Pastor Fired for LINKING to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Article

Two nights ago I got this email:

My name is [X], and I am/was a Pastor of [Super Cool-Sounding Job Title] at a church here in [Big American City]. My wife and I have both been very grateful for your blog, and it has spoken to us many times. Thank you for the work you are doing, for using your voice and following Jesus in the way that you do. Your courage has/is inspiring me.

I’d like to share with you what’s just recently happened in my life. I’ve been serving as the Pastor of [Awesome Job Title] at [Church Name] in [Big American City] for the past five years. My wife and our two boys (at the time; our fourth is due in December) moved here from [State] to join [Church], which at the time was a small church of two hundred. Now it is a thriving community of over 1500 people committed to [Slogan That Could Be Easily Googled to Identify Church].

However, four weeks ago, all that changed. Four weeks ago the discriminatory law of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was finally abolished. Even though no one in my church community was aware of my views on homosexuality (I have been intentionally tight-lipped about it, knowing how divisive that issue is), and I’ve never talked about it, I felt like it was good to celebrate the end of discrimination. So I posted a link to an article about the end of DADT on my Facebook page. I made no commentary on the article–which was not about the “issue” of homosexuality at all. [He shared the article to which he linked: written by a leading politician, it simply could not be more innocuous.--J.]

Over the next few hours, several people from my church started commenting on my wall: “How can a Christian be pro-homosexuality?” “Why is a pastor actively promoting the gay-lifestyle?” and so on. Even more people were calling/texting/emailing our lead pastor and the chair of our elder board. What resulted over the next six days was not fun.

The chair of the elder board called for an emergency board meeting to deal with me. I was summoned to the board meeting, where I was forced to give my stance on homosexuality (even though the church has no official stance on the matter, and has never before talked about the issue). And even though I reminded them that we all agree on our church’s statement of faith, ultimately, when they learned that I don’t view homosexuality as a sin, and that I would be in favor of two gay people being allowed to get married, they came to the conclusion that I was unfit to be a pastor at [Name of Church]. And within a week of posting the article on FB page, I was fired from a church I’d served faithfully and helped to build for five years.

On the topic and issue of homosexuality (a word which I’ve wearied of saying over the past month), over the past five years I have journeyed with Jesus, and undergone a shift in my beliefs about people being born gay (versus merely “choosing”), about the Father’s posture towards such people, about their inherent right to love, and the beauty in their loving, committed, monogamous relationships, etc. No longer do I believe it is a sin to be gay. And my heart and soul hurts at the rampant discrimination towards the GLBT community all around the world. I mourn that the church is not a safe place for them. I mourn that the church has chosen to alienate and in some cases attack them. I mourn that ignorance has clouded people’s judgment. I wish that people could open themselves to hear what other people are saying with regards to what the Bible says (and doesn’t say) about this issue. What science is showing us. What the GLBT themselves are saying. How being a follower of Jesus ought radically impact our posture towards the GLBT community.

Right now, three weeks after being fired, I have so many conflicting emotions. I’m devastated at being fired. I’m angry at the process by which it was done. I was just eliminated almost immediately. In the eyes of the church body and the staff I essentially just disappeared. I was there one week, and not the next. It’s made me feel like a leper, like someone who committed some heinous sin and had to be “dealt” with. I’m disappointed that the church I’d loved and served and believed in ultimately came up short. I desperately wanted [Name of Head Pastor] to stand by me, and say to the board and to the negative people in the church, “[Guy's Name] and I agree on what it means to follow Jesus. We agree on the essentials of the faith. And we have done ministry together for five years, and I want to continue to serve alongside him. We disagree on things, on non-essential elements of the faith—and you know what? That’s okay! We celebrate our unity in the faith, and we welcome different viewpoints and beliefs.”

That’s what I wanted; that’s what I hoped for.

Moving forward, I have no idea what’s next. I’m only a third done with my Master’s of Theology program at [Name of Seminary]. All our family is back in [State], and so that draws us. I don’t think I can (nor should) hide my left-leaning beliefs, and search out another church to be a pastor of. So right now my wife and I are just waiting on the King for a sense of what is next. About twenty families from [Name of Church That Just Fired Him] would like us to start our own faith community, as they are all very disenfranchised at the moment with [Church]. Not just what they did, but the statement that they have made in doing so. But [Name of Wife] and I struggle with the idea of planting a church from a situation like this—and yet the idea of planting has always been enticing to us.

Ugh! What to do!? I have wished in the past few weeks that I had someone like you in my life. A mentor, adviser … someone who could understand what I’m going through. Someone who shares some of my beliefs, and can help me sort through this mess. I’m not really asking anything from you, so please don’t feel pressured or obligated to respond. Just knowing you took the time to listen means a lot. By now, if you’ve made it all the way to the end of this email, I think you deserve a gold star. Thank you for your ministry. Your writings. Your teachings. God bless you and keep, and may God’s face ever shine upon you. Thank you, John.

So. There’s that. I’ve seen a couple of videos of this young man preaching. He’s fantastic. He’s a tall, handsome, earnest, passionate, unpretentious, articulate communicator, with clear knowledge of the Bible. I wouldn’t be surprised if his chickenshit pastor—one of those worn jeans-wearing, gelled-hair-perfectly-mussed, shirt untucked, telegenic hipster poseur pastors—let him go because he was jealous of him.

The author of this letter and I exchanged a couple of emails. I told him that twenty families is a lot; I encouraged him to consider the possibility that God arranged this so that he could start a church that is in keeping with the message Jesus came to deliver.

But we’ll see. Right now he’s leaning towards returning to his home state, where he and his wife have family and friends. And of course that makes sense.

When I asked the young man if I could share his letter here, he said sure. But he also asked me to take care to remove any identifying information within the letter. You know why? Because his church told him that if he at all spoke or wrote about what had happened, they would withhold the modest severance package they’re giving him.

They’re strong enough in their convictions to fire this pastor, but not so strong that they want anyone knowing that’s why they fired him.

Jesus must be so proud of them.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is co-founder of The NALT Christians Project and founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here). His blog is here. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Mike

    What evil bullshit.

    The couple should register at an online store so people can buy them stuff for the coming baby. We have to rally around people like this who have been tossed out.

    Thanks for sharing it.

    • Richard lubbers

      I agree! We should start a fund for pastors who are tossed out of their churches for speaking openly of their beliefs. I will have 501 (c) 3 status soon for our ministry. Let’s do it, John!

      • DR

        YES!!

      • Mindy

        I have little, but I will support this. If you make it happen, I will contribute. This is utterly inexcusable.

        Shameful bullshit, indeed.

      • http://thesewingexperiment.wordpress.com/ Sensible Seamstress

        Richard, I don’t know you or what your current ministry is, but I will support this idea of helping pastors and their families when they are thrown out of their church for the heinous crime of loving and accepting all human beings. Please have John post when you’re ready? Please find some way to let us all know how to help and participate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeff-T-Huckaby/1534787493 Jeff T Huckaby via Facebook

    It is his path to begin his own church. It is so obvious. EVERYTHING happens for a reason.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dr.ingbert Scott Cruse via Facebook

    Unfortunately, I can believe it. I’ve known a few pastors who found themselves in the same position.

  • Amanda McKittenmitten via Facebook

    it worked!

    • Roger Smith

      What …. worked … the strategy of the Latter-Day Inquisition? I guess you could say that, if that was their goal.

  • Diana Horel via Facebook

    So sad. Perhaps this young man can go home to his family to strengthen himself and then start a church if he feels so led.

  • Richard lubbers

    I believe that we need to be shaken out of churches that are unbending and unwilling to open their hearts and minds to the true message of Jesus, which is to love God and love your neighbor. Although I know it is painful to lose a job, especially in the way your writer was cast out, the up side to this is that he is now free to move on whatever God puts in his heart.

    I’m with you, John, in thinking it would be a good thing to work with those 20 families and build a vibrant, life-changing faith community. If I were anywhere near them, Tammy and I would jump in immediately.

    Tammy and I were recently called in to speak with the pastor of the small, start-up church we attended to discuss posts on our FB pages that the pastor and his daughter (the worship leader) found objectionable. He had over a page of notes! Tammy had offered to sing on the worship team, but this smug daughter of the pastor told her she had to pass a humility test first. After a month I talked with the pastor about it, and the page of notes on our FB activity was the result of that inquiry.

    Needless to say we do not attend this “house of God where His anointing brings freedom”.

    Richard

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdgalloway

      A humility test? wow!

      I am of the mind that there will be more firings, more upheavals, more of the “coming out of the closet” of ministry staff and church members who can no longer stay silent to the mindset of discrimination against people who have a different way living intimate relationships.

      The “unless” must be taken out of the equation of membership in the body of the church. We must stop turning people away who seek communion with God simply because they don’t fit into our neat little ideals.

    • http://slugcrossings.blogspot.com/ Liutgard

      A *humility* test? An audition I can see, but that is ridiculous. I think that pastor’s daughter needs a bit of humility herself! And what does your FB activity have to do with singing?

      As far as I’m concerned, someone who’s looking for fault is going to find it. Whether it is actually there or not.

    • http://supercrayons64.blogspot.com Blake

      That is so frustrating! A church checking my FB to ensure I comply with their level of group-think? Pass.

    • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

      The only appropriate response is: “Humility test?!?!? I’m ten times more humble than you are!”

      • Roger Smith

        Did you suggest to the pastor that he was already failing the Orwellian test?

      • Roger Smith

        Sorry Buzz, meant this as a reply to Richard of course.

    • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

      I’m so disgusted by this I don’t even know what to say, Richard.

  • Suz

    What Mike said. My “donations” budget is stretched mighty thin these days, but if he decides to start a new church, I WILL SEND A CHECK. It may not be much, but this is a man we should all stand behind. Please keep us posted.

  • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

    Shameful bullshit says it all. Shameful in the initial overreaction; shameful in the firing; shameful in the way the church, which so obviously beat its chest in prideful condemnation, then cravenly concealed it with severance blackmail. He’s better off not working there. This does not sound like a Christian organization.

  • Lauren

    It still manages to sicken me when I hear about things like this.

    If he wants to, starting a new church there would probably be a huge asset to the community. It was so hard for me to enjoy church for such a long time – mostly because of churches like the one that fred this man. I found the one I’m now a member of, a wonderfully affirming and loving church (that celebrates its own diversity!), and I couldn’t be happier. If there aren’t any affirming churches in the area, then I can guarantee there’s another LGBT youth like me who’s lost and unhappy in church.

    • http://supercrayons64.blogspot.com Blake

      Yep. Affirming churches are vitally important. For everyone. I believe it’s unhealthy for us to try to worship in a place where we have to hide ourselves. At least on a weekly basis. That goes for LGBT individuals as well as allies, and pretty much everyone.

      • Diana A.

        “For everyone. I believe it’s unhealthy for us to try to worship in a place where we have to hide ourselves.” In fact, having to hide one’s true self is contrary to true worship. Worship is about opening the heart–to God and to those who stand with us within God. Having to hide who you are definitely interferes with that process.

  • Tina

    I’d say unbelievable, but it really isn’t. I’m with Mike. It would be great to help these fine folks out since their church “family” seemed to leave them in a lurch over a ridiculous issue.

  • Laurie

    I’m a Presbyterian pastor in a conservative state, and one of my parishioners who works in public service asked me this week if “we” had ordained a gay pastor. I said that “we” had, and he said no wonder — his phone had been ringing off the hook. I’m not sure what this man is supposed to do about the complaints he’s received from his constituents, but they are calling him because they know he is a Presbyterian — he shares his faith — and many/most of them are not. My church secretary is thinking maybe this man won’t be re-elected here this year (and we live nowhere near Wisconsin!). He is open-minded and tolerant, but so many are not. I’m always suprised at how many want to focus on negativity and exclusion — especially in a situation that doesn’t directly affect them. Will be in prayer for this family, as well as the “family of God” that pushed them away.

  • Paula

    Whether or not he starts a new church, can we send a check somewhere — to you John, will you forward it? Or gift cards, or something.

    The part I find most damning — the requirement that he keep quiet about this. I mean, if the church feels like it is doing the right thing in censoring “heresy” then they should be glad to have that be public. This is “make-the-problem-go-away, but don’t let US suffer the consequences for our beliefs.” (ie, a ticked-off, bewildered congregation– distracted by this, say, in the middle of pledge season.) Perhaps they are worried about a new church starting when more than 20 families become upset. Say what you will about mainline churches, but most of them have a process — you don’t get to do these things under a cloud of secrecy. Gotta say, I wonder about how well that will go — anyone who saw the facebook post — is the leadership going to lie when asked outright what happened? Secrecy is rarely a good plan. And how exactly is he supposed to carry his own story, when he runs into someone in the grocery store. “Yeah, I just felt God was calling me to explore new opportunties. . . (a few months before my fourth child is born.) ” Right.

    Generally, I am not so excited about taking our marbles and starting a new congregation. But this is a tough case. I will pray for their discernment.

    God bless this little family, and keep them. Keep them from soul-robbing bitterness, open a way, bring life out of this situation. Amen.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Yes, Paula, thank you for this idea. I’ll go put a note at the end of the piece about how if anyone sends me anything for this young man and his family, I’ll certainly forward it to them.

  • http://www.thefirst10000.com Paul

    John, I think your new friend who’s “waiting on the King for a sense of what is next” has already gotten a glimpse of it from the other families who’d like him to seed a new faith community. Ditto what the others have said about donations. And speaking of donations, I’d love to know the denomination of the church, since they wouldn’t be getting any of mine anymore…

    And “humility test”? What kind of spiritual McCarthyism is this bullshit? It’s sad how every time society takes one lurching, faltering step forward, churches panic and take two huge strides backward.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Randy-Pyles/1159190419 Randy Pyles via Facebook

    John Shore and the pastor that was fired are heroes and inspire me.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com/ Ric Booth

    It is sad how we’ve rewritten the bible.

    We are all one in our condemnation of homosexuals.

    You will know my disciples by their condemnation of homosexuals.

    For God so loved 95% of the world …

    Dear Recently Displaced Pastor,

    Thank you for your courage and you witness. You are a hero to many more than the 20 families who’ve come alongside you.

    ps. I’ve seen this gag order severance twice before. It is an ineffective way to conceal the sin of the incompetent.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdgalloway

      He could get his severance package and then say, ok guys and gals. I was fired and here’s why. Here’s what I believe and why. What is that church gonna do then?

      Of course that may not be the best path for this man, but it sure fits the “neener neener” satisfaction quota.

  • Jane

    I’m not a Christian myself (got pointed here by a Facebook acquaintance sharing it), and this sort of attitude by the organised religions of the world is one of the main reasons why. Yes, I would like to send something to help someone who sounds like he’s actually trying to live up to the original, 2000-years-out-of-date principles of what was once a pretty good religion, but sending a cheque by snail-mail probably wouldn’t help anyone but the banks. Got a Paypal account?

  • Susan

    Great idea, Richard!

    I know only God is wise enough to know what should happen.

    But I admit that my prayers are on the side of “accept those 20 families and start a big, brilliant, glowing church who accepts All God’s children.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/john10423 John Gragson via Facebook

    he might be eligible for unemployment compensation (though some states exempt religious employers)… clearly no “job-related misconduct”

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdgalloway

      That’s actually an excellent idea. Hope his state allows it.

  • http://www.djfree.blogspot.com/ DJ

    This is absolutely atrocious. It’s getting to the point where even if you merely support someone who supports someone who supports Teh Gays, then you’re a hell-bound heathen.

    I wish this pastor was in the DC area, because I’d meet up with him, encourage him to finish that degree, and start that church with that family of 20! Plus, we’d enjoy some really great beer :)

  • DR

    I want to support this family financially. *This* is where our dollars should be going. Let us help him, it’s fine to do so anonymously through you.

    This honestly makes me feel sick inside. Sick.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anita-Baker-Gillette/100000188333213 Anita Baker Gillette via Facebook

    Leviticus 18:22 “‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable. In the same book is also found 17:13 “‘Any Israelite or any foreigner residing among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth, 14 because the life of every creature is its blood. That is why I have said to the Israelites, “You must not eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood; anyone who eats it must be cut off.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anita-Baker-Gillette/100000188333213 Anita Baker Gillette via Facebook

    So if anyone eats a rare steak we are to cut them off as far as is stated here. Do we do that? No. It may be wrong in the eyes of God but then we have a Savior to cover us.

  • Sonja

    Incredibly sad, frustrating and frightening.

  • http://richardtgarner.com Rick Garner

    Sadly, this is another example of reacting to the wrong issue. Instead of agreeing to disagree or even trying to have a dialog about the issue, this pastor was wounded by his leaders.

    Thus no wonder this is a decisive issue because we act like school ground bullies when people don’t share our opinions.

  • Diane Re via Facebook

    I want to provide my financial support to this man. I also want to challenge everyone here who is tithing or giving money to a church that you love but still supports the anti-homosexuality beliefs to consider taking part of your tithe and donating to this family. It’s time to pick a lane, don’t be here cheering on John while at the same time, giving money to a church that would fire a pastor like this. Let’s start voting with our dollars.

  • Jackie Swarts

    I find that this is so typical, when a friend of mine told her mother she is gay she was damned straight to hell, at the same time another family member was conducting a extra marital affair with a guy that was not even divorced as yet………………….. When questioned about that situation she was told “well at least it is a man”. So in the eyes of the mother it was okay for the one daughter to be having a extra marital affair with a guy that is still married. But the fact that the other daughter is gay was not okay!!!

  • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

    A church my family belonged to lost an extremely effective youth pastor b/c somebody in the denomination’s hierarchy couldn’t accept a gay man living a DADT life being a minister. The local church’s youth program took a big hit which contributed to a big nose dive in membership, which in turn contributed to the denomination’s overall decline. But they’re doctrinally “pure” now…

  • Matt Algren via Facebook

    Don’t forget the railing around the roof of your house. That’s required too.

  • Val P.

    How sad. I participate in a church music program that has a gay music director, his partner of 20+ years also participates and not only has a wonderful voice that he uses to glorify God, but he is a warm and wonderful human being that I love dearly. I can’t help but think this young pastor and his children are better off without that church. The children especially – I was raised in a punitive church that caused me a great deal of pain and left scars that took me years to overcome. I did not enter a church again until I was 40. This may be a blessing in disguise. I too will be glad to send a donation.

  • Nita Hardgrove Kellum via Facebook

    You should set up a paypal account so people can donate to him.

  • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

    John, thanks for posting a place to send some support. I’m sure this is devastating for him and for his wife. I pray that he receives all the support he and his family need in this time of transition and change. As to the church that fired him, its not surprising, its not fair, and sadly I know that I will likely never in my lifetime see the end of such bastions of hypocrisy.

  • http://strangebride.wordpress.com Strangebride

    I vacillate.

    I belonged to a huge church, was a staff member, and there was some viscous infighting which led to a break away church. That church still has not thrived. The head pastor works at a bank and leads the church on Sundays, the second pastor teaches and tutors again…it has not been healthy. That said, this seems like a different situation.

    I think he needs to speak in earnest to those 20 families, see if they are truly committed, but if he decides to go through with that, he needs to plant the church FAR from the hge church he just left, or he will deal with some shit and those bastards will go after him with both barrels.

    I think he can’t make a wrong decision, and starting a church is hard, but it is time that we had more LBGT inclusive churches than churches just for the LBGT community and churches for everyone else. That divides the body of Christ, and we are stronger together.

    • Diana A.

      “I think he can’t make a wrong decision, and starting a church is hard, but it is time that we had more LBGT inclusive churches than churches just for the LBGT community and churches for everyone else. That divides the body of Christ, and we are stronger together.”

      I agree!

  • Gina

    As a pastor’s wife I know the quandary presented by FB. I refuse to open my FB to any of our current church members mainly because I’m left leaning in nearly all political arenas and “liberal” in my theology. It feels almost schizophrenic at times to keep my beliefs private although when presented with an opportunity to share them in conversation I rarely back down so I’m not hiding them entirely. But I wait until I’m in relationship with these members and can have face to face discussions. I feel for this pastor deeply especially when one considers that 5 years is certainly long enough to have deep, sincere relationships with his members but FB can be a cowardly place full of bravado and judgment. I am reminded of Paul and his instruction to not cause the weaker in the faith to stumble and so I wade carefully & slowly into those controversial topics. What I have found is that there are people who agree with me on homosexuality and social justice and abortion but they have kept quiet also probably out of fear of rejection and when we can discuss such topics face to face in friendship and love we find ourselves bound together in community and acceptance. My advice to all pastors especially liberal ones is to have a very private FB page w/o current church members and deal with such topics courageously face to face in discussions, conversations, and bible studies. That being said, I believe he should take those 20 families (and there will be more) and start a new faith community. There is an entire population out there that needs to hear the message he has to tell and to have a safe place in which to hear it free from hate, fear, and condemnation.

  • http://www.rspc.org Karen Allamon

    Thanking God for John Shore – who makes me laugh in the most trying of times – and for the courage of the Young Pastor and his family. Some have greatness thrust upon ‘em. It’s not fun – but out of the frying pan and into the fire of the Spirit and a new community of love. Blessings, Prayers, and my money where my mouth is – a check on the way.

  • http://www.EnriqueMolina.org Enrique Molina

    I am gay, and I served in the Army under DADT, in the Chaplain Corp at that. I always found the law very backwards. Even more backwards are people like the head pastor who fired this man. It’s easy to condemn gay people when your not gay, just as it was easy for Europeans to condemn and enslave the “African heathens” because they were not white. At a time when organizations like the so-called “American Family Assoc.” are spewing out vitriol like an active volcano, it is imperative for us all to call them out and get vocal in our support for the LGBT community. Furthermore, I hope that the young pastor who was fired will rear his children to be tolerant adults to replace the intolerant ones of today.

  • mike moore

    here’s one idea:

    I just linked John’s post to an e-mail and sent it out to my “ecclesiastical” friends and acquaintances. ( as I say to them, this list turned out to be disturbingly short )

    perhaps if others were to do the same, this Pastor might find one or more opportunities are open to him. You know, a “6 degrees of Kevin Bacon / John Shore” kind of thing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kathryn-Robertson-Campbell/100000720091776 Kathryn Robertson Campbell via Facebook

    Shared. One of the saddest things I have read in a long, long time.

  • A’isha

    Pastor X- I hope you get the chance to read the comments from people here. As a lesbian Christian, I get almost teary-eyed every time I hear about someone like you standing strong. It gives me hope that there truly are straight, Christian allies out there. What the church did to you is horrendous. You weren’t even being highly political. Posting a link to an innocuous article. It would have been so easy for you to toe the line when confronted and say the same old stuff many Christians say–”It’s a sin to be gay but we still have to love them….blah blah blah.” But you stood strong. You spoke honestly. You followed your heart. You followed Jesus. And you were fired for it. The only wrong thing in any of those is the firing.

    Just from your letter I’d say it’s time to plant a church! You said you’ve always been intrigued by the idea. Maybe this is God’s way of pushing you to acting on that. Just my 2 cents. I know that a lot of other factors go into the decision.

    Blessings to you and your family and know that my prayers are with you.

  • Kimberly Moser Musci Phillips via Facebook

    When a keeping a church’s dirty secret is the price for your severance, you just KNOW where the problem lies.

  • Christy

    And we wonder where parents get the idea of throwing out their children….

    May God forgive the sins of the Church and continue to embolden brave souls who are willing to follow Him, even into uncomfortable territory for the sake of Justice and Righteousness and Truth. Blessings to this young minister and his continued faithful service.

    Thank you, John, for posting this and for a place to send assistance.

  • http://www.facebook.com/donaldhildenbrand Don Hildenbrand via Facebook

    This post illustrates why I no longer pastor in “traditional” churches. I’d probably get fired every five minutes.

  • soulfuljourney

    sadly steps like this are part of change for so many gay people and clearly for some gay supporters. to be where one is called to be and offer what one is called to offer one may take criticism and have issues as people work out their demons, but then people see such things and question sometimes days, weeks and months later. as their kids come out further, as their parents come out, as they seek options, we need leaders offering religion and spirituality in gay friendly ways. straight people need it and gay people need it.

    as the adage goes ‘make lemon out of lemonade’ and beautiful things grow in cow dung. there is the myth/metaphor of the phoenix rising from the ashes. often things start on a foundation that has been burned to the ground. of course one may want to take time and space to contemplate the journey ahead. as a gay person among a religious conservative community, i find that where we are planted and inspired to plant and be planted can often be surprising and yet a lot of grace can come through. but healthy amounts of self preservation can be wise along the way.

    i have found for myself that often my greatest work is behind the scenes which is often what i am called to. a friendship here. a conversation there. a rare visit to church where some know me and perhaps most do not. full exposure is not something that i do well with because then i am more prone to community dogmatism which can be frustrating. there is a lot around all this to be worked out.

    i would say be where one is inspired to be and do what one is inspired to do when one is inspired to do it. a flower grows often through rocks and weeds. but sometimes the best answer is to look for fertile ground. mentors often show up when we are ready for them and likely they will show up for this man now as he is seeking them. there is a famous saying in the east ‘when the student is ready the teacher appears’. of course there is the standard Christian ‘seek and ye shall find’ and the gnostic addition to that ‘and when ye find it shall disturb you.’ (from gospel of thomas).

    and then the famous rilke quote ‘live the questions… and maybe someday you will live your way into the answers.’

    if our culture is to evolve we need our spiritual leaders and our guides, but sometimes that path takes years to unfold. a friend in the community recently closed down a business that was aimed at offering consciousness in the community. she has not immediately reopened, but has taken time to soul search. however, those of us who were part of the group that split away from another group continued to stay in relationship and share and some of us formed deep friendships that continue to be foundations for evolving ideas even though we are going different directions.

    all the best to those living the questions.

  • http://thesewingexperiment.wordpress.com/ Sensible Seamstress

    I have read some sad things about Christianity on the Internet, but this pastor’s letter takes the cake.

