05 September 2006

Bad Tree, Bad Fruit (Part Two)

There are Straight allies out there who have no trouble recognizing corrupt trees by their fruit. Jerry Maneker is one of them. He's Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the Chico campus of California State University. He's a happily married practicing Catholic, and also an ordained Catholic Priest. How is that possible?

Here's how: The Catholic Church's draconian rules regarding sexuality and marriage led Jerry to abandon orthodox Catholicism. Now he serves God as a member of the rapidly growing Independent Catholic denomination. This man knows all about twisted doctrine, and he knows how to respond to it, too. He elaborates on that topic in this very timely epistle he wrote for the website christiangays.com, and which he's graciously allowed me to reproduce here. As the Savior, Jesus Christ stated many eons ago: Whoever has ears to hear should hear!

Dear Friends:

I must disagree when some encourage people to remain in homophobic churches so as to be in a position to educate and change them. Beyond the fact that they have done more to initiate and foment anti-LGBT rhetoric and the ensuing shame, self-loathing, and suicides of LGBT people, they have also, by that rhetoric and their exclusionary practices, set the climate for the bashing and killing of LGBT people . . .

(They allow) many of the perpetrators of this violence to feel they are doing God a favor by their hateful actions. I feel that God is leading increasing numbers of Christians to leave these pathetic, moribund, frequently hate-filled "churches" and denominations, led by frequently ignorant and/or mendacious clergy, and calling us into a post-denominational era . . . Christians are going to form their own worship communities that preach and exemplify the only Gospel to be found in Christianity: The Gospel of Grace (God's unmerited favor to us), Faith (trusting God over and above seen circumstances), Love, Peace, Reconciliation, and Inclusiveness.

By remaining in churches that preach and practice a religion of exclusion, and supporting them with our presence, energies, and monies, we are witting or unwitting accomplices to their perversion of the Gospel (blogmaster's note: Amen! Preacher, fold your Bible!), and they are far more likely to change us than we are likely to change them!

I've had occasion to teach on the (anti-Gay) "clobber passages" (in the Bible) to Fundamentalists, and regardless of the logic of my explanations of these passages, utilizing the original language, they tenaciously hung on to their prejudices!

This battle is not about two sets of reasonable people sitting down and reasoning together. It's about pure, naked prejudice and hate-mongering from all too many pulpits throughout the world. (They) have to be confronted by our turning our backs on them, not in any way supporting them, and going back to the model of the early Church where people met in each other's homes, divested of edifices and careers that had to be maintained by keeping the money rolling in.

Unfortunately, many clergy know that the best way to have and keep the money rolling in is to practice a religion of exclusion, and encourage an "us against them" mentality (which) encourages even more financial giving to enhance clergy careers. All too much of the organized "Church" has for far too long, by practicing the false gospel of legalism, perfectionism, and exclusion, led the way in discriminating against assorted minority groups, from women to Afro-Americans to LGBT people . . .

Change of the religious institutions in society regarding Civil Rights isues (has) never happened from within . . . when it comes to Civil Rights issues, it's been the secular society that has largely led the way to freedom and emancipation, with the religious institutions following suit once the hard-fought-for freedoms (have) been won.

It's high time we turn our backs on "traditions that make void the word of God"(Matthew 15:3), and on the institutions that embody those traditions that have the effect of historically demonizing assorted minority groups. The Church, the Ecclesia, the called-out ones, aren't restricted to inhabiting buildings! Rather, they are in disparate places and we have to seek each other out and worship together "in spirit and in truth," (embracing) each and every one of God's children. To do otherwise is not being faithful to the Gospel, or to Jesus (Christ's) call on our lives, and His call for unity of His Church.

Let the church say "Amen!" How these words gladden my heart!

I'm aware that many Christians and non-Christians alike find the positions I take extreme and unsupportable. I find them far less extreme and much more supportable than the bigoted positions most "mainstream" clergy take in regard to who the Christ was and what Christian ministry should be; however, I certainly can't claim that my viewpoints are shared by a majority of people.

I started Christ, The Gay Martyr with the understanding that I would probably be a solitary voice in the wilderness. That's why it's incredibly gratifying to find someone whose views on Christianity complement my own to such an extent. Jerry wanted to me to include this additional commentary here, so there'd be absolutely no question about where he's coming from as a theologian:

I refuse to let the perverters of the Gospel of Grace hijack "Christianity," and convert it over to their own twisted view of the world and of the Christian life. We are Christians, dammit! And the twisted freaks, no matter how large their number, are to never take that name away from us . . . I turn my back on most of the institutional "Church," but I'll never relinquish the label "Christian" because of haters and hatemongers who gravitate to "religion" in order to "justify" their prejudices and hateful acts in the name of God, or "because the Bible tells me so."

Well said, Jerry! Thank you. That, in a nutshell, is the primary message I hope to convey with this blog of mine. Shame on those who dare call themselves ministers of the Gospel and who wickedly use Scripture to justify prejudice! The only words that should ever come before or after the phrase because the Bible tells me so are Jesus loves me, this I know. We learn that much as children! What in Hell are these Conservative Bible colleges teaching that has made so many of their graduates forget?

Visit Jerry Maneker's "Christian LGBT Rights" website: