Pastor Worley, Heresy the troll, and that old time religion

You almost feel sorry for Pastor Worley. At the moment I published NC pastor: “Let’s put all the queers and lesbians behind electric fences and let them die,” the video of Worley preaching that all gay people should be sequestered behind electrical fences and left to die had been viewed 308 times. As of this writing it’s been viewed 546,368 times. And that’s made pastor Worley the most reviled pastor in America today.

Worst gift ever

The motto of pastor Morley’s church is, “The Home of old time Religion.” (It’s also apparently the Home of random Capitalization—but never mind.)

Old-time religion.

For a lot of people that phrase indicates something awesomely admirable. It evinces a set of values and a way of life that is perfectly honorable. When I think of people who, a generation or so ago, were imbued with what we now call “old time religion,” I think of people—Grapes of Wrath-type people—whom anyone would be proud to be. I think of people who were hard-working, clear-headed, family-loving, giving, respectful of others, humble before the God they spent their lives endeavoring to emulate. *

My 90-year-old friend Sam grew up in a Baptist farming family in Oklahoma. To this day Sam does more hard work before the day’s sun goes down than I do before a month has gone by. He’s been married seventy years. He’s read his Bible for one half-hour every night of his life. When Sam bows his head before a meal, he doesn’t do the rote toss-off. He closes his eyes tight; he spends time at it. He means those prayers.

Sam means everything he does; he never dials it in. Yet at the same time he’s gently detached from everything he does. Because he knows that it’s all just grist for the great turning mill of God.

America was built on the values still alive in good Christian men and women like Sam and his wife Sharon. Such people have always been the backbone of our country. And that’s no mere cliche. That’s how we have lived. That’s who we have been. Such people and their lives are the very roots of our inspirational American tree.

And we’re certainly aware of the compelling spiritual value of that old-time religion. We feel it even in the words—well, maybe not in the actual psychotic words—of pastor Charles L. Worley. We feel the allure of Worley’s surety; our hearts quicken at the clarity of his conviction, the passion of his heart. Yes, Worley is a monster. But, like Frankenstein, he’s a monster made almost entirely of things we know to have once been naturally healthy and good.

So what happened? How did so much of Christianity, which used to be such a decent and honorable thing, degenerate into a national joke that’s anything but funny?

Well, to speak to our current time, gay people happened. For all of Sam’s generation and before, the question of the civil rights of LGBT people virtually never came up. But today countless numbers of people are boldly proclaiming that they’re here, they’re queer, and that even hardcore, old-timey, right-wing reactionary Christians had better get used to it.

And such Christians can easily do that. The bridge from “God didn’t make Adam and Steve!” to “God bless the union of Adam and Steve!” is exactly this short.

So why aren’t even the most conservative Christians lining up to cross that bridge?

Because they’re afraid that while doing so the vicious troll Heresy will pop up from his hoary abode beneath the bridge, and with his long claws and terrible fangs attack them.

They’re afraid they’ll lose what’s most precious to them, which is their relationship with God.

They’re afraid that discarding what they think of as so fundamental to the Bible’s integrity will mean the whole book falling apart in their hands. And they’re afraid they’ll then have nothing with which to defend themselves against all the world’s devilish trolls.

Their fears about this are entirely unfounded. Every day thousands of Christians are rethinking the “clobber passages” (so-called because they have been traditionally used by Christians to “clobber” gay people), changing their minds about homosexuality, and finding that their faith in God—and their sense of God’s faith in them—is not only not compromised, it’s greatly enhanced.

And in crossing that bridge they found, to their happy surprise, no troll at all.

There’s nothing wrong with Christianity. There’s something wrong with many Christians, of course. But that’s only because Christians are people and people are imperfect. But all of us can, and most of us do, evolve.

The pastor Worley as we have him in his now-infamous video displays a great many troll-like characteristics. But the man can change. He does, after all, believe in the irresistible power of the transformative love of Jesus Christ. In what we can dare to hope is his hour of need, let us pray that the pastor fully opens himself up to that power. I’m praying that he does.

And guess what? So is Sam.

Brothers and sisters, can I hear an amen!?

 

* I am of course also aware of all the reasons for which “old-time religion” conjures up nothing good at all—three such reasons being, for instance, K, K, and K.

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 founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jason.p.engel Jason Engel via Facebook

    Somehow, I think the only lesson he and his church will learn is not to post things on YouTube. I’d like to be wrong about that.

  • Gordon

    It’s hard for me to let go of my rage toward this man but, Amen. I’ll fake it till I make it.

    • Nicole

      Wow, Gordon…you just exampled Christ to me today. *hug*

  • Rob B

    Compassionate, prayerful, and kind. Well said John.