    I speak to this pastor as someone who grew up ultra-conservative, who thought everyone not like me was going to hell, and who had no rational understanding of the Bible or the Christian faith, but allowed it to be spoon-fed to me by hate-mongers: Please start a new church.

    Because the person I was, as well as the person I am now, needed/needs a pastor like you. And there just aren’t enough of you out there. Start the church in the city that is best for your family – because it’s important that you get the support you need right now – but advertise to the world what you stand for, and you will most likely be blown away by the flock that shows up at your door. I predict you will be amazed by what your church will accomplish in the decades ahead. Matthew 5:14 comes to mind.

    I am so sorry for what happened to you. Know that many of us support you completely, and are impressed by your courage. I wish you were coming to my city.

  • http://www.canyonwalkerconnections.com Kathy Baldock

    Hey Pastor-way-better-off-in-the -end, If you feel comfortable contacting me with the pastor’s name and church, this is a conversation I am comfortable with and good at. Ask John.

    I contact pastors quite a bit. Some listen, some don’t, but I always get some level of input and then they have my name for the future. I blog at canyonwalkerconnections.com. Kathy

  • Rev. James J. Olson

    Plant the church. You’ve helped a church grow and thrive before, you can do it again. Use all the techniques you’ve learned in the past five years…and do it with a liberal, progressive theology.

  • Sandbur

    You and your family are better off without them. They are in no way Christian let alone being religious by any stretch of the imagination. Put the Fundamentalists behind you and seek in moderate or progressive congregations; they will be proud to have you.

  • Ric Peavy

    “‘They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God. And they will do this because they have not known the Father or me. ‘” -John 16:2,3

    Right-wing fundamentalist psychos aren’t the only people who can thump Bible. :-)

    • Melody

      BOOM! This hit the nail on the head.

      I also think Matt. 25 applies, considering he’s now jobless because they don’t think he deserves it, and because they refuse to help QUILTBAG people.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kirk-Saint-James/14203191 Kirk Saint James via Facebook

    How heartwrenching. I hope he starts his own fellowship

  • Julie

    It is tragic that I am not surprised by this. I pray this young pastor clings to Romans 8:28 and trust that God can and will bring good out of this evil for him, his family and for everyone he influences in the years to come. I also pray for this church to see its own evil and repent of it.

  • Jordan

    Someone help me out here, I am a Christian (I claim no denomination) and it seems to me that the Bible both old and new testaments have a pretty seemingly clear stance on what is deemed sexually acceptable in the eyes of God and what is not (keep in mind I am still a virgin and have not participated in either sodomy or vaginal intercourse, and yes I am a 21 y/o male, and yes I am what most females would deem as handsome. I just don’t mess around because I feel I haven’t found a woman worth the energy lol) .. Now I’m not looking to start an argument of any kind, I just want some clarity, I just want to know as far as the Bible (not anyone’s interpretation, personal theology, or anything related to that sort.) is concerned… is homosexuality deemed sinful or not sinful? Also keep in mind I find adultery, polygamy, bestiality, child molestation, rape, divorce (unless by necessary means) and promiscuity just as repulsive as I find homosexuality, bisexuality, open relationships, swingers couples, and transvestism…. among hundreds of other things not related to human sexuality.

    • http://thesewingexperiment.wordpress.com/ Sensible Seamstress
    • Thomas

      [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

    • Thomas

      [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

    • Diana A.

      So now you’ve got links in support of those who believe that homosexuality is not a sin (Sensible Seamstress’s link) and those who do (Thomas’s links.) Which brings me around to a question: what is it about this issue that concerns you? You’ve stated that you “…find adultery, polygamy, bestiality, child molestation, rape, divorce (unless by necessary means) and promiscuity just as repulsive as I find homosexuality, bisexuality, open relationships, swingers couples, and transvestism…. among hundreds of other things not related to human sexuality.” So apparently you are not interested yourself in having a homosexual relationship, correct? So, are you interested in this subject because you seek to support a loved one who is homosexual? Or, are you looking for an excuse to judge your neighbor? I’m sorry to be so blunt, but as I’ve stated elsewhere, it seems as though too many of those Christians who insist upon regarding homosexuality as a sin, do so solely because they need a reason to lord it over someone else. In other words, they’re acting like Pharisees. This, in and of itself, is a sin.

      Eyes on your own paper. Trust me, you have more than enough sins of your own to worry about without worrying about those of another. It’s that simple.

    • Melody

      Jordan, you’re about where I was at your age (except on divorce; that isn’t as black and white as you seem to imply). I believed the Bible was clear on the morality of homosexuality. At the time, however, I wasn’t as familiar with the original Greek of the New Testament as I am now. I also didn’t know, until quite recently, that the term “homosexuality” wasn’t coined until the time of Freud and his theories on human sexuality. This was around the turn of the 20th century, and therefore a very recent development. And the original Greek isn’t very clear on the term that appears in many of our modern English translations. So essentially, the translators of these versions of the Bible are reading their own interpretations into the text: what they THINK Paul meant, based on their preferred theology and views of sexuality. But even if you only read the English in the oft-quoted Romans 1 passage, it’s easy to interpret as suggesting that naturally heterosexual people defied their inborn desires.

      I was troubled that you said you find homosexuality as repulsive as pedophilia, rape, and worse, bestiality. But again, when I was 21, I too had the misguided notions that gay people were predisposed to pedophilia, and that gay people shouldn’t teach in high school or below. As it turns out, the majority of pedophiles are heterosexual. And bestial relations aren’t even remotely in the same category as homosexuality. No need to discuss why. The point here is that gay people are in consensual relationships, and the vast majority aren’t pedophiles. Pedophilia is wrong, no matter your orientation, because you’re manipulating a child who is too young to understand and physically handle sex, againt their will. I should also add that if you’re repulsed by certain sex activities normally associated with gay couples (read: anal sex), there are many gay people who don’t engage in these acts, and many straight people who do. So as long as they take precautions, it’s really just a matter of preference.

      You may have seen that I’ve responded passionately and rather harshly to some on here whose comments I find offensive (and in many cases, just asinine), but that I’ve been more civil and rational with you. That’s because I was like you in my early 20s, and I wanted people to be patient with me in debating. I also appreciate the fact that you’re willing to ask questions, because you’re willing to learn and gradually become more open-minded.

  • Pam

    This article brought me to tears on many levels. I feel fortunate to have attended a number of churches where the pastors and congregations were clearly supportive and welcoming of all! I love that my current place of worship not only supports the GLBTQ community but is talking about actively expanding membership efforts to this group. I am heartened everytime our pastor or a member of the congregation uses the word “gay” in an accepting and non-judgemental way. I love that our pastor posts things on his website that advocate love to all…including homosexuals! (I expect to see this link there!) I love knowing that my sexual orientation isn’t an issue when I’m among my church family.

    I hope this amazing man will follow his heart and be called to lead a group who care for all of God’s people. Perhaps, he already has!

  • http://www.facebook.com/dkwells Diana Wells Miller via Facebook

    I would love to see him start a church with a special outreach to the LGBT community.

  • http://Desertpetrichor.blogspot.com Clara English

    Spiritual abuse at its finest. I suggest this dear pastor read VanVonderen’s “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse” for some help and healing.

    And no wonder the GLBT community wants nothing to do with Christ. For shame.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nwbuckeye Pat Hux via Facebook

    I think the church suspected the pastor’s left leanings and used FB link as an excuse to kick him out……!

    • Diana A.

      That wouldn’t surprise me.

  • Lloyd Peacock

    Dear Pastor, there are countless stories that are similar to yours. I think of two, both who were friends. One being the late Sylvia Pennington, who wrote the book; “But Lord The’re Gay.” Sylvia was a straight pastor who was sent by her denomination to San Francisco, to save the gays. Instead God used her to become one of our strongest advocates and supporters. The other was a dear friend; Frank Shears. Frank was the leader of a large ex-gay ministry in Vancouver, Canada. However he fell from grace and had a relationship with another male. He confided in a board member and friend from his church, and of course his friend reported the news to the pastor.

    Frank was called before the full congregation to repent, his wife and children were sitting in the congregation. He was removed immediately from his ministry and given an hour to clean out his desk and leave the church. No severance package, or reference. But God used Frank in a mighty way within the LGBT community until the day he died. There are many others that God is using, Evelyn and Dennis Schave, Kathy Baldock, Carol Boltz, etc. God works best within us when we are at our weakest. He has a plan for you pastor, be obedient to His leading.

  • Michael C

    Pastor [X], Something motivated you to post the article on FaceBook. The reasons behind that have lead you to the place you are today. I encourage you to place trust in what has brought you here.

  • http://thegayvegans.com Dan Hanley

    Thanks so much for sharing this email. As a lover of Jesus married to a man, we deal with this kind of bigotry all the time. I feel for this guy and his family, and am sending them all a ton of my love.

  • John Williams

    Pastor: Contact your local UCC and MCC churches–get the low-down on your local community and its needs from these progressive churches. And then either plant a congregation or join with one of these bodies in their ministries. You would be welcomed with open arms by either one, I am sure!! God bless you and your family. Keep John 16:2-3 and Romans 8:28 in mind and MOVE FORWARD. You obviously have a great deal to offer! And best of all, you have God on your side. Don’t look back…ever!

  • Brian

    Pastor X, you are a leader, and one with passion. Wherever God takes you, realize that you start the current and get others to jump in to follow. God gives us the desires of our heart, and plants gifts, talents, skills, and abilities to accomplish His will—which when we walk in tandem with Him, our desires and His desires are the same & the fullness of His will is accomplished. I will pray for you that you will earnestly seek His face and direction. I know it’s hard being away from friends and family…we moved 1600 miles away from everyone we knew b/c our lives/God told us to. It’s been the hardest and best thing for us. Not that it has to be the case for you, I just wanted to let you know that there are people out there who do it, and who can support you. There’s a fire in you. Fan it and make it grow wherever you go. Blessings to you, and thank you for sharing. (thanks too John)

  • Gretchen

    I seem to come down in the middle on this issue, although as compared to the lionshare of “Christians” I lean more left than right. Unlike the pastor in this email, I do see homosexuality as a sin (don’t get mad, let me explain) but I see it as ONLY a sin. Being fat (and I am!) is a sin because you’re not taking care of the “temple.” Women: wearing a shirt that shows any cleavage could “make your brother stumble” and is a sin. Taking the Lord’s name in vain is a sin… Why did I use these specific examples? Because I personally am guilty of all of them! The fact is this: judgement of sin lies in the hands of the Father. What’s His verdict? For anyone in Christ, NOT GUILTY because of the blood of Christ! We must understand that when God looks at us, He’s looking at us through glasses with lenses made up of Jesus’ blood. He doesn’t see any of our sin! Our job is to seek to see others the same way: in love, perfect and blameless. The biggest tool Satan uses is guilt because of sin consciousness. We are perfect and blameless in the eyes of the Lord, let’s see each other the same way!!!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore
    • Suzy

      When you are speaking of sins, you are speaking of things that a person CHOOSES, and makes sinful choices. There is no reason to think that our sexual orientation is a choice. If for some reason you think that it is, perhaps you would like to share your experience in weighing things out and deciding which sexual orientation you would end up choosing. I’m thinking that you would answer that you never actually made any decision about it, that you just knew over time that you are heterosexual or homosexual. NO choice about it.

    • http://thaliasmusingsnovels.wordpress.com/ Lore

      “Women: wearing a shirt that shows any cleavage could “make your brother stumble” and is a sin.”

      Where does the Bible say this? Jesus placed the responsibility on the man lusting, not the woman he was lusting after.

      • http://thesewingexperiment.wordpress.com/ Sensible Seamstress

        Hadn’t you heard? It’s always the woman’s fault. Damn that crazy Eve.

      • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

        You’re right it is man’s fault for lusting, but the Bible does say that woman (and men for that matter) should dress modestly (obviously open to interpretation of what “modest” is).

        • http://thaliasmusingsnovels.wordpress.com/ Lore

          But the Bible doesn’t define modesty as showing no cleavage, nor does it say that the reason for dressing modestly is to prevent others from stumbling. Everything is someone’s fetish. I was about to say that the only way to completely avoid “causing someone to stumble” is to turn oneself invisible, but that’s probably a thing, too. lol

    • http://www.barnmaven.com Mary @Barnmaven.com

      Being gay is not an action, Gretchen it is the way people are born. You can’t equate the two. One is an action, one is the way a person was made. Sin is a verb. Gay is a noun. A person’s existence is not and cannot be a sin.

      • Diana A.

        I love this! Thank you.

      • Thomas

        [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

        • DR

          The difference here is that addiction has only one road which is to physical, emotional and spiritual destruction. Being gay leads to love, to relationships and often, to stable families with kids. Gay people who become Christians don’t lose their desire for being gay. Addicts lose their desire for their addiction. You may not want to believe that, but there are thousands of people who’ve testified on this site and elsewhere that this is there experience as a gay christian. They get the last word – not you.

          • Thomas

            [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            Thomas,

            I used to believe that, but I beg to differ. A gay person, like DR said can live a perfectly happy life and they also can live a life of destruction, but to say that is the ONLY road – just ain’t so. Anyone can go down Destruction Road, gay and straight alike.

          • Thomas

            Brian there are many atheists who would say they live a happy life but if you believe in Christ you know there is a better life. What we perceive to be “happy” does not make it so.

          • DR

            Are you suggesting that one cannot be gay and Christian at the same time?

          • Thomas

            [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

          • A’isha

            Thomas, you speak more truth about addiction. But what you say regarding homosexuality is just a bunch of hooey. (Yeah, I used the word hooey! :) )

            The physical, emotional, and spiritual destruction you say homosexuality leads to just isn’t true. Like with heterosexuality, probably if you screw around with everyone you meet, having random sex, dangerous sex, etc. your life probably won’t be that good. But the sin isn’t in the sexuality, it’s in acting it out inappropriately.

            DR is right. You don’t get the last word here. Those of us who are gay do. We who live moral, Christ-like lives and follow God but who also happen to be L,G,B, or T are the ones who get to say what our experiences are. The only emotional destruction I’ve ever faced from being gay is having people bully me, having people lie to me that God hated me, having so-called Christians judge me and call me an abomination. That’s what’s destructive–hate and bigotry.

          • Thomas

            Actually none of us get the last word. God does.

          • Diana A.

            And God is love.

            By the way, why are you concentrating so hard on the “sins” of others? Have you no sins of your own to work on?

          • Thomas

            Plenty but I am not so foolish/arrogant/selfish to try and say they are not sins and embrace them.

          • DR

            Thomas, here’s the facts. Gay men and women are thriving in long-term monogamous relationships. The GILT community tends to elevate neighborhoods where they live, they pay taxes and they are often some of the higher-income producing members of our country. They are generally very well-educated and those in partnerships often adopt the “throwaway” babies that Christians won’t come near, the Christians who instead spend thousands of dollars on artificial insemination so we can bear our own children.

            Yours is a dying opinion so it really doesn’t matter anymore, it’s fading rapidly and will be just a really horrible memory in our Church in a decade or so. Maybe sooner. Christians between the age of 18-26 already think it’s an embarrassment. Even Focus on the Family’s conceded they’ve gotten this one wrong. So you know – have your opinions, who cares. Thankfully the church is waking up to the damage your opinions do, the lies you spread calling it “Scriptural truth” and taking responsibility for the damage we’ve done in the name of Jesus to this community. Praise God!

          • Diana A.

            But you are foolish, arrogant, and selfish enough to believe that your sins pale in comparison to the “sin” of homosexuality, and to thus concentrate all your energy on removing the specks in other people’s eyes rather than the plank that is sticking out of your own.

            God does not need you to police gay people or others whom you regard as sinners. God is more than capable of policing his own people. As I said to someone else (and to mix my metaphors), eyes on your own paper.

          • Thomas

            [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

          • DR

            That’s right. And gay men and women who hear His voice know the Truth about who they are. :) You don’t have the last word on what God says about them, dear. That’s the point. You think you do – you need to have it – I know. But that’s way more about your need for total control than anything else.

          • DR

            Good Lord. You’re completely missing the point. Addiction leads to *destructive* patterns and destructive behavior. Death being the ultimate outcome. Being gay leads to people who fall in love and more often than not, end up in committed partnerships and marriage. They adopt kids or have them on their own. Being gay doesn’t destroy anyone.

    • DR

      Being fat because you have a hormonal issue that keeps you from being thin is not a sin. Which is exactly what being “gay” is, it is hard-wired into the brain and the heart and the soul. You need to educate yourself on what being gay is – you can choose to lose weight (assuming you don’t have a physical condition as I mentioned that makes that impossible). People can’t *choose* being gay or not. You’re wrong here and it’s important that we correct inaccurate stuff like this, I hope that’s ok.

      • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

        DR,

        I have been slowly “coming out” about my beliefs to some close Christian friends and what seems to be the real sticking point with conservatives is not whether a person is born gay – therefore being gay is not a sin – but that homosexual behavior is a sin. It is not the person, it is their behavior that is the problem.

        Like a friend said when we were discussing homosexuality, “Suppose a person is born a “nymphomaniac”, being nympho is not a sin, it is nymphomaniac behavior that is biblically forbidden (sex outside of marriage and/or fornication). They have a choice to act on these “genetic” desires or to abstain as any unmarried heterosexual should abstain”

        I think this is probably how must conservatives believe, being gay is not a sin (since they had no choice, being born gay) it is the behavior (the choice to partake in same gender sex or to abstain) that causes it to be sin.

        I think they’re wrong, but that’s how many believe I’m afraid.

        • Diana A.

          I’m not DR (obviously) but I’ve heard that same argument. But this is where I find myself asking why we as Christians are so concerned about the “sins” of others, rather than about our own. For me to even notice how another person sins (assuming that person is really sinning) would seem to imply that I think I have no sins of my own to worry about. Of course, we do notice one another’s sins and even call each other on them on occasion. But what bothers me about heterosexuals calling homosexuality (or “homosexual acts”) a sin is how convenient it is for us to call that a sin. “Aw darn. I can’t have sex with women. How devastating for me as a heterosexual.” Right? Then I have the nerve to turn to a homosexual woman and say “Well just abstain, dear. Afterall, it’s no worse than me only being allowed to have sex with my husband.” Really? How easy it is for me to make up rules for other people to follow when those rules don’t affect me at all.

          Do you see what I’m getting at?

          • Brian W

            Yes I see your point perfectly. When I hear Christians make their self-righteous and hurtful comments about homosexuals, I always tell them to worry about the beam in their eye, than pointing out the sliver in someone else’s eye and he who is without sin,let him cast the first stone. Usually shuts them up.

        • DR

          Yep, totally get it. I was there myself!

  • cathy

    Find a more liberal church… I will pray that God has done this so that you find a more fitting calling with in the church body.

    Great article and thank you for sharing.

  • Russell Mark

    Personally I think the SOBs should be sued – not because they don’t have a right to have a minister that reflects their own theology (as neolithic as it may be) – they do. But labor laws have been broken here. He was fired not for “doing” anything inconsistent with his job, or even “saying” something untenable. He was fired because he dared “THINK” something that upset some members of the church. He was an employee protected to a large degree under Federal labor laws and the laws of his state. Yes, I know its a church and that’s a bit different, but his former employer has broken the law. Let’s add that to the list of ethical, moral and spiritual grievences of this crappy communion. Yes, John you are correct – their head pastor (and I use that term very loosely) is a chicken shit. So, my vote is to get an attorney and hit them in their “Blessed – ass- urance” of a pocket book and let the media know why. Nice people have a right to not be door mats. I am so sick and tired of people in the name of Jesus doing really really mean spirited and crappy things and then getting away with it, because good people don’t want to make waves. This lovely man needs to protect his family – and they broke the law – it really comes down to that in my book. I’m so pissed! Thanks for letting me vent.

    • Russell Mark

      Now that I’ve composed myself a bit, I do think this fine man needs to pick up the pearls he’s dropped and find a church family that will nurture him and his family through this tragedy – for it is one on soooo many levels. I hope he will also find that place that will strengthen his resolve to fight against the pervasive fear and politicization that has infected so many churches by using the truth and power of God’s grace to rebuild our family of faith. I pray that he will finish his studies and gain the credentials he needs and to use those skills and knowledge to empower those around him. I also pray that the former church he served awakens to the horrendous thing they have done – urinating on the Cross couldn’t be much worse. May God’s grace teach and embolden all of us through this heartbreak.

      • Christelle

        Tis true what you say. Unfortunately, churches like this are extremely manipulative and very good at how they twist, turn and slander others. Yet, should this pastor stand up for himself I guarantee he will be further slandered as “Evil”. I’ve seen churches and minds like this stop at absolutely nothing to destroy the reputation of people who they disagree with. I too pray that both he and his family find a support system that will simply love them during this painful time.

        • DR

          This is so true, it’s insidious.

    • Steve

      He’d lose. The laws and rules somehow never apply to churches. They are almost entirely exempt from it. If there aren’t explicit religious exemptions in laws, it’s an overly broad interpretation of freedom of religion. They think they can get away with literally anything, though all it was originally meant to say is that people can’t be thrown in jail just for believing certain things

  • Suzy

    Since the author of this post never completed seminary, he wouldn’t be an ordained pastor, he would be a lay minister, even if he was in a paid position. It seems like this type of situation is more common in those type of churches who have people in their pulpits who have never been to or competed seminary and don’t have that depth of knowledge or understanding of scripture, and are missing the context of meaning of many passages of scripture, and generally choose to look at scripture as exclusive instead of inclusive when it comes to “the least of these”. I wish the writer well, and I hope he will go through seminary and be ordained in a loving denomination that can have a variety of interpretations of scripture, as long as they are compatible with the great commandment to love one another. The ELCA Lutherans, the PC USA Presbyterians, The Episcopalians, and the United Church of Christ, while not perfect, have set some great examples of love as they have worked through some of this.

  • cynthia h.-w.

    God bless this good-hearted young man and his family. He is exactly the kind of clear-thinking, fair-minded person the capital-c Church needs. I trust God to lead him to wherever he is needed, wherever he can lead others and model unafraid the very Christ-like inclusivity he believes in.

    As for the church that kicked him out….well, God knows their address. And the pure-love God I know must be deeply saddened by their rigidity and blind judgment. I know I sure am. I will be praying that their hearts of stone may soften so that compassion might have its way.

  • Christie Landtroop via Facebook

    i see this link now b/c it was “grouped” with The Christian Left and The God Article posts (I think..) in my feed.

  • charles

    the first one through the wall always gets bloody- This shouldn’t surprise anyone who has followed the issue- it is a paradigm changing matter, and it will very much get worse before it gets better.

  • Graham Taylor

    Maybe I am just old fashioned, but I think tolerance is a good thing.

    Hey all you Christians out there techno-wonking around with your bibles:

    Get a clue, Jesus did not/does not condone your hatred.

  • Christelle

    I’m not surprised. AT ALL. I was raised this way as well. The good news, there is a massive shift in thought going on in churches all across America. I’m proud of this pastor for standing up for the TRUTH. I’m disgusted that this church fired him without even thinking about his family. I’m positive they didn’t give any thought to them… This pastor is a mover and a shaker… Pastor, please be bold now in standing up for your beliefs… I know how hard it is, trust me! I know… I’m standing beside you and your wife and cheering you on…

    • Christelle

      BTW, allow yourself and your wife to heal from this, whatever that takes… This is a major loss and transition for the both of you. If you need to step away from ministry for a minute to heal and breath… Please do so. It’s so important. You are loved.

      • Robert

        This pastor didn’t stand for the truth in his own letter he stayed silent because he knew how divisive the issue is for Christians. He took no stand. He ducked. The post he got nailed for wasn’t praised or negated by him. Again, he ducked.

        There is no courage in ducking. None. He stood up only after he was doomed by the very people he was teaching Christianity too. Seemed they learned well. Hate yourself and hate others more. This is the Christian way.

        • Anonymous

          Sorry Robert, but you are assuming WAY TOO much about this story. He DID praise the post. He was celebrating the end of a terrible discrimination. And when he was confronted for this, he boldly stood in front of the board of his church and told them all his stance and beliefs. He could have ducked and said that he was simply against discrimination, but he didn’t. He could have saved his job at that point, but he didn’t. he couldn’t have thought to himself, “if I stay silent, apologize for my post, and say that I wasn’t taking a stance…maybe I could save my job, and keep my insurance for my wife and soon to be born child…” But he didn’t. To say he ducked anything is ignorant. I’m sorry if you’ve been hurt by the church. I’m sorry if you’ve been condemned by people who claim to follow a loving Jesus. This pastor is hopefully showing you that there ARE people out there who are trying to be bold in LOVE. God is LOVE, and he Loves and accepts everyone at his throne. You, me, this pastor, homosexuals, racists, bigots, liars, the people of the church who fired him. EVERYONE.

          • Robert

            Here is where I say he ducked.

            “Even though no one in my church community was aware of my views on homosexuality (I have been intentionally tight-lipped about it, knowing how divisive that issue is), and I’ve never talked about it…” DUCK

            “I made no commentary on the article–which was not about the “issue” of homosexuality at all.” DUCK

            If he stood up LATER and AFTER he was being called out, that is another discussion.

          • DR

            How do you even know what kind of platform he had? This is so assumptive. I do understand your point but you know, it’s awfully easy for all of us who are critical from the sidelines. Talk to me about when you were willing to give up your livelihood and leave your job because of something you believed, then perhaps you might have some moral authority here to judge this man. (I’m serious about that).

          • Diana A.

            Exactly!

          • Robert

            He is a minister. His platform is to speak. The article above mentions him preaching…tell me of a better platform. Is there a better opportunity? I did not post this originally until someone mentioned his courage, which I do not see in his hiding until after he was called out. That is not leadership.

            Moral authority? How about when I quite political electioneering because of all the lies? How about when I tell my boss to stop wasting tax dollars on pointless garbage? I stand up.

