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OK UMC clergy declare support

Timothy Kincaid

January 20th, 2014

Today the Oklahoma United Methodists for Equality ran the following ad in the Tulsa World:

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jpeckjr
January 20th, 2014 | LINK

Folks familiar with the Methodist theological lens will recognize “scripture, tradition, reason, and experience” as the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. A theological question is engaged rightly only when all four aspects are applied. Saying “scripture alone” or “reason alone” is not the Methodist way. These clergy were very astute in including all four words in the ad. Their primary audience is other UMC clergy and UMC laypersons, who will know the Quadrilateral when they see it.

Randy Potts
January 20th, 2014 | LINK

It also ran in Oklahoma City; I found out that 70 ministers were behind the ad, and of course there may be more who are supportive. This is a big deal for Oklahoma; the Methodist church there has plenty of conservative individual churches. Thanks for posting this Tim!

Merv
January 20th, 2014 | LINK

From my experience with NALTs, this one newspaper ad will be the extent of their support. Other than this, I predict complete radio silence. A tiny ad on page C-16 is supposed to make up for two thousand years of torture, murder, and persecution, and continued monopolization of the media by their rabidly anti-gay brothers in Christ. I will be overjoyed if my prediction is wrong, but I doubt it.

JCF
January 21st, 2014 | LINK

Merv, you’re completely wrong.

I have a lot of problems w/ the UMC—I think they need to resist their homophobic hierarchies/judicatory structures a LOT more. But conflating all LGBT-affirming Christians into impotent and/or hypocritical “NALTs” is the type of facile thinking which conflates bogus interpretations of the so-called “7 Clobber Passages” into the edifice of anti-gay Christianism in the first place!

Use your head. Many of the LGBTs/allies which have fought SO HARD for marriage equality—for LGBT equality, generally? They’re Christians, too. They (we, I’m one of them) don’t exist in a separate universe from other LGBTs. Some of us have founded primarily LGBT denominations like the MCC, some of us are in long-time pro-LGBT denominations like the UCC. Some of us are WINNING the fight in our denominations (Yours Truly, an Episcopalian). And some are still fighting, with integrity, in denominations that aren’t there yet.

But there’s nothing incompatible about being Out/Loud/Proud to be LGBT, *and* believe that following Jesus of Nazareth is a good way to live your gay life (complete w/ Sexy Times, and Goin’ to the Chapel to get Maaaarried).

We’re not aliens, Merv. We’re you—w/ a particular Jesus-shaped cosmology, is all. AND, we’re working to bring other Christians along (we’re increasingly successful at it!). I’m not trying to “make up for two thousand years of torture, murder, and persecution”: that’s beyond this queer’s purview OR possibility. But as I’m fighting for ALL of our rights, I’d just like to not be dumped on *merely* for my worldview/Sunday morning proclivities. Thanks.

enough already
January 21st, 2014 | LINK

JCF,
I can’t speak for Merv, but having been beaten (and my husband nearly kicked to death defending me) by good, god-fearing, gen-u-whine AmeriKain Christians, my tolerance for that religion is gone.

If some of you Christians are seeking to end the persecution, torture, rape and murder of us queers – great.

Please don’t, however, expect those of us in the queer community who have suffered physical harm at the hands of Christians to ever see your faith as anything but one of hatred and violence.

Timothy Kincaid
January 21st, 2014 | LINK

enough already,

All of my sympathy for your ordeal. Truly.

However, your response may be a bit inconsistent. As you noted, the people who assaulted you were many things: Americans, perhaps of a specific race, perhaps of a specific location.

I don’t hear you saying “Americans beat me” or “Texans beat me” or “I have no tolerance for redheads” or whatever other attributes they may have very observably had. Instead you have narrowed your view only to what you perceive to be their religious belief – something about which you are likely only speculating.

Did they yell “we’re doing this on behalf of the First Baptist Church”? Was it a group of priests in clerical collar? Did you know them to be deacons down at the local Presbyterian Church?

Or are you merely assuming that they must have been Christians because “that’s what Christians do”? If so, you are engaging in a self-referential form of bias thinking.

