Category Archives: The Church

No Homosexual Lifestyle???

In August of last year, the darling of the progressive Christian world, John Pavlovitz, wrote a post titled Repeat After Me: “There is No Such Thing as a “Homosexual Lifestyle.”  What?!? No homosexual lifestyle? I find that hard to believe. I mean, if there’s no “homosexual lifestyle”, that means I’ve been an asshole for absolutely no reason whatsoever. That is a turn of events I just cannot accept.

Look, there are numerous places where the Bible plainly states homosexuality is a sin. Here are a few of those places:

  • In Leviticus 18:22, God told Moses that men shouldn’t lie with men as they do with women because that is an abomination. Of course, a few chapters earlier, God also told Moses that the people shouldn’t eat pork and shrimp. But, I love pork and shrimp, so I ignore that part. Thank you, God, for the miracle of proof-texting!
  • In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul said that “homosexuals” won’t “inherit the kingdom of God”. Yes, I know the word “homosexual” doesn’t appear in the Bible until the middle of the 20th century. But, the words that have been rendered as “homosexual” are slang terms and we really don’t know what they mean. But, hey, if we don’t know what Paul meant, what’s wrong with interpreting it in a way that benefits us “normal”, straight folks?
  • In Romans 1:26-28, Paul tells us that men and women gave up natural, God-ordained relations and defiled themselves with icky, same-sex shenanigans and were promptly punished for it. Sure, in the very next chapter, Paul tells us that God condemns the kind of judgement he just threw out, but that doesn’t help my case, so I’m ignoring it.

Seriously, is this man, this “pastor”, trying to tell me that my deeply held religious belief about the homosexuals, based on a Bible verses that have been few proof-texted and cherry-picked within an inch of their life, is wrong? Really?

According to Pavlovitz, “We all have a gender identity and a sexual orientation and these things all fall along a vast and complicated continuum. It is this specific combination of both how we see ourselves and who we are drawn to that form this essential part of who we are.” Oh, come on, “gender identity” and “sexual orientation”? Everyone knows God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. And, Eve was always Eve, not Steve who decided he was Eve. No less an authority than the Southern Baptist Convention backs this up in their resolution “On Transgender Identity”. How could that many Baptists be wrong about something like this?

He also says that the Christians are holding onto “the prejudices and fears our faith inherited 3500 years ago when we didn’t know what we know now” and is “deliberately choosing to not know now; preferring religion to reality”. Well, of course we are. Otherwise we might have to change. And, if there’s one thing we don’t do very well, it’s change.

Look, the bottom line is that accepting homosexuality as innate and not a “lifestyle” is just another step onto the slippery slope that will ultimately lead Christians to live by the teachings of Jesus and start loving our neighbor and turning the other cheek. God only knows where that could lead.

Five Little Letters

Some of these letters are offensive, some are not. Can you guess which ones are and which aren't?
Some of these letters are offensive, some are not. Can you guess which ones are and which aren’t?

In case you didn’t know, it’s time for the United Methodist Church’s General Conference 2016. And, just when I thought I’d seen it all, the followers of one of history’s most anal rententive religious figures, John Wesley (they don’t call it “Methodism” for nothing, y’all), have surprised me.

It seems that the organizers of the conference had invited Rev. Vicki Flippin, of NYC’s “The Church of the Village”, to give the greeting at the opening worship service. Shortly before that service was to begin, Flippin was told to amend her greeting or she wouldn’t be allowed to give it. What, you ask, could a Methodist pastor say that would be offensive enough to get her uninvited? You’re not going to believe this, but it boiled down to five little letters: L, G, B, T, and Q.

That’s right, beloved. Conservatives are now upset by letters. Well, some letters, anyway. There are some that don’t seem to bother them, like T, I, T, H, I, N, G or A, U, T, H, O, R, I, T, Y. Hmm, T and G show up here and they’re okay, but in the previous sequence they’re offensive? I’m confused.

What is it about L, G, B, T, and Q that bothers them so? Is it the fact that, on their own, they don’t spell anything? Or, maybe it’s the lack of vowels; I know some of those Eastern European words that are mostly consonants can be hard to pronounce. I suppose it could even be that the leaders of the UMC don’t care for acronyms. Perhaps someone with more education can enlighten me as to why these letters are so objectionable.

A part of me thinks that if I understood why these letters are so abhorrent they can’t even be mentioned in a worship service, I might still be a Methodist. You see, I defected to a welcoming and affirming Baptist church four years ago, after the 2012 General Conference when the conservative majority said “Suck it!” to the people who disagreed with them on LGBT…, wait a minute, is that what this is all about? Are you serious?!?

