The Nashville Statement and the Moral Bankruptcy of Evangelicalism

I’m not going to dignify the CBMW’s Nashville Statement with any kind of point by point response, the whole thing is a tiresome rehash of what evangelicals have been saying about LGBT people for years. I already did a point by point breakdown of the SBC’s anti-trans resolution a few years ago, it basically covers the same things I would say here, so consider that my response to the statement itself. What I’d rather talk about is what evangelicals aren’t issuing joint statements condemning, namely, white nationalism. Their silence in the face of the rising tide of fascism and white supremacy in this country is deafening.

Read more

This Week in Imaginary Persecution: Chris Pratt and Women’s World Cup edition

Did you hear about how Chris Pratt is totes persecuted for being a Christian and liberals are literally blackballing him for talking about his faith? We know it’s true because Facebook told us so and random clickbait from rightwing websites never lies. I mean, he’s so persecuted that his blockbuster summer popcorn franchise only made half a billion dollars opening weekend. And in the unfairness of it all, he just signed on to costar with Jennifer Lawrence in a big budget sci-fi space opera, because what choice of films does he have, being blackballed by Hollywood and everything? Without this dreadful persecution, he’d be the biggest, most beloved action-star-of-the-moment on both Earth and Mars, but because everyone hates Christians he’s going to have to settle for being loved by just earthlings. The tragedy of it all. Plus, I thought we were supposed to hate Jurassic Park because EVILution! Also taking a bold stand for their faith in the face of risking persecution from the homogheys are the professing Christians on the USWNT at the World Cup. Or at least that’s what WORLD Magazine would like us to infer: At least four professing Christians join hands on the current team, including Amy Rodriguez and Heather O’Reilly, as the U.S. team tries to get back to the World Cup Final July 5, where the United States women lost to Japan in 2011. In World Cup defeat or gold medal glory, “when I walk away my identity is still the same,” Holiday told Fellowship of Christian Athletes. “I’m still a follower of Jesus Christ.” In contrast, team leaders Megan Rapinoe and Abby Wambach and coach Jill Ellis all identify as lesbians. A national team, of necessity, creates a functional pluralism with mutual respect and practical sacrificial love as teammates work toward a common[…]

Read more

Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday is my favorite service of Holy Week, I think because it serves as a kind of centering point in the story. There’s an inevitability about Good Friday. The wheels are in motion, the point of no return has passed. After Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, the story unfolds inexorably towards the Cross.  Maundy Thursday is the tipping point. Jesus could have bailed, scurried out of Jerusalem under the cover of darkness after Judas left the Passover meal, but he didn’t. Instead he went willingly to the garden, to the point of no return, to sacrifice and to die so that we might live. Jesus didn’t have to die, but he chose to be rejected and forsaken so that we didn’t have to be.  This is the day when we remember that choice, remember that it wasn’t an inevitability, but Jesus loved us so much that he took the path that led to the cross and our salvation. We’ve been in the middle of a culture war skirmish this week, and what better time than this to be reminded of what is at the heart of the gospel. The willing sacrifice so that we could live. Everything else flows from that sacrifice. Psalm 22  1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? 2 O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. 3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. 4 Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. 5 They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded. 6 But I am[…]

Read more

How many more dead kids?

Leelah Alcorn was 17 years old when she concluded that life was never going to get better for her. Before she reached the point that she ended her life, Leelah endured years of spiritual abuse from her parents and from Christian counselors. Her parents eventually pulled her out of school to homeschool, keeping her isolated from her friends and support system by taking away her phone and laptop for months on end. Here are some of her own words describing what she endured: “When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness. After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was. I immediately told my mom, and she reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn’t make mistakes, that I am wrong. If you are reading this, parents, please don’t tell this to your kids. Even if you are Christian or are against transgender people don’t ever say that to someone, especially your kid. That won’t do anything but make them hate them self. That’s exactly what it did to me. My mom started taking me to a therapist, but would only take me to christian therapists, (who were all very biased) so I never actually got the therapy I needed to cure me of my depression. I only got more christians telling me that I was selfish and wrong and that I should look to God for help. When I was 16 I realized that my parents would never come around, and that I would have to wait until I was 18 to start any sort of transitioning treatment, which absolutely broke my heart. The longer you wait, the harder it is to transition. I felt hopeless, that I was just going[…]

Read more

Dark day: The Southern Baptist Convention officially condemns trans people

The Southern Baptist Convention managed to double down on their awfulness. The anti-trans resolution they passed today is in direct contradiction with scripture. The word “eunuch” as used in the near east did not just refer to people who were castrated, but also to what Jesus referred to as “born eunuchs,” those who occupied a space outside of the gender binary. Many of those individuals were what we would understand today to be transgender. The SBC today has condemned that which Jesus specifically mentioned approvingly. Not only that, the very first Gentile convert was the Ethiopian eunuch, and while scripture does not distinguish what category he fell into, it cannot be overemphasized that scripture makes it clear that this person, who existed outside the gender binary that the SBC has chosen to so rigidly enforce, was blessed by God to be the first Gentile ushered into the kingdom. While I will acknowledge that the gay thing is open to theological debate, the trans issue is quite clear when you have a basic knowledge of the historical context. The SBC has put their own bigotry ahead of the very words of Christ himself. I weep for our trans brothers and sisters who have been rejected today. 

