Dealing with anti-Christianity in the LGBT community

StuckintheMiddleI recently got in an email with the subject line, “Dealing with anti-Christianity in the LGBT community.” It read:

Dear John,

I realised that I’ve gotten fairly adept at defending myself and other LGBT people in Christian spaces, partly thanks to you and your writing. But time and again, once just recently, I find it harder to defend my religion in LGBT spaces, and can only look on in silence as they mock and insult and tear Christianity apart, occasionally targeting me as well for being inadvertently complicit in their and my own oppression and suffering by aligning myself with Christianity, considering me weak / deluded / selfish / morally contemptible for not ditching the whole mess the way they did. It gets emotionally draining being attacked from both sides and knowing that, while my identity is not a choice, my religion is. But the thought of leaving it still makes me panic. And I still believe. Mostly. How do I deal with this?

Yeah, this happens—you know: what with people being people and all. I used to go with a gay Christian friend of mine to a gay coffee shop (um … being a very popular coffee shop in a very gay neighborhood), and his friends used to razz him pretty hard for being Christian. And their friends—people who didn’t really know much more about my friend than that he was gay and Christian—could be quite cruel about it. I’ve had any number of gay Christian friends who’ve suffered in this same way you are now.

It kind of happened to me, actually. At the time of my freak conversion to Christianity, my wife and I were living in a gay neighborhood. And the moment some of my gay friends and acquaintances found out about what had happened to me, they shunned me like they were Jewish and I’d started wearing Nazi regalia.

I was, like, “But it’s still me!” And they were all, “Not anymore, bitch.”

Awful.

But, you know: you hang with people who hang with you. Some of my friends who were acutely uncomfortable with my becoming a Christian listened when I told them that my every last feeling toward them hadn’t changed one iota. (“I became a Christian,” I told them, “not an asshole.”) And then they were cool with the change. Other friends of mine just couldn’t help but feel that I’d essentially turned against them.

Whaddaya gonna do? You say your piece, you show who you are … and that’s it. You’re done. What else can you do? The people with the brains, heart and life experience to know that it’s possible to be at once Christian and gay (or, in my case, Christian and gay … um, affirming, I guess is the word, except how does that not sound patronizing?), take you for who you are. The ones who can’t understand how anyone can be both gay and Christian … can’t. So you have to leave those people be.

You must live in a small town. If so, hang in there: pretty soon you’ll move to a real city, with a real gay neighborhood, and then you’ll have all the gay Christian friends you could want. In the meantime, just … be yourself. Be kind; be respectful; make it clear you don’t mean anybody any harm, and then just … try not to sweat the people who, for reasons of their own, are stuck seeing you as a type rather than a person. People that angry, rude, and/or congenitally unswift ultimately deserve nothing so much as your pity.

All right, friend. Hang in there. Thanks for writing. Keep in touch.

(I know: maybe I’ll make some business cards for Unfundamentalist Christians, and send them to you. Then you could hand them to people and say, “Here. This right here is how I can be both gay and Christian.” That’ll teach ‘em! People hate it when you give them business cards!)

 

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.

  • Justin David

    Hey, thanks for this. One of the most frustrating things for me in the early years of my faith was that the Christians I met hated gays, and the gays hated Christians.

    It can be a lonely place. I feel for this guy. :-(

    But you’re right; gay Christians are pretty numerous these days. And we’re getting better at announcing our presence. :-)

    • Jill

      Welcome! Glad you announced yourself! ;)

  • Hannah Grace

    This is a tough one. I’ve dealt with it, too. Being a queer Christian certainly lets you enjoy the blessing of experiencing Christ’s alienation, loneliness, and rejection.

    Sometimes it helps if you frame it in a certain way. Christianity has harmed a lot of people. I try to say, “Christianity at its core is just about love. It’s been twisted by people to support hatred, but that’s wrong – and by being part of the Christian community, I can stand against that hatred and work against those things that Christianity has done to harm people.” In addition, the populistic, trendy but ignorant preaching of the popular atheists – Dawkins, Hitchens, etc – has been rejected by the more intelligent & educated atheists. http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/8885481/after-the-new-atheism/

    The same way that friends shouldn’t reject you if you are a muslim, or say something horrifically ignorant like “Islam is a violent religion” or “all muslims are terrorists” or discount the feminist movement within Islam, because it doesn’t conform to Western cultural assumptions, friends should be openminded about Christianity. Religion is rich and complex, and if you complicate people’s overly simplistic good vs. evil narratives, sometimes you can create a space for friendship in the midst of diversity – instead of friendship that relies on a tribal, us vs. them mentality. You can remind your friends that if the good vs. evil, us vs. them mentality is something they hate about religion, then in order to not be hypocrites, they need to do better.

    Lots of love to you in your struggle, and I wouldn’t panic too much – if you love your friends, and if you talk about things other than religion and demonstrate that you are still the same person you used to be, then they should come around. If you are looking to make new friends, just talk about diversity, proudly be yourself, and be shocked and look embarrassed for someone if they can’t accept you for who you are. Looking to make interfaith friendships between LGBT Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Christians might also be a way to foster communities of peace and diversity, and maybe you could even get community discussions and meetings going. That would be an incredible way to be involved in LGBT religious activism – and interfaith acceptance is so needed in the world.

    • Hannah Grace

      I should also say – my girlfriend is an atheist. We met on the way to a protest, in a bus full of politically far left atheists. She started a conversation with me about how stupid religion is. I argued politely but passionately. Almost three years later, she is still an atheist, and I am still religious, but we are able to have a loving, wonderful relationship and to have complete respect for each other. She said to me, “I used to be kind of a bigot, and think all Christians were just ignorant sheep, and that the religion was ugly. I believed in a caricature. You changed me.” It definitely means being being able to take a joke, or a criticism – and I am certainly aware that there are things in my worldview that I can’t explain or defend, such as the existence of evil in the world. But there are holes in the other side, as well, and pointing those out can help both of you to live the mystery of not having all the answers together.

      Being with an atheist made me deeply aware of how God works through the whole world to bring about the Kingdom of God, not just Christians (as the pope recently, and suprisingly, said: http://newsone.com/2475438/pope-francis-atheists/) and sometimes atheists have a prophetic calling from God to humble the Christian church and correct it where it is going wrong (in my opinion). Responding to that with humility and love for an ‘enemy’ is the best way to embody Christ, in my opinion.

      Haha that’s all just my theological opinions though and I may be totally wrong! Like I said, none of us have all the answers.

      • Jill

        “Being with an atheist made me deeply aware of how God works through the whole world to bring about the Kingdom of God, not just Christians”

        That is such a great comment, Hannah. I’ve been lucky enough to find that out as well, that all manner of kind people of any background or belief have only deepened my appreciation for God in the world. I’d be actually pretty frightened if it was only the Christians that got it right.

  • http://thetomboymermaidoftime.tumblr.com/ Jackie

    I understand. Some of the comments I’ve read and arguments I’ve gotten into online.

    I’ve been yelled at that I’m not a Christian because I’m not a bigoted fundamentalist, and the guy doing the yelling was not even a fundamentalist Christian, if you can believe that.

    There is a part of me that finds it silly to be insulted since Christianity is the opposite of a minority and SO privileged, but then again, I’m just me, not the groups I belong to.

  • Suzanne

    I would love some of those business cards as well. I ended up moving to a small town that has a lot of atheists that I honestly think of as more anti-Christian than atheist. I’m tired of the insults and have tried to leave it at “Let’s agree to disagree” but they get in my face and tell me how I am wrong and they are right and I need to just agree with them. Since they are friends of my significant other, I can’t just cut them out of my life but my significant other can’t seem to understand why I don’t want to be around them. (They usually pull this behavior when he is not in the room.) If I had some of those cards, I could just hand it to them and walk away.

    BTW- I love your blogs and the Unfundamentalist Christians page on FB. You are part of the reason that I don’t feel quite as alone as I used to with my beliefs. Thank you for that.

  • Matt

    Hey, I won’t lie: It’s tough. Especially among the transgender community, there are a lot of people angry at God and people who believe in God. Considering the things that they go through, I’m not inclined to blame them.

    I have a friend-of-a-friend who is loudly, vocally, almost viciously atheist. I’m Christian. But we’re both transgender, and so when she needed someone to sit up with her and talk to her because she was in despair over her family, that’s what I did. You show through your actions that faith doesn’t change the fact of them being human beings, and they sometimes respond to that. If they don’t, that’s fine. Just don’t stop showing them your love and compassion. Otherwise, why are a Christian?

    • Matt

      “Otherwise, why are *you* a Christian?” Man, I cannot go one post without major typos lately. But you get the gist!

    • Elizabeth

      So much anger. And Christianity, as an entity, has nothing to blame but itself. Coffee helps with the all-nighters. That’s how a trans friend helped me through mine.

      • Matt

        Not much of a coffee drinker, but after a couple hours of sleep, I could just get up and head to work. That’s one of the blessings of being 21!

        • Elizabeth

          At 39, you need a caffeine IV to roll over.

          • James

            at 45, you need the implant that delivers a steady dose continuously. ;)

          • Carol B.

            At 58, you just chew on coffee beans contiuously, and don’t bother with brewing it….

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

            Sigh. I just turned 50. I have been considering going the coffee infusion intravenously method

          • Jill

            I keep saying it– comment threads like this are why I stay for the after-party. SO perfect.

  • TeriO

    The sad fact is that no matter what community you/we are in, there are people who are going to “hate” on something. Every group has it’s bigots and that does not change just because someone happens to be Christian/gay/atheist/Muslim/black/white/purple. I think that the bottom line is how we deal with it.

  • Lymis

    For me, one important thing to remember is often that you aren’t really dealing so much with the idea on an intellectual level; you’re most often dealing with someone’s deep feelings.

    Until you address those feelings, discussing the ideas, especially defending your choice, isn’t going to work, and generally only makes things work.

    And the feelings of hurt, betrayal, anger, and frustration in the LGBT community against organized religion, especially Christianity, and against individual Christians who speak in the name of Christianity are fully valid, real, and usually absolutely supported by real, documentable, lived life experience. Even LGBT people who somehow managed to avoid being personally brutalized in the name of religion know people, often closely, who have been, and honestly, you have to put in a huge amount of effort as a gay person to be clueless enough not to realize that, as a group, Christians hate us, take pride in hating us, and are tirelessly and relentlessly working to oppress us in every way they have available to them.

    I say that while not being in the least bit blind to the fact that there are individuals and entire denominations who are not like that, but frankly, while many of them are doing wonderful work creating pockets of tolerance and acceptance in the greater Christian community, and while things are gradually getting better and better, the fact is that the hateful anti-gay Christians are still driving the bus.

    “I’m not like that” and “Not all Christians are like that” is an important message, but if you want it to do anything other than be a source of smug reassurance to yourself (if you are straight) or a source of confusion and sensed betrayal (whether you are gay or straight) to the LGBT person you are telling, it HAS to be preceded by and underlaid by the far more important message of “I see your pain, I acknowledge your pain, and I witness your pain as fully valid, and nothing I say about my experience with God or religion in my life in any way invalidates these feelings you have.”

    • anakin mcfly

      Letter-writer here. Thanks for your reply.

      I’ve been a direct recipient of a lot of that Christian hate, so I’m definitely no stranger to it and can fully understand why many other LGBT people don’t want anything to do with Christianity. A lot of my frustration stems from being attacked from both sides and how perhaps it’s not just my need to defend Christianity to those people, but also to defend it to myself, how I’m holding on to something that has been the source of a lot of pain in my life.

      There are days where I’m perfectly content with my religious beliefs and why I hold them, but there are also days when the anti-Christian vitriol from friends (not always to me, sometimes indirectly like on a blog rant, or a passing snide comment) get overwhelming and make me wonder why I’m still a Christian, and if I even have any good reason to do so. Sometimes they’re acting out of concern and say that I would be so much happier if I gave up religion.