The only thing I can take away from this story is that the leaders of a denomination founded on the teachings of one of the foremost proponents of social justice of his time can’t bear even the mere mention the letters L, B, G, T, and Q in a worship service. Why? Because they think the people those letters refer to are…, “icky”. Considering that this denomination’s rulebook states that “all persons are of sacred worth”, this doesn’t make any sense to me. At all.

You know, I’m watching this GC with an almost morbid fascination, hoping against hope that the church which taught me about grace and that God’s love will start living up to the ideals set forth in the “Book of Discipline”. I have a feeling I’m going to be disappointed. Again.

It’s All Hallows Eve…, Eve

jesus-weenI’m a little disappointed in you, evangelicals. In years past, I could always count on you for prime blog fodder during this season. Your War on Halloween used to be a wonderous (and, let’s face it, hilarious) combination of ignorance and fear that pushed you to outlandish extremes which were then used for evangelism; i.e. scaring the “Hell” out of people. But, this year? The big “gets” are senile old fart televangelist Pat Robertson issuing his annual warning that Halloween celebrates Satan and a CBN article that says Christians shouldn’t celebrate Halloween because it “represents an opportunity to embrace the evil, devilish, dark side of the spiritual world.” Really? Is that all you’ve got? Pathetic.

What happened to you guys? You used to be all about smearing the pagan holiday of Samhain, over-the-top-scare-you-into-Jesus’-arms Hell Houses and Halloween substitutes like “Jesusween” (my personal favorite). Oh sure, I know you’re still doing all this stuff, but you’re nowhere near as in our faces about it as you used to be. It’s like you’ve gone undercover or something.

Here’s how bad things have gotten: the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association posted an article that encourages “each family to develop their own approach to Halloween based on their own convictions and the options for celebration available to them.” What the fuck?!? The premiere evangelical organization in the country publishing something nuanced and reasonable about Halloween? Lo, how the mighty have fallen.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that there are a few current articles that can stand with some of your earlier craziness zeal concerning All Hallow’s Eve. But, nothing like years past. Try to search “Evangelicals Halloween” and Google suggests “Evangelicals Halloween Song” and the top result of that is a song by some hipster indie rock band from Oklahoma (goddamn hipsters are everywhere). But, when you finally get to some stuff about evangelical Christians and Halloween, almost everything you see is a year old. At least.

To be fair, however, I think I can figure out why some of the things you’ve tried to stuff down our throats  promote haven’t really been accepted. Take Jesusween, for example. It’s really no surprise that this gem never caught on: handing out “Bibles and Christian gifts in a friendly way” is a fast track to having your house egged, no matter how nice you are. And, that’s not even talking about the name; which, if we’re being honest, sounds a little dirty.

But, seriously, where’s all your outrage about a holiday dedicated to “the Devil’s night”, one that “celebrates darkness”? Where are the warnings about kid’s costumes? Or, your admonitions not give out candy because that somehow reinforces the worship of Satan? Come on guys, you can do better than this.

This isn’t just about Halloween, however. I hate to break it you, evangelicals, but you’ve gotten boring. It’s all politics with you guys these days. When’s the last time we heard a good rant that wasn’t about abortion, guns or gays? Seriously, that shit’s getting old and it’s never been what you’re truly good at. You’re Christians, just like us progressives and mainliners (whether you want to admit we belong to the same tribe or not) and we believe some weird shit. So, go on and let the crazy out. Will it make disciples? I doubt it. But, neither is what you’re doing now. This way, at least you’ll be interesting again.

Taste The Rainbow, Mike

In the Republican race for the 2016 presidential nomination (aka 2nd place in the general election), all the candidates have touted their Christian bona fides. Hell, even the Donald has claimed the mantle of “Christian” and said the Bible is his favorite book ever (he couldn’t point to a verse he liked, however). But, in the maelstrom tempest shitstorm that compromises this contest, there is one Christian soldier who stands head and shoulders above the crowd: Mike Huckabee. Interestingly, this warrior for Christ doesn’t seem to grasp the essence of Jesus’ message; you know, that whole “Love one another” thing? Keep reading to see what I mean.

Before we begin, let me point out that Huckabee is the only ordained minister in the Republican field. Prior to entering politics and serving as a (relatively) populist governor for the state of Arkansas, Brother Mike attended the Southwestern Baptist Seminary and pastored churches in Pine Bluff and Texarkana. You’d think a fellow with that kind of background would have a better grasp of what following Jesus is all about and maybe he did early on. But, recently, he seems to have lost his way.