Read more

One final thing about the World Vision fiasco

I wasn’t going to say anything else about the World Vision thing. I don’t have any more energy. I’m tired of feeling. I’m tired of the hurt, the anger, I’m tired of caring.  There’s one more thing I have to say. I’m troubled with how some of the people who are critical of World Vision’s reversal are dehumanizing the poor. Well, dehumanizing the poor and dehumanizing gay people, to be precise. It’s as if the poor should be content with second best. They’re starving after all, why not send some gay people to help them? The religious right is being terrible because they won’t even let the homos help people who are starving.  It’s the human equivalent of sending the poor your raggedy t-shirts that you would have cut into rags to wash your car. Not even sending them the nice new t-shirts from the losing Super Bowl team, sending them your worst and expecting them to be content with rags, because after all, they’re poor, they should be happy with any scrap they get. The poor shouldn’t have to be content with second best. Gay people aren’t second best. People who are poor deserve to have the people with the best skills and talents working with them in their communities to help empower them. To give them the tools they need to empower themselves to make change. Not some scraps because if they’re starving they should be happy with anything. Some of those people who have the skills and talents to empower people to escape poverty are gay. They aren’t the second best scraps to send to people who should be content with whatever we give them. They’re the ones who are best equipped with the tools to help people overcome the structural barriers that are holding them back.   We[…]

Read more

Franklin Graham wants you to think he cares about child exploitation

Franklin Graham wants you to think he cares about child exploitation He doesn’t. Franklin Graham is busy pretending he cares about child exploitation and that’s why he doesn’t want to let gay people adopt. He thinks gay people recruit children. Aside from pointing out the utter absurdity of this idea, I have one thing to say to Franklin Graham. Speak out against the abuse in the church. If you really care about children being harmed, then use your voice and your famous name to do something about the abuse and exploitation of children in evangelical and fundamentalist churches and institutions. Speak out against the way churches protect child molesters while shaming their victims. Speak up for the children. Condemn the Bill Gothards, the Doug Phillipses, the Sovereign Grace Ministries, the Christian colleges that refuse to do anything about sexual harassment and assault and punish the victims. Speak against the system that enables the abuse and looks the other way when it happens. Speak out. Speak against the child abuse. Against the Pearls, the Ezzos, the parenting “experts” who tell parents that the way to create godly children is to beat them into submission. Speak out against the forces in the homeschool world who are fighting tooth and nail against any efforts to protect children from abuse and neglect. Franklin Graham, you need to get your house in order. Instead of cozying up to the human rights-abusing quasi-dictator that is Vladimir Putin, just because he hates gay people as much as you do, take some of that effort and do something about the very serious and very real abuse problem in the church. And as for me? I’m too busy trying to do what you won’t do, working hard to keep any more children from being beaten or starved to death[…]

Read more

Think of the children?

UPDATE: As of this afternoon, World Vision caved to their critics. I don’t blame them, I blame the people who forced them into the position where they had to choose between their projects continuing and keeping their policy change. What happened is shameful and tarnishes the name of Christ. I can’t emphasize just how unbelievably saddened I am about this turn of events and how the evangelical world demonstrated their willingness to use children, poor children, as leverage. It’s a dark day. My point below still stands. 31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the[…]

Read more

Vulnerability

I like to pretend that things don’t bother me, that I’m tough and sarcastic and let things roll off my back, but that’s not really true. I’m not sure how I didn’t know this already, but I discovered tonight that the inaptly named Alliance Defending Freedom helped draft Arizona’s bill, that, unless it is vetoed, will legalize discrimination against LGBT people in the name of religious freedom. There’s nothing in their arguments for the bill that I haven’t heard before. Heck, I heard ADF attorney (and once upon a time HSLDA staff attorney and former faculty member at Bill Gothard’s fake law school) Jordan Lorence make those same arguments when the Federalist Society brought him to speak at UF. In a staggering display of bad theology, in their minds discrimination is what god would want and so when they fight to usher in Jim Crow 2.0, they’re really standing up for religious freedom. I can’t even capitalize the word “god” in that because the god they worship may be a lot of things, but it’s not the one, true God. It’s a twisted perversion of the Gospel that gives a middle finger to everything Christ said and did while He was on this earth. That’s not why I’m sitting here wanting to cry though. On their own, hateful organizations doing hateful things make me angry; I don’t get emotional over the shenanigans at Family Research Council or NOM, I get mad. Alliance Defending Freedom is different. See, they’ve got this program called the “Blackstone Legal Fellowship” designed to train the next generation of lawyers. It’s a program that more than a few of my friends have done or will be doing. I’m probably a coward, for everything I’ve said and done elsewhere, I haven’t ever brought it up. I don’t[…]

Read more

On belief

It was a confidence that got you byWhen you know you believed it, but you didn’t know whyNo one imagines it will come to thisBut it gets so hard when people don’t want to listen Shivering with doubts that you left unattendedSo you toss away the cloak that you should have mendedDon’t you know by now why the chosen are few?It’s harder to believe than not to –Steve Taylor, “Harder to Believe Than Not To” I’ve written before about how I believe even though sometimes it seems that it would be easier to just toss out my faith and stop caring. Faith is hard. The very idea that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen speaks to the intangible at the heart of the discussion.  Belief is hard, there’s always going to be doubts and questions, and anyone who says that they do not doubt is lying. All of the apologetics books in the world aren’t going to erase doubt because faith is about more than logic. You can’t logic your way into making yourself or anyone else believe in God, the supernatural, the divine, or anything outside of themselves and the physical world. That’s why when Tony Jones attempted to explain why he’s still a Christian despite his doubts, he failed miserably. Aside from the fact that arguing that God must exist because 7 billion people can’t be wrong does nothing to prove that the supernatural entity is the God of the Bible, it doesn’t actually prove anything. It’s like arguing that McDonald’s must be good because billions of people eat it. Hemant Mehta is right, it may possibly be the worst argument anyone has made for belief in God.  Humanity has been wrong about a lot of things. Wildly wrong. So[…]

Read more