I am writing from jail right now. I ended up in jail for standing up to an anti LGBTQI+ UMC (United Methodist Church) minister. Did I assault him? Did I threaten him? No. I told him off. So how do I get to keep my laptop and write this letter from jail? Well, the truth of the matter is, I am in what is known as Facebook jail.
Facebook jail is what happens when you lose your posting privileges for a period of time for breaching their standards. This is not the first time I have been threatened with Facebook jail. In all three prior cases I appealed and was redeemed of my sins against Facebook.
The Post That Got Me ‘Arrested’
If you were kicking it 2000 years ago (give or take), I am sure you would have made an excellent Pharisee, Joseph Richmond. Enjoy the blood stains on your vestments.
I own my actions and my words. I did not defend myself or my words. What Joseph Richmond did and what he said was not deemed offensive, what I did was considered bullying. This is a problem that is also without defense. So what did the clergy collar and vestment wearing UMC Joseph Richmond do?
A friend of mine who is a retired UMC minister posed a question on social media. He challenged the UMC to “recognize that people of the LGBTQ are persons. If your decision sacrifices the value, dignity and respect of persons, then it’s wrong.” He was speaking of the special session the UMC is having regarding LGBTQIA+ inclusion next month. In 2019 a mainline denomination with hospitals, universities, schools and it’s own lobby group attempting to influence laws in Washington DC is having a meeting to discuss the humanity, rights and dignity of LGBTQIA+ people. This is a group that has influence in more than just the United States in policies and treatment of others. Africa’s been influenced by Christians to “kill the gays” legally in spaces like Uganda. There is also rampant HIV and AIDS in Africa. People are told they cannot use a condom and be a christian by religious leaders.
There is a lot more at stake than a bunch of Christians who won’t let the LGBTQIA+ be members, ministers or recognize their marriages. Medical rights in hospitals, inclusive locker room policies in schools, and the very lives of people are on the line worldwide. That is what is at stake. Many in the UMC either do not know this or choose not to care.
Joseph is one of those who either do not know or care. Plainly seeing there was more than one parent of LGBTQIA+ people on the thread, he told everyone that acceptance of queer people is “loving them into hell”. He went on to say that we need to be held accountable for our actions and inactions. To the idea of no longer condemning LGBTQIA+ people to hell and accepting them, he had this response. “Where’s the love in that?!??”
Before I responded. I wanted to look into him to ensure that I was not being too harsh. I saw in social media and many other spaces that he believes sentiments like the following:
Not only are transgender people like my child going to hell; but accepting, affirming and medically treating my child is child abuse according to Joseph and many of his peers in the UMC. He quotes an article from The American College of Pediatricians as if they are a legitimate source. They are not. I have written the truth about them. I have written about them more than once. They have been used by anti trans groups in the Chicago area to prevent trans students from having access to restrooms and locker-rooms.
So I gave him my response as to my thoughts on what he had to say after watching him continue to verbally assault others and dismiss them as buddhists or hindus or wiccans. My initial response was:
I hold you accountable to your actions and words now, Joseph Richmond. You bring hell and pain and judgment to families like mine. It will not stand. History will be as kind to ministers like you as it is on ministers who opposed abolition, desegregation and civil rights. Your legacy will not be of honor and truth.
He came back with:
Sorry, Pat, I really can’t understand your outburst. The only person that holds me accountable is Almighty God and He is the only one to bring judgement upon you and your family. Shalom.
That was when I lost my cool, let him get under my skin and said what I said that earned me an arrest in Facebook jail for 24 hours. The next time I am found guilty of bullying I will be banned for 72 hours. The simple fact is, I was reported by someone. I cannot say for certain it was him. But if it was, someone who uses terminology like LibTards and condemns children to hell as an act of love sure is sensitive to receiving criticism.
I accept my punishment from Facebook. What I do not accept or appreciate is that Facebook seems to agree that only the invisible god can hold him accountable because they certainly see nothing wrong with his sentiments.