Last month, The Huckster jumped on the Kim Davis bandwagon, making a special trip to Kentucky, greeting the Rowan County clerk with a rally of her supporters after she was released from jail for contempt of court. That didn’t go so well, as he was almost one-upped by Ted Cruz (an alert staffer saved the day) and incurred the wrath of Survivor’s Frankie Sullivan for using the group’s song, “Eye of the Tiger”, without permission. That went well, didn’t it?

Oh, but that’s not all, beloved.  A couple of weeks ago, Frito-Lay decided to provide limited edition bags of Doritos in exchange for a $10 donation to the “It Gets Better” project. The bags sold out quickly and everyone was happy. Well, not everyone. Huckabee took a page out of Franklin Graham’s playbook and had a conniption fit because something non-shitty was happening in relation to an LGBT+ issue. He sent a letter to the company asking them to “do some honest vetting about Dan Savage and his very hateful and vulgar comments toward Christians and his calls for violence and injury to people he disagrees with.”

Huckabee isn’t alone in this fight, though; One Million Moms is also in on the action. And, really, who makes a better ally for a Christian than the fund-raising arm of a certified hate group? According to director Monica Cole, Frito-Lay’s move is an “assault on Christian values” and she urged people to call the company and ask that they “drop its promotion of anti-Christian bigotry.” Right.

I have spent the last two weeks trying to figure out how a fund drive to benefit an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for LGBT youth is “anti-Christian bigotry”. Especially when it’s just rainbow-colored corn chips. I mean, seriously, here’s a photo of the bag:
frito-gayIt’s a sad fucking day when the mere image of a rainbow inspires grown folks to lose their shit.

Of course, it’s really not the chips that are the problem. It’s not even the group that’s reaping the benefits of Frito-Lay’s largesse. No, it’s the man behind “It Gets Better”: gay-rights activist Dan Savage, who Cole says is “one of the most anti-Christian bullies in America.” Well, okay then.

I will grant that Savage hasn’t exactly been “polite” to anti-LGBT Christians (he is the person who coined the Santorum neologism(( you really shouldn’t click this link if you don’t want to be grossed out)) after all). But, if we’re being honest, people who are LGBT+ have plenty of reason to be “impolite” to Christians and we should own that shit, not whine about it.

The Church has systematically worked to marginalize the LGBT community for years and, now that society is beginning to see that marginalization for what it is, Christians are doubling down on their shittiness. That has taken a lot of forms as of late, but none quite as fucked up as dumping on a company for helping an organzation that works to reduce suicide rates among young people. Maybe it’s just me, but that seems like an odd way to love one another.

It’s (Not) The End Of The World

End of the world

I have to admit I was a little bummed last week, when I missed the opportunity to write about yet another End Times “prediction”; aka, the blood moon. Well, as bummed as one can be while on vacation in the (sub)tropical paradise that is Florida’s Tampa Bay area. Early in the week, when this story was actually relevant, I was having some computer problems after “upgrading” to Windows 10 and by the time I got it all sorted out (which cost me $100. Thanks a lot, Microsoft), the iron really wasn’t hot enough to strike anymore. With more than a little sadness, I let it go; figuring I could use it for background sometime in the future. Imagine my elation when I read that someone else claims the world is going to end today, a little more than a week from the earlier prediction.

In a series of podcasts, online Christian broadcaster Chris McCann informed us that, “According to what the Bible is presenting it does appear that 7 October will be the day that God has spoken of: in which, the world will pass away.” McCann is basing his theory on an earlier prediction by Harold “Save the Date” Camping, who said The Rapture™ would occur on May 21, 2011. And, when that didn’t pan out, changed his prediction to say that the world would end 5 months later, on October 21. McCann, using what has to be some of the most impressive mental gymnastics ever, has decided that A) on May 21, 2011, God stopped saving people and B) October 7th marks the 1600th day since that happened, so it’s all going down today…, maybe. You see, McCann did learn something from Camping’s little boo-boo. Not “better understanding of the text” or anything else so mundane, of course. No, what Brother Chris seems to have gathered from the shitstorm that surrounded Camping’s failed attempt at prophecy is “hedge your bets”.

Everything I’m reading from this latest “the world is gonna end!” hysteria is filled with phrases such as “strong likelihood” and “it does appear that”. McCann even goes so far as to say that there is “an unlikely possibility” that we won’t have a hot time of it today (because God will burn all this shit up, per 2 Peter 3:10). Is it just me or is that some weak tea when it comes to an end-of-the-world prediction? I don’t know about you, but I prefer my End Times prophets to have a little more conviction than McCann is showing. I mean, shit, if you’re not sure you believe it, why should I?

