Progressive Christian Channel
All In the Family?
What kind of political pork could they be serving at this breakfast that would cause religious leaders to get so juiced up on java and Jesus that they forget to follow the First Amendment? While we can long for that promised day when the lion lies down with the lamb, these lions of industry dine on lamb chops. In some progressives' quest to find "common ground," they seem to have fallen into quicksand. That thunderous roar you hear is Roger Williams and the Founding Fathers rolling over in their graves so fast they're liable to cause a nor'easter.
While Green appears to be genuinely horrified by the Family's involvement in atrocities happening in places like Haiti, Uganda, and Indonesia, she notes that she's learned not to draw lines in the sand, not to see the world in terms of 'us' and 'them.' "For those things, I have the Family to thank." Evangelist Tony Campolo concurs and offers this reflection on the National Prayer Breakfast, the only public event hosted by "the Family":
There is no need to get upset over the fact that a homophobic president of Uganda is as likely to be in attendance as someone like Mother Teresa. What the Fellowship tries to do is to get all of these people to take a good look at the teachings of Jesus—those words that are highlighted in red in many editions of the Bible.
Campolo notes the emergence of a new group of followers who seek to emulate "the Family":
There is an emerging group of young followers of Christ who call themselves Red Letter Christians. They are very much in line with the Fellowship in that they are trying to balance the strong emphasis that evangelicals have on the theology of St. Paul, with the lifestyle prescribed by Jesus that is found in those red letters in the Bible. I am not sure that the theology and lifestyle prescribed by the Fellowship is much different from that of Red Letter Christians.
So using this logic, one "could" conclude Campolo and his Red Letter Christians group do not have a problem with "the Family's" involvement in say promoting the recent Ugandan "Kill the Gays" bill. Perhaps a few of those who market themselves as "Red Letter Christians" will speak up and offer their insights regarding Campolo's perceptions of their group. However, I suspect that since almost all of this progressive crew failed to speak up when Sojourners rejected a gay welcome ad, that once again, they will choose the path of least resistance. In the 1960s, these evangelicals showed remarkable courage when they broke away from their more conservative brethren in the fight to end segregation. But yet they remain silent when it comes to extending the civil rights to LGBT people, not to mention their less-than-stellar record on women's rights.
Elie Wiesel, Nobel laureate, author, and activist, rebuffs those who remain silent in the face of injustice.
I swore never to be silent whenever wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must—at that moment—become the center of the universe.
Fellow Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu articulates the need to stand up for LGBT people as a matter of ordinary justice.
We struggled against apartheid in South Africa, supported by people the world over, because black people were being blamed and made to suffer for something we could do nothing about—our very skin. It is the same with sexual orientation. It is a given. I could not have fought against the discrimination of apartheid and not also fight against the discrimination that homosexuals endure, even in our churches and faith groups.
Now, can I get an "Amen"?
Portions of this article were excerpted from Jesus Died for This?
Becky Garrison's books include Jesus Died for This?: A Satirist's Search for the Risen Christ, Red and Blue God, Black and Blue Church, and Ancient Future Disciples: Meeting Jesus in Mission-Shaped Ministries (forthcoming). Her additional writing credits include work for Killing the Buddha, The Washington Post's On Faith column, the Guardian, The Revealer, and Religion Dispatches.