A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Being Overlooked

Altoona Atheist has been highlighting a baptist pastor in Kentucky who seems to work at outdoing Fred Phelps. He's been holding mock funerals of key people he hates including Hillary Clinton.

He's recently turned his sites against a "sodomite" United Church of Christ congregation that is open and affirming because of their welcome of gay and lesbians and their work with a number of churches in supporting an AIDS ministry in this community.

The ministry is aptly called the Matthew 25 Aids Services and is sponsored by Mt. Zion UCC, the PCUSA, First United Methodist, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Community Baptist Church, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, and the Holy Name of Jesus.

I'm glad that this pastor's hate is being called out. It should be. But none of these sites seemed to noticed that in rural Kentucky there is a gay and lesbian open and affirming congregation or that so many churches were working to support an AIDS ministry.

The narrative is: look at the crazy religious bigots. And they do exist. But how easily the work of those Christians who are trying to live out a simple vision of compassion and justice are overlooked, not included in this narrative. I wonder why that is?

I suspect it's the all too human tendency to pick extremes from another group so as to energize us against them. It happens in all sides of these religious, political debates but it doesn't do much to find the common connections that can cut across these divides.


At 6:05 PM , Blogger Disgustipated said...

HTe y are extremists and give religion a bad name, I as an atheist respect the peoples right to belief but when you go out and make an ass of yourself and tape it, virtually performing inciting hatred.. that is not what peaceful religions are to promote. I appreciate your article! Fringe groups are dangerous.. look at how Scientology got so big!

At 11:25 AM , Anonymous Eli said...


You posted a very interesting piece concerning the very oxymoronic concept that a true Christian can hate anyone, especially a fellow believer. These actions can only bring a tear to God’s eye.

However, sometimes we need to look into the mirror and ask ourselves are we guilty of the same thing. How often I have read liberal blogs or taken liberal theology courses that seem to have no problem pointing accusatory fingers at Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and James Dobson. Why is our intolerance for them any different than their intolerance for gays? Because we are right and they are not (sounds familiar)? Perhaps it is because they have been in the media limelight since the moral majority days and we have allowed the media to paint Christians in the glow of the fundamentalists.

I do not condone any negativity, hatred or violence against any group, especially other Christians (as a Disciple of Christ, I believe anyone who believes Jesus is the promised Messiah is a Christian). Therefore, I think we need prayer and dialogue with such people to allow the Holy Spirit to guide them and us into God’s perfect will for God’s world.

Be a blessing…

At 2:53 PM , Anonymous Virginia said...

Eli, while I agree that we must always act in Christian charity, the idea that we should not call out people who oppress others does not sit well with me. Kindergarten teachers sometimes do the whole "both of you were fighting so both of you will be punished" thing instead of recognizing that one boy was being a bully, and it is wrong there as it is in cases as you mentioned. Our "intolerance" of those who HARM gays is not to be placed on some equal level with the actions they are doing to us. I know a pastor who I respect dearly who once suggested her church was being just and fair by placing the anti-gay contingent's table across from the glbt group's table at their annual meeting. That is not being just and fair. The glbt group is not trying to deny the other group the right to marry, the ability to adopt, the ability to be ordained, or anything else. They are just saying "we are here and we want to be welcomed." The other group, on the other hand, has hundreds of privileges over the glbt group's members and don't even acknowledge their own power as they fight to keep the glbt people from enjoying the same benefits they have. Queer folks saying "we will not tolerate your abuse of us, and we will point it out when it happens" isn't the same as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson inciting further abuse against us. That neat and pretty "everybody's at equal fault here" thing comes from a stance that ignores systems of power and oppression.

At 8:11 AM , Anonymous Eli said...

Virginia, I think you missed my point and I probably did not state it clearly. I agree that we should “call out people who oppress others” and that is not the point I am trying to make.

If individuals did not dedicate their lives to eradicating injustices, slavery would still be legal and women would still be considered chattel. I should point out that the evangelical William Wilberforce (1759-1833) was the driving force behind eradicating the slave trade in England. What rational person could question the sacrifice and contributions of Martin Luther King Jr.? Would Barak Obama or Hillary Clinton even be considered for the presidency just a few years ago without the work of many individuals (male and female; black and white) who saw injustices and sought to correct them?

My point is that through individual interactions between straights and gays and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, God can do what we cannot (although we should be God’s active agents). Trading disparaging words and insults will do nothing to eradicate the injustices to gays, women, Hispanics, African Americans, etc. The old adage, don’t hate the man, hate the actions is appropriate.

Speaking specifically to the gay issue; I am an older person who has seen considerable changes in attitudes towards gays. And yes, I know we have a long way to go. Although I live right outside a very conservative city now, I grew up in the somewhat progressive northeast. When I was in high school in the seventies, no gay person would ever come out of the closet. You would be brutalized by the “jocks” and shunned by everyone else. In my children’s generation, I see much more acceptance of an individual’s sexuality with gays and lesbians being included in high schools activities and social groups (even in this very conservative area).

A case in point: I am married to a wonderful woman who just could not accept gayness as anything but a choice and a sin. Did that make her a terrible person? Did that make her spiteful and a demon? No and trust me, we had many discussions concerning the topic. Just recently, her brother told us he was gay. My wife had denied it for many years but once he told her, she had to face the truth. I said to my wife, how would you feel if your brother went to a church and was denied the right to worship because he was gay? I can honestly say I could see the “scales fall from her eyes”. I believe God opened her heart to the truth through social interaction, not by disparaging words. She now joins me in standing up against the injustices shown to gays and lesbians.

As for the likes of Jerry Falwell, Jerry Falwell is like an embarrassing grandfather who would use the “n” word and make sexual innuendoes in front of friends. Jerry Falwell, at the end of his ministry, became more of a laughing stock than a leader. Yes, he was embarrassing and yes, he needed to be called on the carpet but he is still related (whether you want to accept it or not) through the blood of Jesus Christ.


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