      I do have a few LGBT Christian friends. But for various reasons (distance, lack of common interests, age, etc) we’re not that close, and at least two of them are committed to living a celibate life because they believe that’s what God wants LGBT people to do. :/

      • Elizabeth

        Hi Anakin. Just for the record, I do not recommend celibacy. Straight, bi, trans, queer: it’s lonely all the way around. That’s not what God wants.

        • Anakin McFly

          Yep. Although I’ve yet to find a boyfriend nor have any idea how to go about doing so (my friends and acquaintances consist of females of all ages, straight males of all ages, and gay males who are either taken or more than twice my age). And I am really lonely.

          • Lymis

            The joys of being 3% of the population. I recommend socializing in gay-friendly settings. You don’t have to leap into bed with people just because they ask, but it’s good to fish in the right ponds.

          • Anakin McFly

            I’m not sure what those settings are, though, other than gay bars, which I’m wary of. (I’m wary of all bars in general.) :/ I have a couple months left in NYC, after which it’s back home to where most of the gay-friendly settings are dodgy underground places that my parents don’t want me going to in case I get drugged/sexually violated/attacked by drunk people/arrested/killed.

          • Elizabeth

            You know what I might try, Anakin? An AA or Al-Anon meeting. Especially in the Village and Chelsea some are almost entirely LGBT. They socialize and throw dances and birthday parties. I’m not saying you’re an alcoholic — I really wouldn’t throw stones at that glass house. LGBT are twice as likely to smoke. I don’t know trusty stats on drinking, but I imagine they’re similar. They have a great support network for all kinds of social services and mentoring. You might find people your age in a safe environment.

          • Anakin McFly

            I’m extremely far from an alcoholic, though. >_> I can’t take more than half a small can of beer before I feel sick, because health reasons. I’m also never touched a cigarette in my life. Literally. My skin has never made contact with a cigarette. :| I have asthma and intend to stay far away from anything that could make it even harder to breathe.

            Such that I’d probably feel extremely out of place, and it might be a bit rude if those people are there to get help and I’m trying to exploit that to make friends. Plus – and I acknowledge this is kind of snobbish – I’d rather not find a partner among a group of alcoholics, given the correlation between alcoholism and domestic abuse. Not to mention that my parents would be horrified if I told them I was 1) going to AA; 2) to find a boyfriend. >_>

          • Elizabeth

            Oh no! You’re not supposed to hook up at AA. It’s called the 13th Step, a joke. (I understand. I’ve never been.) I simply thought it was a place where there’s a large concentration of gay people. Some of them have been through a lot. Some are just committed to their health. They’re sober and supervised and they gossip and throw the Manhattan version of potlucks. If you reach out to them and it doesn’t work, they could refer you to another, non-AA group. Or a fabulous stylist.

            Along the way, you might make a gay or trans friend your age. His friend you date, if you’re so inclined. Just an idea. You’re right, it’s a bit of a conundrum of how to meet people with your health and safety concerns.

          • Elizabeth

            I can get you a contact name, if you want. And, while you have a close relationship with your parents, it’s called Anonymous on purpose. I just have friends who find it nourishing for reasons beyond recovery.

          • Matt

            I don’t want you to feel like you’re being pushed, anakin, but I cannot tell you the huge difference it has made to me to make a genuine circle of close friends. I don’t have a lot of them–only about 3 that I hang out with regularly–but they have saved my sanity. And by extension, my life.

            It may be different for you, since you sound like you’re further along in transition than I am, and you have a supportive relationship with your parents. But having friends of your own, friends you can rely on and hang out with–it’s worth putting yourself out there for. Even if your family is awesome, they can’t be everything that you need all the time.

          • Sharon

            Anakin, PRIDE starts one month from today.

            I work in community development in a large church and one thing I’ve learned is the best and most lasting relationships usually start in shared service. You aren’t real likely to meet a partner in a church service, or at a bar, or watching a parade. But if you sign up and work, you’ll meet people and I mean more than just for the day. Check it out. https://www.nycpride.org/volunteer

            I haven’t read all the posts, but if you do go to church, see if they have a clean-up day or a day they feed the hungry, or some other service.

            You meet the best people that way. I wish you every blessing and lot of love.

            Sharon

          • Anakin McFly

            A few people from my church are going to march at Pride, and I’m joining them. :D And yeah, they have a day where they feed the hungry.

            I can’t remember if I mentioned this, but I have met great friends at that place. They just happen to be from every demographic *except* single gay guys my age. >_> (There’s one trans guy my age, but I think he’s straight.)

    • Jill

      “I witness your pain as fully valid, and nothing I say about my experience with God or religion in my life in any way invalidates these feelings you have.”

      This comment is why I had to move from one extreme to another– fundamentalist to agnostic– before finding some center to balance myself. I had to find out the damage done to real people by Christian absolutism by experiencing my own version of it, and then hearing people–gay, straight– who had their own. Only then was I emotionally and intellectually equipped to stand up and do something of value. With freedom comes responsibility. A timing thing, a readiness thing.

      Everyone seems to have their own personal epiphany, their own Damascus road, in their own time. Some people need to feel low grade, constant oppressiveness until they can take no more and become moved to make a dramatic change in their life and in support of others. Maybe that is the value of what my early religiosity and misery has been for me. It propelled me away from darkness that I became passionate, greedy even for light.

      From this I became able to hear others’ pain and hold those voices up in solemn reverence because I’ve been the oppressed, I’ve been the oppression, and I am made a new person from all of it. I have to believe this is true and possible for others in all directions and manner of belief.

  • mike moore

    Dear Letter-writer, which church have you joined? Where does it stand in regards to homosexuality? To whom do you tithe? For many people, myself included, this will trigger what sort of reaction you receive.

    Catholics? Booooooo. Southern Baptists? Boooooooo. Mormons? Booooooo. Churches that are all touchy-feely-embrace-y of gay people but still expecting them to change? Booooooo.

    I could go on at length parsing nuances … yes, I know there’re people working from the inside to change these institutions, but if you’re supporting an institution which harms the LGBT community, you shouldn’t expect to be embraced by those in the community. You can’t play for both teams.

    As to the general reaction/mocking you receive from friends of friends? Engage them, for it most likely means they’ve yet to meet a Christian who has shown them this new, Unfundamentalist, Christianity which is springing up because of men like John.

    Conversely, I’m very – very – close friends with Catholics, Southern Baptists, members of churches like Gateway in Austin, etc., but, to put it bluntly, if I were to discover my friends are financially funding these institutions, I’d walk away from them in sadness and never look back, flipping the bird at them as I leave.

    If your friends stop embracing you simply because of a label, give them a chance or two, and if that doesn’t work, fuck ‘em.

    • Elizabeth

      I’m against touchy-feely in general. I mean, clearly.

      • mike moore

        don’t worry, you’re completely safe with me. I haven’t copped an opposite-sex feel in, well, decades.

        • Jill

          I’m all about touchy-feely. Maybe that’s why I’m not Episcopalian…

    • http://www.radicalmary.ca RadicalMary

      I’m Catholic. Raised by gay parents, and religious grandparents in the 80′s. I grew up in the midst of a lot of violence and abuse. Without my faith I’d be dead by now.

      The gay friends I met when I was young didn’t care if I was religious. They got to know me over time, they are still in my life, thank god.

      Most in the activist communities don’t care to know anything about me once the know I’m Catholic. We’ve never even had a personal conversation. I’ve been blackballed from circles for practicing my faith. I get pointed out and shunned. I live in a big city. I’ve been been called akin to a ‘jewish nazi’ and a ‘supporter of child molesters’. I am a child sexual abuse survivor and a rape survivor.

      I do not contribute money to the church, and I do all that I can to make spaces safer in my church, yet that’s not enough for some people. I am EXTREMELY selective about the lgbt events I attend because I don’t think it’s safe anymore.

      I think it’s extremely unfair to take a mainstream religious tradition of 1 billion people and make individuals who are very diverse pay for the actions of a leadership who don’t live in your country, parish or community.

      It has driven me to a very unhealthy place mentally and emotionally. I understand why people do it…but it’s not right, when it gets to that point.

      • mike moore

        Ker-plunk. That’s the sound of your words falling on all-but-deaf and, for the most part, unsympathetic ears.

        Over its 2000 year old history your church has laid an unbroken, empirically visible, trail of evil. Violent, torturous, self-serving, and hypocritical. Right now, your church continues to prove itself deeply and profoundly anti-gay**. (See below for a small, small, taste. Evidently, your own Pope believes you are an agent of Satan.)

        To use Star Wars’ terms: you’ve donned the uniform of the evil Empire, and yet, you blame those in the Rebel Alliance for not welcoming you with open and unsuspicious arms. You want the Rebels to give you a nice, safe, non-challenging, space — a portion of the safe space we have made for ourselves in hard-fought battles and in defiance of institutions like the Catholic Church … hard-fought battles won with our own blood, sweat, tears, and lives — even while you continue to pledge allegiance to the evil Emperor.

        And you wonder why you’re not feeling welcome?

        Also, I think you’re a being outright ridiculous when you say, “I am EXTREMELY (all caps? really?) selective about the lgbt events I attend because I don’t think it’s safe anymore.”

        This claim is so bizarre it causes me to doubt the authenticity of your letter or to assign to you an unflattering degree of mental fragility.

        Seriously, are you kidding us? I’ve been involved in gay activism for 30 years and have never seen gay people physically harm their own or their enemies. Ever. Indeed, I’ve never seen anyone ask an LGBT person to leave activist event, unless that person was trying to instill violence. I’ve yet to read of a single incident when gays physically bashed a Mormon, a Catholic, or an Evangelical in the wake of Prop 8 … or in the wake of any the massive amount of Church-promoted, anti-gay, legislation thrown in our faces in the past years.

        If you feel I’m wrong, please forward link to such any incident, I’d love to see the context.

        You are right in one regard. Attending LGBT events, or simply walking down to the movies, can be dangerous. One can never be sure when bashers will attack us, and the due to the “I speak for God” rhetoric proclaimed by your church, your church certainly has some degree of culpability in these attacks. Occasionally, you’ll read of gay guys defending themselves from attacks, but these occasions are rare. Too rare, for my taste.

        If it is unfair to hold 1 billion people accountable for supporting an evil institution, then who should held accountable? It’s non-members? Without 1 billion members, the Catholic Church becomes just another weird group of guys who like to wear dresses and funny hats. Without 1B members, the church’s ability to cause harm to this world and its people is largely nullified.

        Yes. Without apology. I hold you and the other 999,999,999 members of the church entirely responsible for helping to continue to perpetrate the evils of that church, and I believe it is, in fact, entirely fair to do so.

        ____________________

        ** http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/13/pope-francis-gay-marriage-anti_n_2869221.html

        • David S

          Hiya Mike.

          The Catholic faith is about so much more than the leadership. In fact, Catholics are some of the most strident supporters of gay marriage. Their faith has served us well at the ballot box. So many people ask me how I could possibly be both gay and Christian. You seem to be asking something like “how can you be both compassionate and Catholic”. I TOTALLY understand and share your anger at the patriarchy. But you indictment of the faith and the faithful is patently unfair. AND there are some amazing groups like Rainbow Sash that are trying to make the Catholic Church a better place for gay parishioners. They deserve our support, not our wrath.

          • mike moore

            It is not unfair.

            My indictment of the faith is based on its bloody history and its utter lack of any kind of moral authority. My indictment of the faithful is a reaction to the fact that its 2000 years of evil-doing seems irrelevant to them.

            To Rainbow Sash, I ask: what does it take to move your hearts?

            Let’s put aside its first 1900 years of horrors and just look at the last 100 years. Your church turned a blind eye to the Holocaust happening all around it. Pius XII was willing to make nice with Hitler because Pius was afraid of communism and bombs landing on the Vatican. Child abuse covered-up, victims re-victimized. Millions sick with AIDS because it took until 2010 for the church to say it’s OK to use a condom. How many millions are hungry because the church still will not endorse sensible birth control? (do I really need to go on? anti-gay, anti-women, etc.)

            The good of the faith doesn’t outweigh the bad, and the good for damn sure doesn’t excuse your church’s continuing decision to attempt to dictate to me how my life will be lived.