  • Caring Heart via Facebook

    Love this piece John – and love the humor mixed in too – it would be funny to send him a mug but awesome to change his heart and mind.

  • Valerie

    I pray more for those in his flock then I do for him but yes I pray for him and that God will be merciful when he stands before Him for judgement.

    Amen.

  • Barbara Rice

    Give me that real old time religion

    Give me that real old time religion

    Give me that real old time religion

    It ‘s good enough for me!

    Jerry Falwell thinks he’s sav-ed

    In a lamb’s blood he’s been lav-ed

    And HE thinks that I’M deprav-ed

    But that’s good enough for me!

    In the church of Aphrodite

    She’s a mighty righteous sightie,

    The Priestess wears a see through nightie

    And she’s good enough for me!

    We will worship like the Druids,

    Drinking strange fermented fluids,

    Running naked through the woo-ids,

    Coz that’s good enough for me!

    We will all worship Elvis,

    He’s the one with the Pelvis,

    And some think he’s still alive, which,

    Is good enough for me!

    Hare Krishna gets a laugh on

    When he sees me dressed in saffron

    With my hair that’s only half on

    But it’s good enough for me!

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdgalloway

      oh too funny!!!

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdgalloway

      ALSO. I have a very happy earworm right now….dammit.

    • https://www.facebook.com/mike.haas.3914 Mike H

      Thanks, Barbara! Here’s the original, that people have been adding verses to for many, many years. It pre-dates the internet, apparently.

      http://www.ecis.com/~alizard/old-time-religion.html

      • Barbara Rice

        *Pre-dates the internet????*

        Mind boggles.

        What did we DO for entertainment before then besides fling rocks at dinosaurs?

  • Elizabeth Carlton Chase

    I find myself looking for the “Like” button at the end of each of your paragraphs!

    • Lisa

      Me too Elizabeth!

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdgalloway

    You are so right. The “trolls” in Christianity are often the unknown, the what ifs, the challenges to what we’ve always assumed. They are always constructed by fear, ignorance and often imbued with stubbornness.

    I learned a long time ago, that there are as many types of Christians as there are types of people. Some work better in more tightly constrained, constructed parameters, others less so, and other still think “to hell with parameters, they chaff!” Does God appreciate and love all of those varieties of people who try to follow His guidance? I think so, Does God well know how big of a mucky muck we make of things with such little effort? Oh yeah, you betcha.

    Can God take a big mucky muck like what Pastor Worley made of things, or Jesus’s message of hope and forgiveness? Absolutely! I love where the book of Isaiah mentions trading in ashes for beauty, mourning for joy, praise for weariness. Can the ugliness of one man’s message be used instead as a means to be a beacon of hope, reconciliation and healing? I think so.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sspencerwolff Scott Spencer-Wolff via Facebook

    Amen.

  • http://www.facebook.com/amber.bussard Amber Bussard via Facebook

    AMEN!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/michael.jordan3 Michael Jordan via Facebook

    Amen!!!!

  • http://Www.unnameablecuriosity.wordpress.com Christine

    When I think of “old-time religion” (especially the capital “R” kind), I think of bible-belt hyms, segregation and lynch mobs. I hear people sing about “old-time religion”, what I feel is fear – the kind of apprehension that kicks in from the basic fight or flight self-preservation instinct. When I picture old-time religion, I imagine stonings Leviticus-style. When I read Worley’s church’s motto, I think “exactly where you’d expect to find the people who want gays behind electified fences… no surprise there”.

    I don’t know where you’re getting this warm and fuzzy picture of what old-time religion is – you’re probably more familiaer with it then I am, though, so would have more experience with its various connotations – but it isn’t how it’s coming across to everyone for sure. It’s not the vibe I’ve ever gotten from the term.

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

      i know i know i know i know i know. but wheat from chaff, and all that.

    • vj

      I think we need to bear in mind that it’s possible to have pleasant/neutral associations with things that are not pleasant/neutral for others…

      I really liked the expression “are you out of your cotton-pickin’ mind?” – until I realized it was derogatory (roots in slavery); I used to love singing along to “The Day the Music Died” – until I learned that “good ole boys” was [could be?] a reference to the KKK.

      Some things are offensive enough that they can’t really be redeemed for ‘polite’ conversation, but maybe it’s a good thing that John has teased out some positive associations from “old-time religion”. Maybe it’s a term (like “Christian[ity]“) that’s worth bringing back into the light….

  • http://www.facebook.com/patty.simmons Patty Simmons via Facebook

    Amen!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mockwriting Michael Mock via Facebook

    Well said.

