In my last article about Billy Idol and Miley Cyrus, I received an unexpected bit of criticism. In a Progressive Christian Facebook Page I was told that my entire article is essentially moot. I didn’t put the qualifier “some Christians” when I spoke to what too many Christians do and say to LGBTQ+ youth. Too many Christians say immigrants need to be in concentration camps. Too many Christians chant send her back. Too many Christians hurt LGBTQ+ people. Too many Christians scream not all Christians.
There was a part of me that going to add on the determiner ‘some’ and apologize. Then I thought of how many times I’ve received this criticism over the years. I’ve thought about how many times I have seen this criticism leveled at people in pain speaking about injustice. I decided to let the offensive lack of the grammatical determiner ‘some’ remain absent. It is her choice to miss the entire point of the beauty of the story. Her reason? A missing determiner that would allow her to feel better about herself and her tribe.
If your initial response is ‘not all Christians’ then I have concerns about you as an ally and your sincerity about caring for immigrants, LGBTQ+ children, rape victims and women’s reproductive rights. How many articles, posts and cried of victims are you ignoring because you are clouded by defense of your branch of thousands of streams of Christianity.?
Why Not All Christians is a Bad Reaction
A few years ago we saw the #MeToo start to push back on the ‘Not All Men’ movement which earned the hashtag #NotAllMen or #NAMALT. As women started to open up about their experiences with sexual assault, too many men said not all men as their initial response. There was no acknowledgement to the pain women have endured and their trauma. There is merely a defensive response that is awaiting a trophy for never having raped anyone.
One of the best articles I’ve read on the issue of #NotAllMen was written in 2017 by columnist Kirsty Stricklan in Medium. In her article “Why Men Should Stop Saying #NotAllMen. Immediately” she says the following:
#NotAllMen doesn’t clarify anything. It doesn’t add to the discussion or develop it in any way. All it does is derail and dismiss the lived experiences of women and girls. And what the men who leap to remind us that ‘’not all men are like that’’, are actually saying is, ‘’I’m not like that.’’ Or to put it another way, they are letting women know that discussing misogyny makes them uncomfortable, and they’d like to be absolved of any blame before they will let women continue.
In the same manner, when too many Christians scream not all Christians, you are letting victims know that discussing these issues makes you uncomfortable and you want to be absolved of any blame before you will let victims continue.
Some will, and have, claimed that I am not a victim. In the same manner my transgender teenager is, I am not. But I have lost count how many times I have had to go to courtrooms, contact lawyers, and sit in front of principles and administrators and legislators to fight for my child while dealing with their depression and fearing the worst from assault without proper Title 9 Civil Right Protections.
Time and time again I have faced not only backlash, but also attacks, from Progressive Methodists as well as other Progressive Christians and Mainline Christians. This is often a reaction as I attempt to explain the impact of actions from conservative Christians on my child and others like my child. The most recent time was when I offered the perspective of 3 LGBTQ+ minors about the use of Pride Flags outside churches.
All (Place Oppressed Group Here)
Here is what needs to be made clear. All LGBTQ+ children have been called abominations and have heard the message that they are not of god and made a sinful choice. All immigrants/people of color living in the US have heard go back to where you came from. All women have faced some form of sexual assault by catcalls, unwelcome groping, rape and more. If you are truly an ally you need to hear that first before you defend your tribe.
The fact the qualifier ‘some’ does not exist, you do not get to infer the qualifier ‘all’ was intended by the author. After claiming not all you do not get to pat yourself on the back for being a swell ally. Just like men don’t get a trophy for not raping, you don’t get one for not hating.
What Else Do Too Many Christians Say?
Often, too many Christians follow the not all Christians statement with a list of their good deeds. They go on to tell me that they are great allies with many gay friends. The best gay friends. They are ‘yuge’ allies. So many friends. So many great deeds.
If you truly are the great ally with all the gay friends you claim to have, don’t tell them. In the words of Eliza Doolittle to Freddy in “My Fair Lady”, show me. Be the person who listens, be the person who responds, be the person who fights for change. When we speak of change, we are not merely talking about change in the 4 walls of your church. We need change in the schools, we need change in the laws, we need change in the workplace, we need change in the administration.
Every day women are raped. Every day another LGBTQ+ person is assaulted or dies. Additionally, children sit in cages on US soil. A significant driving force of these events are Christians. Too many Christians state not all Christians. Too many Christians claim ‘those’ Christians are not “real” Christians. That will change nothing.
Why I Write to and About Christians
In the Patheos Nonreligious Channel, I am always amazed at the caliber of columnists that I get to share this channel with. Many of them are cherished friends and advisers. I do like to think I have a unique perspective here. In my ministry walk I have been many things. A Catholic Deacon and Franciscan, an Evangelical Pastor, and a Progressive Minister who worked closely with mainline denominations.
Add to that having knowingly parented an LGBTQ+ child since 2012 (my child was always LGBTQ+, I just did not know) I have a perspective. I’m an atheist, not an anti theist. I recognize we live in a pluralistic society and people of faith are interwoven into that fabric.
It’s my hope that those who oppose equality can see the people I love through my eyes of love. When I write to progressive Christians, I’m genuinely rooting for you to be better and to do better. The same is true of Mainline Christians.
Too many Christians tell me that if I am not in your church, I have no right to write. But your religion has an affect in the public square and it has affected my child. I have a right to write.
On average I put 4-6 hours into every article I write. Almost every columnist I know puts a lot of thought and work into their columns and articles. We are columnists, not bloggers. We adhere to ethical standards and AP guidelines. I do not write for the money (there isn’t much of that). I write because of passion and a hope that awareness can create change.
If it takes you mere moments to state not all Christians and dismiss me, how easy is it for you dismiss the cry of the night that you claim to be an ally for? My 4-6 hours is nothing compared to their entire lives and their hearts.
Do you know what problem I would love to see? Too many Christians hearing the cry of the oppressed and helping us change things.
I Fade the Heat
I take criticism from the Trans community often. In this column alone I have also received criticism from the deaf community, feminist and people of color. Sometimes the criticism is delivered constructively, other times it is delivered from a space of hurt. I stop, I write retractions, and I research their concerns to be better.
I don’t take the role of the bad ally and get defensive. There are times I push back. For instance, there was a time a self professed gay man was harshly critical of transgender youth. But I put a LOT of thought before I push back and it is the rare exception to my rule.
I bring this up not to brag. When I am called an ally I take great humility in that. I bring this up to say that I am not asking of anyone that which I am not prepared to live.
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