            What is unfair is that while Rainbow Sash may make the church a better place for gay parishioners, they are still part of an institution that is fucking with my life.

          • David S

            Hi Mike –

            I’m not Catholic. I’m Presbyterian (one of the “touchy-feely” denominations that is evidently Mike Moore-approved). But I was raised in a conservative congregation that taught me to fear Catholics. Then I got out in the real world and met some of them.

            I know a bunch of really cool Catholic people who are in mass every Saturday. Many of them are gay. I’ve met some really awesome nuns who are the most loving, brutally intellectually honest people you will ever meet. Your brush of hostility is way too broad when it swipes at the entire church.

            In the same way it is not fair to blame all of Christianity for the anti-gay attitudes of some sects; likewise, it is entirely unfair to accuse the entire Catholic laity of being complicit in the sins of the church. The reality is that many of the faithful are speaking out in rebellion against the leadership, not despite their faith but because of it.

          • Anakin McFly

            This. I remember reading somewhere that about half of all Catholics support LGBT rights, and a few LGBT people I know – some of whom have done amazing activist work – are Catholic themselves. Mike is effectively asking people to choose between their morality and their faith, which hits too close to home.

          • mike moore

            Anakin, please read the words you have you written:

            “Mike is effectively asking people to choose between their morality and their faith.”

            I wish there was an emoticon for “my jaw just dropped to floor.” I guess I really Do Not understand Roman Catholicism … you see, in most faiths, one’s morality is tightly — if not profoundly and spiritually — entwined with one’s with one’s faith.

            Anakin, Damn Straight about what I’m asking of you. Pick a team, because in the case of modern, mainstream, Catholicism, you’re either for us or against us.

          • Anakin McFly

            But how is that any different from telling someone that if they are honestly for LGBT rights, they should stop being a Christian because the Christian church is still overwhelmingly homophobic? What if an individual still adheres to the specific Catholic beliefs about God and so on, which have nothing at all to do with LGBT rights? Are they just expected to… stop believing?

          • mike moore

            Christians can practice their faith in any number of ways that do not supportLGBT enemies. There are many churches which welcome, accept, marry, and stand shoulder to shoulder in their LGBT members’ fight for equality.

            Plus, u can’t lump all denominations into one entity … and you Know That.

            In regards to a Catholic picking and choosing, cafeteria style, which beliefs do or don’t fit within their world-view? That’s silliness. What? Do you pledge your allegiance to the Church while crossing your fingers behind your back?

            If u want to pick and choose, start a new denomination … it worked for Henry VIII and Elizabeth, it worked for Calvin and Lither … come ‘on, your church needs another revolution, and maybe, just maybe, you ARE the guy to do it. How cool would that be?

          • Lymis

            …Or at least, deal with the reality that your team is against us.

          • Allie

            While not being Catholic, I have a certain amount of sympathy. There’s something to be said for a tradition that old and that huge being worth fighting for from the inside.

          • Anakin McFly

            Also, if all the decent people left, there would be no one left to fight.

            @mike moore: the whole reason there even exist churches that fight for LGBT rights is that there were people who stuck on and worked for change from the inside. If people had just left, the bigots would have gone by without any internal challenges, and who knows how much worse things would be?

          • mike moore

            At Anakin, let’s put that theory to the test … Pew Research reports that there are almost 80million registered Catholics in the US.

            ABC reports that 54% believe in marriage equality. The Washington Post reports over 90% – 90%! – of Catholic women in the US use birth control.

            I’d be willing to wager that if the Catholic Church lost 50-90% of its membership in the US, we’d suddenly see a huge shift in their policies. And it wouldn’t take decades to happen.

          • Anakin McFly

            @Mike – But I’m also willing to wager that it’s going to be much, much harder to convince 90% of Catholics to stop being Catholic, than it would be to convince 10% of Catholics to get with the program.

          • mike moore

            @ Anikin. How long are my family and I supposed to wait for the 10% (the 10% who evidently control the church) to “get with the program”? And remember, the Catholic church is fucking with me and my family’s lives NOW, and we’re not even Catholic.

          • Anakin McFly

            So you’re saying that it would be quicker for 9 times that many people to get out of the church? Because I don’t find that realistic at all, and am pretty sure it would take an even longer time. :/

          • mike moore

            @ Anakin

            I’m saying that the “working from within” approach is, quite obviously, not working for the Catholic Church. Good lord, Anakin, it took the church FOUR HUNDRED YEARS to apologize to Galileo!

            I don’t expect 10% or 90% of Catholics to leave the church. I’m simply saying that by NOT leaving the church, its members are lending support the church’s actions, no matter how loud their internal dissent.

            I’m saying, don’t expect people to cuddle up and say, “oh, it’s ok your church is bashing and vilifying me and my family, we know you’re working from within to change it … and besides, in my own lifetime, I never wanted to get married, adopt kids, put my spouse on my insurance, etc. etc.”

          • mike moore

            There is a huge difference between Presbyterians and Catholics.

            In the past 100 years in the Presbyterian church, we can see the members and the clergy of the denomination forcing their church leadership to evolve. Women’s rights, civil rights, the large and divisive battle over the church’s view of the LGBT community. Why I even believe it’s OK to masturbate in the Presbyterian church. (that sounded different in my head … I mean, not in the church itself, of course.)

            If you’d to know of other “mike moore approved” churches, just drop me a line at “ifyourchurchistryingtolegislatemylifeIprobably hateyou.com”

            As to Catholic laity. As long as your church is fucking with my life, you probably shouldn’t expect to be BFFFs with me.

          • Jill

            Oh, I SO want to say something naughty about Presbyterianism now, but must apply self-control.

          • mike moore

            Please don’t self-edit, you deny us so much fun when u do … plus I’m on location and either crazed or bored … plus plus, I’m not altogether sure about Presbyterians, anyway.

          • Elizabeth

            Presbyterians only do it in the vestibule.

          • Jill

            Hahaha! There’s no either/or about it, darling! And although I was one for a stretch, I don’t know about Presbyterians either.

            But I was just thinking that I would have LOVED to have been a visitor to services the day THAT ban was lifted. Church bells would’ve been superfluous that day, what with all the joyous shouting…

            You set it up so perfectly with that comment…

          • David S.

            Elizabeth –

            Too bad we switched to boring Presbyterian architecture. “Narthex” is not nearly as much fun as “Rectory”.

          • Elizabeth

            Thank you! Narthex. It was my house with the creepy vestibule.

          • Jill

            Ok, wow. Just looked up narthex on wiki, just to figure out what the hell you’re talking about. Apparently it’s original purpose was to be a space allowing the unworthy to hear the service without being allowed admittance into the sanctuary. Sheesh.

          • Sharon

            Excuse me, but in the Presbyterian Church the members and the clergy *are* the church leadership. There are no popes or bishops. It’s representative government like the USA is supposed to be.

            It’s a significant difference between Presbyterians and Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, and Methodists.

            Peace,

            Sharon

          • Sharon

            Jill, which day? Which ban?

            I’m finding it hard to follow this thread. Not the content but the layout.

            Thanks,

            Sharon

          • Jill

            Sorry Sharon, I knew I should’ve stayed disciplined. (Mike’s just my favorite bad influence.)

            I was joking about the masturbation ban lifted by Presbyterians according to Mike’s serendipitous comment. There’s just so many places you could take that, I couldn’t resist.

            Again, I’m sorry for any unintended offense.

          • Sharon

            I wasn’t offended in the slightest. Just confused. We recently lifted the ban on gay clergy. Or at least gay clergy who are in a relationship. Before it was fine if they were single and celibate.

            So I thought you might be talking about that.

            By the way, I’ve only been a Presbyterian for 52 years, but in that time I don’t remember anyone talking about masturbation and any rules the church might have about it.

            Cheers!

            Sharon

          • Elizabeth

            Hi Sharon! My first child psychology books were borrowed from my Presbyterian church. I wandered around unsupervised, um, a lot. They covered divorce (which is why I had them), abuse, and masturbation. Presbyterians are nothing if not practical and thorough. OK, back to that job search thingy now.

          • mike moore

            Maybe, therein lies the difference.

          • Lymis

            As a former Catholic (at this point, I usually describe myself as “I was raised what I thought at the time was Catholic” and have done plenty of personal reading and research along the way to know that what I was taught is a valid and time-honored form of Catholic experience more related to Catholic mysticism than what most of the people sitting in any given pew think of as Catholicism in the day-to-day sense), I know what you are saying, David, and to a degree, I agree completely.

            Most non-Catholics really don’t understand how very radically different the experience of being a Catholic is compared to what the hierarchy runs around telling people Catholicism is. Back when I was a churchgoer, if I hadn’t known better, it never would have occurred to me that the two had any relation at all.

            But I invite you to note that mike moore’s response to RadicalMary was specifically in the context of her saying that she avoids LGBT events because she feels personally unsafe as a Catholic at them. That rings as bizarre to me as it appears to have rung to Mike. I’m not hostile to personal religion at all, but even I don’t assume that any random person at a “gay event” is religiously anti-gay unless they are actively doing something to make that clear – and even then, other than someone occasionally being shouted down (usually for trying to disrupt the event), I’ve never seen or even heard of violence that wasn’t started, or at least actively incited, by the anti-gay people.

            The idea that gay people are so inherently unsafe that the mere attendance at a gay-positive event is a danger to a Catholic person is so far outside my experience that I find it bordering on the unhinged.

            And as for Mike’s other point – the hierarchy and institutional Catholic Church are among the most extreme and most outspoken and best funded anti-gay organizations on the planet. Their anti-gay influence is official church policy, and extensively widespread and unapologetic, and anyone who digs even a little gets the clear indications that what they admit to publicly is only the tip of a very large iceberg. Those are simply facts, and Mike is fully justified in pointing them out.

            While I agree with you that the mere fact that the hierarchy and public policy of one’s church holds such views and takes such actions doesn’t mean an individual Catholic agrees, but I also agree with Mike that by staying in the Church, that individual Catholic really has “donned the uniform of the evil empire.” Whether they toe the party line or work quietly (or outspokenly) for the Resistance is a different question, and a deeply important one.

            But seriously, even in the case of the most gay friendly and affirming Catholic (and believe me, I know that there are many), clutching at one’s pearls and declaring, “How dare you judge me for being Catholic simply because I declared that I am Catholic?” rings a bit hollow.

          • mike moore

            with the greatest of respect … like he said.

          • David S.

            Hi Lymis –

            As always, I so appreciate you and your perspectives. You and I have a ton of agreement here.

            I think one of the things that Mike is missing is that there is a strong cultural identification for Catholics that arguably is not nearly as strong for protestants. Asking a Catholic to not be Catholic is like asking a Jew not to be Jewish or an Italian not to be Italian. I love your story of leaving Catholicism and finding your own way with God, but I think for many Catholics it feels like a choice between having faith as a Catholic or abandoning faith completely.

            I’ll say it again to make sure I’m not misunderstood – I TOTALLY understand and share the anger at the Catholic patriarchy. In no way do I endorse their anti-gay, misogynistic, abusive teachings, their moral failings, or their opposition to gay marriage. *However*, I reject the notion that one must excoriate all Catholics for an imagined complicity.

            If, for me, being a Christian in the gay community has been an exercise in being misunderstood and reviled, then it has been an even tougher row to hoe for my Catholic friends. They are even more hated (as evidenced by this very discussion) even as they are working their asses off to change the Catholic church (see the link below for one recent example). I wholeheartedly believe RadicalMary when she says she’s been called vile names and shunned for merely identifying as Catholic, and I don’t find it even a little odd that she doesn’t want to put herself in positions where she will have to endure the undue wrath of those who would flay her for her faith.

            The no-holds-barred, “you’re with us or against us”, anti-Christian sentiment cropping up in the gay community, while certainly understandable as a reaction to crippling religion-based oppression, has an element of ignorance not totally different than the ignorance that has fueled homophobia or Islamophobia for so long. We know the devastation caused by ignorance; I believe that ignorance needs to be called out.