            On the other hand, I don’t stand up speaking for “God” and then hide my moral values like this guy did. I only speak for myself. When you get in the pulpit, there is a higher standard of virtue.

          • DR

            I think that’s ridiculous. Everyone has the moral obligation to speak up, we give way too much power away to pastors.

            Again, if you’ve ever gone against a stance or conviction to the degree that you’ve actually lost your livelihood -put your safety and security on the line as well as your family’s? Then you have all the right in the world to judge this man. But You just quitting some political electioneering isn’t exactly the same. How about you jump off your moral high horse and give this guy who just lost everything because he actually did find the courage to speak up some support instead of choosing this particular post where he’s clearly vulnerable to criticize. Ugh.

          • DR

            One more thing – come talk to us when you actually get *fired* for “talking to your boss about tax dollars”. Then perhaps you’ll get a little more support, right now you’re just being kind of a thoughtless dick. How’s that for some tough talk?

          • Robert

            When I quit electioneering, I had no other job to go to. So yes, I risked a great deal. And no, I’ve never been fired for that. I have often wondered why.

            One more thing, once you resorted to name calling, you lost.

          • DR

            Oh please. You weren’t fired. LOL. You quit. And you’re being a thoughtless dick, perhaps you’re one of those people who like to dish out the tough talk but you don’t like being on the receiving end. You just implied this guy is a coward, this guy with a family who just laid it all on the line with a Facebook link. And now you’re upset that you got called a name when you *chose* to call this guy out in what is more than likely, one of the scariest, worst moments of his life? how about you strap on a little self-awareness. And add some tact too.

          • DR

            He’s gross. Ugh.

        • DR

          What in the world are you talking about?

          • Christelle

            DR, who are you directing your question to?

          • DR

            Robert. :) I’m cheering on your comments from the sidelines!

          • Christelle

            :)

          • Robert

            What did he really do? He posted a link. He did not say he supported the change to DADT. Where is the courage? Courage would be standing up in the pulpit and telling those people his views and why. He did nothing. He didn’t do anything until after he was called out. Now he is whining that his parishioners expressed the views he knew they had. He did nothing to correct them in advance. He took their money telling them what they wanted to hear instead of teaching the way a pastor is supposed to. He let them go on hating. So they expressed that hatred by firing him. He isn’t a horrible guy but he isn’t courageous.

          • DR

            I’m going to stop giving your gross and thoughtless decisions to kick this man when he’s down anymore attention. It makes me feel a little sick to my stomach even having this conversation, it’s so deeply unsettling to know that people who have the right convictions can be so totally and completely unconscious. Enjoy your moral outrage and your little pity party for one that you got called a name. I’m going to spend the rest of my time here actually supporting this guy who just lost his job for having the courage to express himself (not that you have any idea what that’s like).

          • Melody

            Shame on you, Robert, for being so arrogant and heartless. It’s none of your business what this man chose to do following the situation (which shouldn’t have happened in the first place). You aren’t in his shoes, so you have no right to judge him, just because you’re prejudiced.

          • Robert

            Christians judge people all the time. They judge others as going to hell for not believing the same way they do. Then condemn others for being judgmental about their practices and events like this.

  • Paul

    The really surprising thing to me is that this really doesn’t surprise me…. The only piece missing from the article is the church leadership’s perspective and eventual message to the congregation. I’m pretty sure it would have emphasized things like their collective “heavy heart” but “responsibility to act” and “deal with” the “situation” as the church’s leaders. How predictable…and sad.

    In Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus sums up the law by saying, ‘Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’

    The Pharisees that Jesus was addressing when he said this were very knowledgeable about the scriptures and meticulous about keeping the laws of God—they had a lot of things RIGHT. But in their “rightness” they completely forgot about the One they were supposed to be serving and the law became this “thing they had to do” and of course “defend” even at the expense of others. In doing so they became a group that Jesus consistently condemned during his ministry (in spite of the many things they had “right”).

    What’s more important in the eyes of God? Being right or being Right? Straining out a gnat or swallowing a camel? Keeping the law at the expense of others or *fulfilling* the law at the “expense” of the law (hint, see Mark 12:33 or Romans 13:10)?

    Without supporting their decision or their reason behind it, I do support the general right of the church to have leaders who align with and support their mission, values and beliefs. I find it unconscionable, however, that we continue to believe that being “right” in our own eyes justifies behavior that is clearly wrong in God’s eyes given the second Great Commandment. Somehow we seem to think that Jesus won’t mind. I think He does.

  • Robert

    This is Christianity. It is a fear-based religion based on the fact that everyone is a piece of crap that deserves to burn in hell and is condemned there by a loving god who had his own son tortured to death just to show you his grace. This line of thinking results in rampant judgement of others born of disguised self-loathing which is the hallmark of Christian faith. That anyone would preach this sort of self-loathing is beyond my comprehension. So too is that anyone is surprised by behavior of these Christians. They are doing what they are taught to do by ministers of all stripes. This fellow, while I feel sorry for him from one human to another, is just upset that the hatred taught from the pulpit was directed at him for a change.

    • Soulmentor

      Your last sentence is a bit harsh considering he was undeserving of what happened to him.

      But about your “piece of crap” comment…..that struck a cord in me. I grew up in the most conservative Lutheran synod (Wisconsin) where every Sunday I heard and pronounced that “Lord, tho I am unworthy….” blah blah. After years of that, it has a crippling effect on a child and young person’s self esteem and outlook toward God and Life in general.Combine it with growing up gay, closeted and terribly confused and it’s a wonder I survived with any sense of self worth. I’m 67 and the residuals of all that haunt me to this day.

      THE CHURCH has a great deal to answer for.

      • Robert

        Exactly my point. I am sorry you went through that. I bailed on the church at a very early age but I have witnessed the teaching of self-loathing and its impact for so long that it became obvious. I have been hurt by the faith. Not directly but because so many humans have been taught this self-hate that my love for others makes me feel their pain. Not only that, but the behavior of those that have been taught self-hate changes for the negative. This hurt all of society, not just church members.

        • Diana A.

          “Not directly but because so many humans have been taught this self-hate that my love for others makes me feel their pain.” Which, right there, makes you more a follower of Jesus than many of those who shout “Lord, Lord,”.

  • Christie

    If this man and his family are near me, I’d go to his church. No need for a big building and pews. Just gather together. <3

  • Thomas

    [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Yeah, DR.

      • DR

        What?

        • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com Ric Booth

          haha. Yeah, John.

    • Christy

      You mean like worshipping on Sunday instead of remembering the Sabbath and keeping it holy? Yeah, I hate it when people cave on God’s top ten list like that.

      • Thomas

        [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

        • Diana A.

          So, who are these people and why should I care what they think?

          • Thomas

            Well you don’t seem to care about the truth so good question!

          • DR

            For people like Thomas, if you don’t agree with him then you “don’t care about the truth.”

            Thomas, I’m sure we all appreciate your attempt at clarifying the issue, but this is a conversation for people who are sane. Thanks just the same.

          • Thomas

            [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

          • Melody

            If I were you, I’d be concerned for my sanity.

          • Thomas

            [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

          • Melody

            Why? Because I don’t believe in a hateful “gospel”? You should be ashamed of yourself for your arrogance and bigotry.

          • Thomas

            Are you really disputing the fact that the Sabaath is traditionally Saturday not Sunday?

          • DR

            No, she’s disputing that the tomato is a fruit – not a vegetable.

        • Christy

          So…..the spirit of the law for oneself. The letter of the law for others. My point exactly.

          • Diana A.

            You know it!

    • James

      Yeah, I agree. Like that part where Jesus tells those who want to follow him to sell all they have and give it to the poor.

      • Thomas

        [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

        • Diana A.

          Again, who are these people and why should I care what they think?

    • Diana A.

      For that matter, who are you, and why should I care what you think?

    • DR

      The church has “succumbed to popular culture” for years. Thankfully those who did so untangled the church from those pesky Jim Crow laws that Christians worked so hard to keep around. For some of you, “popular culture” equals “education. Education that most of you don’t have and don’t want.

      • Diana A.

        Gee, DR! Tell us how you really feel!

        Oh wait, you just did! :-D

        You remind me of one of my older sisters. She doesn’t hesitate to tell it like it is either.

        Thank God for both of you!

        • DR

          I’m pulling back and channeling Christy. She’s like my anger AA sponsor.

          • Christy

            ;-) . I haven’t seen you at the meetings lately. Let’s go get a cup of coffee.

          • DR

            We better make it decaf.

    • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com Ric Booth

      Thomas, I would agree with DR’s comment and go one step further. The fact that the church was (and for the most part still is) in complete agreement with the non-Christian sentiment on homosexuality (especially male homosexuality) for decades (possibly centuries) should give every conservative Christian a gut check. Who was/is conforming the world?

      This pastor is conforming to Christ with his love for all of God’s children. A love so radical that the world around him does not understand him. The church that fired him has succumbed to the pop-culture of gay-bashing, which came into style in the 50s.

      • http://slugcrossings.blogspot.com/ Liutgard

        Ric, that was a FABULOUS remark! (I wish I’d made it!) Jesus challenges us to love when it’s uncomfortable, even a sacrifice. Why should we exclude part of his creation, because there might be a backlash? Never stopped him!

      • Thomas

        [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

        • Christy

          By similar measure, it’s only been relatively recently that anyone has claimed that God approves of the heliocentric theory. Of course no one can back these claims up scripturally.

          • Thomas

            [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

          • DR

            Thomas, you’re deflecting the truth of gay men and women who are actively gay and are still Christians. Not much wiggle room there, my friend.

          • Thomas

            [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

          • Diana A.

            What if God just doesn’t care that much one way or the other. What if homosexuality is a complete non-issue for God?

          • Thomas

            [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

          • Diana A.

            At this point, we hardly need to “be fruitful and multiply.” If anything, we could stand to slow down on the whole reproduction thing.

            And all this assumes that every word in the Bible comes straight from God and should be obeyed as if Jesus Himself said it–which is not something I necessarily buy.

          • Thomas

            [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

  • R. Leon

    Seems fascinating to me, all the judgement and anger directed at an anonymous church based on…what, one side of the story? Provided by the agrieved party, a human being with a nature that doesn’t lend itself well to providing objective retellings when one has been hurt? (I know this b/c I have that same human spirit). Really? There’s enough here to damn the church?

    What part of loving one’s neighbor (that command we’re all so eager to follow with the fired pastor) includes condemning them without hearing them out? I just don’t get it.

    I grieve he is hurting. But based on this email and blog post, I know waaaaaay too little about the situation to judge anything about it other than being sad that there was division. What am I missing?

    • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

      I was thinking the same exact thing. There are 2 sides to every story and making a judgement based on one side of the story is not wise. Better to keep ones mouth (or written opinion) shut without both sides of the story. I agree with you R. Leon.

    • Pam Martin

      There may well be two sides to every story, but this church severely limited their right to be heard when they threatened to deny John his severance package. I just reread the email to John Short and I don’t feel that the intent was to damn the church. He seemed to be seeing support and guidance given his situation.

      • Pam Martin

        OK…that should have been seeking, not seeing. Sorry!

    • Diana A.

      Oh, but we’ve heard this kind of story from so many people, not to mention some of us having experienced it for ourselves. It’s possible that it didn’t go down in quite the way the former pastor describes, but it’s more likely that it did.

    • DR

      It’s so deeply creepy that you’d actually cast suspicion on someone’s story. What in the world would this person have to gain by contributing this story and asking John to keep it anonymous? If he had an ax to grind of some kind he would have advertised the church? I find your suspicion so typical of those who simply refuse to believe that the church is a place that doesn’t do this kind of thing. Please consider applying some critical thinking skills here – there’s absolutely nothing to gain by sharing his story this way.

      • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

        DR,

        Not casting any suspicion or doubts at all, I’m sure the story is factual as the writer experienced it. All I agreed with, with R. Leon, is there is the side of the church / employer and before “judgement is rendered” to the wickedness of the churches actions, one should reserve such jusdgement until the accused is allowed to respond – that’s all. I think it best to get both sides of an issue before judging to hastely.

        • DR

          Brian I always appreciate your appeal to tempered, gentle reason. I do. this man was fired for supporting homosexuality, the details are pretty clear about that. Sometimes there just aren’t any more details, even though we want there to be. xoxo

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            DR,

            Once again girl, a rational response. And I agree

    • Steve

      Because there is certainly a few to morally justify what the church did. Some way to spin this right. I think not

  • Bobbi

    I just wanted to take a moment to let the good pastor know that he and his family are in my prayers. Although this door at this narrow minded church has closed I think that it will open many others for you. I can’t help but feel that this happening, even though it takes you from your comfort zone, allows you the opportunity to move on to bigger and better things. As you consider whether to lead these families that feel disenfranchised or move on to other pastures I’m sure the Lord will guide you where God needs your talents. There are many churches that are looking for men such as you to lead them. I thank you for standing up for what is right rather then giving in to pressure. I

    Thank you John for your site. I find it a daily source of inspiration and humor and look forward to it. I intend to forward this letter to everyone I know so that they may also add their prayers for this man and his family.

  • Jeff Kursonis

    Start that new faith community! Start it! As he said, twenty families is a lot…it’s a TON. I have been involved in many church plants and I’d be thrilled to have 2-5 families, 20 is unbelievable. You’ve probably heard the basic math that if people tithe 10% – then ten people doing that equals 100% – ie. ten families can support a pastors salary. Take a pay cut (good for the soul and solidarity with people in this economy), tell the 20 families they have to commit to give between 5-10% to make it work, find a free place to meet in at first (not hard with your story). Also do some fundraising, there is money out there for church planting (contact me if you need help on this). Consider working part-time like many young pastors are doing now – it’s good to be in the real world with the people…and number one: put your communities first energy not inwardly, but in doing some kind of outward serving/social justice work, this will give you a sold cultural direction right from the start and let the inward stuff take care of itself as you progress.

  • mikenola

    mr. shore, I have never heard of you before and frankly I am not a fan of organized religions for a thousand reasons. This disgusting event is just one example of people who clothe themselves in the teachings of the prophet Jesus only to use his words as weapons of hate and bigotry.

    for full disclosure, I am gay, was raised a catholic, attended Lutheran, Baptist, and Protestant houses of worship, studied in the traditions of Judaism and Islam. I have read on the teachings of Buddha and tried to learn the lessons of Tao.

    The all have the same problems, organized groups take on the mantle of some teaching and declare themselves the sole arbiter of the Word of God. The hubris is astounding and the destruction they create is devastating. If they actually believe the teachings they espouse, they know their payment is eternity in hell for offending their god.

    Please offer this pastor and his wife words of support from a gay non-christian who thinks that the “church” he was expelled from did him a favor.

    The radical religious right extremists are terrified their dominance will soon end, and that the tactics they have historically used to marginalize others will now succeed in burying themselves instead.

    Fear is not the way of Jesus and bigotry is not in his teachings. Tell the young man and his wife that he is the new generation of Christian that can shape the future towards a better and more peaceful tomorrow for all Americans and maybe the world.

    He should take up the mantle offered by the 20, and use them to take the message on the road. Hopefully he finds the fortitude to refuse the severance and instead use the pulpit of public opinion and the altar of the courts to get his story of being radically discriminated against into the headlines of main stream newspapers. I seriously doubt the the big name church will dare challenge him in court or in the press.

    Wish him good luck and protection from his own faith.

    • Diana A.

      “The radical religious right extremists are terrified their dominance will soon end, and that the tactics they have historically used to marginalize others will now succeed in burying themselves instead.”

      Yup. “Those who live by the sword will die by the sword.”

  • James

    Tell them to come to the Episcopal Church where all God’s children have a place at the table.

    • Tom

      The Episcopal Church? Really. Have you talked to Father Robinson about that?

  • Christopher Lamparello

    This pastor has an amazing opportunity to build a great new church! Who knows, maybe God called him and the 20 families out of the church because He has a specific work in mind for them and is also dealing with the hearts of the people in the old church. I know the man is dejected, but a valuable, rare window of opportunity has opened. I hope he starts the new church.

  • Steve

    It’s not too late to learn a real job and be a productive, tax-paying member of society instead of a priest. He can keep his faith if he thinks he really needs it, but he doesn’t need to contribute to its insidious spread and destruction of society

    • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

      Ummm… Clergy do pay taxes on their wages.

      • DR

        The clergy enjoys a number of tax-reduced and tax-exempt experiences as a result of being clergy. They clearly have a significant amount of tax breaks regarding housing, that’s just one example.

    • Melody

      Steve, don’t you think that’s going a bit far? He supports LGBT rights. Unless you’re against that, that isn’t destructive, in my opinion.

  • Bose in St. Peter MN

    The pastor’s experience mimics that of many gay people — come forward with the truth about something that is small compared to everything you share with friends, family, coworkers, but if that small thing is being LGBT or affirming, lose much, and quickly, permanently.

  • Katie Starfish

    My thoughts are with this gentleman and his family. I agree with some of the above comments that if he has always wanted to start a new church, this may be an ideal time to do so. I don’t know the denomination of his previous church, but perhaps Unitarian Universalist would serve his Christian needs as well as his liberal beliefs.

  • Diane D’Angelo

    THIS is what homophobia feels like, straight allies. This man has gone through ONE incident, and look at the shock and dismay he and most of you feel. Now multiply this experience by maybe 100, and you get some idea of what it’s like living as a taxpaying GLBT citizen in America, 2011.

  • Helen Bedd

    I really think that the church should be identified so that I can bring a busload of lice-and-bedbug infested least-of-these brothers into their sanctimonious sanctuary and spread some love.

  • Roo Malax

    “They” won the fight in America over what it means to be Christian. It means Scriptural backing for your intolerance. Quite frankly, Conservative Christianity is the most disgusting influence in America. Is it any wonder the millential generation is far more atheistic? And me, a believer, is HAPPY whenever I see polls showing people rejecting it. And it was things like this that made me lose my beliefs as a teenager, why the Hell is God letting this happen, letting “Them” define him, and destroying the lives of people like this pastor, unemployed, in a deep recession, with a degree in….Theology.

    Since American Atheists are the group opposing torture, and Christians are (surprise!) the group that most favors it, if God is good, than the full rejection of Christianity as its defined by most is the best thing that could happen.

    • Roo Malax

      Maybe some other form of Christianity will form in the ashes of the old Southern Bible belt idea of Bronze Age intolerance. Maybe a denomination that follows Christs message to the T, and throws out the bullshit Americans love. Americans LOVE bullshit like Leviticus, without reading it and realizing shrimp and shellfish is as much an abomination as all the other bullshit. See Godhatesshrimp.com

      • Steve

        Organized religion needs to die. All of it. You don’t need religion, holy books, priests and churches to be a good person. Jesus’s so-called “message” isn’t all that complicated when stripped of the supernatural nonsense that’s probably a later invention anyways. In fact it can be found in many other religions too. If really someone really needs a book or someone else to tell you be nice to others, there is something wrong with them

        • Thomas

          [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

          • Steve

            Which is why Christianity is an immoral, anti-human belief system. It teaches people that everyone is created sick, wretched and bad with no hope of ever living up to the impossible standards set. The only solution is to die so perfection can be attained in heaven.

          • DR

            Christianity gives people an explanation why try as we might want to, we can’t ever do the things we know are right/want to do and we can’t stop doing the things we know are wrong/hurt others/don’t want to do.

            Honestly – I don’t care that you hate Christians and Christianity, there’s good reason to and your beliefs serve you. Life goes on. But to come on to this forum where people of faith are actually doing some good is such an odd decision. What do you think you’re going to accomplish?

          • Christy

            Steve, There were and are sects of Christianity of a more mystical orientation that do not hold to the concept of original sin. They have more of a yin and yang concept, or the Native American Spiritual tradition of two wolves inside: good and bad. The one we feed is the one that grows. In this perspective when we recognize/experience/ encounter/are encountered by the Divine we recognize this foundational part of ourselves and in connecting with the One, the More, the All this part of us is activated/affirmed. In following the way of Jesus….or the Buddha…..or Lao Tzu…..or the Upanishads the good wolf is fed and grows.

            I asked John Phillip Newell, a Celtic Christianity leader, why it was that the other Abrahamic faiths seemed to have much more visible mystical elements within their traditions than we did. His answer was what I feared: “The other Abrahamic faiths never developed the degree of centralized Power that the Christian Church did.” (See: Cathars)

        • DR

          Steve, you have the last word on what religion means to you and its impact on the world. I don’t disagree that it has caused tremendous pain – even evil – no one with a working brain would.

          That being said, those of you who hate religion need to stop trying to have such a conclusive last word on what others experiences are with it. You’re not helping. You see option A – be religious and hurt people or B- don’t be religious and people won’t be hurt. Many of us have an option C. We’ll define that for ourselves. You live your life and we’ll live ours, as long as we’re not funding the religious element in our world that’s hurting so many people – as long as we are fighting against those of us who use our faith as a means of hurting people – then consider just leaving us alone and we’ll leave you alone. Thanks.

        • Christy

          It’s not Jesus’ fault we screwed it up. You’re right, the heart of his message can be found in all the other predominant religions, but all the other traditions had teachers to impart the message too. We learn to be unkind to each other, and we must unlearn it as well.

    • Steve

      Christianity (just as all other monotheistic religions) was always about creating a god who hates the same people you do. It was never anything else. People are only just now waking up to that fact

      • DR

        People aren’t just now”waking up” to the idea that God is manufactured. That idea has been around for thousands of years. People are waking up to how religion has kept us dumb, passive and in many instances, dangerous as well as evil. But that’s been around too.

  • http://thethreews.wordpress.com KenLeonard

    … and Jesus wept.

  • http://dearfriend.blogspot.com RoseMary King

    Please tell this pastor to start his church. Those 20 people need him. They will never be comfortable in their old church and it’s hard to find the “right” church. My thoughts are with him and his family.

  • Amy Leigh

    After reading this, I have to say that you don’t know the whole story. And really, YOU call yourself a christian? There is more to the story, trust me! And this line: “I wouldn’t be surprised if his chicken**** pastor—one of those worn jeans-wearing, hair-perfectly-messed/gelled up, shirt untucked, telegenic hipster poseurs—let him go because he was jealous of him.” makes my stomach turn. He is an amazing Pastor and even better christian. And we wonder why christians are stereotyped as judge mental…

    YOU have left ME wondering who the jealous one is.

    John Shore, you should be ashamed of yourself. You have never even met either of these pastors and have a lot of nerve to say the things you say in this blog.

    • Melody

      Great. Another conservative sympathizer using the “We don’t know the while story” copout. You should be ashamed of yourself for siding with that church.

    • Melody

      Also, how DARE you dismiss this pastor’s own story. In HIS words. Those “leaders” (in my opinion, cowards) did this to him. You must have a heart of stone.

    • Thomas

      [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

      • Melody

        You can’t prove your hateful views are truth. You can believe it, but you can’t prove it.

        • Thomas

          [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

        • Thomas

          [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

          • Melody

            Prove it’s God’s word. Without quoting Timothy. You can’t.

          • Thomas

            [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

          • DR

            Thomas, here’s the real deal. You’ve actually already remade God to your image, those of you who find homosexuality to be an abomination. And it’s freaking you out that people are challenging that, so you’re going to get hostile and defensive as you counter your points of view. But this is happening. In the recent gallop poll, 53% of Christians now support gay marriage. I’m sure this is all very difficult for you, the majority of Christians no longer are allowing you to use Scripture as a front for your homophobia. But this won’t stop, it’s only going to get bigger.

          • Thomas

            [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

          • Thomas

            I meant untrustworthiness of polls of course.

          • DR

            Of course you’re going to not trust the facts of polls (the Gallop poll – wow!) That’s what people do who are being challenged and are losing control – they only accept the version of facts that support their position so you get to keep being right.

            I really do hope that you can open your mind and heart. I’ve been in your spot before, I clung to my faith as a means of making a fearful world black and white. That’s not the world and that’s not what Jesus came to offer us. Maybe you’ll get there someday – I hope so!

          • DR

            Thomas, you don’t control the conversation anymore. That’s the thing you have to start getting used to. . If people don’t put up some kind of Scriptural defense/explanation/exegesis to your liking then they aren’t doing it at all. Which was an approach that works when we as you said, had very black and white interpretations of Scripture. Those days are over.

          • Thomas

            [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

          • DR

            Only for you and those that are lost and deceived.>>>

            And there it is. Thomas my friend, I’m saved through the blood of Jesus Christ. He is my Lord and my Savior. !! :) I know you think I’m lost and that’s fine – who cares. Thankfully you don’t get the last word on my salvation, just like you don’t get the last word on how God views homosexuality. This kind of manipulative response is being revealed for what it is. Praise God!

          • Thomas

            [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

          • Diana A.

            “The Bible is God’s word.”

            “How do you know?”

            “Because the Bible says so.”

            So, do you believe everything you read?

          • Melody

            And you’re doing the exact same thing. Do you eat shellfish or wear blended fabrics? Funny how you continue to ignore comments about your inhospitable attitude. You’re quick to let us know your disdain for LGBT people, but you continue to ignore what Jesus said about love. Back to what I said about proof, you can believe whatever you want, but you have no right to tell us what a real Christian believes. You aren’t God, and you aren’t God’s spokesperson. Learn some humility before trying to shove your outdated beliefs down our throats.

          • Diana A.

            Preach it, Melody!

          • Thomas

            [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

          • Melody

            It’s actually because I studied the Old Testament that I now believe the way. You clearly don’t understand that the Old Testament does NOT apply to us today. I’ve also studied other works of the time, which are remarkably similar in nature. It’s clear that much of the Old Testament is the Israelites’ mythology of the earth’s origins. I suggest you learn more about other cultures before assuming the Old Testament is to be taken entirely literally. You’re such a literalist, you don’t know the difference between history and myth.

          • Melody

            *that I now believe the way I do.