On My Professional Relationship With Facebook
I have run 3 paid advertising campaigns with Facebook to bring a greater audience to my art and work. I did this in the hopes of gaining a larger audience and increasing my media presence. This is to earn more money to support me and my family. The ads were overall an effective tool.
After this experience, that is no longer happening. Not because of what they did to me, but due to the lack of support for the LGBTQIA+ people which includes minors whose lives are on the line due to deadly words and actions like him and other UMC ministers who share his view.
Holding Them Accountable
To the UMC and people of faith who oppose LGBTQIA+ inclusion I do hold you accountable. Though I was not UMC when I was a minister, I have danced with UMC clergy regarding this divide.
Our first bout was when you said horrible things about my child and others like my child and I called out your words and named your ministers who said them. Not too long after that I made my words to you (that you tried removing from the internet) public. In that last article in this column on this matter I told you that this was not over, not by a long shot.
Next month you get to vote life or death for people you have no right to vote about. Your decisions and actions have already negatively affected countless LGBTQIA+ people, not only in your precious churches and schools, but in the public square around the world. History will not be kind to those who stand in the way of full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ people.
I say this as an ex minister who no longer identifies as a Christian. I can also say with certainty the wounds to my transgender child caused by the mainline and progressive church have been far more profound than that of the right wing evangelicals who currently support white supremacy and nationalism.
Your stool is missing a leg and your precious Wesleyan Quadrilateral lacks 2 sides. Those are reason and experience. All you have left to stand on is a warped view of scripture and a sick tradition of exclusion, denial of equality and death. Neither structure your church is built on should be able to stand as it is.
Is there a hell for children? Yes. You who oppose LGBTQIA+ inclusion have created it and they endure it daily in schools, churches, UMC run hospitals, and families. The blood of children is on your hands! It is not a stain that will wash of your vestments easily.
Today I am bringing the hell you created with me and laying it on your doorstep. In my first engagement with your ilk, you were less concerned the horror of your words than you were the fact I brought your words to a broader audience.
Now, before I am told I have no valid voice in this as non UMC or Christian…I do.
Your policies do more than affect your 32,000+ churches in the U.S. alone. Your words and actions don’t extend to just your over 7 million attendees in the U.S. It also affects the positions of the more than 1,500 Methodist hospitals and health care centers that reach out to 32 million people in the U.S. Many of these patients could be a child like mine in an emergency situation. What will your policy be on a minor who is on hormone therapy? Which bathroom will my child be allowed to use? Will my child’s name be recognized and used? What gender will be recognized and dignity accorded?
What about school? Over 90 colleges and universities in the U.S. are United Methodist. How will they respond? What rights are my child’s peers accorded there? Are there mandatory theology courses teaching my child’s peers that my child is an abomination destined for hell? What is and will be taught about transgender issues? How will it affect students who are living in the closet?
What about that United Methodist Lobby Office? How will your positions be reflected to politicians on important social issues like the equality of my child? Why does a church protected from taxes have a lobby office influencing elections?
These are just the problems in the US. In 33 of 54 countries in Africa being LGBTQIA+ is illegal. How many precious lives have been incarcerated, assaulted and murdered on a continent in which you hold multiple episcopal areas and conferences in 26 of those countries? In those countries your message uplifts these laws and this violence and also propagates the near epidemic proportions of the preventable HIV virus and AIDS.
Your deeds and thoughts do not just live in a vacuum. You operate in the public square and as a parent of a child who has lost three friends to suicide and as a parent who comforted another parent who lost a child to assault due to religious based Christian hate the public square is mine as well.
My name is Pat and I am a parent who loves an amazing young adult whose gender identity and orientation is not a sin. But refusal to accept and affirm my child is.
I hope you do the right thing next month. If you do, you have reparations to make. If you do not, we will meet in the public square and you will be held accountable.
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