            One of the things that I’ve been giving a lot of thought to lately is this: now that we are part of the moral majority, what responsibility do affirming Christians have (if any) to mitigate the “tyranny of the masses” against the moral minority?

            John, Lymis, Mike, and everyone else, I’d sincerely like to hear your thoughts on that question now or in the future.

            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joseph-amodeo/cardinal-dolan-denies-cat_b_3219675.html

          • Jill

            I am glad you posted this, David. Yes, when I read that article this month, I really liked the fact the author + friends wanted to take their faith back from those misusing it, ignoring its truth about those who have “clean hearts”. It had no hint of letting anyone off the hook.

            As for your articulate question about the tables-turned majority, I can only say from my viewpoint that white, straight, anti-equality, anti-diversity male entitlement still takes up the most space and makes the most laws, and because I play a role (being white, straight), I still have more work to do. But your point is well-placed, as the actual majority is pro-equal, pro-human, it is important to become graceful winners.

          • David S.

            Thanks Jill. There’s definitely a faith aspect to this question. How do we live into our faith among a community that wants to turn the tables and hurt those who hurt us first?

            And I also think there’s a practical gay rights aspect to this question. If the soon-to-be-formerly oppressed become would-be oppressors, do we risk an erosion in public support? Do we saddle ourselves with a new stereotype being embittered?

            I’m really open to ideas on this. I’m trying sort out a lot of mixed thoughts in my head.

          • Jill

            Well I know what my answer is and will continue to be to your first question, on how to live faith among those with every reason to remain angry? In my case as an ally, I say bring your anger to me and I will do what I can to help hold part of that burden for you. I cannot fix it all, I cannot take away the injustice, but I can be there for you. I can keep pushing towards equality and earn your trust.

            I can be your friend, even as I investigate my faith, and my being upfront and honest about my faith journey can hopefully help you to know that my faith is the real thing, and not some watered-down, phony lip service where I claim love, but practice something else.

            All I ask is that you be willing to give me a chance. If not, that’s ok too. You will have my peace and best regards to take with you. That’s my answer for anyone who’s angry, because we all need a safe place to set our anger down.

          • Lymis

            I really think that the LGBT anger at Christians is far more reactive, and isn’t really in danger of being permanent if the provocation drops off.

          • David S.

            From your keyboard, to God’s ears. I’m not quite as optimistic based on my personal experience…

          • Lymis

            Asking a Catholic to not be Catholic is like asking a Jew not to be Jewish or an Italian not to be Italian.

            Absolutely. I agree. And in many ways, even though I haven’t been to Mass outside of family events in decades now, I still find myself culturally Catholic in a lot of ways.

            But there needs to be a distinction between “asking a Catholic not to be Catholic” and “asking a Catholic to acknowledge the very real dark side of the behavior of the organization and culture with which they choose to identify.”

            Like being an American during the Bush years, I don’t hold myself responsible for everything that people I had nothing to do with putting in power do with the power they have. But unless I choose to renounce my identity as an American, I also have to acknowledge that, right or wrong, that the people running my country actually are doing what they are doing, and they are in part doing it using the authority they feel my continued allegiance to them granted them.

            Catholics have a moral obligation to do the same thing. They don’t have to claim blame or fault for the actions of others, but they also don’t get to pretend that the organization to whom they give some level of allegiance to is hurting people in their name. They can buy into it, they can fight it, they can ignore it, they can feel that it doesn’t have anything much at all to do with them, but they don’t get to claim it isn’t happening. Many don’t. But many do.

            And “that has nothing to do with me because I’m not that kind of Catholic” or “not that kind of Christian” is only true so far and no farther.

            We know the devastation caused by ignorance; I believe that ignorance needs to be called out.

            That depends entirely on what you mean. I react very negatively to this phrasing – “calling out” in the sense of further bludgeoning people who have been hurt by organized religion for not choosing to learn more about the people who they feel are attacking them isn’t going to accomplish any more than any other form of Bible bashing.

            It is not the responsibility of those being bullied to keep track of which people in the crowd actually attacked them and which people in the crowd stood idly by while they were attacked. And if the victims understandably make sweeping generalizations about the people who were in the group, “calling them out” in the sense of saying, “How dare you group us in with the people who assaulted you? We stood here and did nothing at all!” is hardly a compassionate way of sending any message at all.

            It would be best if such a person actively worked to prevent the assault, and heroic if they stood with the victims at the time of the attack. It would be next best, if they couldn’t stop the attacks, to step in and help clean up the damage, bond with the victims, and show actual, practical compassion. If for some reason they can’t do that, then the last thing they should morally do is taunt the victims by saying that they’re too stupid to keep track of who’s actually hurting them. If someone isn’t willing to help, they should shut up.

            And going out of their way to say, “Yes, I am a member of the group who attacked you and did absolutely nothing to try to stop it, or help you once they did it, but I want you to know that while I identify as a member of the group, I don’t agree with what they did” is more harmful than saying nothing, because it comes across as “Your pain is immaterial to me; I just don’t want to feel judged.”

            Yes, members of such a group – individual Catholics, members of other Christian groups, and so on – most certainly CAN, and definitely SHOULD be prophetic witnesses that there is a different side to their group, but they have to establish a hell of a lot of practical credibility before they get to say “We aren’t all like that, you’re not allowed to judge.” Far better to PROVE that not everyone is like that, and create the open door for that dialogue, isn’t it?

          • Allie

            Have I mentioned lately that I love you? This is beautifully put.

          • David S.

            Hi Lymis –

            I think I see things very closely to the way you do on this.

            Those in Catholicism or any institution who are spectators to hurt and harm don’t get a free pass; their silence makes them an accessory to the offense. Period. As you rightly point out, that’s true for all of us in many different areas of daily life.

            Regarding dispelling anti-Christian prejudices in the gay community…

            As someone who has also been subjected to the religion-based bullying and stereotypes to which you refer, I think it’s not only OK but morally required of me to stick up for our gay friends and allies, even/especially in non-affirming faith communities, when they face the indiscriminate hostility of those in our tribe who choose to attack them based on nothing more than their religious identification. Again I agree with you: to be in a position to do that, I must demonstrate the good faith required to engage in the conversation in the first place.

            Thank you again for your terrific perspectives! All my best to you.

          • Lymis

            I’ve found it much more valuable to allow people to experience me and then find (sometimes to their surprise) the nature of my spirituality than to lead with my doctrinal views and hope they stick around to get to know me.

            Unless I’m teaching religion, generally, it’s not the most important thing about me in the moment, though it informs everything else that I do.

            I’d rather that someone who finds me open minded, compassionate, and of high integrity be surprised to discover I have spiritual beliefs because I didn’t push them on anyone than have to chase around after people telling them that they judged me wrongly because I led with them.

          • Sayla1228

            I think a more relevant question if we can even admit is this: is it possible to separate spirituality from religion at all? What really comes to mind when people hear spirituality and religion? There’s no easy answer at all to this question. Frankly, I don’t really see how that form of separation really helps anyone other than another form of white washing.

          • Sayla1228

            I am NOT saying that to be irritating and . It’s just that many people of our generation in the US are denouncing other religions and spiritualities too into the shit list pile because they don’t see the point in spirituality and mysticism in general and religion in particular if they doesn’t make people better. This is true especially among anti-oppression activists and radical thinkers of social justice. As someone who is connected with some of that as a supporter and volunteer, it is a reality. A lot of my pals at my Food not Bombs chapter are an living example. Most of them don’t mind the concept of spirituality and even religion; they don’t see the point if it doesn’t address the issues. Only three people remain to spirituality generally as theists. I am the only who is practicing Catholic. My friend who is involve is a lot political and social resistance work after college (she was my roomie) recently became non-theist, anti-religion and a skeptic of spirituality (her positions are very nuanced and comprehensive but that’s the basic summary).

          • Elizabeth

            Hey David. I’m way out of my depth here, not being Catholic. I marched in New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parade once, though. It’s my birthday. I wanted to see what it was like. The clan I chose didn’t care that I wasn’t Irish; the only rule they set was that I didn’t make a gay protest. I didn’t. I was their guest. I smiled and waved. It definitely changes how you see all the spectators waving back.

          • Mike Moore

            David, I don’t want to come across as terse, flippant, or dismissive … working from iPhone here.

            I don’t buy that Catholics are different from other Christians due to cultural identification. A Jew – quite specifically – is someone whose mother is Jewish. (not counting converts) Jews are Jews no matter what they believe or whom/how they worship. A Jew who converts to Catholicism is still a Jew.

            Italian, per your comparison, is an ethnic affiliation, not changeable and not a choice made whilst taking first communion. A Catholic can stop being a Catholic. And, moreover, I suspect there are many commenters here who would argue their upbringing in fundamentalist churches created at least as strong a cultural identity as can be found among Catholics. If you don’t believe me, let me introudce you to Sothern Baptists I know.

            (and again, conversationally, not accusatorially) I believe one of the reasons for John Shore’s presence and popularity is, in fact, precisely because so many people from so many faiths have been made to feel what you describe: a choice between an ingrained faith or no faith at all. This dilemma is in no way unique to Catholics.

            As for complicity, I hold firm.

            One, this os not “imagined” … a practicing Catholic is complicit, by definition. Rather than repeat myself, I would refer you to earlier comments. In essence, though, you can’t walk into a group of oppressed individuals wearing the uniform of their oppressors and expect to be welcomed with open arms.

            And let me take some blame here. I’m a US citizen. I often find the actions of our gov’t and elected officials vile and despicable. I protest against them. And still, as long as I stay in the US and pay my taxes, I am complicit and culpable. We cannot divorce ourselves from the actions of those whom enable.

            Want to see complicity? Check this recent beauty from Cardinal Timothy Dolan: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/05/26/americas-top-catholic-calls-for-renewed-wave-of-anti-lgbt-sentiment/ This is the man who speaks for you. This is the man who speaks for your church. And what he says is vile and is harmful to every member of the LGBT community. Oh, and he’s saying this even as we endure an incredible wave of gay-bashing.

            And, OK, now I am kinda pissed-off: RadicalMary “flayed” for her faith! Hooey.

            For every RadicalMary whose had her feelings hurt, there is a dead Matthew Shepard.

            Don’t you dare use words like “flay” in this situation. Remember, you’re the guy who belongs to church that, quite literally, flayed live people.

            You may not like the “all or nothing” approach I take with Catholicism, but I believe it is warranted. In the past year and right NOW, the LGBT community has had to endure the HATE poured upon us by your “faith.”

            So now that I’ve worked myself into asshole mode, i’ll finish with: revolt and toss out the old men in their silly dresses & hats … or move along, taking the best of your religion with you.

            I’m tired of apologists for what has arguably been one of the most evil destructive religions our planet has ever known, and I’m tired of members/apologists from institution that is specifically and materially fucking with me and my family’s life.

            This is personal.

          • David S.

            Hi Mike. (Commenting from my phone too, so forgive poor editing).

            First, know that I respect you. I hear you and I understand your perspective. But you and I have major disagreement. I’m not sure how much I have to add to the conversation.

            I think I’ve made myself perfectly clear in these and other comments about how I feel about Timothy Dolan, the FRC, and myriad other Christian leaders who are anti-gay. They don’t speak for my understanding of the faith any more than Fred Phelps does. You can choose to believe me or not.

            And also know this: in your sweeping indictments of Christianity, there are a bunch of people under your blanket condemnations that are working to make the world a better place for you and me. You can choose, as your comments suggest you do, to centure them too. That’s your choice. I don’t think that’s fair, but my guess is they’ll continue to stick up for you despite your judgements. I would just encourage you to rethink your perspectives.

            I truly wish you well.

            DS

          • Mike moore

            My sweeping indictment is aimed directly at the Catholic Church. I believe if u read my comments, that is clear.

            I believe the Catholic Hierarchy has proven over centuries that it is irredeemable and, more important, evil and dangerous on a global scale.

            I’m tired of the “working from within” excuse from Carholics … my family can’t afford to wait for 200 years.

          • Anakin McFly

            How would those people leaving the Catholic church help any more than working from within it? It would seem to have less effect.

