross indecencies by putting them in the “isn’t it awful” category, usually with the tag line to send money to counter these pronouncements. Jesse Helms used to be our biggest fund-raiser. But the effort to achieve notoriety and media attention would dissipate quickly if these crazies were simply ignored. Without an audience, who would care what they said or wrote?

I believe in reasoned debate and acknowledge many people have opposing views on this issue and that they are entitled to express their opinions and beliefs —provided that they use language that does not incite violence. Name calling on both sides generates more heat than light, and most public debates on the issue really are not discussions. These confrontations usually end up with people only yelling at each other.

Let’s face it; this is largely a generational issue. Most young people could care less. People who are fixed in their social norms, beliefs, and cultural background are reluctant or not able to change no matter how persuasive the debate. So let’s not prolong the debate; let’s just agree to disagree. We can’t even do that in the United Methodist Church.   We’ve been haggling over it for 42 years and haven’t moved an inch. Time ultimately will resolve the issue of homophobia as socially acceptable. “Calling out” these people only provides them more noteriety, which is their primary objective.

The lunatic fringe on the right among so-called “Christians” isn’t that different than ISIS, who only claim to be God-fearing Muslims who are required to purge the world of infidels. Such people on the radical right give most Christians a bad reputation even if they don’t chop off people’s heads. But they at least indirectly incite violence and also drive people away from becoming Christians because of their climate of hate.

They deserve ignominious anonymity.

 

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Filed under homophobia