As have others in the past, McCann’s divination has me wondering where all this…, “stuff”, came from. Because, after engaging in some bible study, I know that most of what they go on about isn’t even in the Bible. Of course, that brings up the question of why do people believe it if it’s not in there?  I think it’s because that nutjob Darby came up with a cracker jack story. You’ve got to admit that while futurism might be sucky theology, it does makes one hell of a science fiction/fantasy tale. In fact, it already has. I’m speaking of the Left Behind series, of course. And, maybe I’m reaching here, but an amazing story is the only way I can think of that explains the popularity of books whose writing makes “Twilight” and “Fifty Shades of Gray” come off like classical literature.

I know this is a bitter pill to swallow, but we must face facts: the historical interpretation of Revelation (e.g., it’s “the declaration that Jesus will return, justice will be granted to the oppressed, and all things will be made new“) is nowhere near as interesting as the craziness version that occurs in “Left Behind”. While we’re at it, we should also admit that, unless you’ve spent a lot of time studying it, the book of Revelation makes about as much sense as the space opera back story of Scientology. I mean, seriously, is there really that much difference between Lord Xenu loading several billion of his citizens onto Douglas DC-8’s and sending them to Earth, only to be killed by h-bombs exploding inside volcanoes (to steal a line from South Park, “This is what Scientologists actually believe”) and the fifth angel’s trumpet unleashing hordes of scorpion-locusts whose sting inflicts such terrible pain that people try to kill themselves, but can’t die or a skanky chick riding on 7-headed beast that’s covered in blasphemous names? They both sound like mushroom dreams; but only one of them is about “what happened when God got religion.”

Do you honestly think an appeal to reason is going to stand up against that kind of thing? Hell, we can’t even get conservatives to understand that the Planned Parenthood videos are full of shit when the evidence is right under their noses, so what makes anyone think  boring explanations about what Revelation actually means won’t fall flat? Part of me says we need to come up with a story that can compete with dispensationalism, but another part says that reinterpreting scripture to counter a reinterpretation of scripture makes about as much sense as saying the Beast of Revelation 13 is the Anti-Christ when that term doesn’t even appear in Revelation. (See what I did there?) But, right now, we’re pretty much fiddling while Rome burns (A Nero reference. Get it?) and we all know how that ended up.

Of Frogs, Pants and “Promoting Sin”

A couple of months ago, I pretty much swore off stories about Franklin Graham. The guy is a broken record, bitching about the “gays”, the “muslims” and President Obama and I was approaching burnout where he’s concerned. That all changed this morning when I read this Facebook status he posted yesterday:

FG Muppets

Yes, beloved, the Muppets are “promoting sin to a younger and younger audience” and Franklin is joining One Million Moms (don’t worry, we’ll get them in a minute) in “urging parents to call on ABC to take it off the air. Okay, then.

So, One Million Moms. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this organization, here’s a little background on them: Basically, they’re the email/fundraising arm of the lovely American Family Association, one of the more despicable anti-LBGT hate groups out there. They’re also one of the crazier ones, promoting such ideas as Christians are now just as oppressed as black folks were prior to the Civil Rights movement, equating people who are LGBT allies to Nazi’s, that the President hates white Americans because he authorized changing the name back to Denali and other insane rantings. But, their latest petition leaves all that (and Graham’s puny Facebook condemnation) in the dust: “The Muppets” is not suitable family fare because “…Kermit doesn’t wear pants”. I’ll pause for a minute and let you try to absorb that statement.

Okay, now that you have your brain wrapped around the fact that a group of adults who want to be taken seriously have their knickers in a twist because a puppet is not wearing pants (well, as much as you can, anyway), let’s look a little deeper into this insanity. Citing the fact that Kermit isn’t wearing any pants as part of the reason that the show isn’t fit for kids is…, let’s say “interesting”, since Kermit has never worn pants! Okay, so he did in a couple of movies and the occasional bit on the TV show, but the frog’s default setting is most definitely sans pants. Especially on Sesame Street. Guess that means one of the most revered kids shows of all time isn’t “suitable for family viewing.”

There are other complaints besides Kermit’s attire (or lack thereof): according to 1MM, “Miss Piggy came out as a pro-choice feminist during an MSNBC interview” which means “The puppet characters loved by kids in the 1970s and 1980s and beyond are now weighing in on abortion and promiscuity”. I suspect these two issues are more of a problem than Kermit’s pants. To be fair, though, the pants comment was probably an attempt at humor on the part of 1MM and, while it definitely succeeded, I don’t think the resultant laughs were the kind they were shooting for.