  • Christelle

    I get it. This is how my grandparents viewed their faith. And the generation of Bible college students with them. They were from the “Hell Fire and Brimstone (sp?!)” generation. We have now crossed back into a generation (in part) that has a desire to see pure “LOVE” taught. It’ll take time for certain fundamental viewpoints to change… It took me time to change…

    • Christelle

      However, time is not on the side of those who’s lives are at risk… This is where I go back in forth between FIGHT NOW AND HARD and patience… Too many beautiful people who want to hurt themselves or who live with depression/bullying because of lies spoken in the name of God…

      • MAB

        It’s not a question of WHETHER we fight now. It’s a question of HOW we fight. Do we use this “pastor’s” tactics of hate and bullying? Or do we fight with the love we want to see the church demonstrate? I say we can fight with love at the top of our lungs.

        • Melody

          Well, for starters, no one is suggesting violence or concentration camps, like Worley is. There is a PEACEFUL protest organized in front of his church this Sunday. Worley isn’t in danger of hate crimes the way the gay community is. Someone is going to take his words seriously and actually try to commit violence against a gay person. Love doesn’t always equate with nice. With a dangerous person like Worley, we can’t afford to “kill him with kindness.” We must stand up to him, making it known that his words are the opposite of what Jesus taught. And would you say Jesus was a bully when he called out the pharisees and religious elite? I doubt it. Neither should we back down from calling this man what he is. He’s 71 years old, and he’ll never change; he’s been preaching hate for decades, and he won’t stop now just because someone is nice to him. I appreciate your intentions, but “killing with kindness” won’t work with him. He’s too far gone. It’s more important that we fight hate speech and save lives than worry about being nice. The truth is ugly sometimes, and this is one of those times. Jesus didn’t back down from telling hypocrites the truth, and neither will I.

          • Christelle

            This is how I fight:

            1. and this is only recent/as per thegodarticle.com – send money in the hater’s name to an LGBTQ advocacy group/ anti bullying group.

            2. Volunteer for an anti bullying group AND a pantry/kitchen that prepares meals for those with HIV

            3. Speak up to evangelical community (family/friends) that I am part of/ engage in the conversation when people bring it up (which they do!)

            4. Write letters/make phone calls to former evangelical communities that I was once part of and who promote hate/bullying (in what they call love).

            5. Attempt to educate my evang friends family in ways they will listen. (one person at a time)

            6. When i see ignorance/bigotry being promoted, I speak up…

            7. Working towards a social work degree to make a difference in my community.

            8. Hang out in my local lgbtq community, where I can pour my money into their businesses, organizations, restaurants.

            9. Attend and support as many breakfasts, fundraisers, events that my local LGBTQ community puts on that I can – rally others to join me.

            10. When I hear bullying (yes, adults are the worst!) and bigotry anywhere near me, I speak up.

            I don’t say any of this to pat myself on the back because REALLY there is so much that needs to be done to stop the hate/bullying/suicide… These are suggestions that I received and now I pass along to you… WE must do this together – There is victory in #s!

          • Christelle

            Kathy the Brave with Canyon Walker Connections attends Pride Parades across America – protesting the protesters with her “straight apology” campaign. I LOVE it!

          • Christelle

            and we do this all in love… because without love – everything we do to fight means absolutely nothing. Love is why EQUALITY should not even be a concept that we have to fight for. LOVE makes EQUALITY the norm.

          • Christelle

            Speaking of PRIDE, Now that we are all ready to DO SOMETHING to stop this hate/bigotry and fight FOR EQUALITY…

            Who wants to march in their local PRIDE parade for The Trevor Project:

            http://www.thetrevorproject.org/pride

            GO! It’s TIME!

  • http://www.facebook.com/reed.boyer.3 Reed Boyer via Facebook

    I keep explaining this over and over: “God created Adam and Eve AND Adam and Steve AND EVEN Adam and Yves (because God is also French) and Alice and Eve, as well.” Why no one accepts this, I have no idea . . .

    • Lymis

      Well, the other point is that even if God did only create Adam and Eve, all that would mean would be that they were straight parents of gay children, just like most of us had. All we know about any of their kids is the names of three of them, and the presumption that at least a few had kids. (Logically, with each other. Ick.)

      • Adam S

        Because Adam and Eve had Cain, Abel, and Seth, not Cain, Mabel, and Beth.

  • http://anglopole.wordpress.com/ Anglopole

    amen! no more religion, please!!!!!!!!!!! As it was already said here: ‘bring back Christ to Christianity!’. It’s taken me soooo many years, heartaches, brain cracking and despair to realize that being gay doesn’t mean I am a sicko…. and a sinner condemned to eternal fire. I have realized that I don’t have to choose between my faith, my gender expression and orientation – they all constitute me and I want to thank John and all the compassionate readers of this blog – you don’t realize how helpful and encouraging your loving and sensible comments are AND well grounded in the Bible and the Good News…. because Jesus happened to have brought the Good News …. sic! :))

  • Kelly

    I am concerned about the people that don’t know about the love of Christ that have seen this video. How many people have turned away from Christianity because of pastors and people that will say these things in a public forum. This is harsh, but I always think, ‘it is better that you were never born than to turn one person away from the love of Christ.’