            Scenario 1: Decent people leave the Catholic church.

            - Only the bigots are left

            - They continue doing bad things, this time with no internal challenge.

            - Things get even worse as a result.

            Scenario 2: Decent people stay in the Catholic church and try to change it from within

            - The bigots have less power to do as they like

            - Change, eventually, happens.

            I still fail to see how you consider the first scenario to be the better one, in any way.

          • mike moore

            @ Anakin

            I believe the first option is, practically speaking, exactly the way it should go.

            Pew reports there are almost 80million registered Catholics in the US. ABC reports 54% support marriage equality … WaPo reports 90% of Catholic women use birth control.

            I believe if 50% to 90% of those people (who are acting in direct rebellion of their church’s dictates) left the Church and started a “reformed” Catholic Church, we would see one of two things: 1) a financially bankrupt and utterly irrelevant church; or 2) a sudden and magical reformation of the church itself.

            First scenario wins, hands-down.

          • David S.

            Hi Mike,

            I also meant to add that my family looks like yours. Please don’t dismiss my family as somehow less important than yours. It kinda sucks for you to imply that I somehow care less about my family than you do about yours. It’s personal for me too.

            Best again.

            DS

          • David S.

            Mike. PPS.

            One last thought as I continue to digest this dialog. Matthew Shepherd’s death was caused by homophobic, macho-shithead murderers. You could argue that religion-based bigotry contributed to a toxic atmosphere that enboldened the likes of these murderers, but I think you’d be hard pressed to find acceptance of Matthew’s murder among even the most anti-gay Christian community. If you think otherwise, then please say so. Otherwise, it’s somewhat exploitative to invoke his name in this conversation.

          • mike moore

            I disagree entirely. These men – whether they be FRC or our friend Dolan – know EXACTLY what they’re doing.

            Guys like Timothy Dolan and Tony Perkins and all their ilk are intelligent men … they KNOW their words incite violence against gay people, and yet they continue to spout their hate.

            Then, when someone like Matthew Shepard is brutally murdered, or when two nice gay boys get bashed as they walk out of gay bar, guys like Dolan and Perkins issue a nice press release and go on TV with their “we condemn and would never condone such violence” talking points … and then, usually on the same day, they go back out into world spouting the same vile rhetoric they know will incite people to more hate.

            Matthew Shepard is the point.

          • Mike moore

            If it’s personal for you, then act like it!

            If the neighborhood bully is harming your kids, you stop him. If some guy in a dress literally barged into your home and started spouting vile evil lies about your family, you’d. stop him.

            If you are unwilling to protect your family from hate, then yeah, it seems you do not care about your family as much as you should

          • David S.

            That might be the most dickish thing you could possibly say to me. I think I misjudged you.

          • mike moore

            @ I don’t mind being called a dick, but I would like to know where our misunderstanding lies.

            Would you not protect your family from an immediate physical threat? I think you would.

            Would you not protect your family from a face-to-face verbal assault? I think you would.

            So this is where I get confused … why are you willing to cut so much slack to an institution which is attempting to do extreme harm to you and your family, and is attempting to do so today? Right at this moment.

            What is the difference between a thug on the sidewalk and a thug from the Vatican?

    • anakin mcfly

      Letter-writer here, and I think it’s too simplistic to consider tithing as supporting or funding hate. Tithing supports all sorts of other things as well, including supporting various aid programs, feeding the poor, helping underprivileged children, and so on. My main church back home (Methodist) is anti-LGBT of the touchy-feely sort (once in youth ministry they said “if you’re gay, let us know. We can help!” and that felt really ominous. The current view is that LGB people should be accepted, but that it’s God’s will they remain celibate and that others should support, encourage and love them on this difficult path). But as far as I know they don’t actively fund any such programs. And even if they did, it wouldn’t change that a lot of their money also goes towards good causes that I have no moral qualms about supporting.

      Meanwhile for a few months, I’m currently going to another Methodist church that is very involved in LGBT activism (among other social justice work) and part of a group of Methodist churches fighting for LGBT rights within the denomination. So I’m pretty secure in knowing that my money is being put to good use. And I know that this is the case for a lot of other churches in other denominations, so it’s odd that you’re assuming that all tithing within a particular denomination will go towards harming the LGBT community, given that a good portion of it very definitely goes towards helping the LGBT community. It doesn’t represent how things work, at all, and your argument is extremely unfair. Individuals – and even individual churches – aren’t responsible for the larger organisations they happen to be a part of.

      It reminds me of the time when people bashed one of my favourite actors (who happens to be openly gay) for doing some work in a country with anti-LGBT laws. Because my country has those, too, and if it meant that – because of stupid laws I have no power over – LGBT celebrities and other people should be morally obliged to stay out of my country, I would be seriously pissed off.

      • mike moore

        For the most part, I’d refer you to my response to RadicalMary, see above.

        Tithing is just one litmus test. But it comes back to simple common sense: you shouldn’t be funding groups which harm our community. You can write checks directly to worthwhile charities. You can, in most churches, write checks ear-marked for certain use. You can avoid monies being funneled back to those who would harm us.

        You example of the actor is less straight-forward, far more nuanced, and each such case has, or lacks, merit based on its particulars. I recognize that.

        For example, when big names like Bob Dylan, Pat Benatar, Lou Reed, Clarence Clemons, Jackson Browne, U2, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, Bonnie Raitt, Lakshminarayana Shankar and Joey Ramone (to name only a few) boycotted Sun City, it helped to shine a big global spotlight on apartheid. It also took stars like Linda Ronstadt and Elton John to perform in Sun City while publicly denouncing apartheid. I argue this furthered the divestment movement in the US. “Maybe South Africa can live with apartheid, but we don’t have to finance it.”

        Yes, it takes internal and external pressure to cause real change in a corrupt or evil institution. However, after 2000 years of trying, it’s time for those working from within the CC to either revolt or move on.

  • Ed Ramirez

    I get the point of this story and I don’t believe I am anti-Christian! I have my own beliefs about him and try to stick to them! What I do have animosity towards is the fringe we hear so much about that bastardizes his teachings and uses them for nefarious reasons! What I do have animosity about is people who claim to be “Christian” who do not denouce that way of teaching! What I do have animosity about is people who claim they are “Christian” who will throw platitudes to my face, but, throw me under the bus, when I am not around!

    Rant done, Happy Sunday!

    • Elizabeth

      Um, which bastards are you talking about? The Christians hating gays indiscriminately, which is inexcusable at this point, or gays hating Christians, which isn’t fair but at least it’s understandable? They all make me want to drink before breakfast.

      • mike moore

        Elizabeth, you totally need to become an Episcopalian … it’s all about humanity-loving sermons, “peace be with you”, and “I keep a Thermos of spicy Bloody Marys and triple-hi-ball glasses in the refrigerated console of my Range Rover.” Because, after all, who doesn’t need a drink before breakfast? Real Christians understand that.

        • Elizabeth

          I’m so Episcopalian. Cookie time, free wine, the parade of puppies on the Feast of St. Francis.

          • Jill

            Why am I not Episcopalian??? Did I make a left turn at Albuquerque?

          • mike moore

            love the Bugs … I think monsters make the most interesting people.

          • Jill

            My stars, where did you get that awful hairdo? It doesn’t become you at all!

            Bobby pins, please.

          • mike moore

            I think a perm is required … rollers, please.

          • Lymis

            There’s puppies?

            Maybe I have to rethink this unchurched idea. Maybe once the bruises heal.

          • Elizabeth

            If it’s a cathedral, you get peacocks, camels, and elephants. It’s a madhouse. I volunteered one year, went home, and fetched my cat Esther Turnip Sprout. The blessing didn’t take with her, but I don’t blame the church.

    • mike moore

      Ed, I’m completely with you, but it is important to remember we are discussing fringe elements here.

      According to Pew research, almost 80% of Americans identify as Christian; of those, 26% identify as Evangelical, 25% identify as mainline and black churches ( a very mixed bag for the LGBT rights), 24% identify as Catholics … the rest is divvied up between Mormons (we’re still stinging from Prop 8,) Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the Orthodox churches.

      Now factor in the more rigid sects of Judaism, Muslim, etc.

      This is not fringe, this is mainstream.

  • Gene Bridges

    The priority for the Christian who is gay should never be “does my denomination affirm LGBT issues.” That would qualify as putting your own sexuality before the Gospel. The priority for the gay Christian – any Christian – is “Is my church or denomination faithful to the essentials of the Gospel?” The Gospel is not “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved and affirm LGBT rights, issues, etc.” It is “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.” That’s equally true for the heterosexual and the homosexual Christian.

    As Christians, we have to submit *everything* to God, including our sexuality, and that’s hard. The reason a lot of heterosexual Christians don’t understand that is because, unlike gays, they suffer from “heterosexual privilege” and, in this part of the country, a bad case of civil religion – you know, churches on every corner syndrome. The cost of discipleship for them is relatively low. That leads to absurd things like buying chicken sandwiches fer Jesus last year, while telling every gay person to submit their identity, economy, community, and relationships to Jesus – the same things that gays face when they come out too really. That’s their cost of discipleship. For those people opposed to gays, last year, it was $7.50 or so. Seriously that’s what it was. That’s what makes gay Christians feel so frustrated, and that’s what makes gays in general very angry. It’s obvious to them, but their opposition is oblivious to it.

    The thing gay Christians have to watch is the danger of worshiping their sexuality, of failing to identify with Christ, and failing to pursue holiness. It’s one thing to say “I’m a gay man” but it’s another to elevate that identity above identifying with Christ first, because to be a Christian is to be, as far as God is concerned, to be identified with Christ via union with Christ. It’s *His* work, not ours, *His* merits not ours, and so forth, that God sees when He sees a believer. That’s the explicit teaching of Scripture. It’s better, and more biblical, for any believer to identify with Christ, regardless of his or her sexual orientation. That keeps us in check. Submit your sexuality to Christ – Gospel comes first, always. Get the Gospel right, and the rest will follow, just be sure to respect those, even of our own kind, whose journey takes them in a different direction, and never make the mistake of assuming that because a person says “I’m gay” that he can’t be a Christian as well. The Christian life is a pilgrimage, not an event.

    We Christians in general have to stop treating gays as if they are special category of sinners that has to pursue holiness (the fundamentalist argument against gays) more than the rest of us or as if they have to be part of a church that affirms LGBT issues (the argument of Christians on the more liberal side and of many gays in that regard). They are as much subject to the noetic effects of sin as anybody else, and Christians who are gay and choose to live in celibacy in order to live in harmony with their local church or those who choose to do otherwise both deserve the same respect. The Gospel itself is the first priority for both groups/persons, not whether or not such and such church/denomination affirms LGBT causes. So, when a person who is gay encounters people who “boo” him, his response should be to explain the Gospel and that the Gospel is his priority, particularly if he has chosen to be part of a church and/or denomination that is not known for being gay friendly like the SBC or the PCA. I happen to feel personally that the SBC is in the process of losing the Gospel through legalism, but the PCA is much more stable in that regard. Many Baptists, particularly Reformed Baptists who can find no church home locally go there because they choose to be in a church that affirms their soteriology and doctrine of providence (evangelical Calvinism) and can tolerate infant baptism. While they do not, as a denomination affirm LGBT issues, they do not as a denomination meddle in politics like the SBC does, and they are very concerned about the mistreatment of gays in our society and by other Christians (although I have run into a handful of bad apples in that regard); they do have the Gospel right, and they are a place where a gay Christian can function if s/he so chooses, the same way that Arminians and credobaptists continue to function as members of the PCA but not as elders or deacons, since you have to be a Calvinist and paedobaptist to do that.

    Imagine two people. One is gay and Christian, but in the end, that person clung to Christ. They may have had many struggles over many things, but in the end, they clung to Christ and were still doing so on the day they died. Even if that person was in error and totally wrong about the whole gay marriage thing and being gay in general, God’s mercy is greater than our sins, even if s/he violated his conscience and did the wrong thing and got married or “went on a moral holiday” on occasion, just like everybody else, in that regard after all. We just don’t know what goes on in that person’s soul between him or her and God.

    On the other hand the teetotaler who outwardly “has it all together,” and wags his finger at us, writes nice checks to church, and so forth, well, he died and went into outer darkness, because, in the end, he trusted in his churchiness, not in Christ alone. The former, who most churches turned out from the communion table, is welcome at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb and set free on Judgment Day. The other, well, he ate a bite of bread and some grape juice (because God forbid wine touch his lips too!), he gets turned into outer darkness, and, at best, winds up a slave on Judgment Day. That’s because the hallmark of the Christian isn’t his morality or whether or not s/he affirms or disaffirms gays or even his or her own sexuality, it’s his fidelity to the Gospel, it is, in the end, whether he is clinging to Christ alone, or to his own morality and his works. I suspect, because God’s mercy is very great and covers many sins, flaws, errors, and failings, many of us are going to be surprised by who we see gets in the Kingdom when we are judged.

    • Elizabeth

      Yep. My God is all about sexuality. That’s why Mary of Magdala was at the Resurrection to anoint the body instead of all those chickenshit “disciples”. God’s judgment was clear. She was chosen. Rule-followers were not. I thank Him daily for that.

    • Lymis

      Big words, long post, missed point. There’s a central flaw in your idea, which, ironically, is a version of the very point you claim others should be paying attention to – putting sexuality first as the largest consideration.

      Asking whether a denomination affirms the truth of the love of LGBT people in relationship is not “putting sexuality first” any more than asking whether a particular denomination affirms the value and equality of women in the sight of God is “putting gender first,” or a denomination that affirms the equality before God of people of different races is “putting race first” – and putting that in tension with the idea of whether a denomination affirms Biblical truth is circular reasoning at best, and a honking big plank in one’s eye at worst.

      And, I’d say that neither of those questions should come first – that one of the far more important questions for an individual is “is my participation in the traditions and community as lived by this denomination or congregation something that brings me closer to God or not?” And participating in a denomination that starts with a fundamental belief that who you are and how you love is flawed and evil is not likely to be such an experience.

      The question is “does God speak to me here?” That’s not “putting sexuality first.”

      Talk about heterosexual privilege.

      • Gene Bridges

        Of course it is. One can affirm the truth of LGBT people, value of equality of the genders, etc., yet still fail to be able to answer the question, “What is the Gospel?” correctly. If a church cannot answer that question correctly, it is, by definition, a false church. There is such a thing as true or false teaching according to none other than Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.

        So what? Circular reasoning can be vicious or virtuous.

        That’s an assertion, not an argument.

        That’s clever. I’m sure that many idol worshipers believe that their participation in their communities and traditions bring them closer to God, but your personal feeling closer to God isn’t a measure of the truth of the Gospel. You can pray to a rock or statue for that matter and feel closer to God, but animism or Baal worship is, by definition, a rejection of the Gospel. Learn to master those elementary distinctions.

        • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

          I happen to disagree on what the gospel is. I think its not about salvation, but about love. God’s love for us, and his desire to see us love one another. The good news is that God loves us, the command is share that love given by God with others.

          If all a church is about is “saving souls” then they miss the point entirely. A church should not be about getting more Christians to fill the roster, but showing a world that love exists in a form and fashion not seen near enough. We shouldn’t care if someone is gay or straight, rich or poor, agnostic or Moonie. We should, because of our love take the phrase “come all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest” to heart, and seek to lighten one another’s load, being the tools in God’s hands that helps offload our burdens.

          When we dismiss people’s faith because its different than ours, and decide, well they are just rejecting the gospel, we err. We don’t really know another’s relationship with God. Its hard enough for us to really pin down our own. And getting our own faith mastered should be pretty durned important, considering it usually takes just beyond our lifetime to get it right.

          If we love our neighbor, all our neighbors, seeing them as wonderful additions to humanity, loved by God as they stand right now, then its harder to label the, dismiss them, decide they aren’t worth our time or company. I think loving our neighbors as God love us is a very important elementary distinction to master.

        • Elizabeth

          No. Circular reasoning is always an insult to both logic and God. That’s not an assertion or an argument. That’s a fact. The big word we use is “fallacy”.

          Sorry. What was the question again? Because the Gospel is grounded in Greek logic.

          • Elizabeth

            They even wrote it in Greek. In semiotics, the language shapes word pictures. That we’re parsing it in Latin > English already makes us a different community.

        • Lymis

          Your smug is showing.

          I didn’t say that “will this bring me closer to God” is the ONLY question, just that it needs to be the first, and treated as one of the most important questions. And, of course, anyone who doesn’t feel that a rock or a statue of some ancient god is God in the first place isn’t going to find that such worship brings them closer to God, so that part of your… argument… breaks down as well.

          But as I said, it does point to the circularity of your argument – anything that doesn’t give the “right” answer by your standards is idolatrous. So it seems that you’re only pretending to let someone examine a variety of denominations, since anything other than your answer is a wrong one and will automatically be dismissed.

          We’re real people, and God really does speak to us. Any yes, gay people do have the right to seek God in an environment in which we aren’t being condemned out of hand. If that isn’t the environment you think is ideal for your own salvation, so be it. But if the denomination in which you do find your personal path to God is hostile to others of God’s children as an article of faith, you might want to examine just what it is you’ve given your allegiance to.

          Because I’ll stack a statue or a woodland critter up against the false idol of a denomination of Christianity that asserts that God hates anyone any day.

    • David S.

      Hi Gene

      If I understand you correctly, you are saying that the Bible is unambiguous that erotic homosexual behavior is sinful to the point of being a salvation issue. Further you are saying that Christians should be less antagonistic to people who are gay so that the church can support them in their life long struggle. Am I correct?

      You are also, in your moral certitude, passing judgement on my relationship with Christ and dismissing the years of study and prayer that it took for me to reconcile my faith and my sexuality.

      And, from your graceless and compassion-free comment (warped in the tissue paper of faux empathy), it seems you confuse the lives of gay Christians as a litmus test for “a true understanding of the gospel”. You may think my cross to bear is a life alone struggling against same sex attraction. Verily I say unto you, I pick up my cross and follow Jesus daily through the scripture idolizing, legalistic, Christians who would continue to shame and scold me, rather than love me as I try to love them. It’s attitudes like yours that are pushing people who are gay away from the cross.

      I’m not sure what your story is – straight and married, straight and single, a chaste-single-same-sex-attracted person, a mixed-orientation spouse….

      But I sincerely encourage you to pray, and study, and pray some more. In my view, anyone who would, as you have done here, completely dismiss the faith of those who believe differently than you do and judge their salvation has utterly missed the gospel message.

      • David S.

        “Warped” was meant to be “wrapped”. Serendipitous auto-fill perhaps?

      • Anakin McFly

        Whoa, thanks so much for the part about how surviving through oppression is the cross you have to bear. Somehow I’ve never thought of things that way before, and used to feel guilty at how I was supposedly trying to escape that struggle, and how following Jesus wasn’t supposed to be easy, etc. But this makes a lot of sense. Thanks!

        • David S.

          It SO sucks living in between both worlds. But, alas, that’s where we are and all I can do is try to live out my faith as best I can.

          My sincere best to you.

          • Jill

            David, you never fail to bring hope and light in your words. It is a beautiful talent.

    • Allie

      As a straight person, I have to ask, how would a church or denomination be faithful to the essentials of the Gospel WITHOUT affirming LGBT issues? What would that even look like? Because from where I stand, it’s not possible to be faithful to the Gospel while being cruel to innocent people. Such a church would be self-contradictory and unable to exist.

      Certainly it’s possible for gay people, like any people, to pick a church based on the issues that are important to them, ignoring other equally important issues. But this is one of the major issues which divides churches at this day, at this time in history. Some churches right now are evil and spreading a Gospel of hate. Some are spreading a Gospel of love. It’s not possible for any believer, gay or straight, to ignore the issue facing all of us. Just as it wasn’t possible for any believer in America in 1861 to ignore whether or not his particular church was pro- or anti-slavery. Some churches in 1861 were evil and spreading a Gospel of evil which said that it was okay in the eyes of God to enslave people. Some were not. That was the issue before them at that moment. Sure, this issue was more urgent if you happened to be black, or a planter. But it was an issue that affected everyone who had to choose a church at that time. It was exactly the people who were least affected by it, the non-slaveowning whites, who were most in a position where that decision defined who they were as human beings and Christians.

      Why would a straight person think they can sin against their fellow human beings and still be “faithful to the essentials of the Gospel”? The Gospel I’ve read says to treat others as you would wish to be treated. Are you reading a different one?

      • Linnea

        Allie, you hit the nail on the head. I don’t understand churches that claim to be “faithful to the essentials of the Gospel” and yet be cruel and dismissive towards *anyone*, whether that “anyone” is poor, GLBTQ, of another race, physically/developmentally disabled, mentally ill, etc.

        The smug people who inhabit these churches badly need to go read the parable of the sheep and the goats.

  • http://angelthenovel.com/ Laura lee

    I had a related problem when I tried to sell my novel. A number of publishers liked it, but they didn’t think they could sell it. The reason was that it was “too gay for the Christians and too Christian for the gays.” That is, it deals with a same sex couple in a Christian setting, which I think the publishers would have thought commercial if I’d made the Christians more villainous. Everyone is stuck in the mindset of a culture war with gays on one side and Christians on the other, and if you’re not on one of those sides it kind of confuses them.

    • Nicole

      Sounds cool! Did you get anyone to publish it? Maybe publish it yourself on Kindle? :)

      • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

        Good idea Nicole. I know you can self publish through Amazon right to Kindle. Its a growing trend. What’s nice is that people can give feedback which helps boost popularity.

    • Laurie

      You know, I was in B&N just this morning wishing I could find a novel exactly like that.

  • Andy

    It boggles my mind how the traditional “Christians” can still spew their venom, talking about how they expect everyone to be straight and cisgender, and then in the name of Christianity, they condemn those who aren’t and tell them they’re going to hell…and then they wonder why these people are hostile towards Christianity. It really boggles my mind.

  • clay

    Just go to law school. Learn how to argue and to simply shut down any argument. It will be the best $100K you could ever spend. It is the most wonderful feeling to be able to truly know and argue effectively and authoritatively. Trust me. It will free your mind. The first day they told us they are going to teach us to “think like a lawyer”. I had no idea what they were talking about. Now I do. My mind has been trained and freed at the same time. All this other stuff (wmh) is bull.

    • Matt

      It takes a special level of ignorance (and privilege) to think that the average person has $100K just lying around–or is anywhere near able to borrow such a sum.

      The rest of us just do the best that we can and move on.

      • Elizabeth

        Dude. You just totally called me out. My education cost $125K almost twenty years ago. It hasn’t made me rich or successful or freed my mind. It does let me shut down Clay, who apparently went to state school.

        • Matt

          Ah, I’m sorry if I offended you, Elizabeth! I do know that you went to some of the best schools. My issue wasn’t with that as much as Clay’s assumption that you *need* expensive schooling in order to be logical, educated, or have critical thinking skills.

          Maybe it just touched a nerve with me, since I am a high school dropout with a GED, a technical school diploma, and aspirations of nursing school. People tend to ask me why I don’t just go to medical school since I’m smart, and it wears on me. There’s just a lot more to it than intelligence.

          • Elizabeth

            No offense taken. At all. I mock my education all the time. It really doesn’t mean much except bragging rights. One best friend of mine never graduated high school, two others never graduated college, they’re STILL so much smarter than me. I have nothing invested in it except that I studied hard and know formal debate.

            Face it. Clay needs that for his ego. Colloquially, we call him a dick.

          • Matt

            Oh, good!

            Although I have to say, those particular bragging rights are pretty sweet. You studied at Oxford, yes? It’s a gorgeous school, with so much history–I’m such a British history nerd.

          • Jill

            Yet another reason why I like you so much…

          • David S.

            *raises hand and clears throat*

            College drop out here. My litigator husband says I argue like a lawyer…except that I actually believe what I say. ;)

    • anakin mcfly

      I learnt all that for free on the internet.

