Fear and Loathing in the Pulpit

I hardly know what to say right now.  The words are coming in slow sputters and my heart of hearts is deeply hurting.  You can hear the amens, see a few heads nodding.  There are people sitting in that congregation who believe what their leader is saying. Some whose hearts are as rancid as his.  But it is likely there is a gay son or lesbian daughter sitting on those rigid pews.  It is possible there are queer sisters and brothers whose hearts have long ago grown leathery with the scars left by such hate.



What I do know is this man is not a follower of Jesus.  Jesus whose love is immeasurable, my Jesus who dined with, touched and loved the most despised of his day, my Jesus who lived his full humanity all the way to the cross – and beyond.   This is not The Way of Christ – this is evil pure and simple.  Hatred, bigotry and ignorance dressed up in a suit and carrying a Bible.

There is a protest planned for this coming Sunday, a peaceful protest from 10am – 1pm outside the “church” where this dangerous man holds hostage the hearts and minds of a community.

I have to think more about this and hope you will help me think.



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161 responses to “Fear and Loathing in the Pulpit”

  1. I think you nailed it on the head it is not the spirit of Jesus to instill fear and control people by fear. It is sad when this type of false religion is allowed to masquerade itself as Christianity and lead people away from the church and the good news Jesus brought which is why I feel called to the generation of people who are unchurched and form communities which are knit together by love for god and others in the spirit of the gospel for all people!

  2. Kimberly –
    Just so that you know: not all pastors are silent. On May 6 I preached a sermon calling for love to overcome fear in the face of my own United Methodist General Conference’s continuation of its exclusionary language against LGBT folks. I called for radical hospitality and total inclusion of everyone. I shared my own deep heartache for my denomination’s institutional fear and lack of vision and asked my congregation to be the people living out a gospel of love for everyone. At the end of the sermon I had people calling out “Amen” and even someone standing up. I have had more positive feedback on that sermon than anything else I have done. There have been positive ripple effects of communicating after that, too. We are in a community where every other church is calling for their people to made sure the marriage amendment (marriage of one man and one woman) is passed this fall in MN. We are the only church naming and claiming total inclusivity for all. I share this so that you and your readers know that not all clergy are silent and that even in very conservative areas, there are people who are willing to stand up for what they believe is right: a gospel of love for all. No exceptions! Our new mission/vision statement is “Everyone Counts!” We are trying to live that out in all ways. I pray your trip is successful. I will be with you all in spirit.

    • Please tell me there is a recording of that Sunday! Bless your prophetic heart and soul! Thank you for raising
      Your voice 🙂

      • Kimberly – We do have a recording at the church. Otherwise, my manuscript (which is simililar, but not exactly as I preached it) is online at our website: commongroundumc.org. Pastor Jean

  3. This kind of hatred is, unfortunately, not shocking coming from the fear-based fundamentalist stream of “Christianity” (I agree fully with Kimberly’s assessment that this man cannot POSSIBLY be a follower of Jesus). What I wonder about is how many Episcopalian, PCUSA, ELCA and UCC pastors took the opportunity to speak a different story to the people in the pews these last few weeks? How many, in spite of the Amendment 1 controversy and Biden and Obama’s timely embrace of same sex marriage, stuck to their mother’s day message and didn’t say a single WORD about it? I still “creep” the sermon podcasts of my former PCUSA church here in Marietta. I can tell you that not ONE WORD was mentioned, and I am willing to bet that was that case at FAR TOO MANY mainline churches. I’m betting if you checked out the sermon podcasts of some of mainline churches near you (and I checked a few others) you, too, would hear crickets. To me, this SILENCE, especially in light of the perfect set-up, is just as appalling as this Baptist minister’s hate-filled rant. Without hearing fresh theology from the pulpit, the people in the pews are left to stay with the outdated, conflicting theology they grew up with – a theology that no longer makes sense, so they just keep quiet about it.

    So maybe, just maybe, more of our energy needs to be directed at moving the mainlines from the non-committal “DADT” mentality to aggressively speak out with a more progressive, articulate theology. Maybe we ought also start protesting where movement is quite possible.

  4. He’s damn lucky I’m not emperor. Calling for murder is an act of terrorism. Our country has a policy of confronting this with action up to an including pre-emptive assasination. If he was a Muslim cleric overseas urging murder in sermons, he’d have a predator drone with his name on it. If he were a Muslim doing this on U.S. soil, he’d be buried so deep in a military brig or Guantanamo that his own mother would forget what he looked like. Every piece of real estate and every bank account owned by the outfit would be seized, and all of the people who donated money would get a visit by the FBI and have every scrap of their personal and financial life trucked away for forensic examination and a grand jury. There’s no reason at all that Christian and homegrown pastors should be treated any differently. If these guys want to play ball in the big leagues of terrorist organizations and practices, we ought to oblige and give them the full authentic experience.

    • I am trying to muster the comments for him that will shower him with the love of Christ rather than somehow confirm in his heart that folks like me are Godless. Very hard to rise to that challenge right now…in the morning, perhaps.

      • Turns out he doesn’t have a Facebook page. So I just Googled him, found his email, and wrote him an email saying how he aught to be ashamed of himself. And don’t worry, I didn’t use any four-letter words.