    • Kathleen

      Kelly, That reminds of a Catholic priest I took a class from once. He told us that not only is he responsible for every person he brings to Christ, he is doubly responsible for every person he turns away from Christ. Needless to say, he was an amazing guy and if I’d known more people like him, perhaps I would not have left the Catholic church/Christianity.

      It’s an idea that is certainly something interesting to think about.

      • Kathleen

        Let me clarify that by saying I don’t blame any one person, or even groups of people, for my leaving the Catholic church and then Christianity itself. I take full responsibility for that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tjhart2010 Tim Hart via Facebook

    As my gay friends say, “It’s Adam and STEVEN, for God’s sake!” I admire what you’re doing, Pastor John. I took the disquisition route myself, through my alter ego, six years ago: http://bit.ly/KpiOkA

    • Tim

      Pastor? Lol. Congrats on the promotion.

  • Christina Prier Steffy via Facebook

    Amen! And thanks. I needed those words today.

  • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

    Is it weird that I think that people like Worley actually serve a purpose? Maybe it’s my crazy determination to see life as a plot, but he really does strike me as a plot-device.

    I think that maybe the most insidious bigotry that goes on the world is the quiet kind, the socially-accepted kind, the kind people don’t even recognize as bigotry because they think their victims “deserve” for “moral failings” or they think that their opinions “aren’t that bad.” When people like Worley take bigotry to it’s “logical” conclusion, showing their teeth with rhetoric that makes us think of the last acceptible pure villains in history based war-movies…

    Maybe it makes people who are a little fence-sitting or who think that their “little bigotries aren’t so bad” stand up, take notice of the blantat extremism, and examine themselves.

    Maybe the spewings are going to lead to some posistive character-development in a lot of people, up to the point where a new page is turned in history as more and more people develop away from his leanings once they see, in him and those like him, how ridiculous and scary they are.

    • Tim

      Nothing like someone yelling out loud in obnoxious fashion something you believe but don’t think about to make you realize just how much you believe it and how stupid it is.

      • http://www.theeternaldance.blogspot.com Lynelle

        Cool observation. Makes sense.

        So, maybe we’re paying too much attention to the wrong person!

        There could be little awakenings and miracles happening all over the place, because of this guy.

        What a cool thought!

    • vj

      Shadsie, I think you are 100% right about this! Seeing this kind of vileness spewed in the name of Christ is one thing that made me seriously question whether homosexuality was inherently sinful. Sure, all the reasoned arguments on John’s blog, and valid alternative interpretations of the ‘clobber’ passages are important on an intellectual level, but on an emotional and spiritual level it’s seeing the ultimate end point of anti-gay attitudes that caught my attention… (as well as testimony after testimony from gay believers).

  • Tim

    Amen.

  • mike moore

    Hey John, you know how I like you. Love you.

    But your post today blows me away. We are about the same age, and yet our perceptions of the phrase “old time religion” could not be further apart. Long before I knew I was gay, the phrase “old time religion” conjured fear and the most evil aspects of Christianity.

    My family tree is rooted in both New England and the South, both back as far as the 18th c.

    In the north, “old time religion” represented a Puritanical and joyless stoicism which over a couple of hundred years evolved into a robotic adherence to Sunday services and the Book of Common Prayer.

    In the south, “old time religion” was something to run from in pure terror.

    From the Civil War (or, as some of now-deceased older relatives would say, “the war of Northern Aggression”) until today, OTR has represented the most evil aspects of American Christianity, primarily expressed via racism, sexism, and a good dose of just-plain-mean. My good Christian ancestors owned slaves. They would’ve told you they loved their slaves and considered them family, and that their slaves loved them back just as much. Their churches condoned slavery by providing “a strong Biblical foundation” for the institution of slavery.

    Of course, their “love” of their slaves faded when their slaves were freed. Their love of African Americans evaporated as the “coloreds” got “uppity.” Blacks were not welcome in their churches, in their clubs, at their lunch counters, in their kids’ schools, and, for damn sure, as a next door neighbor.

    By the early/mid 20th C, I’ve been told that if one looked into the wardrobes of some my southern male ancestors, one would find suits for work, suits for church, and a KKK robe. And my family was not of the hellfire and brimstone crowd, who were even scarier.

    My Mom didn’t read “The Help,” she lived it. I didn’t read “The Help,” I was raised by them. And – thank you forever, Mom – after Medgar, John, Martin, and Bobby were murdered, she informed her new husband we were moving as far away from (and I kid you not) “those old time preachers and their hateful religion.” We arrived in California just in time for the Manson murders, but that’s a different story.

