Seeing the Light in the Battle for LGBT Rights
I know from private conversations that some progressives feel in their heart that they want to speak out in favor of LGBT rights but they remain fearful they will lose their sacred place on the Christian author/speaker circuit, get kicked out of their pulpit, and other real concerns especially given this ongoing economic crisis. To those people, I think they may find some inspiration from some of the foot soldiers I've met in my travels. I capture some of their stories in my forthcoming book with Seabury Press. In my exploration of Episcopal Churches working in the margins, I discovered radically welcoming communities that were often led by women, with about half of these ministries led by women of color. These spaces where all could be welcomed including LGBT people, give me considerable hope that the church can remain vibrant and relevant in the 21st century if communities can learn how to live out the baptismal covenant to "welcome all" into their midst.
My hippie-dippy inner child can hear the stirrings of Bob Dylan in the background that tells me, yes, we are on the cusp of a new era with LGBT rights emerging as the civil rights issue for the 21st century. I haven't even begun to address the lack of support in too many church circles for the basic rights of the bi and trans communities, two groups often discriminated against even in gay and lesbian circles. So we're just at the beginning of what looks to be a long rainbow ride ahead.
So, in conclusion, John isn't blowing in the wind. Rather he's echoing the direction where I truly believe the spirit is blowing. Like John, I predict that within the next decade those churches that are still battling over LGBT rights will resemble those recalcitrant WWII era Japanese soldiers living amongst the mangrove trees of Lubang Island long after everyone else has accepted peace as a fact and adjusted to the new world order.
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.