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.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Two different religious news stories have been of particular interest to me. One has been the decision by CBS and NBC to not air a tv ad by the United Church of Christ which focuses on the denomination's openness to all people, including gay and lesbians. The ad was deemed too controversial because it implied that other churches were not open and because Bush has come out against gay marriage. As Philocrites writes:

Isn't it amazing that one of the country's most venerable mainline denominations can't even buy the right to share its understanding of the Gospel? Second, it boggles the mind that the White House's grandstanding about a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage could be invoked by a TV network as a reason to exclude any advertisement that even indirectly hints that gay people are welcome to go to church.

It's odd that that a news network openly states that it takes it's orders from Bush's policy goals. This episode points to the difficulty of geting a liberal protestant view into the public arena these days. But there is something that can be done. The UCC has a helpful site which allows folks to send off letters to the respective media outlets in support of the denomination's attempt to have the ad aired.

But is it right to imply other churches are not open? Today as this issue was being debated another decision was made by a church trial in Pennsylvania where United Methodist and lesbian pastor Beth Stroud was convicted 12-1 of "engaging in practices declared by the United Methodist Church to be incompatible with Christian teachingsā€ What was this practice? Being an open lesbian in the church. And the punishment? The stripping of Stroud of her ministerial credentials.

The church is not open as a whole. Certainly not in the evangelical bodies which provided the votes for Bush and the constitutional amendments banning gay marriage. The Southern Baptists for instance, while complaining about the ad had the top three articles on their news site directed against the "homosexual agenda." And increasingly a number of mainline denominations are moving further right on this issue. The United Methodist trial and conviction of Stroud is exhibit A of the problem. It's why the UCC ad was important in its reaching out to people estranged from the church over these sort of actions.


At 5:42 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love to hear from religious liberals of any religion, but especially from those of the faith whose name we dare not speak because it has been co-opted by fundamentalists and other religious conservatives.

The popular concept of Christianity, like Islam, is unrecognizable lately. I've been told that I (a believing, observant Presbyterian)am not a CHRISTIAN and neither are Roman Catholics, or Methodists, or anyone else whose church requires their leaders to be educated, even in theology. The non-denominational churches that lead this fundamentalistic blind Bible-"interpreting" movement are into rules rather than love thy neighbor, and the rules are completely self-serving.

This has turned into a rant. I can't cover this now, so would like to simply voice my support of your position and moan as usual over the stupidity and self-aggrandizing that masquerades as Christianity.

One thing: No, two: Quotes from people who've spent their lives searching for God rather than setting rules: A well-known rabbi whose name I can't recall now (you can check my birth date for why I forgot) commented on the rule-makers who are so ready to judge (totally un-Christian activity, by the way): "God doesn't need policemen." And, a Presbyterian pastor in a California church where I worshipped: "Christ commanded us to love one another. Because "love" is an ACTION verb, we care for those around us and show our love in different ways. But how do we actively love those of God's children that we will never know, never see--but whom we are commanded to love anyway? We work for JUSTICE."

At 10:04 PM , Blogger Chesapeake Blue said...

News like this is so disheartening. As a Methodist, I wonder whether it would be better to quit the denomination altogether, although I like my church and the people in it. An article at Salon.com from last week, called Scrooge's Nightmare, cites studies showing that these prejudices are very much tied to age. If these numbers are right, the conservatives are in for a ground swell of opposition, eventually. We can hope, and speak.

A Progressive Christian

At 1:03 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry for the anonymous post, but I don't need another account on another service.

Anyway, according to the Book of Discipline, the set of rules and laws the ministers must follow, you can not ordain (or become, I assume) a "self-avowed homosexual". Of this, yes, she is guilty. The jury couldn't have chosen anything else.

Should the Book of Discipline be changed? I say a big YES!


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