It is true that most who beat others in this country identify as Christian. The vast majority of Americans so identify. And some likely use religion as an excuse for their behavior. So those who beat (along with most everybody else in the country) are “Christian”, but that may be the least descriptive attribute you could assign them.

In my experience, very very few acts of violence against gay people have been perpetuated by individuals who regularly attend and participate in Christian churches.

enough already
January 21st, 2014 | LINK

Timothy,
The people who beat me (and who tried to kick my husband to death as he lay over my unconscious body) are blood relations. They self-identify as Christians and their entire world view is colored by their Christian belief.
My husband and I had just inherited a large farm in the deep south from grandparents who decided to leave their property to the only two family members who cared for them in their old age.
Our attackers clearly stated that their rage against us was grounded in their Christian belief. No way around it.

Ben In Oakland
January 21st, 2014 | LINK

Physical violence, Timothy. Absolutely.

Rhetorical violence is another matter.

Timothy Kincaid
January 21st, 2014 | LINK

enough already,

What you experienced was from relatives involved in an inheritance dispute who were using religion as an excuse.

And based on this family incident, you have extrapolated to all of Christendom.

That is irrational. And, frankly, bigoted.

You may, of course, believe whatever you like based on that incident. However, it does not offer much evidence for anyone else to share your views.

Timothy Kincaid
January 21st, 2014 | LINK

Ben, yes. Much rhetorical violence.

Lord_Byron
January 21st, 2014 | LINK

I am not going to get into a religious argument, but timothy your statement, “In my experience, very very few acts of violence against gay people have been perpetuated by individuals who regularly attend and participate in Christian churches.” can be construed as no true Scotsman. They profess to belong to the christian religion and church attendance does not really play a role in whether they accept said beliefs or not. The fact of the matter is that a majority of the nation claims to be christian, something that is changing, and since we see a link between religious beliefs and attacks on LGBT individuals it is hard not to relate the two.

Not all christians share the same beliefs that is why there are a couple hundred, if not thousands, different branches, denominations, et cetra. Just because you disagree with their views does not make them any less of a christian.

I mean these are the same beliefs that both supported and opposed slavery. The same beliefs that can support the subjugation or liberation of women. The same beliefs that for the past 1400 years had no problem forcing its way into every aspect of society via violence and threats of damnation.

JEM
January 21st, 2014 | LINK

enough already,

I abhor what happened to you and your husband. I pray that both of you have recovered physically and emotionally from the attack.

I grieve that anyone who identifies as Christian uses that as a reason or excuse to behave in a way I believe fundamentally violates everything Jesus represents.

I am a straight Christian, and, I hope, a dependable ally. I recently led my UCC church through the Open and Affirming process, by which individual congregations identify themselves as specifically safe for people who identify as LGBTQ.

Part of my education around that process involved discovering that even in denominations that do not universally offer such a welcome, there are groups working to change that. In the UMC that group is called Reconciling Ministries. Knowing that many Methodists are striving to be more open, I am not in the least surprised to see this ad.

The UMC is a world-wide denomination. Regardless of the growing number of welcoming congregations and ministers in the U.S., they are outweighed by the larger number of conservative congregations in many other parts of the world, especially in Africa.

All of this is by way of saying that there ARE many good and faithful Christians in all traditions who believe that being LGB or T in no way separates a person from the love of God.

Timothy Kincaid
January 21st, 2014 | LINK

Lord_Byron,

You raise an interesting point. If I were trying to change enough already’s argument by distinguishing between “real” and “not real” Christians, you would be exactly right.

My point however, is that when enough already expresses his dislike and distrust of “Christians”, he’s not talking about the roughly 80% of Americans who identify with that faith. He isn’t hostile towards 80% of Americans. He’s talking about those who are – for want of a better term – active Christians, those who have their faith as a strong part of their identity and participate in it.

Those people – the ones that one thinks of when someone expresses dislike of “Christians” – are the ones that I was identified as “individuals who regularly attend and participate in Christian churches”. I was trying to refute enough already’s position by using the same classification.