    Fortunately for my Mom and I, my grandmother was a concert pianist and “artistic type” (southern speak for country club liberal) and my grandfather was like your friend Sam. I still miss him every day.

    I still run in terror from anything remoted labeled “old time religion,” but for your friend Sam and for my grandfather … amen, my brother!

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

      Yeah, I mean … of course I’m also aware of all the negative history of America, and the role Christianity played in it. Perhaps I shouldn’t have assumed that’s assumed. I’ll go add something to … make sure it’s clear.

      • mike moore

        I’m really sorry John, I know you know.

        I don’t need to rant. (posted another a few minutes ago) … I’ve just been in a Defcon 2 Bad Mood. An artist I work with is just past Worley’s church. This guy is in my back yard. I try to “Keep Calm and Carry On” but it’s not something I’m very good at. Plus, I really don’t want to work today and am in major avoidance. (delete at will, my friend, I may deserve it, today.)

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

          No, no: I’m glad you wrote what you did; it made me see I needed to add that little asterisk at the end.

        • http://www.theeternaldance.blogspot.com Lynelle

          Good stuff, Mike. You’ve got quite a story.

          Have you written it all down yet?

          I’d be interested in reading . . .

          • mike moore

            life is roller-coaster, that’s for sure. I keep threatening to write a screenplay for a movie for Lifetime Television for Women and Gay Men … I want Christine Lahti to play me.

          • http://www.theeternaldance.blogspot.com Lynelle

            may I be your friend? you can find me as Lynelle Joy and as Lynelle Morris. The Lynelle Joy page is generally more focused on spiritualish matters.

  • http://www.paradiserecovered.com Andie Redwine

    The thing that makes me sad is that people who aren’t believers are going to typify this pastor as being a representative for all believers.

    Also? Sam sounds like good people.

    • Kristi

      I’m a non-believer and I don’t judge all Christians by this man. I will say this, though, he’s not uncommon in my experiences with Christians. It’s one of the reasons that when someone declares to me, “I’m a Christian,” that my initial emotional reaction is negative, almost fearful, and I tend to be more suspicious of that person’s motivations for interacting with me. I can’t even say once burned, twice shy…it’s more like 1000 times burned.

      • http://www.theeternaldance.blogspot.com Lynelle

        For this very reason, I never call myself a Christian. I’m not.

        I believe in God/Source/Love/Creator.

        I even believe that Jesus was/is the reason we are able to all connect with our Source/Love.

        True love loves all, without condition.

        Otherwise, we’re talking about something else. Religion. Man made rules . . . not love.

        1000 times burned! Man, you gave those folks lots of chances!

        Words mean nothing. Life and love are everything.

      • Diana A.

        I feel the same way and I am a Christian. When somebody else calls his/herself a Christian, my internal response is the “Yeah but what kind? Hellfire and brimstone or reasonably sane?”

      • Ali

        @Kristi, you stated my own sentiments. I was raised by Christians and I’ve lived in the Bible Belt all my life. I’ve seen an awful lot of Christians – and most of that lot has been really awful. I could throw a rock & find more Christians who think like Pastor Worley than who think like the people here. The phrase “I’m a Christian” tends to make me cringe & step back before trying to find out what exactly the speaker means by “Christian.”

        @John Shore, I come to your blog because like Fox Moulder, I want to believe. Not in Jesus – but in the basic humanity and capacity for decency of Jesus’ followers. I want to believe as you say that “There’s nothing wrong with Christianity,” but really I’m not so sure. Christianity didn’t just turn ugly when “gay people happened.” It was ugly when women happened, and wanted equal rights and to not be subjected to violence. It was ugly when black people happened and wanted equal rights and to not be slaves. It was ugly when members of other religions or sects and people who asked questions happened, and wanted to not be killed with fire. And it was sure as hell at its ugliest when Jewish people happened. There’s definitely a pattern here. The injustices against GLBT people are not a nasty blip on an otherwise stellar history.

        I’ve seen a lot of Christians today try to claim the civil rights movement as if Martin Luther King were opposed in his fight for justice by a bunch of Buddhists. The racists were Christians too. So were the preachers and practitioners of every other evil done in the name of Christ. As Christians, they are every bit as representative of what Christianity is as you are, as Kathy is, as Rev. John Fee was, as Martin Luther King was, etc.

        I also know people like Sam who work hard and help others and do their utmost to live good lives. My grandmother was just one such person, volunteering at the hospital and helping those in need in her community right up until she died. She was also racist, Christofascist, and homophobic.