          • Thomas

            [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

          • Melody

            So in other words, you don’t know how to answer me. FYI, I have a Master’s degree. I also took Bible classes on college. So I know what I’m talking about. Maybe you should go back to school and stop being so ignorant and smug. Anyway, I’m done arguing with you. You say I’m irrational? Well I’ve got news for you: Look in the mirror. Goodbye, and God have mercy on you.

          • Suz

            “rational, fact based discussion”

            Dude, really? How do you define “fact?”

      • DR

        Wow! Amy just told John that “he should be ashamed of himeslf” and now *she* is the one who’s getting jumped on?

        Thomas, with all due respect? You guys who come here, who read and get offended by or defensive about what you read have just got to grow up a little bit. I’m sorry, I know that’s going to be offensive to you but you just do. You appear to be so self-entitled that you really think that people like Amy can just jump into a conversation, get nasty and personal with the owner of the blog, offer views that others here have told you straight to your face are damaging kids – and them as gay men and women – and you actually feel like you’re being attacked.

        It is truly the most self-absorbed thing I’ve ever seen. You need to get a hold of yourself, take a deep breath and realize that all that’s happening is you’re being countered. Aggressively. People are telling you exactly what they think about your opinion on what the Bible says. We’re holding you accountable to the damage you do in expressing that belief (which of course you’re entitled to do). That’s not being “attacked”. That’s you choosing to enter into a conversation with a group of people who simply don’t respect your views and find them incredibly damaging and are now saying so.

        • Thomas

          [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

          • DR

            Hey, I’m not the one who used the words “jumped on”. You did – why would you use that word if you weren’t feeling challenged? What an odd change.

          • Thomas

            No I didn’t it was someone else.

          • Diana A.

            Thomas October 14, 2011 at 5:18 pm

            Exactly Amy but that’s what they seem to do here: jump on anything that supports their distorted view, truth be damned.

          • Thomas

            [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

          • DR

            Well thats convenient.

            It was a pleasure doing business with you and I appreciate you showing up, you’ve provided an opportunity for many who’ve given up on. Hristianity for how they’ve been abused by it to see that people with opinions like yours are now being challenged. So it’s awesome.

    • DR

      Amy what additional details do we need? This pastor had a job. He posted a link. Christians from his church saw it, they complained, and he was let go. Some stories don’t really require additional context or detail as much as you’d like that to be true.

    • Suz

      A lot of responses here in one day, Amy, and no answers from you? Would that be because you have no defense for what you said? Do you even understand this conversation, or is it all going on above your head? The generic company line, approved by management, does not hold up to the scrutiny of thinking people. You are out of you depth.

      Normally I can appreciate the contributions of trolls, because even when they are misguided and cowardly, they usually express beliefs they hold dear. Your comment, however, was immature, shallow and petty. You should be ashamed of your empty head and unseeing eyes, but I suspect you don’t have the sense to recognize either.

      You are following the pharisees, and they are blocking your view of Christ.

  • Joellyn Mumcian

    I have the utmost sympathy at this young minister losing his job, and empathy for his plight, but one thing confuses me. Why does he wish keep the church who so summarily fired him anonymous.? I can understand him not wanting the notoriety for himself and his family, but this church should not be let off so easily. I am so tired of these hypocritical “Christian” church goers who are far from Christian in their idealogy and their discrimination.

    • http://www.knightopia.com/blog Steve K.

      The story explains why: He was threatened with loss of severance if he divulged any of this information publicly. He needs the money to keep his family afloat financially right now, so he doesn’t feel he can go “public” with all the information. The church has essentially bought his silence (which is sad, but again, not uncommon).

  • http://www.knightopia.com/blog Steve K.

    This is essentially the same story as what happened to me two years ago at a large evangelical mission organization — albeit, a far more swift, extreme version of it. I posted a positive comment on a gay Christian website, and that’s what led to my loss of employment several months later.

    It’s a disturbing but not all that uncommon trend. Brian McLaren has been predicting it for some time now: Evangelicals (and conservative Catholics) are constricting, drawing the lines of acceptance tighter and tighter, and they’re drawing the new line at accepting homosexuality. This young pastor wasn’t fired for posting a link on Facebook, he was fired for no longer believing homosexuality is a sin. And that’s why I lost my job, as well.

    Fortunately, there are plenty of places in the mainline world that are accepting of the LGBT community, as well as those of us who love and support full equality for them. My chosen tribe is the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and, BTW, we’re looking for courageous new church planters … ;-)

    • Thomas

      [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

      • Melody

        And you’re disregarding what Scripture said about judging and loving each other. Funny, homosexuality was rampant in Jesus’ day, but you don’t see him mentioning it. He never condemned people for their sins or differences (I don’t believe homosexuality is a sin, either). He condemned the self-righteous religious leaders and their followers. Funny how people like you who claim to take the Bible so seriously conveniently ignore what it says about loving each other.

        • relevantpreach

          Melody, I would like to ask you the following question…

          If more people today in the church think that Billy Graham preached the Sermon on the Mount than think Jesus did, would that be considered a disregard of Scripture? Or would that be considered judging?

          • Christy

            I’m not sure I follow your train of thought. Could you illuminate it for me?

          • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

            That’s a pretty weak exercise in analogy.

          • Melody

            I have no idea what you’re talking about. Please clarify.

      • DR

        Thomas, what’s actually happening is that the clean lines Christians have historically drawn to draw about things that make us uncomfortable – sexuality, homosexuality, brokenness, addition, abuse, racism – are being reset to “We don’t know and Scripture isn’t as clear as we’ve made it out to be”.

        For years, Christians fought like crazy to keep the Jim Crow laws intact in the South because we said that Scripture supported it. We told women that they had no options in an abusive marriage and had to stay in it – that they couldn’t initiate a divorce – because Scripture said exactly that. Both of those examples of “everyone knew exactly what the Bible said” were wrong. This is another one of these examples. I know you don’t like that because it rattles the control that you have over your world and the world in general. But that’s what’s happening here. It’s a good thing, relax a little bit and let history teach you what’s happening.

  • charles

    so- if we substitute say, “adulterer”, or perhaps “atheist” would people feel so judgemental? Either man is God’s child or he isnt. When Jesus said “Love one another” it wasn’t with qualification. as far as homosexuality goes- can we make a call of if its right or wrong- natural, or un-natural? are we being asked to do so…. are we now a gate keeper for God? If so, I would be very concerned about our future….

  • James

    I’m so sorry for the method in which this firing was done. In any Christian community, when there is disagreement, the conflict should be approached in as loving a way as possible ( which doesn’t appear to have happened in this case. ) I agree with this young man’s assessment that the church is often too focused on the minor issues. This is why creeds and statements of faith are so important. However, while you may disagree with this church’s view of homosexuality, they do have the prerogative to teach views you disagree with. While I am no social conservative, and entirely disagree with the religious right, I believe that there is a difference between acting with intentional prejudice and being expected to condone behavior, that in good conscience, you believe is immoral. I believe that the church should not place expectations on the ethical behavior of people who have no relationship with Jesus. Equally, those who believe that homosexual behavior is sin, should not be condemned for not condoning that same behavior. Tolerance goes both way. Those, in the church, who believe that homosexual behavior is sin, must tolerate those who view it as a legitimate life style. In the same manner, those who believe that homosexual behavior is entirely normal, must tolerate those in the church, who disagree. We should focus on finding common ground and addressing genuine prejudice and hate which hurts both the LGBT community and the church.

    • Steve

      Nonsense. We don’t have to tolerate the intolerant. That gets us nowhere except maybe into chaos. Not all moral or ethic concepts are equally valid. The so-called morals of that church are demonstrably harmful to people and society. Therefor they can be condemned

      There can be no “common ground” with people who want others second class citizens at best and dead at worst, and then try to shut up anyone who disagrees with their bigotry.

      And the only one who is hurting the church is Christians themselves

      • Melody

        Yes. We don’t tolerate racists; why should we tolerate homophobes?

        • http://muirnin.wordpress.com David Philip Norris

          Melody – We also tolerated slavery, and the subjugation of women for centuries. You should be the property of your husband right now, to do with as he pleases! Fortunately, we realized that all humans, male or female, have equal rights and that nobody belongs to anybody else. So keep thinking! Keep speaking up!

          • Melody

            Agreed. It infuriates me how conservative Christians can’t separate historical and cultural context from timeless lessons. They think a rulebook for a specific culture 3500 years ago applies directly and perpetually to all humanity. Thankfully, I’m not married yet. I do want to, eventually, but on my time and choosing, with someone I love, not at age fifteen to some 60-year-old lawyer because some archaic writer says I should.

          • http://muirnin.wordpress.com David Philip Norris

            Precisely! I’m so glad that you live in a time when you can marry whoever you want for love, and will be even happier when I can do the same. You’re worth more than that! You are an elegant child of evolution, with the power to make yourself in your own image and be whoever you want to be.

      • James

        Steve, you obviously have strong feelings about this, and I don’t know where you are coming from. I come to this issue as a believer in Jesus. This directs my thinking ( even when I clash with right wing Christians ). If you come from a different faith, then I will try to make my thinking clear. My understanding is that this web site is supposed to represent a Christian perspective, so I will try to address it from my perspective, as a Christian. I don’t know any Christians who want homosexuals dead. I’m sure there are some, who call themselves Christians, who do want them dead. I assure you. Those people are not followers of Jesus. I do know quite a few Christians, who I believe are simply misguided, who want to legislate morality. I profusely disagree with this.

        I fully support complete and equal rights for everyone in the LGBT community. They should not be discriminated against or mistreated in any way. Isn’t this common ground that we can agree on? I believe many of the same things you believe ( I assume ). I do NOT believe that homosexuality is a choice ( in most cases ). I believe that homosexuals are created in God’s image and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. However, I do believe that sodomy is a sin. This belief does not come from some subjective cultural view, that I’ve adopted. I believe that this is taught in scripture. However, I don’t believe that scripture teaches that there is a grading of sin. I also think that greed, infidelity, lying, lack of compassion, murder, giving God anything less than all of myself … all these things are equally sinful. They are all contrary to God’s choice for His children.

        Simply believing that the act of sodomy is sin, simply does not equate to hate or racism. First, I don’t believe that Christians should expect non-believers to behave according to our rules. As such, I don’t resist their attempt to marry. I believe that it is impossible for any non-believer to follow God’s direction for their life, because we need the Holy Spirit to change us … and that change is gradual and sometimes painful. I will give you an example. Most heterosexual men are created with a desire to mate with any woman who is willing. That is certainly in my human nature. Having this desire in my nature doesn’t make me a person who should be shunned or discriminated against. However, if I act on that desire, then I can’t expect my church friends or pastor to condone that behavior. As a Christian, I’m called to a different type of life. If I wasn’t a Christian, it wouldn’t be anyone’s business how much or with whom I slept around, and the church should mind its business. But, if I ask a Christian if my behavior is good, I would expect them to say no.

        I’m sorry, but it’s simply unrealistic to expect people who have chosen to live according to scripture to condone behavior which is stated to be immoral. They have a first amendment right to freedom of religion, and that freedom does not, in and of itself, step on anyone else’ right. I am in the minority of evangelical Christians who are pressing to see the church get its nose out of the lives of people outside the church. It’s frustrating if you feel that I am an enemy on this issue, because I genuinely support defending the dignity of everyone in the LGBT community. Part of encouraging change, is finding common ground and the art of compromise. I assure you that the fringe right has no interest in any form of compromise or compassion. Even if you disagree with me, you don’t do your movement any favor by pushing away people who agree with most of what you believe.

        • DR

          I’m a Christian too and the fact that you “don’t know any Christians” who want to see homosexuals dead, banned or just removed from society doesn’t mean that doesn’t exist. Have you really read this site? Have you watched any of the “It Gets Better” project? Here’s just one example of what this belief system has done to this. Anger in this instance, is often an activating agent – ask conservative Christians who’ve “woken up” to how harmful they’ve been to this community. It’s generally because they got very strongly countered by someone that they respected or cared about who shook them a little and said ” I’m not putting up with this anymore, you’re wrong, your beliefs are dangerous and you’re actually a bad person for holding them.”

          Christians seem to be so entitled to have others see our *intent* – our *history*, all of our *reasons* why we believe the ways we do. We want to speak conceptually – spiritually – theologically. When another gay kid just got beat up and bullied by some child who heard the message from us that being gay is “bad”. No one else in this country is saying that except for Christians, we’re responsible for introducing that idea into this culture. And we’re responsible for cleaning up our own mess now.

          • DR

            The video:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWYqsaJk_U8

            This is our fault. It’s us. We’ve either allowed it, we’ve not stood up to it or we’ve believed it. It’s time to put an end to hurting these people and allow them to have a life without us in it.

          • James

            DR, I think I have not communicated properly, or you are prejudging me on this issue. I know that people are harmed by bigotry, and I utterly despise that. I would do anything in my power to stop that. I’ve been in the evangelical church since 1974, and have been fighting against the church’s swing to the right since the beginning. As I said above, anyone who is hateful or threatens or bullies someone for any reason, should have their faith questioned and they should be stopped. Immediately. I wouldn’t attend any church that promotes anti-gay views and I’ve alienated many of my Christian friends by my insistence on the importance of social justice, and how the church is becoming fascist. Believe me, I understand being an outcast. My Mom and Dad divorced when I was 5 and I was picked on and bullied every day until I graduated from High School. I was in military school throughout HS and the bullying went on 24/7. It was finding Jesus at 18 that changed me and gave me hope. I was close to suicide myself, when I was 17. And even since, it’s been an uneasy alliance with the evangelical church. In most churches, I’ve mostly been on the outside looking in, but I’ve been able to focus on the good as much as possible and recognize that my savior is Jesus, not the church. My only point is that we should focus on the real enemy here, those who are intolerant to people. This is very different from simply believing that sodomy is not God’s choice. God fully and unconditionally accepts everyone … gay, straight. He died for us all, and none of us deserve His grace. I don’t deny that it seems incredibly unfair for God to create someone gay and then expect them to be celibate. I think He understands that it is a hard choice. Think of the rich young ruler that asked Jesus, “what must I do to be saved?” Jesus asks him to sell everything he has and give it to the poor. Wow. What an incredible demand. Was He serious? Did He really expect this young man to do it? I think he knew that this kid wasn’t ready to sacrifice everything and follow Him. Of course, we don’t know the rest of the story. Perhaps, he followed and listened from a distance and finally realized who Jesus was and surrendered his life, including his vast wealth, to follow. I don’t know. Perhaps, he was in a church for years, as a wealthy man, but was never able to sacrifice his wealth. My view is that if a homosexual becomes a follower of Christ, there’s a similar call on his life. Maybe, he’ll believe but not surrender his sexuality .. or maybe they’ll decide to be celibate. I think that God loves and accepts them, just as they are, in either case. The church is another matter. It needs to be changed from the inside. When an obese, greedy, militaristic pastor realizes that God is as offended by his gluttony and someone else committing an act of sodomy, then they’ll change. I don’t know if what I’m saying is making any sense, or if you think I’m a bigoted nut job. I’m doing my part to change what I believe is sinful in the church, when it mistreats people or tries to force its morality on a secular world. I just don’t think that extends to saying that sodomy is OK. I don’t have the authority to declare something is or isn’t sinful. Only the Creator who made us has that right … and the only way I can determine what His will is, is by studying scripture, with an open, thoughtful mind, and seeking Him for guidance.

          • DR

            I’ve not pre-judged you. You’ve calling for tolerance around something that is dangerous and hurts kids. I’ve seen it firsthand, I’ve dealt with it for years. Stop making the issue overly-complex, James, stop using spiritual semantics. Let’s be real here. I’m responding to what you’ve written, at the end of the day you believe that aspects of homosexuality – “sexual acts” – are wrong. And expressing that belief does a lot of damage to kids who are gay . I know you don’t intend to but your impact is what’s most important here. I’m not going to soften that message because it’s hard to hear. I can’t, I have the broken hearts of hundreds of gay kids in my mind and heart who need me to tell you how wrong you are. If you aren’t open to that? Fine. But now you know. God have mercy on you.

          • James

            DR, other than on this single page, have I ever told anyone that the act of sodomy is wrong. It’s honestly none of my business. The only thing that tends to bring this thing up is when people insist that every state that we approve of it. Focus on the real problem, stopping bullying, stopping right wing politicians, insuring civil rights. All this other stuff of trying to force people to agree with your belief will only turn moderates against what is a real injustice.

          • DR

            Who in the world is trying to “force” anyone to believe anything? What a manipulative suggestion, you choose the beliefs that serve you. Your beliefs have consequences. Acting on them has consequences, that’s universal. Anyone who’s forced into believing anything will ultimately reject it.

            And you just told thousands of people what you believe. You’re accountable for it, you chose to participate here and offer what you did. You actually *make* it your business when you suggest that gay men and women remain celibate.

            I know you believe that you know what “the real problem” is. You don’t get to define that – neither do I – the GLBT community does and they’ve told us quite clearly that our religious beliefs about their sexuality have ruined them, have alienated them from the church and are putting gay kids in danger. You don’t have the last word on any issue that applies to the gay community. Neither do I. They do.

      • David in Houston

        I completely agree. On top of that, churches aren’t keeping their positions on social issues within the confines of their walls. Now they are directly involved in political campaigns (which is against the law), with churches telling their followers to vote a certain way on laws that directly harm gay Americans. So, no, there isn’t tolerance going on in both directions. I don’t recall gay people trying to stop religious people from going to church, and they didn’t get the opportunity to vote on their marriages.

        • http://muirnin.wordpress.com David Philip Norris

          David, you are so SO spot on. I am an atheist, a former Christian AND an openly “practicing” gay man (the kind Evangelicals just *love* to hate). Not only are fundamentalist Christians fostering hatred and bigotry amongst themselves but they are attempting to LEGISLATE it on the federal level, and block bills such as anti-bullying measures that might actually SAVE teenagers from taking their own lives. So much for a religion based on love. This is the true, ugly face of Christianity, belied of its false piety and compassion. It’s the face of willful ignorance and small-mindedness.

          • soulfuljourney

            willful ignorance… hm. fascinating term. seems to really say it, doesn’t it.

    • DR

      This is just wrong, James. I’m tired of being asked to be tolerant of a belief system that hurts kids. Those who are anti-homosexuality may not want to believe that or believe these kids who are gay are the real problem (which is so creepy) but the facts – the testimony of thousands – tells the truth. Christians sending the message that God condemns homosexuality is sending kids who are gay into despair, at times they even take their own lives because they can’t imagine not being loved by God. Christian families kick these kids out of their homes, there are *thousands* of this kind of testimony, some on this blog, some on the It Gets Better campaign.

      Don’t ask us to be tolerant of a belief system that hurts kids. That alienates gay men and women from a relationship with Christ. It’s way, way more than just a theological difference.

      • James

        DR, I’m not asking anyone to tolerate parents who kick their kids out because they are gay. What I said above, was that they should be treated with dignity and respect. They have the right to live their lives in any fashion that they choose. I join you in condemning those so called Christians, who tell the secular world that homosexuality is evil. I work with a lot of young Christians who a large number of things which are probably not the best. I don’t tell them to knock it out. I love them and accept them as they are, and let the Holy Spirit convict where change needs to be made. However, I wouldn’t go to a NASCAR event and be offended if people were upset when I said I hate the sound of these loud cars. If a gay person goes to an evangelical church, my hope is that they would be loved and accepted without precondition. If that same person began feeling conviction about sinful behavior, I would hope that they would be told that we all struggle with sin and God does make it possible to change ( no, I’m not talking about “fixing homosexuality” ). A homosexual can choose to be celibate, in the same way that heterosexual people can choose to be celibate. I’m not minimizing that choice. It would be incredibly difficult, but Christians are called to obedience. Being a Christian is not a light choice. It does require sacrifice. There are plenty of nominal Christians who view their faith like a coat that can be put on and taken off when convenient. I don’t see that Jesus ever presented following Him in this context.

        Again, I don’t believe that there is any sin in being a homosexual. The sin is in the sexual act itself. I don’t think that it’s any worse than any other sin and everyone is sinful. For those who are not Christians, I don’t think that the church should have anything to do with trying to condemn or disapprove of their behavior.

        • Melody

          I think I get what you’re saying, James, and I appreciate your willingness not to give up on people (after all, I used to be one of those people who believe homosexuality is wrong). My beef is that, to me, it seems kind of naive (if it’s not and I misunderstand you, then I apologize) to just accept that there are people who happen to believe it’s wrong and not hold them at least partially accountable for the consequences (see John’s post on Jamey Rodemeyer). I know some otherwise kind and compassionate people who do, but I still feel that they’re unintentionally hurting the LGBT. Worse, there are those who we absolutely should NOT tolerate: those who are vocal about their disdain or outright hatred of LGBT people (I’m sure you know who they are).

          The point I’m making is, while we certainly pray for these people to see the error of their ways, as Jesus told us to do, we need to draw the line somewhere.

          • James

            I agree completely, Melody. It’s not surprising that the only people that Jesus ever got mad at were leaders of the church. I have confronted pastors on many occasions about issues where I felt they were being too judgemental. It’s not easy to change minds. I honestly feel that the biggest problem is one of culture. I don’t think that most evangelical christians are as motivated by their faith as they are by their culture. Culture runs deep, and I really think that the only hope for changing someone’s culture is by prayer and loving confrontation. I assure you that I have irritated a lot of my friends by trying to pull us back to the center … unfortunately, it’s hard to initiate change when those same people spend more time listening to FOX News and Glen Beck then they do examining their hearts. I do draw a line. I’ve brushed the dust off my shoes in a number of churches and told the pastor that I believed they were moving into heresy .. and any hateful speech is heresy ( except maybe where the speech is self directed and demanding change. )

        • DR

          DR, I’m not asking anyone to tolerate parents who kick their kids out because they are gay. What I said above, was that they should be treated with dignity and respect.>>>

          I can’t believe you just said that. Have you ever had an experience with someone who is an abuser which is what these people are? Treating them with “dignity and respect” is enabling them. Tell you what, head on down to your local homeless shelter for kids. Try holding a gay kid from a Christian family in your arms who just got raped by someone because his loving christian parents kicked him out of his house for his – as you call it – “sexual behavior”. Try explaining to him why God won’t change him. I’m quite serious, give that a shot. Then do it again. Then do it the next night. Do it for a year you’ll probably encounter based on statistics, about 100 kids in that scenario. Let’s see then how much “dignity and respect” you want to provide to their parents.

          They have the right to live their lives in any fashion that they choose.>>

          No they don’t. They actually don’t if they are harming kids by expressing their beliefs, this is where you have things all wrong. As a society we actually don’t allow that kind of thing. Your problem is that you see this as just another opinion that should be tolerated. I protect your right to believe whatever you want to – to even say it – but there are consequences, much like shouting “Fire” in a burning building. You need to wake up to the fact that *expressions of belief* are behaviors, behaviors that cause harm.

          I don’t tell them to knock it out. I love them and accept them as they are, and let the Holy Spirit convict where change needs to be made.>>>

          It’s our job to tell people in our Christian tent that they are wrong. We are accountable. Who’s going to do it, James? Are you going to wait for the gay people to do it? The atheists? Because they’re the ones who have the courage of their convictions to actually stand up to our fellow Christians who are causing such damage. We don’t do that, we just stay quiet and keep our hands clean and hope that somehow the magic of the “Holy Spirit” will change everything. The Holy Spirit doesn’t work that way. We open up the door by our beliefs and our decisions to express those beliefs.

          However, I wouldn’t go to a NASCAR event and be offended if people were upset when I said I hate the sound of these loud cars. >>>

          This is honestly, one of the creepiest things I’ve ever read. I don’t even know how to respond to this.

          A homosexual can choose to be celibate, in the same way that heterosexual people can choose to be celibate. I’m not minimizing that choice. It would be incredibly difficult, but Christians are called to obedience>>>

          Ahhh. OK. I see things now. You are all about homosexuality being a “choice”. If that’s true then a lot of gay men and women who are having lots of sex with their partners of over 15-20 years are still Christian and they aren’t changing. Behavior that is truly sinful is what the Holy Spirit changes. Gay people don’t “change” once they become a Christian.

          Being a Christian is not a light choice. It does require sacrifice. >>>

          There’s no comparison here because being gay is not a choice, nor can you boil down “sin” to behavior. God says that lust is sin – the desire for another is sin. Coveting? Sin. Gay people don’t stop doing that even if they do as you say, stop their sexual acts. That’s like telling a husband to stop having sex with his wife so the marriage is supported by God. He’s still going to want her – he still *desires* her – the sex is just an extension of that. Those of you who take this approach are actually perverting what sexual sin really is.

          There are plenty of nominal Christians who view their faith like a coat that can be put on and taken off when convenient. I don’t see that Jesus ever presented following Him in this context.>>>

          I don’t think you have a clue on what being gay really means. No one who does would ever boil it down to behavior. If you’re really willing to let go of being in control, you’ll stick around and participate and be a student instead of a teacher. I don’t think you will, I think you have way too much to lose to stick around and actually be open to changing your mind. But who knows I’ve been surprised before.

          • James

            DR, you didn’t read correctly what I said … I was talking about treating gays with dignity and respect, not some pathetic parent who would kick out their child for being gay. And yes, if you read what I said, I’ve had a lot of experience with abusers. Many years of it. “They have the right to live their lives in any fashion they choose.” Again, you misread what I wrote.. I was talking about gay people. They have the right. So, I’m not sure how much of your response I should discount, as apparently I either didn’t communicate clearly or you didn’t read thoroughly. Most of the things you think I was saying about the church, I was saying about the treatment of gays. So, please reread it and respond.

          • http://muirnin.wordpress.com David Philip Norris

            DR – Well said, sir. Homosexual activity does not equal homosexual desire any more than homosexual desire does not equal homosexual identity. The problem is in labeling it a preference, like a preference for orange or coffee or Coke over Pepsi. Christianity needs more thinkers like you.

