April 16th, 2012
The “Value Voters” have announced their Summit again, and hate groups, exclusionists, and theocrats are well represented. And again good and decent people are too reluctant to challenge it in the way that it should be challenged.
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In December, a friend asked what I was doing Christmas Day. I told him that there was a church near where I live, St. James in the City Episcopal Church, that has a food pantry and I was going to see if they had a Christmas Dinner I could volunteer for. He laughed at me. It seems that if you want to volunteer at St. James, you have to sign up months in advance.
St. James caught my attention again this week when a client listed them as their church. This individual is very generous with time and money and seems committed to helping the less fortunate, so this confirmed to me that this congregation had a emphasis on contributing to the world.
St. James in the City is located on Wilshire in a section dotted with beautiful early 20’s Century Churches. Glorious architecture with heritage built for an affluent community that migrated outward leaving their mansions to be torn down and replaced with apartment buildings. The handful of older ladies that venture back each Sunday to the First Congregational nearby surely don’t support the upkeep – that is from movie production rental. And the handsome Italian Romanesque beauty that is Wilshire Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) went up for sale a few months ago.
Church attendance is down in general. And with the mega-church phenomenon sucking away many who might otherwise attend their local church, the old standbys are hurting. And mainline denominations are hurting the most.
But not St. James. It is packed on Sundays.
And one congregate wrote a few years back about her experience for a British audience, explaining the appeal.
While churches in England have, for the most part, modernised their services in an attempt to attract bigger crowds — some of them becoming painfully evangelical and happy clappy — the Episcopal church in the US still uses the older, traditional liturgies, the ones that I remember nostalgically. It was these superficial trappings that appealed to us originally. My husband, who writes music for a living, is a sucker for a choir — but it is the values that we found there that has really kept us coming back.
At our church, it is not unusual to see children with two mums or two dads, sitting next to Koreans, African-Americans, Hispanics, as well as many white middle-class families. There are monied people from Beverly Hills, rubbing shoulders with artists from downtown. Gay people next to straight. It’s jolly, social and somehow has a relevance to everyone’s life. It reflects an acceptance of all, the kind of value I’d like my children to have. And it is a community. Spirituality, I believe, comes from acknowledging that we are part of something greater than just ourselves.
I believe that she has identified something. And I think that it is a notion that mainline Christianity should note.
For too long those who have obstinately held to theological positions that do not reflect either modern understanding about sexuality or the spirit of the message found in Christ’s recorded teachings have owned the word “values”. And mainline churches have been in the public’s perception limited to “no, we aren’t all like that”.
I think it is long passed the time when Mainline Christianity stand and say, “We have strong values including inclusion, relevance, flexibility, and especially love for our fellow man. Our values predate whatever those others are selling and were, in fact, the values of our founder”.
Mainline Christianity deserves a better position that “the Christians who don’t hate you”. What they have to offer is a much needed commodity. It’s not just what they don’t give – it’s what they do give: values, the kind you wants your kids to have.
In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.
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In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.
On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.
Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!
And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.
Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.
Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.
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