        I grew up in one vicious, nasty, ugly, hate-filled, arrogant, cruel, domestic violence practicing Pentecostal church chock full of vicious, nasty, ugly, hate-filled, arrogant, cruel, domestic violence practicing Pentecostals who would give the shirt off their back to a random homeless person or their last dime to a stranger in need. It was because they had been taught to be kind to the poor, but to almost no one else. Because they based their entire concepts of morality, ethics, & decency on what they had been taught in the name of Jesus, they had no conscience to tell them that it was wrong to lie to gain a convert, beat a child, hate a stranger, or deny basic rights to another human being.

        In some people, Christianity awakens conscience, makes them humble (and therefore more tolerant and open-minded) and drives them to love. I come to your blog to be reminded that such Christians – and such Christianities – exist.

        But in a lot of people, Christianity destroys conscience and replaces it with dogma – the most evil being the smug sense of superiority that “I’m born again and you’re not.” A lot of Christians become arrogant because they think of themselves as humble, and become persecutors because they think of themselves as persecuted. They fester with hate because they think of themselves as loving. This last one is the most evil because it leads them to pervert the very concept of love. Suddenly it’s “loving” to beat your gay kid to death. Suddenly it’s “loving” to bully people to suicide. Suddenly it’s “loving” to lie to Jewish people about their faith and yours in order to deceive them into converting.

        I’ve had the experience of refusing to convert to Christianity at gunpoint. I’ve actually had one Christian insinuate to me upon hearing about that that the guy who held a gun to my head was doing it as an act of love – right before she resumed telling me that I was going to hell.

        I *want* to believe that that “old time religion” is a good thing. I really do. But after a lifetime of Christian love, I just can’t.

  • Lisa

    Amen!

    As angry as I am with Pastor Worley, I was reminded that God wants everyone to have a second (third and more) chance in life. Even Pastor Worley, whose blood boils with hate and contempt, deserves a second chance. Hopefully, this event will lead to a realization to Pastor Worley, that he has been looking at things wrong. Indeed, this could be what changes this man of God.

    As the Bible proclaims, ‘I should look at the plank in my eye, before examining and judging my brother’s splinter in his eye.’ This is certainly hard to do.

    Imagine how the people that knew Saul, felt when he became Paul… but, thank God that He gave him another chance.

  • http://www.theeternaldance.blogspot.com Lynelle

    Amen, John! thank you for writing this!

    It’s so easy to judge and condemn others when they speak such atrociously, hateful words in the name of Christianity – or in anyone’s name, for that matter.

    I am walking proof that miracles happen every day. Love works within to bring us to truth . . . to bring healing and transformation.

    We are all God’s children . . . we just don’t all know it, or know what it means.

    What a wondrous thing it would be, to see the miracle of transformation!

    No matter what happens, love must always be the response. Kinda the whole point on this issue in the first place.

    Love, love, love.

  • Fenbeast

    I hear “old time religion” and I think, “Paganism?” But maybe that’s just me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/randy.pyles.12 Randy Pyles via Facebook

    Is he really of sound mind? Just unbelievable.

  • Caring Heart via Facebook

    And for Jason and others who don’t think it’s possible to change his heart and mind, you may be right, but just wanted to share a surprising example of someone who did change. http://louisjmarinelli.com/politics/i-now-support-full-marriage-equality

    • http://Www.unnameablecuriosity.wordpress.com Christine

      Well that was kind of depressing… He changed his view of politics more than love and same-sex relationships. He came to see that gay people were trying to participate in American society but is still just as blind to the need to everyone to fully participate in marriage, including marriage in the church.

      Maybe I wouldn’t mind so much except he seems so damned pleased with himself when he’s still descriminating, now just religiously instead of politically…

      • Caring Heart

        Christine,

        I know what you mean but it’s a start. The really strange thing is he kept his facebook page and facebook won’t let you change the name so he changed the “about”. All kinds of people come there and debates break out. I haven’t been there too much but a friend of mine has and was the one who told me about it.

        The link I’m posting takes you to the “about” but once there you can just click on the page name to get to the main page.

        http://www.facebook.com/oneman.onewoman/info

        If you are up for it, check it out. I’m guessing a lot of people must have “liked” the page and then did a “hide all from page” so they have no clue the page has changed – that’s what makes it seem misleading to say the least. BUT at least it’s a place where people are talking (and I think people have to talk to make progress). And there is still room for the author, Louis J. Marinelli, to evolve further. Keep the faith.

      • K (aka Caring Heart)

        Christine,

        Your post inspired me to send the author, Louis Marinelli, a copy of John’s essay (the last chapter from “Unfair”) in an effort to evolve his thinking even further.

        Also, I wanted you to see I’m also working for continued evolved thinking over here:

        http://www.facebook.com/oneman.onewoman/posts/338085942930573

        If anyone else wants to jump in, please do.