  • Hilary

    I’m a bit of an atheist who grew up conservatively Jewish (I will say atheist loosely–I’m still unsure). And I also happen to be gay. My parents are pretty sciencey-they know it’s normal. I basically just came out and they were like “That’s nice. Good for you, I guess?” But my girlfriend’s parents…..don’t. They’re older, and very Christian. And I’m going to side with you, letter writer.

    I used to be one of them. The kind of people you’re talking about. I HATED any type of Christian. They repulsed me. I have to tell you, it’s because the people I knew were Christian were hateful, rude, pushy people. When I found out my girlfriend was Christian, I was disgusted. Before you ask, no, I didn’t ditch her. We’re still together. But I started demanding to know why and “didn’t you know you can’t be both?” and patronizing her about how people use the Bible for bigotry, and it’s ridiculous that she could even still follow it. She’s a pretty sweet girl, so she just cried. But she did try to show me how she really felt. How it really was. And I was surprised. I’m still not sold on Jesus, but after reading many different articles late at night (and even a couple passages of the Bible) I realized she was right. Christianity doesn’t have to be like that.

    That doesn’t mean people don’t pretend it does. It can be pretty hurtful when people use their own ignorance and try to push “morality” onto others when it’s not even accurate information. I think the problem you’re having could be that they’ve been specifically burned by the Christian community before….it’s normal that they’d be resentful. I was. Hopefully, in time, they’ll see. I did. Maybe it just takes a thoughtful Christian like you to open their eyes.

    I hope it gets better for you,

    Hilary

  • Colin

    [Hi John, I saw this article on the web and would love some reactions.]

    Official LDS Porn & Boy Scouts

    by Aaronita Smith

    Wayne Perry, Boy Scouts president, is pro-gay – and, believe it or not, MALE porn is officially part of his religion!

    Scholars, including Mormon ones, know of a hard-core porn sketch in the Mormon-approved “Book of Abraham.”

    This Book is part of the “Pearl of Great Price” which, along with the “Book of Mormon,” is LDS-authorized scripture.

    Figure 7 in Facsimile 2 in “Abraham” shows two beings facing each other. Joseph Smith described them as the “Holy Ghost” and “God” (the Father), the latter showing an erect male sex organ.

    Mormons were offended when Smith’s newspaper published this sketch in 1842, so the phallic part was whited out for more than a century until the “restored” LDS church restored the X-rated drawing in 1981!

    LDS scholars have hushed up the fact that the “Book of Abraham” is not about the biblical Abraham but actually portrays ancient Egyptian documents showing occult obscene sketches.

    Those scholars also know that Smith fraudulently altered them so that he could (blasphemously) portray the Christian trinity as sex fiends in order to promote polygamy among his followers!

    For more info see “Book of Abraham” (Wikipedia). And check out the Tanners’ “Mormonism – Shadow or Reality?” which reproduces the original Egyptian sketches Smith plagiarized and exploited. Also Yahoo or Google “Facts From Mormons (By a Utah Resident),” “God to Same-Sexers: Hurry Up,” “The Background Obama Can’t Cover Up,” and “USA – from Puritans to Impure-itans.”

    • http://icarusalways.blogspot.com/ daemon

      John,

      You might take a look at this search item sights this individual has left here. Some of the are incredibly anti-gay, specifically the “God to Same-Sexers: Hurry Up. [link deleted cuz why encourage crazy with traffic?]

      daemon

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

        No offense, please, but why would I rush to see crazy hatred?

      • Elizabeth

        Wow. Colon, Daemon, and “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”. The spider analogy’s the best. But I didn’t get you anything, John!

    • Lymis

      At the risk of continuing a thread-jacking, so what? I think it’s hardly accurate to say that because a religion’s “approved documents” include incidents of nudity or even explicit sexual activity, that “MALE Porn” is an “official part of the religion.”

      Shall we talk about the Vatican art collection? Or, for that matter, all the begetting in the Bible? What are we, 12?

      • Elizabeth

        Only female porn, Lymis. Mea culpa.

        • Anakin McFly

          Ah, all that lesbian art.

          • Elizabeth

            Dude. Did you just call me a lez? I should be so lucky. Men suck, and not in the good way.

  • anakin mcfly

    @John – thanks for the reply. At the time of letter-writing I had barely any LGBT friends IRL, so the majority of those I knew were through the internet where people tend to be a lot more vocal about things (like Christianity) that they don’t like. There’s always that feeling of disappointment when I first encounter another queer person who seems like someone I’d love to know, only to suddenly encounter a passionate anti-Christian rant on their blog and thinking that I should probably stay away.

    But for these few months I’m working in NYC, and I did find a great church that’s actively working for LGBT rights and all that. For the first time in a long while I don’t feel scared walking into a Christian space, and that on its own has been immeasurably wonderful. I actually want to go to church now, because it’s a place of healing and acceptance and love and learning and growing closer to God and people helping each other, as opposed to previously when I felt I had something to hide from everyone else and was perpetually scared of being attacked at any moment from the pulpit, and tended to leave feeling guilty and self-hating and alone. Once after an anti-gay sermon I left with my pulse racing and a very strong urge to hurt someone, many someones, like I could pick up an adorable kitten and strangle the bloody creature to death, and that really, really scared me because I’m usually a militant pacifist who has been upset at the thought of antibiotics killing all that innocent bacteria just going about their business.

    So I made friends with a bunch of awesome people at church whom I sadly don’t get to see often enough as I’d like, so for now things are going pretty good in that area. But come mid-August I’ll have to go back home, and while I miss the food and my family, that dramatic drop in social acceptance is going to suck. :/

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

      Did you write me a letter … like this one, anakin? If so, I totally apologize for not answering sooner. But this one–the letter I answered here–I only got in this week. So … ? Anyway, glad to hear things are going well for you!

      • Anakin McFly

        This was the letter I submitted! But maybe I was thinking of an earlier one sometime ago. I did go through a bad spot sometime last week (I only get to meet church people once or twice a week, and in the meantime with the anti-gay attacks (at least one fatal) in NYC, things have not been fun) so maybe I got my chronology mixed up. Either way, thanks!

        • Elizabeth

          Are you in NYC, Anakin? Those attacks shook up people. It’s New York. It doesn’t happen anymore. There.

          • Anakin McFly

            Yep, I’m in NYC right now, and the attacks happened not far from my church – I’d been in that area a few times, albeit in the day and not at night when the attacks happened. I also don’t go to gay bars and for some reason strangers are usually convinced that I’m a regular straight guy, so I don’t really fear for my safety. But the sheer proximity is still unsettling.

          • Elizabeth

            The first one happened a block from my BFF’s apartment. He even posted about it. He’s… not like that. He’s been around the hyperbolic block.

            Stay safe, Anakin. Carry your keys in your fingers so you can stab them in the eye. It’s an old chick trick.

  • Sharon

    This is a great post and a great conversation. I am a straight, christian, ally. I have a gay daughter and we have a very good relationship. She is in community college and very involved in the GSA. The GSA’s charter is to be a safe space and I have to say they are anything but that. If you are gay, lesbian, transgender or whatever and you have been a victim of bigotry, you will absolutely be accepted, protected, and celebrated in this GSA.

    If you are gay but don’t feel that you have been abused by society (this is a real group) You are treated very badly, accused of some kind of privilege, and sent packing. (we’re enjoying being outcasts!)

    If you are a parent of a GSA member, you are not welcome. Even if you have taken in gay teens who have been tossed out of their homes.

    If you are only ever kind, encouraging, and loving but a Christian you will be told you are not welcome and, in my case, yelled at that God Hates F*gs and We Hate Him Right Back!

    Because after all we’re all WBC, Apparently.

    I find their bigotry to be palpable. It is a reaction to being abused? Probably often. But I think it’s also due to small minded people lumping people into groups and labels.

    Conservatives don’t have a monopoly on that.

    I too often feel very alone in certain situations where I’m not understood by narrow minded Christians and not appreciated by small minded LGBTQ folk. Then I remember that I have a lot of great friends in each group and plenty who are actually in both groups. (Know what I mean?)

    But it’s a problem that these people have with their minds and their thinking.

    I just try to be myself and hope that I will be the exception to the imagined rule that will be a seed that will crack the concrete of their limited thinking.

    Peace,

    Sharon

    • Lymis

      Sharon, I’m sorry you’ve been treated that way. Often, people in pain lash out, and I know that I have seen members of the LGBT community lash out at people who are allies more than a few times in the past – especially if, in the minds of the people who are lashing out, the ally in some way reflects or represents the group who hurt them. It’s safer to lash out at someone who’s already on your side than someone who not only hates you but could easily escalate the hatred and make things far, far worse. And, similarly those who genuinely work against us rarely show up and actually talk to us – it’s amazing how many of the completely dedicated homophobes don’t actually know any gay people.

      That said, and not to minimize it, something else that I’ve seen is that the situation is often less black and white than you paint it. Often, it’s not so much that if you are gay but haven’t been treated badly, you are accused of privilege so much as that many people who haven’t been through hell try, even unwittingly or with good intentions to invalidate the experiences of those who have. So, for example, it’s not so much “I was lucky, my parents were supportive of me and my church experience was positive, but I can feel your pain and what you went through was horrible” that sets people off as much as “Not all Christians are like that. And even if they are, Jesus loves you and you should try my church with me sometime,” which can, to someone in pain, sound like “You did it wrong and the pain of your experience is invalid.” If your daughter has been supported, it’s entirely possible that she really does have no idea the hell that some gay kids go through, or thinks she does and has heard stories, but has never been face to face with someone who has. Not all privilege is deliberate, and often it’s a reflection of wonderful and positive things in life, but it can sting others badly while you work through it.

      And similarly, while there are gay people who are hostile to all straight people everywhere, and people whose parents are so bad that they are hostile to all parents everywhere, I’ve seen more than a few people who, knowing that they themselves are not bigot or homophobes, expect to be able to walk into a group and be instantly accepted – that gay people who have been hurt, shunned, or actively discriminated by the majority of straight people they’ve ever encountered are supposed to somehow automatically telepathically know that this straight person is the exception. But it’s also amazing how fast those walls come down once someone shows that they actually are a safe space to be around.

      And, too, these are young people. If you’re talking a GSA, it’s possible it’s the first safe space in their life, and the first place they can be themselves, and that they associate that safety and security with the complete absence of straight people. The younger people are and the more fragile and new that security is, the faster and more severely the walls will go up.

      I guess what I’m saying is, give these young people a chance, allow them to be defensive at you, even hostile toward you, and try to take it as an opportunity to stand in as a transformative target that lets them internalize that whatever experience they had with crappy Christians is real, but it doesn’t need to be universal.

      Jesus hung out with sinners, tax collectors, lepers and other social outcasts. One thing nobody talks about is the likelihood that he faced exactly the sort of hostility about “church people” that you are seeing coming from these people the church betrayed.

      • Sharon

        Thanks Lymis. You’re right I am talking about young people for the most part. And I hope my post reflected that I am giving these young people a chance.

        It’s like the popular saying goes, “hurt people hurt people”

        Interestingly, I am very popular at the GSA when I’m not there, but treated disrespectfully when I am. I sometimes wonder if they know I am the same Max’s mom of legend. Even though it’s a year school we’ve been involved there for about 5 years. My daughter started there very young and had to go part time for most of it. Plus she was hit by a car and had to take some terms off. So, I have seen this group not evolve much over time.

        But then I can’t say I’ve seen certain church friends evolve much in that time either.

        I think the thing that baffles me most is a certain cognitive dissonance I see in some. One young guy was telling me that all Christians hate him. So I asked him if he knew any Christians.

        He said, “Yes, my parents are Christian. And I go to their church.”

        I asked, “Do you parents and people at church hate you?

        “no, their awesome.”

        Uh.

        He got all confused. I think he realized that in a way he was living a double life. His home and parent self, the precious son and church member. And his GSA self, victim, hated pariah.

        I have observed that the GSA fosters this. I’m sure it’s not intentional, but they couldn’t do it any better if they set out to do it.

