Covenant College censored my alumni update

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? -Micah 6:8, KJV When I was asked at the start of last spring semester whether I would be interested in assisting on research for an amicus brief in the Prop 8 and DOMA cases set to be argued before the Supreme Court later that spring, I jumped at the chance. Not only is it something that I’m personally and professionally proud of, as having the opportunity to play even a miniscule role in a major case is something that most people don’t get, it was something that I believe as a Christian was the right thing to do. Do justice. Love mercy. The brief I worked on dealt with the way that the laws negatively affect children raised by LGBT parents, and how those laws negatively affect LGBT youth, their sense of self and their ability to imagine a future for themselves. More specifically, I worked on a team with several other law students to coauthor a survey to capture the voices of LGBT youth and young adults, and our paper is cited in the amicus brief. The responses that poured in were heartbreaking. Kids sharing their stories of growing up and realizing they were different, and the fear and worry about whether their future relationships would be treated as legitimate by the government, feeling that they were lesser because of the law. Yet, in all that, hope that someday things might change. Kids daring to dream that there might be a future where they could build a life for themselves as equal citizens. I worked to provide justice for those kids. As you can see, my work on[…]

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13 Again

I feel like I just found a time machine and was transported two decades back in time. You may have seen that American Prospect came out with an article, “The Homeschool Apostates,” that chronicles some of the people who were hurt by the fundamentalist homeschooling world, and how homeschool graduates are pushing back. It’s a pretty long and important article and discusses Homeschoolers Anonymous, which I’m involved with. The article has gotten a lot of press and buzz on Twitter, including from Richard Dawkins (who I really don’t like for lots of reasons, but hey, he’s super famous) and Dan Savage (who I like much better than Dawkins). Plight of homeschooled children with religious wingnut parents: http://t.co/9FxSwfokuJ. Support group here: http://t.co/56Hp3X4v6B — Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) December 6, 2013 Terrific—and depressing—longread: children escaping from homeschooling families. Read: http://t.co/eXKMiiCcGs — Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) December 6, 2013 ICYMI: Compelling piece about kids abused and miseducated by “homeschooling” parents—and how they’re fighting back: http://t.co/XGyt5MizYT — Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) December 7, 2013 That was cool and all, famous people tweeting about something I’m involved with, but what really meant something was seeing that Phil Vischer, creator of Veggie Tales (and voice of Larry the Cucumber), the videos that every evangelical kid of a certain age watched, tweeted the article.  This story about extremes in Christian parenting/homeschooling is frightening, but worth reading. http://t.co/9ryKpAljdk — Phil Vischer (@philvischer) December 7, 2013 And then Lisa “Junior Asparagus” Vischer tweeted about it too. Good homeschooling rocks! But this disturbing article/data is good motivation to avoid unhealthy extremes… http://t.co/40ZqyIfwvx — Lisa Vischer (@LisaVischer) December 7, 2013 It’s silly, but for all of the press and the attention from famous people like Dawkins and Savage, what feels like it really matters is that the Veggie Tales people read the article and[…]

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“Not all Christians are like that”, or, why I support the NALT Project

When I first saw about the launch of the NALT Christians Project, my reaction was, “Good, finally somebody telling people to put up or shut up when they use the "not all Christians are like that” line.“ I suppose I should have expected controversy, people don’t like being told that their favorite platitude isn’t particularly useful or helpful. I didn’t, however, expect so many straight Christian progressives absolutely losing it, and in the process deciding that they’re the ones who get to speak for all LGBT people. The same straight Christian progressives who get mad when men deign to speak for women have demonstrated no problem speaking for all LGBT people.  And so, since I’ve already written a piece to non-affirming Christians, this piece is dedicated to the straight Christian progressives who are too busy chiming in to actually listen. Dear straight progressive Christians, this isn’t about you. Not really. Sure, Dan Savage and John Shore are asking you to speak up in support of LGBT rights, but it’s not really about you. Instead of getting your feelings hurt that they aren’t doing it the way you want, you need to stop and listen to the voices of LGBT people. Now, I recognize that not every LGBT person agrees, we’re not a monolithic hive mind or anything, but if you’re busy dragging out your LGBT friends who agree with you and refusing to listen to anybody else, you aren’t really listening. You’re not seeing your friend as a person, you’re seeing them as a cudgel you can use to attack those who disagree with you. That’s a problem.  Picking and choosing who to listen to based on whether they agree with you and then using them as tools isn’t a good way to be a supporter. It’s divisive and it refuses[…]

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Why I can’t even get mad about The Gospel Coalition’s gay marriage and “gag reflex” piece

