This is a must read for any LGBT Christian who attends a homophobic church and returns weekly to endure the abuse because they feel like they have no choice. Their is an alternative.
taken from radicallyinclusive.com
A few days ago I was copied on an e-mail from an alleged member of Greater Mt. Calvary Holy Church in Maryland, pastored by Bishop Alfred Owens. The e-mail identified by name those persons thought to be Same Gender Loving, and gave great detail as to their attendance at parties, where they lived and with whom, misc other sexual proclivities and where they served in the ministry. The e-mail requested that these individuals be taken down from their ministry jobs. Additional results of the included Pastor Owens convening a meeting of those named in the e-mail and polling them to determine who among them were seeking help to be free from a SGL “lifestyle”. There have been numerous follow-up emails from folks named in the original e-mail that are defensive, threatening and angry. Several have decided to leave the church after many years of faithful membership
What a tragedy, but the reality facing Mt. Calvary is not unusual. It is indicative of a psychosis that permeates many churches with regard to the presence and involvement of SGL people, who have great love for God and for their church communities.
Psychosis defined…SGL people who contribute to their own oppression by continuing to support churches that oppress them and are complicit in structures that support homophobia, homohatred, hetero-privilege and encourage internalized homophobia (Similar to battered spouse syndrome) and church leaders that seek to define themselves as ‘straight’ at the expense of their SGL parishioners by publicly dehumanizing them.
Why? Many SGL people have a need for big church and anonymity and a need to identify with perceived success (mega-church). Other causes include their support for traditional church leadership (male pastor and pastor’s wife), pageantry, benefit of assumed heterosexuality or ambiguous sexuality, family commitments/loyalty and opportunity to hide ones ‘other’ life. For those who benefit financially from the church, secrecy seems to be an economic imperative. Public ridicule of SGL people may often be an effort to hide the reality of the presence of SGL people.
Results…This sickness has resulted in the destruction of self-esteem, open vicious attack against the personhood of countless individuals and their families and has produced self inflicted theological and physical violence, duplicity and inauthentic leadership (some leaders are themselves SGL and or bi-sexual), loss of valuable members, lack of focus on other vital justice issues and ministry destruction. This does not reflect the ministry of Jesus that welcomed and affirmed all. This psychosis also causes destructive behaviors amplified by secrecy and resulting in irresponsible sexual behaviors, and an inability to form and sustain lasting healthy authentic relationships.
Are there more churches like Mt. Calvary? Certainly! There are numerous examples of churches disproportionately populated by SGL sisters and brothers, who are not only bereft of affirmation, but who live in an atmosphere of continual debasement, degradation and fear of exposure which leads to suicide, disenfranchisement from the church, addictions and other self-destructive behaviors. The light that is being cast on this disparity is no accident…it is the active will of God, which must be acknowledged and embraced.
This oppression is not making SGL people straight. It is just driving SGL people further underground. The real questions are, what actions are necessary to move churches beyond toleration to acceptance and affirmation and eventually to celebration of the SGL community and their extraordinary contributions to the Christian Community? What is the alterative for those who cannot wait for change to occur? What is the responsibility of SGL people to participate in their own freedom?
I would suggest the following as action items for SGL people and their allies to consider and use to frame discussions regarding relationship and involvement in churches and faith-based communities.
Faithful support for affirming churches and faith-based organizations
Education regarding a theology of full inclusion of SGL persons in the life of the church
Active involvement in inclusive theological education of family and friends
Active involvement in inclusive theological education of churches and faith communities
Education regarding Human Sexuality
Commitment to ethical behaviors that include honesty, authenticity and truth telling
Confrontation when misinformation, destructive comments, oppressive theology or dehumanization occurs
It is time to move beyond avoidance and to move toward the dialogue necessary to heal this painful breach. We would welcome those who are ready to move into God’s Bright Tomorrow, as evidenced by the Extravagant Grace, and Radical inclusivity of Jesus Christ to join us in conversation at The Fellowship.
Pax Christi! (Peace in Christ),
Rev. Dr. Yvette A. Flunder
Presiding Bishop, The Fellowship
Rev. Dr. Wyatt I Greenlee
Episcopal Assistant, The Fellowship