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Role of the Church: Moving Away From Divisive Politics July 30, 2006

Posted by newsfittopost in politics, religion, religion distorted.
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One of the biggest struggles for many gay and lesbian people is their faith in a higher being. The Christ they believed in most of their lives – a compassionate, accepting son of God – is often times hard to find in today’s houses of worship.

Many preachers claim gays and lesbians are immoral beings intent on the destruction of family, marriage and tradition. More painful than the attacks themselves, however, is that this alleged “morality” is most often times claimed to be the word of God.

Just as the Bible was used to justify slavery, segregation and anti-semitism, conservative religious leaders are once again using the Holy book as justification for intolerance. And just as popular religious leaders like Jerry Falwell were forced to apologize for their “former” support of segregation and South African apartheid, there will be a time when religious leaders will feel compelled to apologize to gays and lesbians. Anyone who does not believe this has a poor understanding of the history of religious oppression.

The tide is already beginning to turn. More conservative Evangelicals are refusing to speak out against issues like same-sex marriage, even if they don’t support it themselves.

Cedar Ridge Community Church pastor Brian D. McLaren:

More and more people are saying this has gone too far — the dominance of the evangelical identity by the religious right. You cannot say the word ‘Jesus’ in 2006 without having an awful lot of baggage going along with it. You can’t say the word ‘Christian,’ and you certainly can’t say the word ‘evangelical’ without it now raising connotations and a certain cringe factor in people.

Because people think, ‘Oh no, what is going to come next is homosexual bashing, or pro-war rhetoric, or complaining about ‘activist judges.’

This concern among more moderate Evangelicals could transform the way pastors preach to their flock. It is part of a relatively new evangelical movement called the “emerging church”, which tries to lessen the polarizing views of fundamentalist Evangelicals on the right. The “emerging church” hopes to return kindness and compassion to the church… something that has nearly disappeared since extreme conservative ideology became embraced by the most visible preachers.

Evangelical megachurch leader Rev. Gregory A. Boyd believes some Christians have turned patriotism and political affiliation into a form of “idolatry”. From the New York Times:

Mr. Boyd lambasted the “hypocrisy and pettiness” of Christians who focus on “sexual issues” like homosexuality, abortion or Janet Jackson’s breast-revealing performance at the Super Bowl halftime show. He said Christians these days were constantly outraged about sex and perceived violations of their rights to display their faith in public.

“Those are the two buttons to push if you want to get Christians to act,” he said. “And those are the two buttons Jesus never pushed.”

These pastors are brave people of God willing to lose the parts of their congregations that are embedded with the belief that Christianity and the Republican party are synonymous. Religious teachings take priority over politics, and these pastors realize that the extreme-right is intent on creating a psuedo-theocracy in the United States. Theocracies have and always will lead to oppression and violence… America would not be an exception.

Christians, gay or straight, should continue to push for religious institutions free of politics – progressive or conservative. It is my belief that the Christian God is far more pleased with followers who help the poor, than followers who lobby Congress to ban same-sex marriage. This transformation is epitomized by the recent election of Episcopal leader Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. We can only hope that Bishop Schori represents Christianity of the twenty-first century, and Falwell becomes a distant memory.

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