        Sharon

        • Sharon

          It’s a 2 year school. Not a year school. Sorry my 2 is sticking and I didn’t notice it didn’t make it.

          Sharon

          • Lymis

            That might be a big reason why it isn’t evolving very rapidly. A group with that level of essentially enforced turnover is going to be very heavily weighted toward the people first experiencing acceptance and freedom and less toward people who have worked out the fine points of integrating it into their lives.

  • Scott Spencer-Wolff

    The ““I became a Christian,” I told them, “not an asshole.”” line is brilliant. I think this is a good lesson that even LGBT folks can be un-evolved dipwads. Hopefully he will find a more sophisticated and accepting circle of acquaintances. LGBT or otherwise.

  • David Sinclair

    I must have been writing you emails in my sleep!

  • Tori Phillips

    Tori Phillips Thanks for posting this I will share this. Being Trans and Christian its very hard to be stuck in the middle between christians that dont love GLBTQI folks and the GLBTQI people that that dont love the Christians….

  • Melissa Blatz

    I can relate. Kinda like being a Christian in the punk scene.

  • Gina Cirelli

    Only a bit related, but I’m finding it very hard to be a straight ally in an agricultural region of the Deep South, as one is shunned immediately upon speaking one’s truth. Thank you for the support once again, John.

    • David S

      Gina -

      Thank you so much for being an ally. I know that ally status is often accompanied by a bunch of scars too. Please know that you are appreciated.

  • Karen Furr

    As a priest in an inclusive non-Roman Catholic Church, I am very committed in presenting (and living) the Jesus Path simply because it is all-inclusive and open to understanding that the Realm of Divinity is within. What many people who have been deeply hurt by the thoughts and behaviors of those who call themselves “christian” come to think it is the religion that creates that hurt etc, I try to bring in the understanding that the Message of Jesus was not what we see in a lot of the mainstream denominations today. God and Christ are not about fear, exclusivity, dogma, politics, us Vs. them, and other dualistic expressions. Christ Consciousness recognizes and celebrates the wondrous diversity that makes up the planet and who we are. So for those who are on the Path of Christ Consciousness, hang in there and find those groups that love and support you for who you are. They are out there…

  • Miriam Harpaz

    It’s great to read all this. We are for marriage equality and inclusion of everyone. But the older we get the more we take issue with organized religion. We are Conservative Jews but we take issue with the Orthodox Jews over Gay Marriage and Intermarriage between Christian and Jew. We have people who are active in our synagogue where one partner is Jewish and the other Christian. We are scared of Evangelical Christians and their agenda for Israel. We also don’t like their TeaBag agenda either. I can understand how people feel alienated from organized religion. I think the denominations of all faiths which are more inclusive should do outreach to the LGBT community.

    • Lethia Page

      Ms. Miriam, I really like this.

  • http://charlesbmaynes@gmail.com Charles

    Jesus was a terribly popular figure in the culture of his time-

    The notion that choosing Christianity as a “safe” or non-controversial life choice flies in the face of everything Jesus said.

    I am not LBGT, but Civil Rights is a passion of mine, and as a Christian, I count the challenge of being openly supportive of LBGT issues as walking the walk- not just talking the talk.

    I am very appreciative of John’s work in this issue because it finally allowed me to make sense of my passions for both.

  • Robert

    Hi…

    It is unfortunate the “christianity” has been hood winked by the religious-right and bigots, by overly vocal televangelists and preen politicians… which has resulted in many in the gay community (and lots of other people) as seeing the word “christian” now equalling “bigot”.

    But this is not a problem for the gay community… it is a problem for the christian community. You have a “PR” problem.

    Gays once did too. Remember, tens of thousands of gay men had to die of AIDS before people in the united states began to see us as human. We had to show the world that we loved and cared for each other. We had to walk the walk and talk the talk. We, just ordinary gay people, had to come out of the closet and speak up. I remember marching in the streets. I remember, 30 years ago, coming out and putting everything at risk… family, job, housing… everything… because it was the right thing to do… Later, Celebs put their careers on the line and came out and started doing the right thing. Lots of people began to do the right thing. And things changed… but only because people put in the effort.

    Maybe the “non-homophobic and loving christians” need to start becoming as vocal with their love as the “hateful homophobic christians” are with their hate.

    Maybe the loving christians need a version of ACT UP… get out in the streets, disrupt the hate at the source of the hate… calling out churches that at led by bigots… having some “uncomfortable” conversations with the ignorant. Maybe it is time to be less polite and develop your inner “New Yorker”. Maybe it is time for “loving christians” to take back the word “Christian”.

    This website is a nice beginning… but it is only a beginning…

    But, if you continue to let the bigots out there go unchallenged… and stay in control of the definition “christian”… then you can not really shift the blame on to those that are left scratching their heads and wondering what the “f” is going on. Will the “real” christian please stand up? In the real world, it is a little exhausting to sift through the wheat and the chaff… all the while waiting for the other “bigoted” shoe to drop. (and it drops a lot).

    Cause right now, the only people I see “vocally” challenging the bigots are atheists and the LGBTQ community. Namely, Dan Savage and Richard Dawkins.

    And by the ways… when my mother… an 80 yr old straight catholic grandmother … hears the word “Christian” she thinks “bigot”… so the PR problem christians have extends far beyond the gay world.

    • Elizabeth

      Hi! Real Christian here. Dan Savage is cool. He swears a lot. Richard Dawkins is a dork. His alma mater, New College, was only founded in 1379. He’s got baggage. Always happy to be vocal!

      • Anakin McFly

        Gah, I have mixed feelings about Dan Savage. He said some really transphobic things in the past, but apparently he’s got better, so at least he’s learning, which is more than I can say for a lot of people. :/ It’s hard for me to forget some of that earlier stuff though. Certain insults stick, even after apologies.

        and Dawkins… Dawkins has issues and has frequently made me angry, and probably not even in the way he wanted Christians to get angry. But he was a very good friend of the late Douglas Adams, whom I greatly admire and respect, and if Mr. Adams saw something good in him, he can’t be that bad after all.

        • Matt

          Seconded regarding Dan Savage.

        • mike moore

          shocker! Dan is my hero.

        • Lymis

          Many if not most of the transphobic things Dan is credited with saying were specific advice to specific people who asked specific questions, which were quoted out of context as though he extended them to all trans people.

          If you are judging him based purely on what people quote him as saying, you really do owe it to yourself to investigate the context – the man is an advice columnist, and the vast majority of his published work was written to address very specific people and situations, and not all of it holds up when apparently extended as general advice. This is especially true of the bulk of his early writing.

          I’d put money on the fact that at least some of the insults you have trouble forgiving him for never actually happened. I’ve seen some lists of quotes that look pretty damning, in which I know the context from which some were lifted and they aren’t what they look like. But he’s no saint, and he’s screwed up on more than a few occasions – but far fewer than is usually claimed.

          • Anakin McFly

            Yep, I did investigate the context, going back to the actual site and the original letters written. Some were, as you said, simply misrepresented and taken out of context. But a few others – particularly his older stuff – were less excusable (making fun of trans men’s genitals and effectively going ‘ew’ = not cool). He’s learned a lot since then, though. I had some reservations about how he responded to one instance when he was accused of transphobia, because he seemed over-defensive to the point of creating new offense, but he’s only human, and I can’t say that I would have done better.

  • Allen

    ” ‘affirming’, I guess is the word, except how does that not sound patronizing?” is a marvelous aside here, John. I hate thinking of people as affirming, it adds to the assumption that straight people have that right and we don’t. For the record, I affirm your heterosexuality, John.

    It doesn’t quite parallel the “I was born gay, I chose to be Christian” story, though. People choose to be affirming, bless their hearts! “Ally” is closer to the truth, unless it makes people think you’re talking about Calista Flockhart.

  • Lisa Phillips

    I like to say, “I’m not THAT kind of Christian,” when people expect me to be judgmental about . . . well, everything. I was raised in a fundamentalist church, but I recovered. Happy to be a follower of Christ, supporting equal rights for all people.

    • Lymis

      Are you as emphatic in agreeing with them that such Christians are wrong? Or even start with that, rather than the offense that they assumed you were like most other Christians in their experience?

      If you’re not careful, it can come across as off-putting and judgmental to tell someone you’re offended by what they assumed about your Christianity, even if it isn’t as bad as directly attacking someone because they’re gay – and it can contribute to the perception that all Christians should be avoided regardless of what the believe.

      One of the most frustrating things for gay Christians and Christian-positive gay people is that for the most part, the discussion among Christians about gay people is entirely among straight people and not only are gay people not actively included, we’re often treated as though we have no right to even be involved in the discussion. It’s always a discussion ABOUT us, and rarely a discussion including us. The very clear message from both homophobic Christians and supporting Christians is usually that we have no right to participate in decisions about our own lives.

      Of course, if someone gets in your face and mischaracterizes your own beliefs by claiming you must believe any given thing that you don’t, you have every right to correct them – and you should. But all too often, affirming Christians downplay the abuses, harm, and hostility of the rest of Christianity when faced with someone who is in pain about what’s been done to them.

      We can be left with the sense that when some positive aspect of Christianity, or worse, some benefit to the individual Christian comes up, it’s all “We’re all brothers and sisters and one in the love of Christ, and even with our differences, we are one loving community,” but as soon as someone is asked to actually take responsibility for their part AS a part of that community in something that hurt someone, it’s “Oh, no, we’re not on community at all, we’re a whole bunch of individuals, and I completely dissociate myself with any similarity to THOSE people at all.”

      There’s a lot of validity to that idea in some contexts – people should be held responsible for what they do, not what others do, but at the same time, standing quietly by while people do evil in your name while participating fully in any benefits that it brings is a different moral evil.

      I guess what I am saying is try to be careful to have your answer of “I’m not that kind of Christian” come across explicitly as “Yes, THAT kind of Christian pisses me off, too, and I’m very sorry that people speaking in my name have hurt you so badly, because even though it isn’t as bad as the harm they did you, they’re hurting me by doing it as well” rather than the far more common tone of “How DARE you judge me! You’re just as much of a bigot for judging me as they are for judging you!”

  • Elizabeth

    Hi kids. I never copy-pasta, but I got this in last night. If some of the more vitriolic commenters are in New York–or know someone in New York–would you please consider following these instructions? Alyssa appreciates your support.

    “Help me please. I don’t have civil rights and the State will voting on whether I should have any this week. Will you please do something for me that will take five minutes of your time?

    Will you please call the New York State Senate and tell them to pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act — GENDA! All it takes is one phone call. (Even if your senator is pro-GENDA, we need a show of strength.)

    Step one: go to http://www.nysenate.gov/ (the link below) and type your address in the upper left. This will give you your senator’s name and address.

    Step two: call their Albany office.

    Step three: tell the staffer or the voicemail that you support GENDA (the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, bill number S.195) and support passing it this year.

    Step four: spread the word. Please help me have the same rights you have.

    I have called for teachers and I have called for gay marriage. Please return the favor. You can call now and leave a message.

    Thank you for your kindness.”

  • Rob

    This is a discussion I can relate to…a LOT. I’ve considered myself Christian virtually all my life. In my younger years I was in a relationship with a boy my own age and with my parents approval. I had come out to them at an early age. Well, that relationship ended tragically. Between that and some other things I decided to try living a “normal” life and I ended up marrying a girl (many of us gays did that back in the 60′s). I remained close to my Christian heritage all my life. When late in life I “came out” again to my family, all my Christian friends immediately rejected me. As I ventured out into the gay community I found I was also rejected by them for the most part because I proclaimed myself to be a gay Christian…..even my own brother who is also gay rejected me because I told him I would never turn my back on my faith. This is actually quite a widespread problem for us gay Christians. Fortunately for me, I now have a small group of Christian friends who are also guy. Most of them are older men…as I am. But here in our small, VERY southern (gulf coast Mississippi) community, we all feel like we need to walk on eggshells all the time. This is NOT a gay friendly community. I’d really like to hear even more on this topic.


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