          • DR

            Yes! This is how my fellow christians allow themselves to be off the hook for thinking critically. In heterosexual sex, I as a woman want to be intimate with a man that I’m in love with. Because I don’t have sex with him doesn’t mean I desire him any less. Somehow christians try to pass being gay and being straight off as being two different sexual and romantic beasts but the process by which we decide who we love, who we want to make out with and who we want to be with permanently? Exactly the same. Christians don’t often want to get too close to that reality.

          • http://muirnin.wordpress.com David Philip Norris

            OH! My apologies to you, a *woman* (and *not* a sir)! That betrays my own gender blind spot.

            Believe what you want, but critical thinking is a MUST. And I think that if most Christians critically examined their own feelings about homosexuality, they would see that it really comes down to just being uncomfortable with the idea of two men or two women loving each other in a deep and committed way. There is no “straight.” No “gay.” Only HUMAN.

            I’ll say it again—Christianity needs more wise WOMEN like you!

          • DR

            Well, it takes people like you to help me understand. Thanks for your willingness to come into this conversation and be honest. No one would ever expect you to do that. Thank you.

        • http://muirnin.wordpress.com David Philip Norris

          James – but you ARE asking parents to psychologically murder their children by enticing them to deny their natural sexuality with the threat of eternal hell and damnation. To a child or a child raised in a fundamentalist Christian home that is one of the cruelest and most psychologically damaging things you could teach a person. You cannot truly love the person without loving and accepting the complete person—including their sexuality. And it is Christians who hold intolerant and hateful beliefs such as yours that are killing innocent children. I am through being tactful and diplomatic and am calling a spade a spade. The mountain of evidence available to you from biology, neurology and psychology proving conclusively that homosexuality is NOT an aberration and is, in fact, a normally occurring variant of human sexuality should be enough—but because a 2,000 year old Bronze Age religious text tells Christians that “God said homosexuality is wrong… why? Because God said it is!”, that evidence will be ignorantly shoved aside, and children and teenagers will continue to suffer horrors, wives will continue to be heartbroken when they discover that their husbands are not physically attracted to them, and millions of heterosexuals will be permitted to live in the darkness of bigotry and small-mindedness.

          I am a gay man who was once a Christian, and attempted for over a decade to reconcile my former faith with what the bible taught about my desires. When I could no longer deny that I was gay, the deeper I looked the more I came to the conclusion that the problem was either with me, or with the teaching. And it made a lot more sense from the latter point of view. You may as well say that left-handed people are an abomination to God—that’s how arbitrary the prejudice against homosexuality is. Because a Bronze Age tribal society obsessed with sexual purity grew up into a civilization and founded a religion largely based around a god obsessed with sexual purity, Christianity is a religion that teaches that sex is disgusting or at least an act fenced into the confines of marriage. It creates a problem where no problem needs exist.

          If you think that you are loving homosexuals by telling them that the only way they can get to heaven is by figuratively castrating or lobotomizing themselves, you are either tragically deluded or diabolically cruel. And if you are doing that to your children, you are unequivocally wicked.

          • DR

            I want to copy this and post it everywhere.

          • http://muirnin.wordpress.com David Philip Norris

            Copy and paste, with my blessing. Admittedly the tone is a bit harsh, but then this is a topic that needs telling like it is. I was through being nice when nineteen men turned airplanes into bombs on 9/11. Judaism, Islam or Christianity may not be blowing anyone up by condemning gays and lesbians, but they are quietly standing by or openly condoning the silent murder of thousands, some who die invisible deaths every day. No more.

            And I want to give you a huge hug, wherever you are!

          • James

            David, you are making assumptions about what I believe. I don’t believe that anyone goes to Hell for being gay. Any more than I believe that someone goes to Hell for greed, or gluttony, or a thoughtless word. I’m not sure who is in Hell, but I believe that anyone who is there, is there by their own choosing and mostly for intentionally reject God’s grace and forgiveness. I don’t believe that Christianity teaches that sex is dirty, any more than it teaches that money is evil. The bible teaches that the love of money is evil. It also teaches that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. I was 32 before I met my wife. I didn’t have any girls at my church who would sleep with me without being married. I suppose I could have found someone, who didn’t share my faith, and had sex. Believe, I wanted to have sex. But more than that, I wanted to be true to my faith. Now if I had slept with someone, would God have loved me less? No. But I do believe it would have negatively impacted my walk with Him. I’m 55 now, and my wife has had a physical condition for the last few years which has made sex, nearly impossible. Believe me, I am still fully functioning and would love to have sex all the time, but my fidelity to my wife and my faith puts me in a place where I must make a choice: should I be faithful to them or to my physical body only. I’ve been faithful. It hasn’t been easy, and if I didn’t have so much more from a loving wife and a loving God, then I would cheat. This doesn’t make me an unstable person, because it’s my choice to obey God. He won’t stop me from cheating, and I don’t think He’d condemn me, but I know it would harm me and my wife and would hurt God.

            I wouldn’t say to any gay person that they only way they can get to heaven is by castrating or lobotomizing themselves. I would tell them that the good news is that Jesus has paid in full all of our sins; yours and mine. We are both equally in need of a savior. The only qualification for entrance into heaven is acceptance of God’s grace in Jesus. Period. Nothing else. Nada. If they become a Christian, I would encourage them to seek God with their whole heart and they will find Him. I would leave any need for conviction of sin ( which is a universal issue ) to the Holy Spirit, because, it’s His job, not mine. If they asked me candidly, my opinion, I would encourage them to pray about it, knowing that they are fully accepted, to ask ( as Jesus did ) whether this cup could pass from them, but nevertheless, not their will, but His. This is not a unique call upon the gay Christian. It is an expectation for all Christians. Jesus said “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”, but He also said, “If you come after Me, you must take up your cross and follow Me.” God asks us to do seemingly impossible things, that we would be unable to do, apart from His Spirit which supernaturally empowers us. I know this all probably seems like intolerant nonsense, and I’m truly open to God’s prompting to teach me if I’m incorrect in any of this ( I am no stranger to change. I know that my mind is imperfect, so I’m willing to change. ) I never said, nor do I believe that homosexuality is genetically abnormal. I only said that the Bible clearly teaches that sodomy is a sin ( for heterosexuals and homosexuals alike ). I do not look down on or criticize anyone for their sexual orientation. I only say that Christians are called to give up everything for their faith. In the same manner, if I have materialistic Christian friends, I don’t tell them how to live their lives, but I won’t tell them that I believe that materialism is perfectly alright.

          • http://muirnin.wordpress.com David Philip Norris

            James – True. I may not know EXACTLY what you believe, but I have a pretty good idea. I was raised with such ideology and used to believe it myself. However, if you believe that homosexuality is not necessarily abnormal, then therefore God created it. And why would God create something that he didn’t intend for people to use, or that was sinful? Therein lies the principle inconsistency in the church’s teaching on homosexuality. Either it is an aberration, or it is natural. I now recognize that the bible is a man-made document, with man-made prejudices, and therefore it holds no power or authority for me any longer. However, to put those prejudices in the mouth of a “god” is one of the worst lies a sentient being could be party to.

            And I’m sorry, but you DO look down on gays and lesbians for their orientation. By telling them that they can “sit anywhere, but not ‘there’,” you relegate them to second-class citizens, and you deny their full humanity. Even worse, you believe that to embrace their sexuality and find a partner of their own sex would condemn them to hell.

            As a gay man, to use Christ’s words, either you are for me or against me.

            The bible teaches many other things in addition to the supposed ban on homosexual sex (which it does not). Do you enjoy a juicy cheeseburger? You are living in sin. Do you do work on the Sabbath? Then you are living in sin. Did you ever have sex with your wife during her menstrual cycle? Then you were both living in sin. You pick and choose which laws to apply based on how convenient it is for you; and it is more convenient for you to attempt to put homosexuals in their place because you don’t like it than to question your religious text. Either apply them equally, or not at all.

          • James

            Just because God created it, doesn’t mean that there on no limits. He gave me a penis, and a heterosexual preference, but He limits how I use it. As far as the other things, like working on the Sabbath, I won’t get into the difference between the ceremonial law and the moral law, I will only say that I don’t judge that either, but if someone asks me to say “there’s nothing immoral with working on the Sabbath”, I would simply say, it’s between you and God. Read the Bible and pray about it. I’m not the one who determines right and wrong, and if working on the Sabbath is a sin, it is equally wrong.

          • http://muirnin.wordpress.com David Philip Norris

            James – If God said “It is good,” why would He put limits on it if it weren’t good? If God is supposedly all-knowing, then he wouldn’t create people with homosexual desire if he didn’t intend for them to act on it as heterosexual people do with their partners. Either that, or He is a cruel, spiteful and vicious demon who is not worth our time or our eternal worship.

            Personally, I do not believe in God at all. God is a fiction that humans created in order to find meaning in the universe. And God became a convenient way of controlling human behavior, especially behavior some humans didn’t like or felt uncomfortable with.

          • soulfuljourney

            i personally believe in an energy that one could call ‘God’ but i believe that people ‘project’ a lot onto that energy/essence. people project forms and ideas and feelings onto that God. they project things onto other people as well. those they like, they project things onto them. the person may not be all that ‘good’ but they project some of that onto them. then, if they don’t like the same person later, then suddenly they project they are ‘evil’. you see it among different Christian groups in their conflicts. the same book is used, but vastly different interpretations.

            nowhere else other than religions do we assume that a 2000 year old text holds weight over other texts. would you want a doctor to use a 2000 year old manual to operate on you? yes, some herbal supplements that were known about thousands of years ago are still used. but few would want to drive the ideal car of 2000 years ago. do we use 2,000 year old architecture?

            Jesus said to followers ‘give up everything and follow me’ yet how many Christians give up much material pleasure to follow the teachings of Jesus? many drive sports cars and live in big fancy houses and see that as blessings from God.

            i think spirituality is supposed to evolve and clearly has – the crusades are not something most current Christians would look upon with pride. some clearly would.

            One thing i have come to distinguish is the difference between ‘Christians’ who follow the bible and ‘followers of Christ’ who follow teachings of Christ. They seem to be very different things. Paul didn’t seem to be much of a follower of Christ. Many people seem to be more Paulians than Christians. Jesus may have been a God, but the rest of the folks were men doing their best (hopefully) to offer teachings the best they could, and then those teachings were later translated by others and organized by others.

          • http://muirnin.wordpress.com David Philip Norris

            soulful – Actually, we DO still use 2,000-year-old architecture today! In fact, some of it is still standing today (though, arguably, in not as good condition as it once was)! And that’s the point, that in the marketplace of ideas we keep what works and ditch what causes more problems than offers solutions. Only in religion do we keep banging our heads against the same wall, hoping and praying that one day God will make the wall go away—instead of walking away from the wall. I don’t believe in God any more than I believe in Zeus, Vishnu, Loki or Cthulu; and eventually, our descendants will probably look back on the Church in the way we look at the ancient Greeks and Norse.

            Keep going! Keep thinking! Keep searching!

          • soulfuljourney

            we don’t use the ‘texts’ though as the base texts, they are updated and we use additional methods. that was the point. and i think personally there is spirituality and then there is ‘God’. if one looks at a prayer study from harvard medical review (i believe the name is) for example, they talk about prayer and how it works in at least one case better than a placebo and better than some medicine. HOWEVER, they talk about how it works regardless of religion in the same degree of effectiveness. (ie. Hindu and Buddhist prayers were not less effective than Christian prayers).

            there is a lot of rather evolved explorations of spirituality and energy, consciousness, etc… for me personally i am more agnostic, not because i am non committal, but because i do not know and to say i do know would not be honest and to believe i do know would not seem wise at this point.

          • DR

            So exactly when do gay men get to use their penis? And how? And when you’re suggesting that they refrain from sex, then there is “wrong” connected to that. You kind of seem all over the place here.

          • soulfuljourney

            James… when you say sodomy is a sin, i wonder what you are referring to specifically. as i understand it leviticus is the ‘old law’ which talked about stoning gay people. after that, referring to ‘sodom and gomorrah’ which is where the term ‘sodomy’ came from, the sin was a lack of hospitality and rape, which in this case happened to be male/male rape. but the ‘sin’ was rape and lack of hospitality, something that through other places in the bible was discussed.

            second, i personally believe that the bible has a lot of issues, not the least of which is that it begins with adam and eve’s kids having to be incestuous and then incest came later with lot’s kids and him i believe it was. i am not sure that the sexual morality code of the world should come in absolute terms from a book that clearly talks about incest without condemnation, something that can scientifically lead to birth defects.

            i personally love facets of the bible, but i can’t take it seriously in an all or nothing way. obviously a lot of people take it as absolutely the word of god in spite of the translations and editing and cultural context variations. i believe there was a reason that the original text was so long left to priests and religious leaders, because the text itself can be interpreted in so many wrong ways. i personally believe much of it is greatly inspired, but a lot of it is the neurosis of tribal cultures that have in some (not all) cases lost their relevance and in many cases their wisdom was clearly limited – including advocating stoning people.

            if i remember correctly, the highest law is to love thy neighbor as thyself. the ten commandments said nothing about homosexuality, or homorelationality for that matter. the bible also says ‘judge not lest ye be judged’ and yet so many love to judge and condemn others using the bible’s teachings and such actions fuel atheism and an anti-spirituality because of the abuses of religions for generations.

            i think homosexuality is something that many people like to talk about who are not gay and who have not experienced with it. last i heard jesus was not making laws, yet so many christians seek to make laws. jesus did not seek to make prostitution illegal. the sad thing for me is to see the potential of christianity and to see how much it has become about fear, condemnation, self loathing, and control. i think we need less people telling others what to do and more people looking at the beams in their own eyes.

          • http://muirnin.wordpress.com David Philip Norris

            soulful – Go immediately to http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_bibl.htm, and then to http://www.truthsetsfree.net/. You’ll find all you need to know about the Bible and homosexuality.

            “Sodomy” as a euphemism for “homosexual acts” is to be found nowhere in the bible. That was a later addition, I believe in the KJV.

            And not only does the bible not condemn incest or rape, but it also supports the subjugation and denigration of females as mere objects for the pleasure and convenience of males. It also condones slavery and outright deception (so long as God approves of it).

          • Thomas

            [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

          • Diana A.

            soulful–go immediately to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAJ4XVmI4dc&feature=channel_video_title . It has nothing whatsoever to do with this subject, but since other people are telling you to click on certain links, I might as well join the club.

          • DR

            So oral sex is fine for gay men and women then, is that what you’re saying? Let’s get specific.

          • David in Houston

            Nicely said. The idea that people use the Bible (which I believe is a book of morality tales written by man) as a scientific guide on human sexuality is laughable. What did people from a thousand years ago know about sexual orientation? What, if anything, do we still have in common with those people? If I could go back in time and I showed those people an iPhone, they’d stone me to death as a demon or a witch.

            The fact that people are still using phrases such as “lifestyle choice” tells me all I need to know. Sexual orientation is not a choice. Is being straight a lifestyle choice? I have yet to meet a single straight person that has ever chosen to be straight. So why do straight people insist that gay people have chosen to be gay? …and why exactly would a straight person choose to be gay in the first place? Perhaps NOT being discriminated against, and NOT being ostracized by society was too boring for them?

          • http://muirnin.wordpress.com David Philip Norris

            YES! As soon as I meet a straight person who can flip their “gay” switch, I’ll be convinced that homosexuality is a choice.

            Yes, you would probably have been killed for having an iPhone—or elevated as a god depending on how enlightened they were as a society. Standards change based on the level of knowledge and education people have. We are living in a thrilling period where people are rising up and throwing off centuries of oppressive ideology and finally asking the question, “What the hell are we doing??”

            Why do straight people insist that homosexuality is a choice? Because otherwise they would have to take it seriously—and admit that they just don’t like it. Would I have chosen to be gay as a teenager growing up in the church amongst a predominantly heterosexual culture? Probably not! Would I choose to be straight now, having lived through that? Not in a million years.

          • James

            You know, what is really sad is that I’m usually on a Yahoo News board arguing with Right Wing bigots and trying to open a rational dialogue, or trying to convince my evangelical friends to be more compassionate and stop supporting candidates who are clearly fascists. In those cases, I put my friendships and connections on the line to encourage dialogue with people I disagree with, in order to see the church and society become more civil. I agree with 90% of what the people on this board say, but I have equal problem entering into civil dialogue here as with the far right. Critical thinking skills means being able to listen to someone who you disagree with, and genuinely consider their point of view. I don’t see that much here ( other than from Melody above ). Now I understand that this topic is difficult. On one side, you have a group of people (LGBT) who have been mistreated and dismissed for years. They have been bullied, and called names and labeled abnormal. I agree completely that this type of treatment has gone on for too long and must be stopped. On the other side, you have many people who have a cultural bias, who are motivated mostly by fear, which often is expressed in hate and political posturing. The people on this side are clearly in the wrong, but culture is only changed by information, communication and insistent patience. Now, I don’t believe that I fit into either group. I belong to a third group ( albeit, a minority ) who thoroughly disagree with the second group and try to encourage and support change. I believe in showing love and support for the first group and can minimally identify with being an outsider and unaccepted. However, I also believe that there is a solely spiritual component to this. I believe that there is world of difference between preference, disposition, proclivity, mannerisms, culture ( on one hand ) and behavior ( on the other hand ). While I don’t see that it should come up 99% of the time, if pressed, I can not condone sexual behavior, which I believe I’ve been told is wrong. This belief doesn’t cause me to question the value of a gay person, or to stand up for their civil rights.

            Unfortunately, it appears that some people believe that my identity is not valid. As deep as my sexuality is, my faith is even deeper, and I’m being told that my view that a specific sexual act is immoral, makes me not worthy of acceptance myself. Is that correct? If you are unwilling to tolerate my personal view, which in no way limits anyone else’ freedoms, and which doesn’t keep me from standing up the civil rights of gays or keep me from considering them to be equally valuable to God as myself, then I have to ask, who is really being intolerant?

            I thought that perhaps I could discuss this issue and try to understand things from someone else’ point of view, but I’m not sure you will allow me to enter into respectful dialogue on this issue. What is so sad, is that I agree with most of what you say, and yet I feel that you disrespect me and are judging me. Perhaps the purpose of this board is for people, who have been hurt, to vent their frustrations. If that’s the case, I can only say that I am truly sorry for the pain that has become such an unfair wound in your lives. If, on the other hand, the purpose is to discuss things, in a rational way, in hopes that we can learn from each other, what I’ve seen tonight doesn’t convince me that you want to dialogue or that you are any less intolerant than the people you criticize. Think I’ll sign off for now, pray about this and possibly come back another time.

          • http://muirnin.wordpress.com David Philip Norris

            James – If you are as rational and reasonable as you claim to be, why can you not even consider the possibility that what you have been taught is wrong? For hundreds of years the Church taught that blacks were inferior to whites and suitable for nothing but abject slavery. The bible was used as support. Why not consider that now the bible was wrong about homosexuality as well.

            How can you ignore the pain and the suffering that this doctrine has caused? And even though pain and suffering are more rhetorical than logical arguing points, what is more likely—that gays and lesbians are living in sin, or that the bible is simply wrong about this?

            DR asked you a very pointed question that you never answered. Could you hold a teenage boy who’d been raped on the streets because his parents threw him out of the house for coming out to them, look him in the eyes and tell him that God can’t accept him as a gay man? This is a human question, not a theological one.

          • James

            David, those are valid questions, and I hope you will hear my reply and not read into it. You are correct that slavery was, for many years, tolerated by the church. There were some who wrongly tried to find a biblical support for it. There is no clear biblical statement for or against slavery. A couple of points here: first, slavery was a worldwide issue and has always (and still is) and issue. The church didn’t start it. Scripture never condones slavery. It simply says that if you are a slave, be respectful; if you’re a slave owner, be kind. The purpose here was that God realizes that you change culture by changing people. Paul simply said that by showing respect a slave may reach their owner and conversion might change them. Second, it was the church that ended slavery. William Wilberforce in England was responsible for ending the slave trade there, and mostly on spiritual grounds. The abolitionist movement in the US was an off shoot of the church. On the subject of homosexuality, there are numerous sections of scripture that teach that it is wrong. It’s not just one verse. It would certainly be easier if I could just pick and choose what to believe, but I don’t see that as being logically consistent. Those verses are not symbolic and tied to a single, clearly cultural circumstance. I don’t think that it is a central issue, and so I certainly don’t focus on teaching that it is wrong.

            Regarding the personal question, I completely agree. You can’t ignore the personal pain, and I would hope that I never would. I would hope that if I was in that situation, I would hope that I could offer a place to stay for that child and honestly tell him that God loves him and accepts him fully just as he is; in the same way that He loves me and accepts me fully just as I am.

          • DR

            James, the word for “homosexual” wasn’t even around when Scripture was first interpreted. Seriously. Please do some research.

          • DR

            If God accepts him exactly as he is James, then why would you insist that he be celibate? It’s very confusing. gay men and women can’t get married in the church like we can. So tell me how you’d tell this child that God fully loves him and accept him – except the church doesn’t believe that him marrying another man that he loves is OK to do. How would you handle that question? Because if you actually did go to a shelter and if you actually did deal with gay kids, this would come up (though trust me when I tell you – you have them in your youth group).

          • http://muirnin.wordpress.com David Philip Norris

            James – Okay, I feel like we’re getting somewhere here. However, the bible may not outright condone slavery but it certainly doesn’t condemn it either. And you’d think that Jesus would have something to say about it if God thought it was wrong then—but no, Jesus tells us that God treats people like people treat their slaves. Is that not a silent condoning, by passively doing nothing and even enabling?

            And it was a Christian, not the Church, that founded the abolitionist movement. That was yet another area that the Church failed to be a moral voice in.

            So what exactly are your grounds for believing that it is wrong for me to marry my boyfriend (if I had a boyfriend that is, and sadly, right now I do not) and enjoy a healthy sex life with him as heterosexuals do? If you believe that

            I’m not broken, and that God presumably then created me this way, why is that not permissible?

          • DR

            Critical thinking skills means being able to listen to someone who you disagree with, and genuinely consider their point of view.>>>

            James, you need to be able to deal with peoples’ emotions around this topic. Simply put? Your postion on gay men and women needing to be celibate has hurt a lot of people. A lot of people are angry with you and they’re saying so. Being *honest* about that isn’t being “uncivil”. Christians need to start choosing to toughen up a little bit if we’re going to wade into these waters.

            I suspect this has a lot more to do with you feeling uncomfortable and defensive rather than us not being civil.

          • James

            Again, you didn’t read what I said. I clearly said that I believe that it is NOT a choice.

          • DR

            Then you need to help us understand. If being gay is not a choice, then why would God create a situation where someone desires a “sinful sexual act” that he cannot change? How do you reconcile asking them to be celibate in order to be Christian? They can’t get married – do you support them getting to have sex when they are able to be married?

            If you talk to an alcoholic or liar or “insert sin here”, when they meet Jesus? They lose the desire for the behavior. Gay men and women don’t lose the desire to fall in love with someone of the same sex.

          • http://muirnin.wordpress.com David Philip Norris

            And no one is born an alcoholic. (My parents bring that analogy up all the time and it just falls to pieces.) People ARE born gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans. I’ve actually heard the argument put forth that homosexuality itself is the gift of celibacy that Paul was talking about!! How deplorable, to teach that God would give you a desire that was sinful to fulfill!

          • charles

            the sin nature of man is omnipresnt David- We cannot escape it. so to make a comment such as that seems a little weird…. just becuase something “feels” good doesnt necessarily make it so- Morphine “feels” awesome…. but the risks of recreational use are pretty profound… Sexuality for the Christian is something we negotiate in our own ways- but for one expression or another to be ruled as something of extraordinary importance is not supported by Biblical Literature- as has been said many times before- Jesus talked about the Pharisee’s and their false piety dozens of times, but talked about sex and the believer (in any manner) not at all. I think Jesus was more concerned with the struggles inside and how we individually responded to the Spirit and the Word, than worrying about those other issues-

          • http://muirnin.wordpress.com David Philip Norris

            Charles – “Sin nature” is a concept that comes from a religion that fetishises guilt and shame, and was also obsession with ritual sexual purity. For one thing, I am not a Christian and don’t give two figs about your Judeo-Christian sexual ethics. I practice campground morality: Leave this place better than you found it, and don’t hurt anyone. Jesus was concerned with others foisting off their self-righteous opinions about other people’s behavior.

          • DR

            Charles, being gay doesn’t lead to sin. It leads to love, relationships, and these days, gay men and women adopting the babies that christians refuse to take care of. OK? Being gay doesn’t lead to a sin.

          • charles

            sin is not limited to sexual purity or choice- Biblically it is actually pretty well evident it was a minor part of the deal- to base ones entire view of Christ, and Christianity is sort of like judging s Ferrari by its rearview mirrors.

          • http://muirnin.wordpress.com David Philip Norris

            Charles – Before you go around telling gays, lesbians and ME how to live our lives, please go befriend a gay person. Really, really befriend them—not just to win them for Jesus or help them “pray away the gay.” They know what you think, so let them tell you their story.

            Then, after six months or so, try telling them that their same-sex attraction is sin nature. Hell, for that matter, try telling me that. Drop the Christian talking points and confront your true feelings about homosexuality. Do you think it’s wrong, or does it make you uncomfortable?

          • charles

            I will have to tell that to the 4 lesbians I am close friends with- sadly, I lost two of my male friends who were gay when I lived in San Francisco to HIV.

            I find it curious as to your reaction actually- I am very much pro gay- Sin is a part of all of our lives gay, straight, whatever…. It doesnt discriminate- and people of all views do sinful acts- lying, stealing, and otherwise hurting their loved ones and even complete strangers as matter of their day to day life. If you dont like that, I guess thats your choice, but Sin IS evil- and evil is all around us. Its sort of funny because I am actually one of the most pro-gay Christians at my church. and I go to a fairly liberal one.

          • charles

            DR- please reread my comments- I have never once implied such a thing- I did say directly that we all are subject to sin though. ALL of us, on an hour by hour basis.