The Moms also ask “How many parents want to explain the punchline of sexually charged jokes to young children?” Which is a bit odd because Parker and I watched the first show last night and neither of us can remember anything “sexually charged” in the episode.  It’s almost as if they were watching an entirely different show. Oh wait, they didn’t watch it at all before weighing in. Seems to me actually viewing a show might be something you’d want to do before calling for its cancellation.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the entire thing is the lack of outrage at “interspecies relationships” (though it does get a mention in Graham’s FB tirade). Seriously, you’re torqued about a frog not wearing pants, but his thing for pigs isn’t a problem? Let me get this straight, Kermit’s relationship with Miss Piggy and Gonzo’s creepy chicken fetish were both “family friendly” and wouldn’t bring up uncomfortable questions, but jokes about where a bear might take a dump or Animal’s reluctance to go on the road with Imagine Dragons (“Too many women, too many towns“) cross the line? That’s one weird-ass line.

Both Graham and One Million Moms make a mistake that many of us have for quite a while:we see the Muppets and their shows/movies as children’s fare. That’s not been true since Kermit and company started working outside Sesame Street back in the 70’s. Oh sure, there have always been elements of the Muppets that kids enjoyed, but the humor was aimed squarely at adults. This new show drops all the pretenses and goes after its targeted audience directly. Considering that most young kids today have almost no connection to these characters, that’s actually pretty smart.

In their zeal to “protect” kids from such awful things as sex, bodily functions and actual issues facing us today, Graham and 1MM fail to live up to their calling: protecting kids from things they actually need to be protected from. You know, abuse, hunger, homelessness, poverty, etc. If these people want to get your panties in a wad about things that aren’t “family friendly”, seems like those might be a good place to start.

I’m A Christian, But, I’m Not…

Mollie Hemingway recently wrote an article for “The Federalist” titled “5 Most Cringeworthy Problems With Buzzfeed’s Viral ‘I’m a Christian, But I’m Not’, Video” (shown at the top of this page) and she wasn’t exactly what you’d call “complementary”. Now, If I’m being honest, I have to agree that the clip is a little douchey. Not in the evangelical/fundamentalist “I’m saved, but you’re all going to hell” way; more like the NALT project, which is just a little reminiscent of Jesus’ parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector. According to Hemingway, the video “was easily the most unintentionally hilarious, if shockingly bigoted, BuzzFeed video ever produced.” After watching it, I’m left wondering if Hemingway actually understands what “bigoted” really means. Or, “shockingly” either, for that matter.

I say that because the statement in question follows an extremely condescending dismissal of everything the people in the clip say. Displaying the (possibly) unwitting arrogance that seems to permeate conservative Christianity, she attempts to minimize the participants words with quotation marks, a strikeout and, that particulraly odious tool of rejection, ridiculing a person’s spelling/choice of words. Then, she lists the 5 most egregious things in the video. So, let’s take a look at what Ms. Hemingway considers cringeworthy:

  1. No Mention of Jesus
    Hemingway claims, after referencing its text, that the video contains “Not a single mention of Jesus, the author and finisher of the Christian faith.” That’s not exactly true. Sure, no one mentions Jesus by name, but the J-man is all over this thing. Most notably in the statement, “love is the most important thing.” If I could talk to Hemingway (and the young woman who shared this and was a member of the youth group I worked with in the past), I’d tell her that Jesus isn’t constantly smacking us on the ass, yelling “Say my name, bitch!”
  2. No Diversity
    Now, you may be wondering how a video about Christians that features people of color, people who are LGBT+ or who depart from the Church’s view on sex isn’t diverse (I know I was). But, here’s Hemingway’s problem: there are no “conservatives” in the cast. She even breaks it down by percentage, saying “At least 33 percent of those interviewed are LGBT (roughly 10 times the national average) and at least 50 percent are feminist (only 18 percent of Americans actually identify as feminist).” In other words, she’s arguing that the video isn’t “politically correct”; a concept she has a history of criticizing. Talk about “unintentionally hilarious”!
  3. Wow, Was It Bigoted 
    As I said earlier, I’m not sure if Hemingway knows what “bigoted” actually means. According to Merriam-Webster, it is an adjective for “bigot”, which is defined as ” a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.” Does the video display some condescension? Absolutely. Does that condescension rise to the level of hate or intolerance? No, it doesn’t. Not once in this video does anyone claim that their belief is the right one, that everyone else is wrong, or show that they are “intolerantly devoted” to anything. They didn’t, as Hemingway infers, say that people who disagree with them are “homophobic, holier-than-thou, close-minded, unaccepting, uneducated, judgmental, conservative ignoramuses.” But, you know what they say; “A hit dog always howls.”
  4. Christianity Offends 
    Yes, it does. Hell, I’m a Christian and it offends me. Okay, to be more accurate, what currently passes for orthodox Christianity offends me. Why? Because it took a way of life based on unconditional love and turned it into a belief system incorporating a set of arbitrary rules designed to separate and control people. The real problem with the video is that it talks about a Christianity that’s radical and countercultural. And, that scares the shit out of people like Hemingway, a middle class white woman who is heavily invested in maintaining the status quo.
  5. It’s a Pharisee Prayer
    In this item, we finally get to down Hemingway’s real issue with the video: sex. Yes, beloved, after all that other bullshit, it boils down when and with whom you choose to knock boots. I say that because, of all the issues she lists in her article, she uses sex to make her point, saying “The media wrongly think that any time you articulate Christian doctrine on sexuality—which is exacting and more or less completely contradictory to the way of the world—you’re putting yourself on a pedestal. That’s a childish reading of such articulation. And it completely ignores the point of Christianity, which is that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” Two problems here: 1) Why do conservatives have such an obsession with sex? 2) The point of Christianity is “that while we were still sinners Christ died for us“? Shit, all this time,  I thought it was “Love one another.” Boy, is my face red.