        (P.S. I already told John I’m sorry if posting his essay on the thread above attracts more types like the one who sent the message today)

  • charles m

    you can hear an AMEN! to that….

  • David

    Thank you for this, John. I appreciate it more than you know. Having been raised a Baptist, I have some first-hand experience with rhetoric similar to Pastor Worley’s. Not quite as specific or violent, but very suggestive nonetheless. I was speaking to my mother about Pastor Worley and mentioned some of my past experiences growing up in church and how awful it was for me. I was taunted, called “fag” and told many times I would go to hell – you know, the usual stuff. As a teenager, one of my youth pastors actually pulled me out of Sunday School, took me to a nearby coffee shop and told me I would get along with people in church more if I were to “man-up” a bit and do more man things like “get into sports”.

    In the conversation with my mom about Pastor Worley, I confessed these experiences I had and how they have had an impact on my adult life: I am very wary of people who identify themselves as Christian and tend to be very wary of becoming involved with organized religion again. My mother was shocked to say the least and began crying telling me that she “feels like a failure” for not knowing and letting it happen. Over and over again I explained this wasn’t a blame-thing for me – I was simply being honest. I feel terrible. I really hate religion, Christianity, churches, organized religion — all of it, sometimes. I hate what it did to people like me and what it continues to do. I don’t know what to do with it anymore.

    • Christelle

      David, I am really truly sorry for what Christianity/the church did to you.

    • Soulmentor

      David. Tho I didn’t experience the same traumas you did, I did grow up in a conservative Lutheran tradition where the liturgy every Sunday contained the phrase, “Lord, tho I am unworthy……” Later, when being gay became an issue for me the sense of unworthiness intensified and became deeply rooted in me. It sticks with me to this day (I’m 67) and has stunted my life and left me with little I can point to as success or accomplishment. So I share your anger at the church for my own reasons. Different personal stories, different reasons for anger or disappointment, similar results. I was nevertheless, a church goer, even sat on a council until several years ago when my impulse to continue attendance just vanished. I just can’t work up any rationale for going anymore save the social benefits and frankly, that’s not enuf. All my lifetime of study and introspection produced in me a personal faith that needs no crutch of a church. It is enuf for me to sit by the fire on the hillside behind my house and commune with the stars and the owls I hear in the woods beyond.

      There remains in me a faint residue of wondering if I’m wrong, but I can’t find a reason to return to a religion that wounded me so deeply. I don’t know what to do with it anymore either.

      I just trust in a God that Jesus illustrated. “God is Love, and he who lives in Love, lives with God and God lives in him”. 1 John 5:16 That is where I’m at now. It is enuf.

    • http://TheresaRN@facebook.com Theresa

      David,

      I too was raised in a Baptist church and heard the hate spewed from the pulpit; we had book and record burnings, people of color were not allowed to attend our services (and this was in Michigan) and many more issues that I could mention. Needless to say, I stayed in the closet for many years, being out only a little over six years now. I finally decided that it was not worth being miserable and trying to live a straight life, that I’d rather just be me and take my chances!

      Thank God, I have realized the truth! God does love me, and I’m able to worship and thank him! My darling partner and I have found a great church here in Phoenix, not baptist, but pentecostal and it’s great. Our assistant pastor likes to say it’s an affirming church, but 90% of us are gay, including our pastor! Of course, I still get the clobber passages thrown at me by past friends and family, in fact I got such a message yesterday from an old friend. I rebuked her and told her I’d be praying that she finds the truth.

  • Allie

    Others have spoken on this, and I see you’ve edited since the first version. [I added the final sentence, with the asterisk— J.] But I feel a need to point out that an estimated 1 in 4 people in Indiana were members of the KKK in 1924. That there were KKK members sitting on the Supreme Court and in Congress in the earlier part of the last century.

    I have visited a nearby Episcopalian church which has an unused, dangerously unstable balcony. There’s a narrow little crooked stairway to it. It’s where the black people sat, first as slaves and then later as servants expected to attend the same church as their white employers. It’s not that long ago that it ceased to be used.

    Which verses of the Bible said that if you let black people sit with you, you were going to hell? What part of the Bible were people afraid of rejecting when they acted like this?

    I don’t think it is the Bible that’s causing people to act this way. After all, the Bible says to feed the poor and care for the sick, and the same people have no problem at all ignoring those commandments. People obey the commandments they want to obey. They use the Bible as an excuse, but the Bible is not the reason for bigotry. The bigotry comes from within. And in every generation there are people like my husband’s grandmother, who shocked her neighbors in Indiana by having her black neighbors over to play bridge every week. Even in the 70′s when my husband was a child this was shocking and people outside the family whispered about it, but within his family, it wasn’t even a thing, it was just the way people acted, to be decent to each other. There are plenty of decent people right now who are Christians. They didn’t need to be told that it was okay not to hate gay people and mistreat them. Just like decent people of our grandparents’ generation didn’t need to be told that God cursing Ismael with dark skin didn’t mean it was okay to hate black people, and decent people of their grandparents’ generation didn’t need to be told that Paul sending Philemon back to his owner didn’t mean slavery was right. It’s not fear of heresy that keeps people from doing what’s right, it’s the pleasure of having someone to look down on.