          • http://muirnin.wordpress.com David Philip Norris

            Charles – Funny, I would not have gathered that you were pro-gay from your comments. How close are you exactly with these four lesbians?? Do they know what you think of them and their sexuality? You can’t be truly pro-gay unless you are ALL pro-gay. Otherwise you’re just a “poser.” You cannot truly love someone and deny the part of their personhood you find inconveniently disturbing.

          • charles

            David- you seriously need to reread my comments because they are not at all what you are commenting on-

            let me very, very clear….

            I DO NOT BELIEVE SEXUALITY IS SIN. period…..

            you seem to want to attach sin to homosexuality- THATS YOUR DEAL- NOT MINE….

            I do believe we all sin. Sin includes Lying, Cheating, Greed, Lust, Violence etc….. I believe all humans are subject to that. We negotiate the fine points of that conflict on an hourly basis. I also believe that God is far more concerned with MY sin, than he wants me to be concerned with someone else’s. I think this is what is disturbing your stated humanistic beliefs- that has nothing to do with my comments though. That is your deal. And that has nothing to with sexual orientation.

          • http://muirnin.wordpress.com David Philip Norris

            Charles – Sorry, apparently I misunderstood your comment that just because something “feels” good doesn’t mean that it IS good.

            So, do you fully support me marrying my boyfriend (who is hypothetical at the moment) and that (were I to believe in it) we wouldn’t go to hell for that (presuming that we are very, very sexually active in our marriage, which is the primary conservative objection to gays)?

          • charles

            on marriage-

            the short answer? Absolutely. You should be allowed to marry the person you like…..

            the longer answer- it is complicated- because we then need to really define the structure- is “marriage” between 2 people? or three? or whatever- Polygamy and inter-family unions are illegal under most state laws- and we would really properly have to re-evaluate the legitimacy of it when we expand the concept of marriage. I personally think we DO have to examine that, especially since Cousin marriages are quite common in some parts of the world- I know that is not directly related to the question, but in the whole Prop 8 debacle here in California, I have come to believe that “marriage” is a partnership contract. I do think “civil union” might be a more appropriate term for the legal protections it would evenly apply to all people wanting to make a union of that sort- as it is a legal and binding governmental arrangement- It might also make sense to make the term “marriage” apply to religious, or other standards which dont necessarily impact the legally binding contract. But frankly, I dont really care what terms are used- as long as there is provision for individual faith or belief choices in the defining of the union for the individuals.

  • Juliet Neary

    It’s funny that Jesus said not one word about being gay, and yet it seems to be the only thing fundamentalists ever think about. However, Jesus wa always talking about taking care of the poor and giving away all your stuff to follow him. I’m not sure where [unidentified megachurch] fits with all that. Your young friend should be thankful to our Lord that he escaped when he did.

    • http://muirnin.wordpress.com David Philip Norris

      Juliet – Exactly. Jesus said nuffin’ about homosexuality. You’d think that if the all-knowing creator of the universe knew what a huge problem this might be later on, he might have said something about it when he was on the earth. Maybe that got lost in one of those “other” gospels. *wink*

      Sadly, though, I don’t think Pastor X has escaped, though it’s my sincerest hope that he will see the true light and come out of the church altogether.

  • Michael

    Homophobia is a sin like lying, stealing and murder. The pro-homophobia lobby is so intent on silencing, censoring and stamping out the religious liberty of pro-equality Americans, that they can’t even see how unchristian they are.

    As a Christian gay man, I urge Mr. X to pray and pray on this. God will lead him to the right place. In my opinion, clearly he is annointed with the Holy Spirit and he needs to remain in ministry. Starting a new church somewhere and standing up for equality and justice may be what he will be moved to do. God bless him and his family. And I’ll pray for the deceived anti-gay activists who thought it was better to fire him and hide all the details, because they know in their hearts that what they did was wrong and immoral.

    • http://www.poesies.com Gina Cirelli

      Beautiful reply, Michael.

    • http://muirnin.wordpress.com David Philip Norris

      Good for you, Michael. Nicely said! America is in need of a good dose of rational thought. That’s the only true inoculation that we have against the anti-gay lobbyists. Ignorance and bigotry can’t stand for long against the light of reason and truth, but the former is going to fight like hell (and I use that term deliberately) to make sure that theirs is the only voice that is heard.

      Keep going! Keep thinking! Keep speaking up! There may be many in the Christian community who are afraid to stand up for equality, the affirmation of human rights and what they believe is right, and they need to hear your voice. Just one standing up might give them the courage to stand up with you. Let reason prevail!

  • Val P.

    To me, the point of this article is not about whether homosexuality is or is not a sin. It is not what the young pastor did or did not say. According to this article he did not express a personal opinion about homosexuality – he posted his approval that DADT ended – he said it was good that discrimination ended. Is it not frightening that this church is so controlling that its employees are not allowed to even have thoughts that differ from theirs? That is something I would expect in Iran…not in the USA!

    • DR

      I think employers can take action against what we put out in the public, even if we feel like our Facebook is private, it’s the internet. I support teachers who are racist and homophobic getting fired for expressing those views on Facebook where students could get wind of that. I support the right of this church firing this pastor for whatever reason they want to, I don’ think that’s a violation of free speech persay. I think the real root of the issue is that they’d find the link to the repeal of DODT so repugnant to begin with.

      It’s SO WEIRD that Christians would try to prevent gay men and women from serving in the military. These people are willing to risk their lives for us – WTF is wrong with us that we’d be so ignorant that we’d actually be afraid of “group showers”. It’s like there’s some brain chip missing, it’s so scary.

  • Pamela

    This breaks my heart. This man of God and his family will be in my prayers.

  • relevantpreach

    As a pastor myself,this story makes me just so frustrated that things like this still happen. People so worried about what others think that they raise such heinous issues with a pastor that they get him fired for not doing anything wrong, biblically, morally, ethically, or the like. If they were really following Scripture, they would have discussed it with him, shared a unified front as leadership under the Lordship of Christ, and accepted him as a leader they knew prior to this God had called there.

    I know that I disagree with many of you on this site, but as I have mentioned, we are all as followers of Christ on the same team, trying to reach a world that is broken and hurting with the good news of Jesus saving and transforming love. Whether we agree on everything or not does not change that. I am sorry for the sinful acts of this church and pray for them even now.

    • Christy

      Thank you for this.

    • Melody

      Beautiful. Thank you.

  • Shannon

    I pray that this pastor will step through the door that God may have opened for him to start a new church. It would be lovely to have a new church full of people who are open and accepting of homosexuals instead of the houses of hatred that so many of them are now. I will be praying for this man and his family. God bless him.

  • http://muirnin.wordpress.com David Philip Norris

    My heart goes out to this man and his family. That such self-righteous bigots are still allowed to practice their brand of parasitic Pharisaism is utterly criminal, and we won’t see true change in the world until ignorance and small-mindedness are wiped off the face of the earth through the championing of science and enlightened reason.

    However, as a former Christian, I wonder at how you and the other commentators on this blog can still stand to call yourselves “Christian.” Aside from the message of compassion and love, there are few religions in the world more anti-human or full of noxious ideology than Christianity. From the doctrine of original sin to the eschatology of the end times, it has done more harm to people than any other faith I know of. Too much innocent blood has been shed in the name of a Christ who most likely died alone, self-deluded, and in the horror and knowledge that he’d been abandoned by his God.

    Homosexuality is incompatible with Christianity because Christianity is incompatible with the rest of the modern world. It is a 1st Century, square peg religion that is being shoved into a round pen cultural slot—and it won’t fit. It took me a long time to realize this, but it is like a man with blinders on swinging his paltry wooden sword around at an enemy that doesn’t exist. Such behavior is fine for a child, but pathetic for an adult with the faculties for reason and intellect—and I should hope that reasonable, mature people would put down the wooden sword of Christianity and take up the banner of reason.

    We won’t see an end to the homophobia, the bigotry or the suicides until we put an end to this charade of a religious institution.

    • DR

      Because I decide what being Christian means for me. Period. And if I’m not funding these organizations that are so evil – if I’m actively fighting those who have kidnapped “Christian” and turned it into something evil – if I take responsibility for their behavior because we share the same tent? Then my experience is my own. I get why you’re frustrated but because you and others like you have a very solid grasp on the evils of religion – and there are many – you don’t have the full story, nor do you have the last word.

      I and others here will keep trying to clean up the mess in our own Christian tent (that we’ve allowed) so you and others don’t have to deal with religious beliefs that take your rights away as an American citizen (if you’re from the USA). But know that there is another dimension to Christianity that is private – that is positive – and that’s critical for us. I won’t ask you to be curious about it. But it does exist.

      • Suz

        “Because I decide what being Christian means for me. Period.”

        That’s it exactly. The technical “qualifications” for being a Christian are very minimal. Beyond that, it’s all personal and collective philosophy and morality. I have few beliefs in common with most Christians, but I am a Christian.

    • http://www.poesies.com Gina Cirelli

      I can certainly understand where you’re coming from. I feel that way about Catholicism.

      But really, if you’re looking for a religion that doesn’t have people in it like this… um… good luck?

    • http://supercrayons64.blogspot.com Blake

      The biggest reason I’m a Christian is that I went to church when I was little, and I like things that give me a feeling of nostalgia.

      I also like tradition: liturgy, religious art, the Eucharist, you know, things that have been around a long time and are so EPIC because of it.

      I don’t even necessarily believe in God, like, factually, but more along the lines of how I believe in the titular protagonist of the book The Little Prince. TLP, if you’ve never read the book, is a child who rules over a small asteroid in space. Without describing the entire book, one of his defining characteristics is his wisdom, and his words and adventures have touched me and changed me.

      Do I believe in TLP? Does it matter? No. He affected my life either way. It’s the same with God, and I serve a God who DOES want to see homosexuals treated with love and tolerance.

      Reason is great and all. It gave us the theory of evolution and that’s pretty kick ass, but ONLY reason is boring if you ask me.

      As for eschatology, if you’re talking about that Left Behind crap I pretty much made up a blog just to make fun of that.

      • http://muirnin.wordpress.com David Philip Norris

        Blake – If you don’t believe in God or TLP, why bother serving God? Why not treat the bible and God like you might treat any of the other myths that have perpetuated through various cultures over millenia? We can glean truth from Christianity just as much as we can any other system of belief or worldview—but you don’t need to pretend that it’s true.

        Reason is not an end in itself. Reason and critical thinking are tools by which our eyes and our minds are opened to reality—and reality, I hope we can all agree, is pretty stunning! Understanding how the world works, how a star is formed, or how humans have built a religion over thousands of years is breathtakingly beautiful! The complexity of the universe and of the human body is something we can marvel at, but don’t need God to explain anymore.

        • DR

          Reason and faith are not mutually exclusive. I know you believe that. For many of us, they are not.

        • http://supercrayons64.blogspot.com Blake

          I agree that science is fucking awesome. When I say I don’t “necessarily factually believe in God” I’m not excluding Her from the possibility of existence. More that I think things like science can explain itself.

          I still feel God when I pray. Not every time, but sometimes. She feels like an overwhelming sense of all the good in the world growing and eventually overcoming evil.

          Personal, internal experiences don’t make for a good case of proving Her existence, I know. Just trying to explain why I don’t quit on Christianity. So I guess it’s because of this and the nostalgia and traditional aspects I already talked about.

          Understand that I’m explaining why it’s good for ME. I don’t think everyone has to be a Christian. So it’s OK with me if you aren’t.

          • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

            “Personal, internal experiences don’t make for a good case of proving Her existence, I know. ”

            Mystics would disagree and affirm your personal, internal experiences of God. Buddhists and Taoists and Hindus might also. Any form of Contemplatives. A deep internal sense of knowing (gnosis) is the foundation of many spiritual leaders and traditions. Philo, Plato, Augustine, St. Francis of Assisi, Thomas Aquinas, Meister Eckhart, Rumi, Hafiz, Julian of Norwich, Teresa of Avila, Thomas Merton……Richard Rohr…..John Phillip Newell.

            The Buddha knew what Socrates knew when it comes to the Divine and Truth…..to write it down, you can be sure it will necessarily limit it and be misunderstood. For some things, like the ineffable, can only be experienced.

            Pay attention to those personal internal experiences and you will notice even more.

      • http://slugcrossings.blogspot.com/ Liutgard

        Blake, I completely understand about TLP. I must confess that the Harry Potter series has made a radical change in me, and after 17 years I’ve come back to the church, and partly because of some of the most basic ethics underpinning the books. My email sig line is “It is our choices Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” -Albus Dumbledore, and I believe it with all my heart. This is not to say that I believe in the ‘world’ Harry lives in, but there’s a great deal of very Christian morality in that world, and it has a very heavy resonance for me. I owe JKR a great deal for helping bring me back to faith.

  • AdrianT

    Who needs Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens to put decent folks off religion, when you have homophobic clerics to do that for you? It’s incidents like this that accelerate the decline of religion in America.

    I would say to the fired pastor – turn up to your church, and preach anyway. Act as if you hadn’t been fired. I cannot claim to know the mind of the Almighty, but at least, Justice and Reason are on your side. The worst thing this preacher can do is to wallow in self-pity and meekly disappear into the background. Jesus, we are told, was a radical. He reportedly went into the Temple grounds and overturned the tables, attacking hypocrisy head-on. So you must do the same if you are remotely serious about your faith. Interrupt the sermon, call for your former elders to repent. Offer forgiveness for their inhumanity, intolerance and cruelty. It is in our darkest moments that we are tested on our convictions and character, not when the going is good. Embrace it. Pastor X, this is the moment you have been waiting for, surely?

    • Melody

      “Who needs Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens to put decent folks off religion, when you have homophobic clerics to do that for you? It’s incidents like this that accelerate the decline of religion in America.”

      Ouch. Truth hurts sometimes.

      • http://muirnin.wordpress.com David Philip Norris

        It’s incidents like this that have turned me into a disciple of Richard Dawkins. If I hadn’t been born gay, I might not have had the eyes to see the hypocrisy and abuse that the church turns a blind eye to—sometimes even with a little wink and smile. Had I not been born gay, I might not have had the eyes to see all the ways in which Christians contort and close their minds in order to make all of the horrors that their religion teaches and supports palatable. It seems that humans need God a lot more than God needs humans, and that is awfully telling, especially when humans start using Gods for their own ends, such as to marginalize gays and lesbians.

        • DR

          David, I can’t imagine a reasonable person who cares about good things, possesses a sound mind and character and who’s gay would ever choose “Jesus” as a result of what the church offered you (nothing but abuse). I’m a Christian – that you rejected what we offered to you was probably the healthiest decision you could have ever made for yourself spiritually and emotionally (maybe even physically).

          I’m sorry. An apology or a thousand apologies will never be enough to repair the damage we’ve done. And it’s our fault we allowed this to continue, even those of us who didn’t ever buy into that nonsense taught. We weren’t loud enough, we weren’t strident enough. We weren’t brave enough to stand up for you. I am now but it’s too little too late for so many of you who experienced such rejection and devastation as a result of what Christians did. But it’s our responsibility now to clean up this mess that we’ve caused, to try to repair the damage these beliefs have done to our country – and hopefully, just leave you alone in peace.

          • http://muirnin.wordpress.com David Philip Norris

            DR – Thank you. That means a lot, actually. There are days when I wish I could return to the Church and believe in God, but un-see everything that obliterated my faith. I don’t regret my conversion to atheism at all and feel that I have a greater appreciation and wonder now for life, the universe and everything than I did as a theist!

          • http://supercrayons64.blogspot.com Blake

            “I don’t regret my conversion to atheism at all and feel that I have a greater appreciation and wonder now for life, the universe and everything than I did as a theist!”

            Well, then, I think that’s a good thing, friend. :)

          • DR

            If it’s good enough for you then it’s good enough for me. I hope you’ll participate, atheists often possess that really wonderful quality of morality that is centered in the campground mentality you talked about – just leaving something better than how you found it because it’s the right thing to do, because there is no eternal payoff in the end. It’s refreshing and challenging.

  • James

    DR, you didn’t read correctly what I said … I was talking about treating gays with dignity and respect, not some pathetic parent who would kick out their child for being gay. And yes, if you read what I said, I’ve had a lot of experience with abusers. Many years of it. “They have the right to live their lives in any fashion they choose.” Again, you misread what I wrote.. I was talking about gay people. They have the right. So, I’m not sure how much of your response I should discount, as apparently I either didn’t communicate clearly or you didn’t read thoroughly. Most of the things you think I was saying about the church, I was saying about the treatment of gays. So, please reread it and respond.

    • DR

      James here’s the point (and no, you didnt’ communicate clearly). You need to deal with the fact that your decision to belief that homosexuals will get a gold salvation acceptance stamp from God if they just stop having sex has absolutely nothing to do with what the Bible says sexual sin is all about. You’ve taken a few scriptures from Leviticus and you and others have somehow landed on that.

      What you need to face is “treating someone with dignity and respect” while at the same time, believing they are committing evil acts by thinking about, desiring and committing sexual acts with someone they love are mutually exclusive. That you care about gay men and women? I’ve no doubt that’s true. But *they* get the last word on what you loving them well – what dignity and respect – actually looks like. I won’t speak for them because they’ve spoken enough for themselves, but you believing they have to be celibate in order to be a Christian is not part of that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/GrOoVyAnN Ayn Hinds via Facebook

    wow. that’s sad. but what a great guy! standing up for what he believes in. good for him! it means a lot to those of us in the glbt community who do believe in, jesus, that people like him support us. prayers for him & his family. thank you, john for sharing this. god bless.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Debbie-Ward/1057657641 Debbie Ward via Facebook

    Bastards

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Debbie-Ward/1057657641 Debbie Ward via Facebook

    Bastards

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeffrey.a.moulton Jeff Moulton via Facebook

    I’m having a very un-Christ-like thought, but I’m going to share it in the hope that someone can take it and give it an element of grace. I really want to know who did this, and it seems that the motivation for not sharing that information is money, and understandably so given the circumstances (not money for greed, but money for food on the table). If we were to put together a fund that would replace (or increase) that hostage severance package, could we be graced the name of the offending church and/or given the opportunity to help plant a new one?

    • http://supercrayons64.blogspot.com Blake

      I want to know who did this too, so I understand, but would it bring any good?

  • TJF

    I am one of those 20 families praying that this pastor, who I have felt a true spiritual connection through, will stay here and serve those families who need him. Please don’t lump all Christians into this judgemental group. There are many who seek and offer the love that God commanded through Jesus. If you can help this family in any way, look into your heart and do what you feel is right. We need to stand up for those who love God and who have been judged by others who use the bible as an instrument of hate. This must stop.

    • Randy from Michigan

      I am considering a gift to this cause, and a recommendation to my friends to do the same. But here is my concern. How do my friends know this is for real. It seems that a contribution campaign would surely outdo the “moderate severance package” that John referred to in the piece. If the name of the church were revealed, then I would feel comfortable recommending this cause to my friends. I have confidence that this story is for real because I have been reading John Shore for a long time and I trust him, but not all of my friends have.

  • Vinessa Nevala via Facebook

    I hope he knows that it’s no shame to be booted by fascists and Pharisees, and that LOTS of people support him.

  • Vinessa Nevala via Facebook

    I hope he knows that it’s no shame to be booted by fascists and Pharisees, and that LOTS of people support him.

  • Melissa Striegel Chamberlin via Facebook

    We are soon going to need a “it gets better” campaign for these folks. It does get better once we stand up for what we believe, but standing up always comes at a cost. It was a huge cost for me. I lost many “friends”, a church family, and my job at a Christian company because of this. I live in a small town where I have been shunned by folks who don’t even know me. You know though, it has gotten better, and I am better for all of what has gone down. It has had a huge SUCK factor, however.

  • HooKnoo

    I’d like to take this guy, give him a long hard hug, tell him everything will be all right, and then slap him and ask him why the hell he was “tight lipped” for 5 years. Imagine how much farther along he could’ve been with just a little courage. Aw who am I kidding? I probably would’ve stayed ‘tight lipped’ too.

  • Matt

    Reading this literally made me sick to my stomach. I’m glad he has family he can go to. I’m in a similar situation – that is, a leader in a conservative church with left-leaning beliefs – and just to think if I made one wrong move I could end up like this guy. But my family is the same as well and I’m not so sure how they would take it if I truly told them what I believe on these non-essential matters. It’s very difficult feeling like you don’t really fit in and hiding your identity – especially when you’ve got no where else to go.

  • Justin Jones

    First of all, i am so sick of people useing sodomy as the word to ruin the gay lifestyle.. Look sodomy up in the dictionary and follow what it Says in the bible.. Rapeing of male children and the angels is whaT the scripture is pertaining to.. Seriously he never spoke about genuine love between to same sex partners i begged god before i just gave up to take it away.. But it never did.. I had a nervouse breakdown because of this and my face went paralyzed for a month.. Its funny for some of us gays that went through so much torment praying it would go away for years that finally accepting it and beleiving that all love prevails evil feels so good.. Seriously i wasnraised in church and i tell you trying to fight it was the wrong part of it.. After all if you really were intelligent you would realize that not all parts of gods teachings are in the bible.. Read what happened to the crusades and one of the main reasons churches were against homosexuality way back when was due to paganism…

    • Justin Jones

      Sorry my spelling was so horrible but typing fast wit misspelling on an ipad is impossible for me..

      • Melody

        Meh, it’s not that bad. At least you’re trying. That’s all that matters to me. Anyway, back on topic…

        It’s a sad reality, but religious people who have a prejudice will always look for a way to back up their cruelty on a particular issue. “Hey, the Bible says gay sex is an abomination” or “Look! The Bible says women shouldn’t speak in church and is subordinate to her husband! We’re not being hateful! We’re just doing what the Bible says! You’re taking away our free speech so we’re being persecuted for Jesus!”

        Ugh. Sorry for the rant. But although I’ll never know what it’s like to be bullied and denied rights for being gay, I do know what it’s like to have cops and good ol’ boys treat me like I’m stupid because I’m female. And people trying to repress women and QUILTBAG people in the church just because “the Bible says so” is nothing short of infuriating to me. We’re making progress, but we’ve got a long way to go.

    • LSS

      actually if you look at what the major sins of Sodom were, apart from raping migrants, it was like not helping the poor and stuff. it was basically a lack of compassion sort of thing … really ironic.

  • Leslie

    The church in this post, right down to the hipster pastor, sounds like it could be my church here in [big American city]. They recently fired our amazing youth pastor and the pulled the same b.s. with the quickie firing and holding a severance package over the head of a family of 4… just walk away, don’t talk about what’s happened here, and your family can eat. The behavior of the head pastors has turned my husband and I off completely and now we can hardly sit in at a service. We just help with the middle school youth service and go home. As for the GLBT issue, I also feel like a closeted supporter in my community. I vanished for months while I was doing a play where I played a lesbian, and never mentioned what I was working on with anyone from church. I wanted to cheer when DADT was repealed, but I kept my facebook mouth shut. I never thought about the possibility of a pastor feeling the same way I do, hiding his or her desire to love love for all people and I wonder who else in my community feels this way or if we’ll ever get a chance to be who we are openly.

  • Anne Young via Facebook

    I’m sorry but this is exactly why 99% of evangical churches should be suttered as hate groups. The very few decent people in leadership, such as this fine pastor, belong where they can be heard. Unfortunately, clearly, most of their congregants and leadership are beyond help. That’s sad, I wish this man could have made some small difference in his community. Maybe he did, but at the cost of his job and family’s welfare.

  • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

    The notion that slavery is not condoned by the Bible is an absurdity that attempts to excuse verses from modern sensibilities. It is, in fact, slavery’s very taken-for-grantedness in the Bible that makes it clear the writers viewed it as a commonplace, indeed “common sense” institution that would likely always be around, despite admirable limitations on it in the Old Testament. In fact, when even whispers of ideas to the contrary surface in the genuine Pauline letters (Galatians 3:28 — there is neither slave nor free, for example), they are batted down by the reactionary authors of the pseudo-Pauline epistles like Colossians and Ephesians, which instructs slaves to submit/obey ( ὑπακούετε) in “fear and trembling” to their masters. Slavery is the submission of one person to the full will of another, so it’s hard to see how an instruction to do the very thing the institution calls for somehow does not condone it at the same time. Added to this could be the “common sense” opinions regarding women, who are also instructed to submit and shut up, the full force of which has been rejected by liberal Protestants outright as an ancient concept and adapted and distorted by conservative Protestants to mean something it didn’t originally: “respect,” in the words of Michele Bachmann. We know, in fact, that some early Christian movements included women in active roles and encouraged them to eschew marriage; but you get precisely the opposite message from the reactionary epistles in the New Testament. Some things never change.

    So conservative Christians do, in fact, all the time ignore or soften certain verses in the New Testament and elsewhere to suit modern sensibilities, which is precisely why their refusal to do so with respect to homosexuality is so glaring. It betrays a prejudice grounded in gender anxiety that goes in search of Bible verses to support itself, as prejudices have for centuries. Not to mention several of these verses, such as the infamous Romans 1, are unclear and complicated anyway. So suggesting they provide clear guidance 2,000 years later as to how we should approach a sexuality that is in many ways extraordinarily different from the one that greeted Paul is an exercise in intellectual dishonesty.

    • Christy

      Don, I’d like to post this on another page and give you credit. It’s in Fundamentalist territory. Would you be comfortable with me using your name and doing that? And if not….I understand.

      • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

        Christy,

        Thanks! Of course, that’s fine. I wrote a blog post about the women/slaves issue last month, if you want something a bit more structured: http://www.donmburrows.com/2011/09/selectively-biblical-how-submission.html. Let me know the link where you’re posting it, if that’s OK.

        If you’re posting it on a fundie website, be prepared for some elaborate, sophistic and apologetic response that will “explain” why what the Bible says literally and plainly in this instance isn’t exactly what it says. Apparently, “sola scriptura” only applies when the plain, straightforward reading is the interpretation you’re pushing.

        • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

          The site: Truth Seeking Graduates of Bob Jones [University]. They have a facebook page. It’s relevant to a recent discussion. And my Fundamentalist armor has been built from the inside out…..been there, done that, got dunked so I could join the team. God had other plans. Having the inside lane often helps me head things off at the pass. Thank you for the warning and your concern…..and permission. Blessings.

          • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

            I hear you. Same situation here. I’ll check out the page! Sounds interesting …

        • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

          Excellent article. I posted that too.

    • Thomas

      What many fail to understand is that slavery in biblical times was very different from the slavery that was practiced in the past few centuries in many parts of the world. The slavery in the Bible was not based exclusively on race. People were not enslaved because of their nationality or the color of their skin. In Bible times, slavery was more a matter of social status. People sold themselves as slaves when they could not pay their debts or provide for their families. In New Testament times, sometimes doctors, lawyers, and even politicians were slaves of someone else. Some people actually chose to be slaves so as to have all their needs provided for by their masters.

      The Bible most definitely does condemn race-based slavery. Consider the slavery the Hebrews experienced when they were in Egypt. The Hebrews were slaves, not by choice, but because they were Hebrews. The plagues God poured out on Egypt demonstrate how God feels about racial slavery. So, yes, the Bible does condemn some forms of slavery. At the same time, the Bible does seem to allow for other forms. The key issue is that the slavery the Bible allowed for in no way resembled the racial slavery that plagued our world in the past few centuries.

      • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

        While it’s true that antebellum American slavery is different than the slavery that existed in the ancient world, it does not absolve the ancient world of the practice. Plenty of forms of cruelty were exercised on slaves at that time, owing to the very (lack of) social status you are talking about. Things like: testimony in court by slaves was not admissible unless conducted under torture; marriage rights (connubium) were not afforded to slaves; slaves could be and often were the sexual objects of their masters, sometimes even after their manumission if retained as clients by an elite patron; and slaves were then, like more recently, beaten harshly. The poet Horace pokes fun at those who crucify their slaves merely for eating the food off their plates when clearing the tables. So suggesting that “biblical” slavery is somehow morally superior to antebellum slavery is a peculiar position to take, even if you’re correct that the two are very different.

        And it’s also largely irrelevant to the point of moral relativism that we’re making: that is, that while the New Testament seems to condone slavery quite a bit, we no longer, as a whole, consider slavery to be a tenable, moral institution. We generally operate under an assumption that all people are created equal, but the institution of slavery and the social stratification that it’s a part of do not operate under that assumption. So I find it dubious that one is willing to give the Bible a pass on that, but still wishes to take its directives on gender and sexuality at face value, despite modern re-evaluations in that regard, too.

        As for condemning race-based slavery, this is hair-splitting. The enslavement of the Hebrews is condemned because the Hebrews are God’s people. Slaves were often taken from foreign captives in war, and in Paul’s day, they most definitely were often foreign-born individuals serving Roman masters, often Greek. Yet neither Paul nor the pseudo-Pauline authors, nor the author of 1 Peter seems to consider this distinction you make at all when addressing slavery. Why? Because “race” as you call it is also a modern invention. Ethnicity and country of origin might be recognized, and even skin color to a certain degree, but the specific distinctions of race that we now take for granted are themselves social constructs, and constructs largely of the modern period, at that.

        • Diana A.

          Thank you for this, Don.

        • LSS

          slavery and people-trafficking in our times is also very widespread abuse of disadvantaged people of pretty much all the races, if i understand it right. of course there are possibly less caucasian victims involved than others, but they are not left out. not sure if this helps your argument any but i just think we mustn’t forget application to current day injustices when we consider those of the past.

        • Thomas

          My point is equating the issue of slavery to homosexuality is a straw man especially when your initial information was incomplete. Seems a little dishonest.

          • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

            How was it incomplete? Do you think slavery, even in the ancient context, is morally defensible or not? If not, how do you square the injunctions in the Bible that support it as an institution? If one insists on being “Biblical,” but ignores verses that condone slavery, and instead subscribes to the modern notion that it’s wrong, why would that same person insist on adhering to injunctions regarding sexuality, and ignore modern science, psychology, and academic study that likewise suggests the opposite of what’s in the Bible?

            It’s not a strawman at all, because in both instances, we’re talking about “following the Bible” or not, not comparing homosexuality to slavery in and of themselves. For those who consider the Bible to be a handbook for all of life’s answers, and who insist that modern advancements in understanding should not affect the interpretation of certain verses, what do they do with slavery? If it’s not OK to disregard whatever the Bible might say about sexuality, marriage, and divorce, despite greater understanding in these areas, why is it OK to disregard what it says about slavery?

            It comes down to base prejudice. Most conservative Christians have (now) come around to the notion that slavery is not OK (even denominations like the Southern Baptist Convention, which exists, in fact, because its members defended the institution of slavery), so they willingly ignore what the Bible says. But many of these same Christians still maintain, for various reasons, gender bias and prejudice against LGBT people, and so they conveniently cite *the very same epistles* to condemn them.

        • Suz

          Don, you are awesome. I keep a “notes on religion” file, and I keep copy/pasting your comments into it. I’m following your site as of today.

          • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

            Thanks, Suz! Maybe I’ve had too much caffeine today …

      • Diana A.

        Cute song and dance.

  • Rick

    “The sin is in the sexual act itself.”

    Oh dear, James. Here, I think you need a little tutoring on the Bible’s stance on marriage and sexuality courtesy of Betty Bowers:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFkeKKszXTw

    Other than that, it should be mentioned that the historical, or pre-historical, root of the “Bible’s” condemnation of the “homosexual sex act” comes not from “God,” but rather a pagan veneration of semen as a primal life force capable of enlarging the number of potential young warriors in one’s tribe, all the better to massacre the men of a neighboring tribe and take off with their women.

  • Richard lubbers

    Many have offered to help this young man. Please contact John. I will talk with him more about making these donations tax-deductible once my ministry is approved for 501 (c) 3 tax status. It should be a month or two.

  • http://www.facebook.com/leigh.kelly Leigh Pinkston Kelly via Facebook

    I agree with John that 20 people is a lot of supporters and may be an indication from YHWH that [nameless former pastor] may be receiving a call to plant a new church. The judgmental mainline churches lose sight of the fact that one reason Yehoshua incurred the enmity of the religious establishment was because he hung out with prostitutes, Gentiles, and tax collectors (as reported in the Gospels). Who is to say that there were not also homosexuals in the group and it was simply unreported? I frankly believe that he would have been accepting of them. [Unnamed former pastor] is in a scary position right now, but I believe that with the help of the 20 (and now many more than 20) who support him, he will be OK. In fact, I’ve been looking for someone to help me plant a church here in the desert who shares my views on homosexuality, salvation (it’s universal) and the nature of the Lord (non-trinitarian). I’d like to discuss theology with him to find out if he’s the one I’ve been praying to meet.

  • Val P.

    My husband and I are church musicians and have been involved in many different denomination’s church services. There are several large mainstream denominations in our area that welcome and have many gay/lesbian members that are loved and valued congregants. I was raised in an evangelical church, and it did some damage. It took me some time, but I finally realized the God who created the universe made everything and everyone for a purpose. As a mere mortal, who am I to judge who is in or outside of God’s plan? I choose to participate in churches that glorify God and life more abundant for all. Let those churches who choose to preach hate and intolerance go – find a place that you feel at home just as you are. Life’s too short.

    • http://slugcrossings.blogspot.com/ Liutgard

      Val, I was raised pentecostal, and I’ll take that damage +10! I had a VERY bad experience, and left the church for 17 years because of it. Finding a completely non-judgemental place has been invaluable for me, and while I’m still dealing with scars, I have a safe place to do it in. When I left the church I swore I was done with church, done with God. Well, as our priest said, God wasn’t done with me!

      • Val P.

        Liutgard – I am so glad you found the place you are supposed to be! It does take time to deprogram, doesn’t it? I left the church I was raised in when I left home for college, and I didn’t return to church until I was 40. During all that time I had the tapes still playing in my head, and I was confused for a long time. I was asked to participate in the music program at a neighborhood Presbyterian church, and with great trepidation I went. And I underwent a lot of healing there. I realize the whole time I was wandering in my own wilderness, God was leading me to the place I’m at today. I hope everyone can find their own safe place.

  • http://slugcrossings.blogspot.com/ Liutgard

    WOW!

    John, this has been an absolutely wonderful conversation here! I really wish that I’d found this blog sooner!

  • Robin

    There is a saying, “Opinions are like bellybuttons, everyone has one”…. The Bible tells us not to go beyond what is written because then we get off into weird stuff. It doesn’t matter what our person beliefs or opinions are, it’s what is written in the Bible. I’m sure everyone would like something to be different in the Bible to acommodate their lifestyle, but Christianity is based on the Bible and was written by men moved by the Holy Spirit and is profitable for direction, reproof, etc. It is even the basis for the laws of our land. Without the Bible and being led by the Spirit (which go hand-in-hand) people would just do what was right in their own eyes, and what do you think the end result would be?

    • Val P.

      And Bible interpretations are like bellybuttons. Everybody has one. On our shelves at home we have five different interpretations of the Bible. And all of them were interpreted by people thru the ages – not just the men moved by the Holy Spirit during the time of Christ. Words were changed due to human error thru the centuries, as early Bibles were written by hand by scribes. Books of the Bible were left out by those who believed they knew which ones were truth and which ones were not. I do not choose to let any one church denomination tell me what is and is not the Truth. God gave us brains for more than just to fill the empty space between our ears.

      • Diana A.

        “God gave us brains for more than just to fill the empty space between our ears.” Yes indeed!

    • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

      That of course presumes the Bible has a monolithic view on everything, which, of course, it doesn’t. If “it’s what is written in the Bible that matters,” then slavery, subjugation of women, women wearing veils, all these things need to be re-instituted. But of course, people casually and summarily dismiss these parts of the Bible.

      As to “Without the Bible and being led by the Spirit (which go hand-in-hand) people would just do what was right in their own eyes, and what do you think the end result would be?”

      The end would be right here, right now. Governed in a secular democracy guided by fact and reason and evidence and in general guided by the Golden Rule that we have the freedom to do what we wish so long as it doesn’t infringe on others’ rights.

      • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

        And all the people said…..Amen.

      • Val P.

        Awesome, Don! I need to write that one down for future reference. (if you don’t mind.)

    • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

      I always heard it as “Opinions are like spitstains, every airhole’s got one”…

      …or words to that effect…

  • Bill Wre

    If 20 have indicated they would join him, I’ll bet there are at least 40 more who would also do so. They’re just afraid to say so at present.

    • Lee Walker

      yup

  • Roxanne Schubert Danek via Facebook

    Too familiar….

  • Mike

    This is heartbreaking.

  • Lee Walker

    John, please pass on to this brave soul that he now has empathic understanding of what it’s like for us in the gay Christian family. So many of us have been treated exactly the same way (or worse), no matter how evident the fruits of the Spirit, our love for Jesus, our history of faithfulness, celibacy or whatever… just because we’re gay. Not that I wish that treatment on anyone, let alone another in the growing number of straight Christian allies, but I’m convinced this will (with time and healing) only add depth and power to any future ministry he has (and I pray he does). God’s best blessings on him!

  • cat

    I have been following this, and it is so very heartbreaking, but I have a concern. When the post was first linked on FB, it contained the Pastor’s first name once. I was curious (I’m human) and googled “Pastor Fill in the Blank”, and right there on the first page of hits was a link to his bio page on this churches website. I clicked the link, but his bio was gone. They have no one listed as “Pastor of Worship and Arts”. Which means, to those who were worried this may not be true, this guy and this church are all too real. BTW, I knew this was the right church because of Mr. Shore’s dead on description of the Lead Pastor. I Googled the pastor’s full name and found his personal website, FB, etc. Not hard to find. I kept waiting for some else to say they knew, but no one did. I don’t want to cause this man and his family any trouble, but I find myself wanting to “get” this church and it’s hypocritical leadership. If only to force some dialogue amongst its members. After touring the website a bit, I realized I am very familiar with this type of church. My ex-husband attends one much like it…and my 13 old daughter attends as well when he has her on weekends. Non-demonanational, huge, “progressive” (only in that the worship services resemble pop concerts, they have slick graphics and websites, the Pastor’s all have cool haircuts and wear jeans…so in no way that really counts). At this very moment, she is at HUGE weekend away camp called “Frequency” sponsored by her dad’s church. (she went last year when she was 12 and liked it, I think mostly because they give everyone a American Apparel hoody with the events’ cool logo printed on it). She is miserable this year, texting me every five minutes…no one is talking to her, the girls are snotty, the counselors aren’t doing anything about it. UGH. I am Episcopalian, my church is not cool at all, it smells like coffee, incense and books. The couches in the youth center are from Goodwill. My daughter loves it though, and she loves the camp I send her to in the summer (where she couldn’t text me if she wanted to, no cell phones allowed!) But there every child is loved as a child of God, and no one is excluded. I think that these churches try so hard to be hip the miss out on the most important thing we can teach our kids as Christians, ALL ARE WELCOME. Welcome all to the table. With big open arms and hearts. Anyway, I could never “out” this church, knowing it would cause hardship to this Pastor. But I really needed to vent! Thank you to anyone who read this long post:)

    • DR

      I’m glad you vented but please don’t engage anyone from the church or even the pastor. These people disclose these stories to John with the need for privacy and secrecy. It’s so important that they do because these become issues that get exposed. We don’t want to do anything for small financial security he got through his severance or have people who are reading this feel like the participants here are going to track them down. You know what I mean?

      • cat

        I never had any intention of contacting anyone. I respect the need for people to have a safe place to share and be heard. Just got wrapped up in my personal rant, and I guess I didn’t make that clear enough.

        • DR

          I figured as much, sorry if my comment was inappropriate.

          • cat

            No, of course not! You were worried for the young man and the overall climate of this forum. Perfectly appropriate.

  • Kat

    Absolutely reprehensible. I really do hope this pastor plants a new church with those twenty families who have indicated interest… that is quite a group, and this might be God’s plan for him all along. Whether he chooses to plant a new church or not, I hope this pastor knows that there are SO many people out there who support him and the brave stance he made by being honest and true to himself and his beliefs. If you’re reading this, Pastor X… you, sir, are a champion for all of God’s children. While the head pastor at your old church may not have appreciated that, I believe Jesus would highly approve.

  • mattqatsi

    If he ever does start up his own church, please let me know, I’d want to visit.

    Also, if he’s confused about what he should do, he should go out and buy some books (preferably Mark Virkler’s) on how to literally hear God’s voice. Growing in this has helped me with big decisions already.

    • erika

      me too!

  • Justine H.

    I have come to this website several times and have enjoyed reading some of the thought provoking articles and the comments that they have produced. I guess with my more conservative beliefs, you could consider me “an outsider looking in.” I realize my thoughts on this particular article may not be appreciated or even respected since the readers and commentators that participate in this blog are of a different mindset than I am and our interpretation of certain scriptures is vastly different. But I have always been a glutton for punishment so here it goes… :)

    First of all, the thing that stands out the most to me in the majority of comments is the lack of objectivity and tolerance. The problem with our country and the world for that matter is lack of mutual respect. Everyone has the attitude of “it’s my way or the highway.” People on both sides of the church aisle want to believe they are right and do not give any grace to people with an opposing viewpoint. In a group such as this where tolerance is preached, there seems to be very little of it going around. “I will welcome you with open arms as long as you believe like me” seems to be the theme here. Ironic don’t you think? If a Christian believes the bible to be inerrant and they live their life and base their grace in Jesus on the words found in it, then why are you so intent on changing them. Many of you a have a different interpretation of the verses in the Bible that deal with homosexuality and based on some links provided here, I can see how you can come to that conclusion. Anyone with common sense and an open mind could also see how a more traditional view might be gleaned. If a more liberal minded pastor like Pastor ‘X’ wants to be true to who he is, than maybe he needed to take it upon himself to free himself by going somewhere that held similar views. It’s called freedom of religion. Which means you are free to practice what you believe, it doesn’t mean you are free to do it anywhere you want, in any church congregation or denomination that you feel like. Find a place that is compatible with your views and have at it!

    The fact that the church in question here did not have an “official stance” on homosexuality, probably means they were more focused on showing love than throwing stones. I know the whole “love the sinner, hate the sin” is now being classified as hate speech, but that is what Jesus did. The problem is that there is disagreement on whether homosexuality is actually a sin. This particular church believes it is. Get over it. It appears the worst things this pastor got on his Facebook wall was several non-threatening questions that seem to me to be fairly logical coming from people who have a more conservative take on scripture. Doesn’t sound like a pitchfork wielding, torch carrying, angry mob assault like some of you were hoping for. [“Over the next few hours, several people from my church started commenting on my wall: “How can a Christian be pro-homosexuality?” “Why is a pastor actively promoting the gay-lifestyle?” and so on.”] You mean they asked legitimate questions in a non-threating way? What assholes.

    Pastor “x” stated he was hurt and offended that his pastor did not come to his defense over a belief he considers “non-essential” to the faith. Is someone’s view on homosexuality alone going to prevent them from being able to express and teach other’s about God’s love? No. But I’m assuming the other pastor was looking at the bigger picture. Maybe their doctrine doesn’t allow for an a la carte style approach to the Bible. Maybe there were other issues? Maybe this was the final straw? Maybe not. Who knows! If Pastor ‘X’ was expecting a different response, maybe the fault lies with him in the sense that he was not honest and upfront about his views and the other pastor was ignorant in assuming they were all in agreement. But at some point, church leadership has the right to deal with what they saw as something incompatible with their view on scripture. And the fact that the church leadership did not have a knee-jerk reaction, clear out your desk immediately mentality but instead took a whole week to deal with this issue does not sound unreasonable to me. If God can create the whole world in seven days, surely a small issue like “incompatible doctrine” can be dealt with in the same amount of time. ;) At no point in this letter do I see anything that would make me think this church treated him unfairly or un-lovingly. I’m sure this was no walk in the park for them either. They felt they had to let him go, they gave him a “modest” severance, (translation: way more than what they had to) and now both sides no doubt are beginning their own healing process. Stuff like this sucks…there are no winners.

    I am sorry for the pain that this man and his family are experiencing. I am sure they are wonderful people. I hope nothing but the best for them. If God is leading this man to go into the world and share His love in a different way than his previous church felt called to do, than awesome! More power to him! But he needs to get over his pity-party that the other kids he was playing with took their ball and went home. I understand his world has been turned upside down, but if he is that strong in his convictions, than he needs to be mature enough to recognize that we don’t live in a cooking cutter world and other people sometimes don’t agree with us.

    My short and sweet take on this: Pastor ‘X’ wanted to do things his way. The church he was at wanted to do things their way. The church saw the incompatibility of that, Pastor ‘X’ wanted to have his cake and eat it too. Things didn’t work out for the latter and now he has an opportunity to follow his heart and his convictions in a different way. And it sounds like there are a lot of people who share his views that will hopefully come alongside him and his family and love on them and support them as they begin their new journey.

    And like Pastor ‘X’ stated in his letter, if you got all the way to the end of this, I think you deserve a gold star.

    #liveandletlive

    • Diana A.

      1) The pastor put a link on his Facebook page.

      2) The Chair of the Elder Board called an emergency meeting to discuss this pastor’s views on homosexuality.

      3) The pastor told the Elder Board that he did not regard homosexuality as a sin and that he would be in favor of a gay couple getting married.

      4) The pastor was summarily fired from a church he’d served faithfully and helped build for five years.

      5) The pastor’s church told him that if he at all spoke or wrote about what had happened, they’d withhold the modest severance package they’re giving him. Why are they putting a gag order on him if they feel justified in what they are doing? It’s Evil that seeks darkness. Goodness seeks the light.

      • Thomas

        [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

        • DR

          I’m fine if a church wants to fire someone based on what they post on their Facebook if it’s contrary to the tenants of that Church. Just like it’s appropriate when teachers who are homophobic are fired for their anti-gay remarks posted on Facebook, something that conservative Christians are screaming about, claiming it is a free speech issue. Completely hypocritical to support the former and not the latter, don’t you agree?

          This Pastor dodged a massive bullet, churches like this are very damaging and spread a lot of filth and destruction. People are waking up to these mega-Churches being a very creepy place. Devastating as this must have been, he probably got out just in time.

        • Diana A.

          If they handled it correctly, why are they ashamed of it?

          • Thomas

            Diana have you ever led a church? Until you have you have no idea what their primary responsibilities are. I suspect it has nothing to do with shame and more to do with protecting the church as a whole.

          • DR

            Thomas do you support teachers getting fired for expressing certain personal beliefs that violate the laws and guidelines they operate within under State and Federal Law?

          • Thomas

            I believe that if you work for the government you must follow the laws. Change the laws if you do not like them. That’s the recourse.

            I assume you are talking about church and state seperation and freedom of religion. I could be wrong though.

          • Melody

            So you believe the law is more important than charity. Well at least we know where you really stand in terms of “disregarding scripture.”

          • Thomas

            [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

          • Melody

            Oh I see. So you never question anything. You blindly follow a book written 2000 years ago for a specific culture that doesn’t directly apply to us. That’s irrational, if you ask me.

          • Diana A.

            Legalist.

          • Chris Constant

            If protecting their church means further protecting bigotry then I I pray a small prayer that this church fail.

          • Diana A.

            Amen!

          • Diana A.

            Protecting the church from what? Honest criticism?

    • DR

      First of all, the thing that stands out the most to me in the majority of comments is the lack of objectivity and tolerance. >>>

      Do you tolerate someone who believes they have the right to beat their wife if she’s out of line?

      • Val P.

        Nope, been in the abused wife situation and done that. I don’t tolerate abuse in the workplace either. To fire someone not because of what the did or said, but for what they THINK? Are you saying that is justified?

        • DR

          Val, my question was directed to Justine H, I’m confused as to why you’re responding to it.

          • DR

            Not sure if you’re both Val and Justine or a combination of both, but I was very clear about someone getting fired for the *expression* of their belief in a public place. Because that is a choice. A behavior that has a consequence. Very different from just thinking something, please note that I choose my words very carefully. Thanks.

          • Val P.

            Sorry DR – I was confused for a minute myself :)

        • Val P.

          The young pastor did not post on his FB anything about homosexuality – he posted that he was glad the discrimination of DADT was over. The church leaders then chose to interpret that as he was pro homosexuality. And then they brought him in to interrogate him about his personal beliefs, and for his honesty they fired him.

          “How can a Christian be pro-homosexuality?” “Why is a pastor actively promoting the gay-lifestyle?” You consider those nonthreatening questions? What is they asked “Are you pro other people drinking alcohol?” “Do you accept women having the right to wear pants?” And then firing the pastor for believing other people have rights!

          What a load of BS – thanks for reminding me why I am no longer an evangelical anything.

          • Val P.

            And DR, I was sending that post to Justine – I just got started responding on the wrong post…

          • DR

            Oh thank you, I thought I was losing it for a minute.

          • DR

            Val, I don’t have a clue as to what you’re saying here or who you’re saying it to. Seriously. My question to Justine as to whether or not she tolerated the idea that a husband can beat his spouse was to show her that damaging beliefs like that one – also, like homosexuality being an abomination – are not to be tolerated. They hurt people.

            As for the Pastor, he linked to something that was possibly against the church’s theology. That it was something *against their theology*in the first place is what is so gross. That he knew he might get fired for doing so – well that’s just a reality. Please slow down or at minimum, stop putting words in my mouth. Thank you.

          • Val P.

            Sorry again, I’ll be more careful where I start posting…I agree with you completely DR.

          • DR

            SMOOCH! We got the lines mixed up!

    • Beth

      Justine,

      I don’t beleive that homosexulaity is a sin, but I am with you on this one, no harm no foul.

    • SurveyPastor

      “It’s called freedom of religion. Which means you are free to practice what you believe, it doesn’t mean you are free to do it anywhere you want, in any church congregation or denomination that you feel like. Find a place that is compatible with your views and have at it!”

      “Find a place that is compatible with your views and have at it” – would make me guess that the crucifixion would be the fault of Jesus because his views were incompatible.

      I guess I am glad I am coming in late on this one, for I think the dogma far outweighs the spiritual practice of the church in question, allowing NO question past their individual pharisitic viewpoints.

      I have long had issue that the Bible we have is the inerrant word of God, for it is through man’s word, hand, translations and limitations that we have the scripture we do. Add the Gnostic Gospels, check the translations, maybe a little common sense derived from other spiritual practices, and I see a completely different perspective available without conflict.

      Add to this the NEED to constantly question our individual faith, and I would wonder who was without the sin to cast the first stone.

      • charles

        if Jesus wasn’t crucified for his views….. what WAS he crucified for?

        • SurveyPastor

          Exactly, Charles. We of the “church” crucify anyone who doesn’t “see” as we do, and then wonder why the church is dying.

          Jesus questioned the authority of his day as this young pastor questioned the authority of his. Did the authority ask itself any questions or simply summarily dismiss “due to incompatiblility”?

          Acceptance is a BIG word, evidently a lot larger than the body of this individual church.

          • charles

            well, to not acknowledge this time being a bit of a paradigm shift for the Christian Church in general would be ignoring the obvious. It is interesting as the “liberal” side of the faith is tending towards social justice issues, and practical application of the call- whereas the conservative branch seems more interested in preserving the faiths “peculiar” practices as a sort of worship of the death of Christ, and not the Life of Him…. I have long held to the belief of the place of Biblical understanding, and personal transformation starts at Matthew 22:37-40

            37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

            if Biblical scholarship ended there, I dont think it would be a terrible thing…

          • SurveyPastor

            Borther Charles, there is SOOOO much more – point agreed that your quote of the two commandments of Jesus, to me, supersedes much of what the “conservative” branch is so desperately trying to hold on to.

            I pointed out in a recent message on how I failed to understand “liberal Christians” and “conservative Christians” being able to be any different. If your politics lean one way or the other, FINE, but if you are Christian then you are Christian, PERIOD.