In her closing paragraph, Hemingway says “Let us all beware of smug complacency and measuring ourselves against others.” That may be the most clueless sentence in human history, because she writes it after spending over 1,800 words doing just that. If there’s any doubt, the last two sentences should clear things up: “Let’s join the tax collector and cry out, “God be merciful to me, a sinner! And forgive BuzzFeed while you’re at it—particularly when it comes to religious content, they could use your prayers.” I guess, as a “real” (i.e. conservative) Christian, Hemingway is in possession of the Truth and we should all listen to her. Especially those heathens at BuzzFeed.

The Gatekeepers Are Not Happy

TheGatekeeperWizardofOzOn Monday, I told you about the people who felt it was their Christian duty to stand outside my church and verbally harass members spread the love of God. Now, it’s possible that I’m still a little…, let’s say “sensitive” (mostly because I don’t want to say “butt-hurt”) over their protest, but I got a little irritated at a Christian Post article I read this morning. It seems that First Baptist Church of Greenville, SC is “now accepting of gay ordination and marriage.” Of course, the church couched their decision in much less douchy terms: “In all facets of the life and ministry of our church, including but not limited to membership, baptism, ordination, marriage, teaching and committee/organizational leadership, First Baptist Greenville will not discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.” As you can imagine, this isn’t sitting well with the self-appointed gatekeepers of all things moral.

One of those gatekeepers is Al Mohler, who said the church’s decision puts it “at odds with Scripture, at odds with the history of the Christian church, and this is also significant, at odds with the denomination with which the church had so long been affiliated, the Southern Baptist Convention.” Oh, there is so much that’s wrong with this comment. First of all, as he usually does, Mohler assumes that his view of scripture is not just the right one, but the universally accepted one; it is neither. Second, he says FBC is “at odds with the history of the Christian church”. Yes, because the history of the Christian church is sooo wonderful. Seriously, falling back on a legacy of genocide, persecution and oppression really isn’t the selling point he thinks it is. And, then there’s the idea that it’s “at odds with the denomination with which the church had so long been affiliated, the Southern Baptist Convention.” I’m not sure why that’s even in there, as 1st Baptist left the convention in 1999 after hardliners like Mohler took over that organization. Much like the history of the church, being at odds with SBC isn’t such a bad thing, in my opinion. Finally, Mohler said that FBC’s decision was “not unexpected”, but it was “still tragic.” Following Jesus’ final commandment to his followers is tragic? That word must mean something different to me than it does to him.

Of course, Brother Al isn’t the only one with their knickers in a twist; Franklin Graham also had something to say on the subject (imagine that). According to Graham, “First Baptist Church of Greenville, S.C., has decided that it is going to not only accept same-sex couples, but they’re going to ordain gay and transgender ministers into their pulpit! This is disappointing and discouraging.” He followed that lovely sentiment up with this one, “… [T]hey said they are ’embracing the complexities of gender identity.’ According to God’s Word, what they are embracing is sin. The Bible says, ‘Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness …’ (Isaiah 5:20).” Maybe it’s just me, but that may be the most unintentionally ironic use of scripture, ever.

Let’s be honest, here; the only difference between the people who stood outside my church the other Sunday with their ugly signs and their toxic theology and these guys isn’t the message, it’s the delivery. They’re all saying the same thing: that people who are just trying to live their lives as God created them aren’t beloved children of that same God; Mohler and his associates just aren’t as open about their feelings as our WBC wannabes are. In other words (stealing a line from The Bard), a turd by any other name still smells like shit.

NC’s Own Westboro Baptist Church?