    • Bmac

      I agree with so much of this. It seems like people have a need to feel superior to others. It’s not the Bible that gives people these ideas, they will hold onto anything they can find to justify their superiority complexes.

  • Brian Hager via Facebook

    Love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us!

  • Adara Pallady via Facebook

    Amen to that Brian Hager!

  • http://www.facebook.com/natalie.jones.3348 Natalie Jones via Facebook

    Amen.

  • otter

    I have to disagree with one line in this essay….”There’s nothing wrong with Christianity” . I know some of you bloggers are going to bristle at this. But please consider, I am a member of a faith community that could not EVER countenance such teachings as the rantings of this deluded Pastor Worely. There are no clobber passages in the scripture. In fact, most of it is concerned with mental training to help you grow in love and compassion. Every member of the community makes a personal pledge to behave in ways that benefit all beings. Every spiritual activity ends with dedication of benefit to all beings. Every being is valued and equal in their essential nature. Many people in the community also revere Jesus, although we interpret his teachings as part of a continuum and not a singular event.

    The contrast with Christianity’s penchant for misguided oppression is stark. So many times the Bible has been misused! So much suffering!

    Could be it’s time to bring Christianity into a new form, one where it’s mainstream followers treat other beings with kindness and love because their scripture, their leaders and their hearts all agree that that is what their faith is all about. When I read this blog I think it is possible, in fact I think it’s happening right in front of our eyes. Some elements of old time religion lead to oppression and injustice. They should be laid to rest forever and it’s Christians like you who will make it so.

    • n.

      just out of curiosity, what community are you in? you probably mentioned before but i can’t remember between UU, Pagan, Buddhist… plus so many people i know are combinations. anyway it sounds nice, is why i want to know which kind it is.

      • otter

        I am Tibetan Buddhist….There are so many ways in which the sentiments of Buddhism and Christianity converge, and they have a lot to offer each other. Some of the members of my Sangha are devout Catholics. That is why I find this blog so interesting. That said, I think some of the basic precepts of this school of Buddhism are an extremely powerful antidote to the Worley’s of the world and their poisoned mental states. Every member of my Sangha has taken a personal vow to avoid killing, lying and harsh speech, among other things. We learn from accomplished teachers but we don’t just listen to teachings to change the habits of thought that lead to suffering. .We do it for ourselves thru very deliberate mental training. We pledge daily to act for the benefit of all beings and we know that the “results of virtuous and unvirtuous actions are inexorable” which means you will reap what you sow in your next lifetime. This puts the responsibility for our actions squarely where it belongs, on ourselves. I shudder to think of Worley’s next life and the long journey he has to go

        Thanks for asking and I hope you find this answer helpful.

        • Deana

          I’m sorry to disillusion you, but when Buddhism took over (and to this day) in Tibet it all but annilihated several preexistent religions.

          • otter

            Well thnkyou for promepting me to do some research. Did you come to this conclusion because you are a follower of the Bon faith? Because I found seversl references that indicate that the Indian forms of Buddhism were most probably gradally merged into Tibetan Buddhism. To quote:

            “Basically, Tibetan Buddhism is the intersection of Mahayana and of Vajrayana Buddhism, with its component of Indian Tantrism, along with traditional, pre-Buddhist beliefs, whether Bon or not. And it is clear that in Tibet, rather than opposing the folk tradition, Buddhism accepted and absorbed it — and in so doing, allowed its borders to stretch. Buddhism has never concerned itself with extirpating heresy, and has no concept of excommunication.”

            if our European ancestors had respecyed native religions to this degree in America….well, it would be pretty darn intersting!

  • Natalie Jones

    Amen!

  • vj

    John, this was really lovely – thanks!

  • Chris

    AMEN! You say things so beautifully!

  • n.

    at least several times a week i still wonder if i will go to hell for *changing* my religion. (i can’t even manage to *lose* it because somewhere inside i still believe in God, for whatever reason. even though sometimes i’d rather not.)

    but i *have* to still stand on the side of love… i’ve got to think that’s coming from a better place than the doubts of hell.

  • http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=524217229 CDR Charles Franklin, US Navy (retired)

    It is amazing that a religion which came about to bring people closer to God and bring them redemption has devolved into such frightful arguments. Of course, this little tempest in a teapot is nothing compared to the Crusades or the Inquisition, so I guess we should be grateful?


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X