            From a more recent message,” See, it wasn’t just Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection that matter. It was His life too! The life He lived is a huge part of the deal, and He asked us to do a few things if you look at HIS words. Not only is what Jesus said the Word of God, but what Jesus DID is also the Word of God. Looking at the life of Jesus we see that Jesus made room for those cut off from the rest of society. Jesus put a name and a face on all who had been forgotten or pushed aside, even the dead. Jesus called us to carry our cross daily and follow Him.”

            For me to follow Him means to live a life of Love and Acceptance. Certainly a stark contrast from the “acceptance” shown by the church of the incident in question.

          • charles

            I think Bonhoeffer really nails it in these three quotes….

            “God’s truth judges created things out of love, and Satan’s truth judges them out of envy and hatred. ”

            “Human love has little regard for the truth. It makes the truth relative, since nothing, not even the truth, must come between it and the beloved person. ”

            “If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction. ”

            Dietrich Bonhoeffer

            if you want to know hate- give Westboro Baptist a call sometime…. it can be somewhat invigorating conversing with them…. I say that from experience.

          • charles

            there may be more than those two commandments- but if the Christian cannot fulfill those two- the rest of the book is functionally useless.

          • SurveyPastor

            Bonhoeffer usually hits a good lick, these I have seen before, and thanks, I have run into hate in my life existence that makes Westboro pale by comparison – believe me!

            There is TOTAL agreement on your “funtionally useless” statement, unfortunately many in the upper echelon of today’s church must find that difficult.

            Live Love – Feel the Blessings!

  • Matt Algren via Facebook

    Unlike. I hope you’ll repost the letter once his former church/employer is done threatening him. The truth, as they say, will set you free.

  • Matt Algren via Facebook

    Unlike. I hope you’ll repost the letter once his former church/employer is done threatening him. The truth, as they say, will set you free.

  • Erika Beseda-Allen via Facebook

    how on earth did the head pastor find out?

  • Erika Beseda-Allen via Facebook

    how on earth did the head pastor find out?

  • minnow

    Based on biblical principals I believe this church was in the right. Being a worship pastor at any church and “preaching/ speaking” about anything on the opposing end of which the BIBLE teaches is NOT alright especially when you know first hand this is not what ‘the church’ believes…….

    Looks like the church needed to do a little gardening.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      “Needed to do a little gardening.” Ah, there’s that Christian love.

      • DR

        Yeah that is just so repulsive. God have mercy on us.

      • Thomas

        John 15:2

        Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away. And every one that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bring forth more fruit.

        • Melody

          Again, how do you know he isn’t bearing fruit? You don’t know this man; you’re just prejudiced. If all you can do is quote scripture to back up your lack of empathy and charity, then your “arguments” are useless. That said, if you believe Matthew 25, I’d be more careful if I were you.

          • Thomas

            [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

          • Melody

            And you clearly have no heart. All you care about is legalism.

          • Diana A.

            “I was responding to John assertion that pruning was unChristian.” I didn’t get that from what he said.

          • DR

            Sys the man who in his first comments, talked about ” bei g jumped on”. And. Ow we are the emotional ones. This is an accusation that these guys try to make and it fails every time. They are perfectly justified in expressing their righteous indignation but when others do? It suddenly becomes “irrational”. And they actually believe it.

            It’s so creepy to watch that subtle switch but again, these guys aren’t used to not being in charge so they don’t debate Terri my well.

    • Melody

      Shame on you. I know Jesus is ashamed.

    • DR

      Please let us know what church you attend so people can know what they’re signing up for, I’d never attend a church that would fire a pastor for supporting the repeal of DODT allowing gay men and women to – you know – volunteer to actually die for your right to preach and teach within religious freedom.

      OK, I’ve had enough. After comments like this one my brain needs a long hot cleansing shower. Ugh.

      • DR

        (DADT)

  • http://a-bright-blog.blogspot.com Jason Bachand

    Proof once again that any ethics built on ‘sacred’ ancient texts is problematic, at best. While Christians are genuinely divided on this issue, there’s virtually no discussion among rationalists – from the point of view of reason, LGBT equality is just a given.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Yes, Jason. We get it. You’re an enlightened “rationalist,” all Christians are woefully underdeveloped intellectually. Thanks for that, yet again.

      • http://a-bright-blog.blogspot.com Jason Paul Bachand

        John, you asked me not to be “a dick” when I started posting here. I don’t think I have been. All I was trying to say is that I’m glad I don’t have to deal with constantly defending basic human equality as it seems many Christians do. I’ve observed that you spend almost all of your time defending your beliefs from people who call themselves ‘Christian’ just as you do. It must be exhausting to live in such negative space – ceaselessly compelled to define yourself not as what you ARE, but by contrast to what you ARE NOT. I’m just saying I feel fortunate not to have the same burden.

        • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

          That’s hilarious, since your first comment was a contrast between rationalism and ancient, sacred texts, in which you are very much casting yourself against a negative model.

          It’s true that these disputes suck, plain and simple. It sucks that there are some who are stuck in a prejudicial mindset and use the mechanics of their religion to justify and/or rationalize it. But if they weren’t using that, they’d use some other piece of cultural real estate. Religion, as an ethical and mythological backdrop, provides a useful framework in which to engage in these debates. The Greeks did it with their myths in their tragedies, we do it with Christianity on blogs because that’s what we’re familiar with. Again, if it weren’t cast on this stage, some other aesthetic agent would be used, because cultural change rarely happens solely thanks to cold, rational argument.

          And of course the greatest evidence that it provides such a powerful and compelling backdrop is the fact that you’re here arguing about it, though as a non-Christian you supposedly have no stake in the matter.

          • http://a-bright-blog.blogspot.com Jason Paul Bachand

            I’m here trying to give the other side a fair shake, and as usual just getting yelled at for having a dissenting view (see below). I have 3 graduate degrees in theology and religion – I think I’m been open minded to YOUR perspective. How much time have you taken to learn anything about atheism?

          • DR

            WTF? Do you even read here? Atheists are a huge part of this blog, a number of them that are really valuable contributors, You need to toughen up a little bit. You wade into a conversation that’s rooted in supporting a man who just experienced a massive injustice and you’re so self-absorbed tha you can’t jump off of your one trick “hey everyone listen to me religion is really bad” pony tower how Christians here are trying to support him. Stop playing the victim card please, you chose to come into this thread, knowing you’d be a contrarian and that you had your own agenda. And you got checked. Your choice, your consequences.

          • http://a-bright-blog.blogspot.com Jason Paul Bachand

            Simply wrong. I have expressed my dismay and sadness about the firing of this pastor. You choose not to see that, apparently.

          • DR

            Stunning.

        • DR

          What are you talking about? Save your fake concern for people’s energy that you’re just using to express your disdain for religion.

          • http://a-bright-blog.blogspot.com Jason Paul Bachand

            You’ve dodged the issue – what have liberal Christians got to say other than “Hey, look, we’re not like those other Christians!”

          • charles

            what are they supposed to say?…. they are Christians- all they need to say is that they believe in Jesus Christ as Son of God who came to take away the Sins of the World- and that so ever shall believe in him will be granted life everlasting….

          • http://a-bright-blog.blogspot.com Jason Paul Bachand

            But isn’t that exactly what the conservative Christians say? Is there any difference between the progressive and fundamentalist, then?

          • Melody

            Um, yeah. The difference between conservatives and progressives is that conservatives (like our friend Thomas) are more concerned with keeping stagnant theology, for better or worse (usually the latter). We progressives are more concerned with using Jesus’ teachings for good: seeking justice for the oppressed and repressed, including poor people, women, and the LGBT community. We’re also much more eco-conscious, as we believe that God put humans in charge of caring for the earth and its creatures, plants, and resources. We don’t adhere to outdated teachings that were for a specific culture in a specific time. We only strive to adhere to the timeless teachings of the Bible, such as “Love your neighbor” and “Pray for your enemies.”

            So, yes, James, there is an enormous difference between conservative and progressive Christians.

          • http://a-bright-blog.blogspot.com Jason Paul Bachand

            Jason. And what I hear you saying, essentially, is that you’ve chosen some verses of scripture to exalt as “truthful” or more representative of the divine, while conservatives have chosen a different set. Is it really a matter of what theology one prefers, then? A matter of personal taste?

          • Melody

            Sorry, dunno where I got James from. My mistake.

          • charles

            in its simplicity- no, there is no difference…. though simplicity isnt a strong point of any sort of dogma humans might attach themselves to. We tend to “personalize” the dogma with our individual prejudices. I might choose to view Martin Luther King as a big influence on my Christianity, whereas some else might think that Jeremiah Wright, or maybe some like Pat Robertson is an awesome influence. Even in faith we are subject to the consequences of our choices.

          • http://a-bright-blog.blogspot.com Jason Paul Bachand

            Thank you Charles, that seems like the most honest answer I’ve heard so far.

          • Melody

            I’m sorry you don’t think my answer was honest. It was from my heart.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            Jason: here, and on my HuffPo blog, you’re forever showing up to express how proud you are not to be a Christian. That’s great. But why spend so much time in the company of people to whom you’re very clear about feeling superior? Why don’t you go hang out with people to whom you feel equal? You’re like a non-handicapped person who keeps entering races in the Special Olympics. Move on already.

          • http://a-bright-blog.blogspot.com Jason Paul Bachand

            I thought I’d made it clear that while we disagree on theology, we are in accord on matters of conscience. I’m concerned about LGBT rights. Reproductive rights. Equality. If the fact that I approach these issues from the rationalist view bothers you and you’d rather I’d not stay – sure, I’ll move on. But you know, sitting around patting the backs of people who agree with you on everything isn’t much of a venue to personal growth – something I think both of us should consider.

          • charles

            not butt in- but being a Christian (or any other faith), and being rational are not mutually exclusive.

          • DR

            Jason you need to learn how to read and stop putting words in peoples’ mouths. The issue people have with you is not that you are a rationalist. You’ve been told that a dozen times. The issue is your continued assertion that religion and rationalism are incompatible.

          • DR

            Oh please. I’m not dodging anything, you’re being incredibly passive aggressive here and you’re being called on it. There are plenty of examples from liberal Christians on this board who have plenty to offer outside of “See I’m not one of the bad guys.” You are either choosing not to see them or you’re dismissing them, both 100% you and nothing to do with us.

            Let me clear something up for you. I’m not evangelizing to you, I’m not defending g Christianity . I’m not here to prove some point to you or receive your approval or even change your mind about Christians or prove that we should believe what we do. I’m here because this work John is doing is the right thing to do and I want to participate in it. Period.

            You’ll make your own mind up about Jesus, about Christians. You’re a grown man who’s obviously decided that Christianity and rationalism are mutually exclusive. Congratulations, you have an opinion. I’m not wasting any energ trying to change it, I know who I am and what I believe stop asking people to engage you when it’s already clear that your mind is closed.

          • http://a-bright-blog.blogspot.com Jason Paul Bachand

            Actually, I’d be very happy to change my mind if compelling evidence were presented to make me do so. Hence, my asking you to prove that faith and rationalism are not, in fact, mutually exclusive. My understanding is that rationalism is a perspective that relies solely on evidence – things that can be perceived, measured, and tested. Faith is the belief in things that are unseen and unverifiable. Please enlighten me as to how these two ideas are compatible.

          • DR

            Lol.

            This isn’t my first rodeo, dear, but nice try. If by some slim chance you’re motivated to believe one can have faith as well as apply rational thought, there are thousands of examples of that being demonstrated (John being one of them). Stop asking people to do your homework for you, those are the types of conclusions we arrive at because we choose to and we discover the data that supports the place at which we arrive. So to do your own homework; if you’re truly invested, you find examples that embody what many of us already know. It’s lazy to ask others to prove something to you that they’ve discovered on their own.

          • charles

            the premise of such a statement is pretty crazy Jason… I can say, believe in God, and also believe that the lights will come on if I pat my power bill. In assuming there is a dividing line between “rational” and “faith” we then must assume that those in the faith camp are “irrational” which would mean they are not able to navigate the world due to their perception of it being skewed in a manner which makes them somehow dangerous to themselves and others- If that IS the case, we would conclude that John Shore is crazy….. we would also have to conclude Dietrich Bonehoeffer and Martin Luther King were crazy as well- some might make a good argument on that actually becuase they rebelled against hate which was willing able to take their lives in the struggle. I personally dont think John, or Bonhoeffer or Dr King are crazy….. They are actually doing what they feel God called them to do in speaking out against injustice.

          • http://a-bright-blog.blogspot.com Jason Paul Bachand

            DR, If you believe faith and rationalism are not mutually exclusive, I have a simple request: prove it.

            “The question of God’s existence can neither be asked nor answered…It is as atheistic to affirm the existence of God as it is to deny it. God is being itself, not a being.” Paul Tillich

          • DR

            Ok it’s clear that you actually don’t read. I just told you that I’m not here to prove anything to you. Thats not why I’m here. Your opinion doesn’t matter to me, changing it is not why I’m here. You’re being a pretentious dick, taking over a thread that was supposed to be supporting a guy who just fired and people aren’t going to let you do that.

            In short? I don’t have to prove shit to you. I don’t need your approval. So stop asking people to waste their energy and time proving something that you’re not interested in really discussing. You’ve alreadyde used who Christians are, dude. Your entire reason for being here is punishing us for still neon Christian.

          • DR

            You’ve alreadyde used who Christians are, should read “You’ve already decided who Christians are”.

          • http://a-bright-blog.blogspot.com Jason Paul Bachand

            Why are getting so angry and resorting to name calling and foul language? I’m genuinely interested in dialogue, I have an opinion, yes, but I’m open to changing it if you can provide a good reason to do so. I don’t want to ‘punish’ anyone, I’m just trying to understand.

          • DR

            Jason I don’t believe you. I think you’ve got an axe to grind against Christianity and you’re here to do it. I don’t believe for a moment that you’re here for genuine dialogue, those who flip from aggressive”Prove it!” to this kid of hey I’m just here to talk usually are. But others can give you that kind of attention or maybe they believe you. I just don’t.

  • Janet Civitelli via Facebook

    Now I am really worried about him. It reminds me of an abusive relationship where the victim is being silenced and isolated.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-Fisher/100000120001424 Mark Fisher via Facebook

    Truth always has its ramifications and consequences. May he stand tall against his opposition and remain true to his words.

  • Diane Re via Facebook

    God this poor family. These are the kinds of things that make me wonder if I can ever go to church again, I’m actually frightened by these pastors and these organizations at this point that they’d do this. I hope it was worth it. And John if this family needs financial support, you know where to find me.

  • Marilyn Rose via Facebook

    wooooow. THIS is why people are leaving the church in droves…not this dude’s use of common sense!

  • Anne

    FYI, John….While reading through all the comments, I got to the bottom of the page and clicked on “Older Comments”, which took me to a page where Pastor X’s letter is still up.

  • Diana Horel via Facebook

    I hope the head pastor learns something important.

    • Thomas

      [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

      • Melody

        You know what, Thomas? Shut up. Just shut up. Go spread your hateful arrogance anywhere else.

        • Thomas

          [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

          • Melody

            Again, you *believe* people are being deceived. You don’t *know* it. Again, you can’t prove it.

          • LSS

            please be more specific? that seems like some kind of accusation but it’s hard to analyse it without information.

          • Diana A.

            That’s okay. The more rope we give you, the more likely you are to hang yourself (metaporically speaking.)

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            “Thomas” has been put on moderation. I doubt you’ll again see anything from him here.

          • Melody

            THANK YOU, John.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            thank you for all, Melody. You’re a real asset to us here.

          • Melody

            You’re welcome, John. I appreciate it. On some blogs I wouldn’t be allowed to express myself so passionately, so thank you for letting me do so. :-)

          • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

            Nice pun!

          • DR

            Thomas, you’ve already been silenced. The generation of young Christians are horrified at how you and others like you have gotten this so wrong. The church is being purified and the only huge surprise you’re going to get is that it’s not the “liberal element” that’s being washed away. It’s actually the damage you’ve done by your “black and white lines around the truth” that conveniently wrap around what your specific. comforts are. A lot of you were manipulated to believe what you do because it served an economic and political purpose. I hope the smoke clears for you soon if only for your sake.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jim-Meisner-Jr/1616358877 Jim Meisner Jr. via Facebook

    Many Christians are certain they are right about things . . . and other Christians are just as sure they are wrong. The certainty of Christianity.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alexdilkes Alex Norton Dilkes via Facebook

    This isn’t your fault, Mr. Shore. You did the correct thing, and only time will tell if good will come from it.
    Maybe this young man WILL start his own congregation as was suggested, and lead people who prefer the light and joy of the New Testament to the blood and guts of the Old Testament. There are too few who are willing to do so.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hanna.moy Hanna Moy via Facebook

    If they need money, perhaps we could take up a collection.

  • Thomas

    Don:

    It was incomplete because you know when you mention slavery we think of modern day slavery which is very different than willing indentured servitude.

    And yes people throughout history have distorted the bible to fit in with what THEY believe. We saw that with slavery and race and we see it now with those that try and twist the bible to affirm homosexual relationships.

    • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

      “Willing indentured servitude.” This is ridiculous. Slavery was not predominantly entered into “willingly” at all in the ancient world. Where are you getting your information? Whoever told you this is wrong, and you are wrong to repeat it, ironic given your concern over people being “deceived” above.

      And how did 19th century Chrsitians “distort” the Bible to support slavery merely by pointing out that the epistles explicitly tell slaves to obey their masters (the very definitional aspect of slavery)? They didn’t “distort” it. They just used it and closed their ears, minds, and hearts to new information and new understanding, which is *precisely* what those who condemn homosexuality are doing.

      • Thomas

        Nowhere does the bible condone slavery. Much of the NT slavery was indentured servitude or as a form of criminal punishment.

        The Greek word doulos meant “slave,” but that it also was used “in a wider sense” to denote “any kind of dependence.” In 2 Corinthians 4:5, the apostles are called the douloi (plural of doulos) of the Christians. Christ took on the form of a doulos, as stated in Philippians 2:7. Paul designates himself as a doulos of Christ in Romans 1:1, Philippians 1:1, Galatians 1:10, and numerous other passages (1967, pp. 205-206). The term can describe a person who is obligated in some way, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, to another person. Due to this broad use, various translations have employed a wide range of words to render the meaning of doulos in English. Using Romans 1:1 as a case in point, the NKJV has “bondservant,” the New Living Translation has “slave,” the KJV and ASV have “servant,” and the Darby Bible has “bondman.”

        The Hebrew word ebed is similar to the Greek doulos, in that it can be translated as “slave” or “servant.” In Exodus 4:10, Moses referred to himself as the “servant” (ebed) of God. Abraham called himself the ebed of the angels who came to visit him in Genesis 18:3. In Genesis 39:17-19, Potiphar’s wife described Joseph as the Hebrew ebed, and Genesis 24:2 talks about the eldest ebed in Abraham’s house, who “ruled over all he had.”

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

    Hey, guys. Just to let you know, “Thomas” has been blocked off the site. Life’s too short.

    • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

      Damn. I was having fun with him.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        I wasn’t. (You’ve been doing some amazingly good work here, Don. I was glad to see another reader posting what you’d said elsewhere.)

        • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

          Thanks! My wife and daughter left me alone for the day. I perhaps have too much time on my hands if I’m tangling with an undoubting Thomas!

    • Melody

      And we’ve all heard your generic “arguments” a million times. You aren’t telling us anything new. Please, stop it.

  • Melody

    Oh, he IS gone now. Cool, never mind.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shuckeys Deb Bendele via Facebook

    very sad – I’m pretty sure this is not what Jesus would do

  • Richard lubbers

    There will always be Christians who take upon themselves the role and responsibility to cleanse the church of sin. They woefully forget that Jesus has already accomplished that, and that His primary commandment to us is to love one another.

    I am so glad that I missed out on most of this. Thank you, John, for removing the mess.

  • http://a-bright-blog.blogspot.com Jason Paul Bachand

    I’m going to “out” myself here – I am a former pastor in a UCC church.

    So my perspective on this matter is informed by my previous vocation. And I have to say, I think the church acted within their rights. While I thoroughly disagree with their stance on homosexuality, the fact is that churches have autonomy to hire and fire whomever the believe will best lead and represent their congregation (unless the church is Catholic or otherwise hierarchical where a Bishop decides who leads your church). UCC polity is very clear on this issue. It’s one reason that only about 18% of UCC churches have even formally become “Open and Affirming” – it’s up to the members of any c0ngregation to discern which theology suits them. And while you (and I) may find their views morally repulsive, they’ve broken no law. The fact is that churches are wholly exempt from anti-discrimination laws – they absolutely can fire or hire someone for their religious views.

    This pastor simply needs to find a church that better fits his own views.

    • Melody

      You’re right, James. Technically they did act within their rights, but they were still wrong, since they care more about being against homosexuality than about loving one another. And I agree that he needs to find a church that is more open and affirming.

      • http://a-bright-blog.blogspot.com Jason Paul Bachand

        Melody, could you please take note of my actual name? I don’t mean to be persnickety but my dear mother gave me a fairly nice name 36 years ago and I’ve stuck with it ever since. Thanks.

        • Melody

          Look, Jason, I’m sorry. I don’t know why I saw Jason and saw James. I honestly wasn’t trying to be disrespectful.

          • http://a-bright-blog.blogspot.com Jason Paul Bachand

            Melody, it’s quite all right. By the way, I wouldn’t question your sincerity – I can see that you have a great deal of courage for your convictions. And I thank you for expressing your views clearly without diminishing mine. That’s how constructive dialogue happens and I hope we can accomplish it here.

          • Melody

            Thanks, Jason. :-)

      • Melody

        Ack! I did it again! I’m sorry, Jason.

      • Melody

        I thought you weren’t allowed here anymore? Please, go waste your time somewhere else.

  • Matt

    I wonder if he would have been fired for making a racist comment.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tim.conard Tim Conard via Facebook

    good decision, john. very wise and caring of you.

  • Lauren Maurer via Facebook

    I’m a grad student, with the financial resources typical thereof (read “none”), but whatever can be done to help this pastor and his family, say the word!

  • Gary Anderson via Facebook

    Personally I disagree with the decision to pull the post. I understand why you did it, but I just don’t think it accomplishes anything but come off as a “knee-jerk” reaction. No offense, as I respect you incredibly. I just think this was an empty gesture, and it helps to hide the actions of these despicable church people who thrive on extortion. Their actions should not be shielded. Close the comments to stop more condemnation, perhaps, but pulling it doesn’t do anything. Unless he specifically asked you to pull it, and then I would agree. If that’s what happened, then I retract my thoughts here, but it’s already out there all over the net. You pulling it from your site doesn’t change anything. Just my opinion.

  • Christelle Lotze Jones via Facebook

    NOT surprised and so angered at the situation! I once heard someone say “the truth stands naked in the street”… I hate when churches act like the gestapo- I’ve seen it before and they (churches) can have an emotionally abusive effect on people that can paralyze them with fear from doing anything, talking to anyone, getting help… so sad- praying for this family!!! He did nothing wrong and you, John, did nothing wrong…

  • Randy from Michigan

    Thanks, John Shore, for being a positive influence on this situation.

  • Val P.

    John 3:20: “All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.” Thanks for shining the light!

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

    I’ve closed comments on this post, in the same way you tend to close a door when too many flies have entered your home. Thanks, so much, to those of you who took your precious time to contribute here thoughts and ideas that, I know, meant so much to our young new friend and his wife. You guys rock the universe.

  • Michael Davis via Facebook

    Freaking unbelievable.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Laura-C-Minnick/1253018542 Laura C. Minnick via Facebook

    Oh John… I think you did the right thing (though I really was enjoying the conversation in the comments!) but pleasepleaseplease keep us posted as to what happens! I’m really poor but I would be willing to throw a few shekels or a gift card for baby stuff their way…

  • Gary Anderson via Facebook

    I agree with you Laura, as I would like to know what happens in the future with this man. I feel bad what happened to him.

  • Mindy Brown Carney via Facebook

    Ah, John, what a waste. Of this poor pastor’s gifts, of your gifts – this church is simply despicable.

  • A’isha Leslie Marbach via Facebook

    It’s not your fault, John. Pastor X knew the risks when he wrote you and said you could post his story. You took every imaginable precaution. My prayers continue to be with him and his growing family.

  • Alex McFerron via Facebook

    I support this young pastor and whatever he needs to do to keep his family safe and himself employed, but I do wonder if he at this point he wouldn’t be better served by just publishing his name, his old churches name, and going public with this 100% (after talking to a lawyer). Why protect this church’s identity? Why protect his identity. Why not just come out as the guy who posted DADT good news, got fired, and then wrote a letter to John Shore and it went viral. I’m sure he’d get a job offer if he hasn’t already? Am I naive? I really have no idea what i’m talking about… but why hide at this point?

  • Alex McFerron via Facebook

    ok. well, maybe he’s going to work it out with the church, i see. i just re-read your post. Yeah, makes sense to take it down and give them time to process and maybe say they’re sorry! :)

  • Anne Young via Facebook

    Lord help us all

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Suzy-Enola/100000059791487 Suzy Enola via Facebook

    Dare we hope that someone in the leadership of his church is reading the writing on the wall? (how’s that for a subtle pun?) Could they actually looking toward the future of Christianity, instead of the past? John, please let us know if this situation is not resolved amicably – If he decides to start a new church, I WILL donate…

  • Jeanne Morrison via Facebook

    i so agree with gary anderson. you should not have pulled the post. put it back up and reopen comments and let we the people have our say about this fucking travesty.

  • Don Whitt via Facebook

    Church needs to change. The first thing that needs to change are all the pastors that think their role in life is to dictate comportment. That’s not their job.

  • http://www.facebook.com/love.sanchez Love Sanchez-Suarez via Facebook

    we are being shooshed by a bellhop? i like the pics you find.

  • Thomas

    [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]