The Gospel Coalition, a site whose relevance to the Christian community and legitimacy as a voice for Christianity and the Gospel should already be called into doubt by their continued association with the abuse-covering-up C.J. Mahaney of Sovereign Grace Ministries, ran a piece by Thabiti Anyabwile titled The Importance of Your Gag Reflex When Discussing Homosexuality and “Gay Marriage”. It’s a post that has generated quite a bit of well-deserved outrage in progressive Christian circles, and for good reason as it is a truly awful piece of writing. The following quote is just a sample of the sort of things that are in the piece, though to avoid activating your own gag reflex, I shan’t quote any of the worst bits, though if you’re feeling sensitive to hateful writing you should probably stop reading here. I’ve put the rest below the jump so you can just skip past this post. Reject the unbiblical definition of love. I said, though it was very unpopular, homosexual marriage could not properly be called “love.” You could choke on the room’s tension. “How could I say such a thing?” I pointed out that the Bible teaches plainly that “love does not rejoice in wrongdoing” (1 Cor. 13). That the Bible also teaches that homosexual behavior was wrongdoing or sin. Consequently, though strong emotions and affections are involved, we cannot properly call it “love.” Love does no harm, and homosexuality clearly harms everyone involved.  If you think you can stomach it, here’s the full piece. Trigger warnings and all that for those who are feeling particularly vulnerable to this sort of hateful language wrapped in christianese. As terrible as the piece is, I’m not even mad. Saddened for the people who read it and internalize the message, saddened for the LGBT people whose unaccepting family reads it and uses[…]

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Millennials and the church, or, How evangelicals turned me into a cynic

It seems that everyone these days is talking about millennials leaving the church. CNN even gave Rachel Held Evans valuable front page real estate to write about it. Since everyone else is writing about it, I figure I might as well add my two cents, especially because I feel like nobody’s actually asking those of us who have left or are leaving the evangelical world. This is my story. Ahh, but Kathryn, you say, isn’t everyone saying that millennials are leaving the church because of how evangelicals treat LGBT people? Aren’t you just another example of that? Here’s the thing though. While that may be the cherry on top of the icing on the cake, it’s a far cry from having anything to do with what turned me into a cynic.  I’m a cynic about American evangelicalism. I might as well just say it. I don’t trust evangelical leaders and if I see you on TV or find your books in giant stacks in the front of Barnes and Noble, I’m going to automatically be on alert. I have a hard time shutting off the cynicism and distrust when I’m in an evangelical church. To be blunt, I can’t step into an evangelical church without my bullshit meter going on high alert. I think the breaking point for me was when I was living in Vietnam. The South African interim pastor at the international church sent out an email to the church mailing list that said that the election of Barack Obama was the WORST THING EVAR and we should all pray for American Christians because they would soon be facing persecution. There was also something about how the California state supreme court challenge to Prop 8 was the WORST THING EVAR and proof of the coming persecution because people[…]

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More on Christian culture and consent

For those of you who are unfamiliar with how Tumblr, the blogging platform I use, works, one of the big features is the ability for reblog others’ posts and add your comments to the post. One blogger who reblogged my post added a lengthy comment that I think deserves further discussion.  *** This blogger suggested that discussion of consent needs to be motivated by something outside of the individual, and suggested that the motivation should be doing what Jesus wants. Now, while I do not in any way disagree that faith can definitely play a role in the discussion, if the only reason for making sure that the other party is giving full consent is because to do otherwise makes Baby Jesus cry, then if you remove faith from the discussion you have no framework for ethical sexual behavior. If consent is only about what Jesus wants, then what about those who don’t believe?  It’s still just a system based on following rules. In this case, the blogger suggests that since, if you’re a Christian it means Christ lives within you, if you have sex outside of marriage–sex that in a traditional Christian framework is going against what God wants–then you are, “raping Jesus.” See, Jesus lives within you, so what you’re doing with your body isn’t just your body, it’s like doing it to Jesus, and since Jesus doesn’t want you to have sex outside of marriage, then it’s like raping him. Now, aside from the fact that this isn’t an entirely scriptural interpretation–the Bible teaches that our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, which is rather different than an interpretation that brings to my mind the image of Jesus wearing people like a skin suit–it once again shifts the discussion away from the right of each[…]

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So this is how the religious right tosses out people who are no longer useful

World Magazine today posted Andree Seu Peterson’s column, “Remember the Signs,” from their upcoming July 26th issue. The piece is about Exodus International disbanding and presents the Gay Christian Network as the enemy (remember, in christianese, “the enemy” means “satan”) leading Alan Chambers away from the truth. Oh, yeah, and she pretty much says that Alan Chambers is also a tool of satan and a heretic now too. It doesn’t matter that he still believes basically the same thing that World does, their one time “Daniel of the Year” decides to be nicer about it and stop being used as a tool of anti-gay religious right politics and they turn on him. This was going to be a snarky and sarcastic rant like my post about Marvin Olasky’s persecution complex DOMA scare piece was, but I think instead I’m going to to talk about how Christian culture uses people and then discards them like so much yesterday’s garbage when they’re no longer useful to the agenda. Before I get to that though, I need to point out that Peterson shapes her narrative around a story from C.S. Lewis’ children’s novel, The Silver Chair. It’s one of the Narnia books, and in it Eustace Scrub and Jill Pole are taken away from their horrible boarding school and brought to Narnia, where they’re sent off on an adventure to rescue the now King Caspian’s son, Prince Rilian, who has gone missing. It’s the Narnia book that scared the crap out of me when I was five, and it’s now probably my favorite–a grand adventure across foreign lands with strange giants to rescue a bewitched prince. It’s also probably the story that’s closest to Lewis’ goal of writing a fairy tale and not allegory. In the story, Aslan gives Jill and Eustace four signs to[…]

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Brokenness

I get it now. I think I finally get it. For the longest time, I haven’t been able to understand why it is that when I try to explain to people within the church that it’s incredibly harmful to gay kids to grow up in a church world that tells them that they’re fundamentally broken, the only response I get is bafflement at why I’d think that telling kids they’re broken is a problem. I mean, it seems obvious to me. Teaching kids that they’re broken and repeating it so often that they internalize the message is a bad thing, why would anyone think it’s no big deal?  I finally figured it out. It’s because so much of the evangelical world, or at least the reformed part of the evangelical world, teaches every child that they’re broken. They don’t see why it’s bad to tell gay kids that they’re broken because they believe that about themselves too. They’ve internalized the brokenness message to the point that it’s normal. A few weeks ago, Stephanie Drury at Stuff Christian Culture Likes posted the following tweet from a reformed pastor on the SCCL Facebook page. Teach your children they are broken. Deeply broken. — Steve McCoy (@stevekmccoy) July 1, 2013 That tweet has prompted an outpouring of stories from people who have been incredibly wounded by growing up hearing that message of brokenness. I thought I’d quote from a few of those stories, though you really should go read the full pieces for yourself because they show just how much that message has messed with people’s heads in profound ways. This is because when you teach a child they are unworthy and somehow intrinsically broken/flawed/less-than, you set them up for disaster–not just in their relationship to God but in their relationships with people.  Indeed, my biggest[…]

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Let’s Talk About Tim Tebow for a Minute

I don’t know Tim Tebow, never met the guy, though from what I’ve heard from people who knew him at UF, he’s a genuinely good guy. He’s definitely someone I’d rather have representing the University of Florida than some of the other famous alumni. What I can say for certain though, is that Tim Tebow is no saint. Wait, wait, before you get the angry mob with pitchforks and torches to come after me, hear me out. Tim Tebow is no saint because nobody is. We’re all flawed human beings trying to figure out how to live our lives, and nobody is perfect. Nobody can be perfect. Even if Tebow is the nicest guy to ever walk the planet other than Jesus himself, he’s still not perfect. Perfection is impossible. Not only that, but we don’t all agree on what “perfect" even is. No one can possibly keep everyone happy.  I’ve alluded from time to time about the pressure that comes from being put on a pedestal in the homeschool world. Being a homeschool poster child who everyone in your homeschool community looks up to as an example isn’t exactly what I would call fun. It’s something I hated as a kid, and something that I couldn’t figure out how to escape. I eventually managed to gracefully get down off the pedestal by going away to college and drifting away from the homeschooling world. Even after having been away from that community for as long as I was though, one of the nagging things in the back of my head as I was mentally preparing myself to come out was the knowledge that there was a non-zero chance that as the story made its way through the homeschool grapevine, people would talk about me in hushed tones and wonder what[…]

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The one thing I can’t write about

For a time during my pre-teen and teen years, I was involved with Operation Rescue. Been there, done that, have the t-shirts (t-shirts I can’t bring myself to throw away). I’ve tried time and again over the years to sit down and write about that time in my life and I can’t do it. Not that there aren’t pages of text in “draft" folders of long-abandoned blogs, and various files on my computer, but none of it ever seems right.  How do you even begin to discuss a very influential time in your life when it’s something that so few people have lived through and that was, to be honest, more than a little weird? How do you explain just how surreal it was to be at the state capital lobbying with Equality Florida when the last time you were there wandering those halls was as a kid who was there to play a role as the “poor little innocent kid who will be made a criminal if you pass this abortion clinic protest buffer zone law"? That the memory from your trip as a kid that came flooding back was of learning, on the way home, that just before you went in front of microphones and television cameras doing the innocent kid act and proclaiming the movement’s commitment to non-violence, the movement had turned deadly. How you felt learning that the Operation Rescue spokeswoman had already gotten word of what had happened in Pensacola but sent you out in front of cameras anyway, even though your insistence that the movement was non-violent was now a lie. How is anyone who hasn’t lived that ever really going to understand what it’s like? Back then I was so sure about everything, it was all so simple and cut and dried. I[…]

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