Lord_Byron
January 21st, 2014 | LINK

Ok, I think I see your point Timothy, my reading comprehension if a little off from lack of sleep, and I do agree that when most people, myself included, talk about a disdain for religion in America it is of the more conservative branches of religion. While I personally think those of the liberal branches are wrong about the whole question on god I generally leave them alone and can even work with them because as we know they are generally liberal on many social issues. So, common ground.

However, I do not think it’s unfair for someone who has been hurt by the followers of a religion to hold animosity towards those beliefs. Not a very good comparison, but I would say it is similar to a black person that was enslaved due to those beliefs. It would not be unfair for the former slave to feel animosity towards the entire religion that provided the foundation for their enslavement. Not a very good example, but you can see my point.

But anyway back to the main story I do find this as interesting since it is OK and the Methodist church does tend to have more conservative areas than liberal ones.

Timothy Kincaid
January 21st, 2014 | LINK

Byron,

I agree that those who have been hurt by religious beliefs – and adherents to those beliefs – have a legitimate reason to dislike the beliefs and believers. And enough people have come claiming the mantle of Christianity who have greatly harmed many many people. (And, for what it’s worth, I know of Christians who no longer use that identity because of its association with arrogance, self-righteousness, and downright evil.)

Mistrust and indignation is well justified.

However, I do think it is an important point to note that physical violence seldom correlates with Christian adherence. As Ben noted, there is much emotional and spiritual violence and harm – and that cannot be ignored. But physical violence tends to be from those who have, at best, a strained and distant relationship with faith.

There are some exceptions. In my youth I recall a church service in which there was a dispute over leadership and one minister punched another in the face. But that sort of thing is rather rare.

Merv
January 21st, 2014 | LINK

Hi JCF,

For an example of what I’m talking about, I refer you to the shameful spectacle of the hearings for the marriage equality bill in the Hawaiian legislature. Christian groups in opposition sent thousands to testify. Christian groups in support sent one or two representatives to testify for all of them.

Pro-gay Christians seldom acknowledge that they have a special burden to speak out, since the severity and duration of mistreatment of gay people in the US is due to their religion. Yet, how many outspoken pro-gay straight males who are explicitly Christian do you see out there? There’s John Shore, and that’s about it. (Marching in a gay pride parade doesn’t really count.) As much as we might not like to admit it, in the battle for public opinion, the voice of one straight male Christian is worth many gay atheists or even gay Christians.

enough already
January 21st, 2014 | LINK

Timothy,
It just won’t fly. I’ve never once in my life read of a member of our queer community being attack (for being queer) by an adherent of the FSM church. Or by an atheist.
Rarely by a Jew, and in the three cases of which I am aware, all three involved a very small, very nasty sect, not the overwhelming majority of American Jews.
But, Christians?
Sure, there are a few decent ones. I’d be an idiot, however, to every again trust the word of one.

Timothy Kincaid
January 21st, 2014 | LINK

enough already,

I very much doubt that you’ve read of a member of our community being attacked by an adherent of any church at all.

Merv
January 21st, 2014 | LINK

In 1999, gay couple Gary Matson and Winfield Mowder were shot in their bed in Redding, California by Christian brothers Matthew and Tyler Williams. Both brothers were raised as Christians, and Matthew joined the Living Faith Fellowship while attending college in Idaho. Matthew Williams admitted to the killings and said he did it because he was “obeying the laws of God,” and hoped it would incite more killings. In 2000, Williams lawyer took out an ad in the Redding paper congratulating Williams for being ordained as a minister in the Christ’s Covenant Church.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Gary_Matson_and_Winfield_Mowder

Timothy Kincaid
January 21st, 2014 | LINK

Yes, Merv,

That is one example. From 15 years ago.

My father lived a street or two over from where it happened.

Lord_Byron
January 21st, 2014 | LINK

Harvey Milk

From Wikipedia and it did come with a source, but since I am not a times subscriber I will paste here:

“Tennessee Williams was the victim of an assault in January 1979 in Key West, being beaten by five teenage boys. He escaped serious injury. The episode was part of a spate of anti-gay violence inspired by an anti-gay newspaper ad run by a local Baptist minister.”

“But physical violence tends to be from those who have, at best, a strained and distant relationship with faith.”

Have to disagree, Timothy, with that statement. It is quite possible that someone would latch on a religion to be able to support their already homophobia, but it’s not hard to find examples of extremely devout religious people that have attacked gay people. I just disagree with your statement that religious people are not the ones attacking gay individuals.

Timothy Kincaid
January 21st, 2014 | LINK

Byron,

Then we will have to disagree.

Yes, we can find examples from 15 and 35 years ago. I’m sure we could find even more than these two.

Just as those who seek to accuse gay people of evil can find examples of gay people doing evil.

(And I can’t tell from the quote; were the boys religious adherents themselves, or merely participating in a spree of violence that was inspired by the minister?)

I’m all for assigning the blame that is due to those who spout violent and disrespectful rhetoric. But we can’t simply choose to believe something because we want to. And, based on what I read and observe, there doesn’t appear to be any factual link between religious adherence and physical violence.

TampaZeke
January 21st, 2014 | LINK

I understand enough already’s anger and frustration but I feel that, in the real world, we need to embrace people who are fighting on our side, even (and sometimes particularly) within churches (where I believe most homophobia originates and certainly where it is shielded and legitimized as an issue of “faith”).

I also understand Timothy’s defense of people of faith though I believe people of faith who have remained silent in the face of faith-based homophobia haven’t taken enough responsibility for what’s being done in their name and they aren’t be asked to take more responsibility. This is one thing that frustrates and angers people like enough already and me.

As MLK Jr. said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends”. For many of us, we are most hurt by the silence of our Christian family and friends. For others of us it’s actually the outright hostility of our Christian family and “friends” in spite of knowing us and claiming to “love” us that hurts most.

Lord_Byron
January 21st, 2014 | LINK

Timothy, couldn’t tell you since that is as much as I know about the case in Florida.

I agree that cases from 10 to 15 years ago don’t highlight how things are now. I do believe that part of the reason for less headline making cases, though those still occur, is the actual implication of hate crime laws and the increased social acceptance of lgbt individuals.

I don’t think there is anything inherent about religion that increases violence I just think it provides a justification for the violence and if you can justify it to yourself you are more willing to carry it out. I feel that more liberal beliefs and attitudes would help solve this issue. History shows that it is the more fervent believers that are more willing to carry out the deadly acts. The shooting of abortion providers and blowing up the clinics, the killing of lgbt individuals for being abominations, honor killings. Just recently there was a man in MA convicted of stabbing his wife 30 times for being “not a good muslim woman”

Plus we can both agree that certain beliefs do lead to violence.

Ted
January 22nd, 2014 | LINK

Where can I view the names of the Clergy who signed the statement?

Timothy Kincaid
January 22nd, 2014 | LINK

Zeke,

“…I believe people of faith who have remained silent in the face of faith-based homophobia haven’t taken enough responsibility for what’s being done in their name and they aren’t be asked to take more responsibility.”

I agree

Byron,

“Plus we can both agree that certain beliefs do lead to violence.”

yes, we agree

enough already
January 23rd, 2014 | LINK

@Tampa Zeke,
Qui tacet, consentire videtur.

That’s very much the situation I see in the Christian church.
Look at what is happening in Africa – caused nearly exclusively by Christians.
Look at 40% of the homeless children in America – kicked out of their Christian homes by their Christian parents for being queer.

Sure, not all Christians practice hatred. The argument that it’s only a few just doesn’t hold water.
Until I see the rallies in the street by Christians defending us, I’m going to continue to base my judgement of them on what was done to my husband and me. On what they are doing in Africa right now. On what they have done and, with great delight still do to their own queer children.

TampaZeke
January 23rd, 2014 | LINK

enough already, I agree. That’s why I am supporting those within the church, like the United Methodists in this post, who are refusing to be silent in the face of faith-based homophobia. They are not only letting the community know where they stand, they’re also challenging their church. I count them as allies while counting those who give their consent to faith-based bigotry through silence among our enemies. Even still I don’t completely write ANYONE off. Education and familiarity change hearts and minds. It’s worth the effort.

Ted
January 26th, 2014 | LINK

I have tried all week to find the names of the Oklahoma Methodist Clergy that signed the Marriage Equality statement it is nowhere to be found.

Why is it not available?

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