Yesterday, after a great worship service and breakfast with my friends, I walked out of church to this:20150823_104834

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, beloved, these people are protesting my church. Why? I’m not really sure; I wanted to ask, but they wouldn’t stop preaching at me long enough for me to get a word in. So, I just took the picture, laughed and went on my way.

You might think that this would end there and it probably should. But I’ve never been the object of a protest before and I’ll admit, it left me a little rattled. I mean, it’s one thing to see these jokers on television, or even to drive by them while they spew their bile at whoever they happen to hate at any given moment. But, it’s a little different when it’s you they’re calling “filth” and a “stench in God’s nostrils”. I spent most of yesterday trying to process this before I remembered something Chris Hardwick said: “Comedians make jokes about horrible things because, as humans, this our defense mechanism for trying to process those horrible things and gain power over them.” Now, calling me a comedian might be stretching things a bit and I don’t have a show like Hardwick to work this stuff out.  On the other hand, I am a smart ass with a blog. So, let’s get processing!

A little earlier, I said I didn’t know why these douche canoes decided to picket our church, but that’s not exactly true. Sure, I couldn’t get a word in edgewise when I first saw them, but one look at their sign told me exactly what their problem might be: We’re a welcoming and affirming Baptist church. Really? That’s the best you’ve got? Hell, it’s no secret that we’re cool with folks who are LGBT+; it’s plastered all over our website and we held an anti-Amendment 1 rally a few years ago. Seriously, if you going to go to all the trouble protest someone, do your homework. There are so many other things we do and/or believe that would drive these guys crazy. Like the fact that we don’t use the KJV exclusively, teach from books other than Bible now and then, “encourage” doubt by allowing members to ask questions, occasionally have secular music during service and, perhaps worst of all, allow women in positions of leadership. I’m sorry, fellows, but this was just lazy activism.

I’m not sure exactly who they are or where they’re from because, when I finally got a chance to talk to them, they wouldn’t say. All they’d cop to was that they weren’t local. Whether that’s because they’ve been threatened with violence or are afraid someone might show up and protest at their church (as so many people have done to those trolls at Westboro Baptist Church), I couldn’t say. But, it seems to me that if this is the case, you might want to reconsider your message.

Interestingly, these folks staged their “protest” right beside a sign that reads, “Where loving God means loving people.” And, when I say “right beside”, I mean that literally: they were like 10 feet away from it. So, let me get this straight, you’re spewing hate in God’s name while standing next to a sign that references a passage from the Bible? Sadly, the irony of it all seemed to be lost on them. Of course, that reference wasn’t taken directly from the Authorized King James Version of 1611, so maybe they were confused.

Their sign lists Hebrews 12:8 as a reference for their claim that people who are LGBT+ are nothing but bastards. But, let’s look at that passage and see what it says:But if you don’t experience discipline, which happens to all children, then you are illegitimate and not real sons and daughters.” Hmm, nothing about gay folks in there at all. To be fair, though, when I finally got a chance to have a bit of conversation with our visitors, one of them said that they weren’t just talking about homosexuality, but “all sin”: fornicators, liars, thieves, porn watchers like he “used to be”(that’s what he said, I’m not questioning his honesty there), etc. In other words, we’re all bastards. And, while this does seem to echo Will Campbell’s “Gospel in 7 words“, he forgets the most important part: yes, we are all bastards, but God loves us anyway.

I have to say, however, that just talking to these guys was exhausting because they couldn’t say three words in row without it turning into a sermon. And, the hostility? It came off of them in waves. But, I’m proud of my church family, because they didn’t let those ugly signs and the toxic theology get to them. Our pastor invited them in for breakfast and offered them some water (for a heathenous false teacher leading us all straight to hell, he’s not a bad guy).  And, one of the ladies who prepared breakfast took some food and water out to them; they wouldn’t touch it, though. Maybe they were afraid some “gay” might’ve gotten on it, I don’t know. Of course, it probably didn’t help that when she took out to them, she tipped her head at one of them and sweetly asked the other, “Is he your partner?”

I find it interesting that these people were quoting the Bible and “calling out sin”, but seemed to be completely ignorant of Matthew 7:1-2. You  know the one that says, “Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. You’ll receive the same judgment you give. Whatever you deal out will be dealt out to you.” Or, James 4:12, who said “There is only one lawgiver and judge, and he is able to save and to destroy. But you who judge your neighbor, who are you?” Funny how that works, huh?

I’m not sure what their endgame was, but I suspect that, on some level, they hoped that all their preaching, sign-holding and Bible-waving would cause us all to see the error of our ways and we’d fall to our knees and ask God’s forgiveness. Or, failing that, maybe some college student would hear their “message” and turn from the life of depravity that they had been living. Yes, because nothing brings a person to God quicker than the knowledge that God “hates” them and wants them to burn in Hell for living the life God created them to live in the first place. That is such a compelling argument.

Okay, this thing is getting a little out of hand, so I’ll close with something my son, Parker, had to say about the whole thing: “If you have protesters outside your church, completely unprovoked, you must be doing something right.” That’s the way I’m looking at it, anyway.

I Hate The Supreme Court

So, this morning, I was working on a piece about some bat-shit craziness involving celebrity Christians and same-sex marriage. It was coming along really well and I thought, “Oh, this is going to be good.” Just as I was hitting my sarcastic stride, my social media feed began lighting up with news that the Supreme Court has ruled that it is now legal for all Americans, no matter their gender or sexual orientation, to marry the people they love. Which automatically meant whatever I was working on had to be put aside in favor of this bombshell. Fucking SCOTUS.

Don’t get me wrong, I am elated at this news. In fact, when I heard about it, my first thought was “Holy shitballs. Holy shitballs! HOLY SHITBALLS! Oh my god, you guys! They did it!” Okay, maybe not my first thought (see previous paragraph), but it was right up there. And, this is some momentous news, especially in light of what we’ve been dealing with lately. After years of fucking around, our country has finally done the right thing and decided to embrace a group of Americans that it has pushed to the margins for years. Okay, so maybe “embrace” is a  bit strong; how about “stop shitting on”, instead? Now, if we could just do the same for all the other people we treat like crap.

And I have to say I am amazed at the decision. Well, not the decision itself, but the writing. Not only did we get a ruling that moves one step closer to the equality that we claim as an American ideal, it does with moving prose, mostly in this one paragraph:

SCOTUS ruling

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nice, huh?

Since Scalia had written the dissent on the Obamacare ruling I was afraid we wouldn’t hear from him this time.  But, when I read that each of the 4 justices who ruled against wrote their own dissenting opinion, I was excited to see what everyone’s favorite conservative justice had to say; especially after that word salad on the other day. The man didn’t disappoint, calling today’s ruling a “judicial Putsch” and “threat to American democracy”. While there’s nothing so sublimely weird as “jiggery-pokery” or “pure applesauce” (from his ACA dissent), he did say that California isn’t a “genuine” Western state and compared Kennedy’s majority opinion to “the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.” I’m telling you, the man has a way with words. Too bad that way sucks ass.

I don’t know about you, but I am god-damned tired of sanctimonious liberals and their attempts to sanitize our history. I’ve also had it with willfully fucking ignorant conservatives insisting that the Confederate flag has absolutely nothing to do with racism. So, in addition to being the right thing to do, this ruling from the Supreme Court is also a much-needed breath of fresh air. Seriously, I’m almost to the point of declaring “a plague o’ both your houses” and moving to a fucking cave in the woods, so I’m hoping the media will give the flag bullshit a rest for a couple of minutes and run something else into the ground.

Now, some of you might think this ruling means the fight over same-sex marriage is over and love has won. Oh, you poor deluded bastards. Do you actually believe that virulently anti-LGBTQ activists like Franklin Graham, Tony Perkins and Bryan Fischer are going to give up a cash cow like gay marriage? Not on your life. You only need to look at abortion to see that. It’s been 42 years since the Supremes ruled in favor of a woman’s right to choose and we’re still beat over the head with lurid tales about the murder of children and back door attempts by certain states to circumvent that decision. Oh no, my friends, this is not over. About the best we can hope for is that the dissent will die down to background noise while the rest of us move ahead.

There is one thing I’ll be awaiting with bated breath and that is the actions of people like Rick Scarborough, who said during a podcast promoting his Defend Marriage Pledge, “The preachers need to get out front, the leaders need to get out front, out front of these ordinary citizens and say, ‘Shoot me first'”, adding that “We are not going to bow, we are not going to bend, and if necessary, we will burn.” And, let’s not forget Glenn Beck’s “10,000 pastors” who are ready to “walk through a wall of fire, you know, and possible death.” Now, these pronouncements may sound brave and daring, but let’s be honest: they’re bullshit. You know, I know and they know that they’ll never have to put up; which means, unfortunately, that they’ll never shut up. But, seeing what crap they come up with next should be entertaining, if nothing else.

Okay, so I really don’t hate the Supreme Court. And, maybe, just maybe, the title to this article is slightly click-baitey. But, it got your attention, didn’t it? And, hopefully, you stuck around to the end here. If you did, I’m almost as happy about that as I am today’s ruling in favor of love. Shalom, y’all.