They don’t let everyone in

They don’t let everyone in

: The UCC commercial couldn’t be more timely:

PUGHTOWN, Pennsylvania (Reuters) – A lesbian Methodist minister was defrocked on Thursday after being found guilty by an ecclesiastical court of violating a church law that bars its clergy from being practicing homosexuals.

  • Personally, I don’t see the problem. A religion can believe what they want to believe. If they feel that the dictates from God say that homosexuality is immoral – then it’s immoral. I find it curious that people try to make religions believe things other than their core beliefs. If you are homosexual and want to find a church that supports that, fine, go find one. There are many churches out there that do. They aren’t wrong for doing so if their belief system supports that.
    Years ago I was approached by someone asking me to sign a petition to try and make the Catholic church do something – I don’t even remember what now. I didn’t sign it. I asked the individual if they believed the Pope spoke for God or was at least his representative on earth. The activist said she did. Then I asked her if by running this petition she was in essence trying to tell God what he should let them believe. She was unable to give me a satisfactory answer other than something to the effect of, “Well, the rest of the world…blah, blah, blah.”
    Religion isn’t government. You could make an argument that it isn’t even culture. Religion is a unique thing and I find it increasingly curious that people think that religions should change to fit the dictates of the believers.
    If you don’t believe in what they have to say, then you obviously don’t agree with the religion and it’s time to find another one that you do agree with.
    Now, whether or not you believe that a particular religion contains absolute truth or not, that’s a completely differnt argument.

  • I find it increasingly curious that people think that religions should change to fit the dictates of the believers.
    Wouldn’t that be the unbelievers – since those who don’t believe its precepts are trying to change it to fit their precepts?

  • Mike

    Yawn. What’s the big deal here? A religion, based on certain beliefs, is trying to kick out a clergy member who doesn’t believe in them. Why is this so wrong? Would it be wrong for this church to kick out a clergyman who was worshipping Satan? No.
    This is another non-story. Like Brett mentions above, the church does not have to change its precepts to fit the beliefs of others.

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  • OK, time for a therapeutic rant:
    Egads. Who cares if someone is gay or not? Different people are attracted to different types of people. As long as everyone is of an age of consent, what is the big deal? Don’t we have better things to worry about? I really do not see what homophobes are so frightened of. A religious organization can maintain any theological position it wants. And if someone who is a member of a religious organization and wants to change the ideological direction of that organization, more power to them. No religion stays static over time. Religion is made by people, it changes over time, people are the agents that change it. So if some folks want to take organized religions into a more tolerant direction, I applaud them. And if they can’t make change happen from within, there is a venerable tradition of splitting off and forming new religious denominations. OK, I feel better after that little rant. Thanks for providing the space for my diatribe Jeff.

  • Rev. Stroud has a website with more info about her case.
    I found it via UCC seminarian Chuck Currie‘s blog where he writes about the case as well as the UCC ad campaign.

  • Bill

    “Personally, I don’t see the problem. A religion can believe what they want to believe. If they feel that the dictates from God say that homosexuality is immoral – then it’s immoral.”
    The problem is that the position you advocate is bigoted. And anyone who believes in it and doesn’t speak out against it is a bigot. They are certainly well within their rights as a religion to believe and espouse a bigoted position, just like the KKK is well within their rights to believe there is something inherently wrong with blacks and Jewish people. That doesn’t make them any less of bigots, and speaking out against it is something that every one of is proud to do (at least since the ’60s). Which side of history do you want to be on, Jared? Those who supported separate but equal in the ’50s or those who were speaking out against bigotry?

  • J.R.

    Bill you are full of crap. Just because you don’t want homosexuals in your church does not make you a bigot. If that was the case, everyone who believed in Christianity, Judiasm, Islam, and etc. would be bigots. And you have the right NOT to speak out against this sort of thing, that is freedom, and remaining silent especially doesn’t make you bigoted.
    Just because you think it bigoted not to accept homosexuals everywhere does not make it so, this isn’t the world according to Bill. Any church is well within their right to exclude anyone based on their beliefs, especially those teaching that religion.
    You don’t have the right to join any group/religion/club you want in this country. If you’re not accepted somewhere, go somewhere else.

  • Bill, so, what you’re advocating is that every religion everywhere should have the same belief structure as you, cause if we don’t, well, by golly, we’re biggots.
    What you’re selling is the end of religion in general, which, guess what, is bigotry towards religion.
    Religion is a belief structure, and, hence a moral structure that goes along with it. Morality, as well as religion, is a personal thing. If it speaks to you as an individual then you embrace it. By embracing a religion that says that homosexuality is immoral does not make you a bigot. What it does is make homosexuality immoral to you personally. Any other persons morality is their choice. I don’t ask them to accept my morality. I don’t ask them to agree with my morality. I only expect others will allow me to live according to my moral dictates as I allow them to live theirs.
    “Religions” like the KKK actively infringe on the rights of others. Bigotry in any form seeks actively to restrict the rights of others to live as they see fit. Bigotry is all about keeping someone else from enjoying an equal footing with those who would be the surpressors.
    Most religions do not actively curtail the rights of others. And don’t try to argue that preaching or proselyting is actively infringing on anyone’s rights. We can’t force you to believe, we can only ask. Asking doesn’t take anyone’s rights away. Preaching doesn’t take away anyone’s rights.
    But really – I don’t know why I bother with all of this. If you’re able to see religion as nothing but a belief structure to promote bigotry, well, then I’m not sure anything I can say will convince you otherwise.

  • I see the “go forth, and sin no more” commandment has become d

  • Bill

    Jared and J.R. missed the point of my post, so let me clarify. As I said, religions are perfectly within their rights to believe that homosexuality is immoral. But that isn’t to say that their belief is correct or good or Christian at all. Just because your religion believes something doesn’t mean it’s a moral stance and it doesn’t make you any less of a bigot to stand behind your religion’s teachings and promote the intolerance that they are promoting. Heck, I believe most everything my church teaches, but on this issue, I realize that my church is wrong, and I don’t let their opinion on the morality of someone’s love for another human being turn me into a bigot. Hide behind your church all you want, gentlemen, but your intolerance isn’t going to help you get into Heaven.
    And if you think most organized religions’ stance on homosexuals is not harming anyone, please take just a second to consider what young gay churchgoers must feel when they are being preached to that the love that they feel is a sin. I’m sure that’s what God intended his religions to become, bastions of intolerance.

  • J.R.

    Bill, again you are wrong, plain and simple. To believe in your church’s teachings about homosexuality being wrong is not bigotry. If a young gay person is listening to someone tell them that what they are doing is wrong, than that person can get up and leave the church and go somewhere else where they feel more comfortable. I sit and listen to my priest talk about sins I have committed, about things I do wrong, and then I ask for forgiveness and try and change. It’s called adhering to a set of moral principles, and no one is expected to be perfect. But I don’t expect the church to change what they consider a sin because it would make me feel more comfortable.
    Religious beliefs are not subject to change based on the convention wisdom of some politically correct, over-sensitive people (I would include you in that category). I didn’t misunderstand your post, in fact, you second post was just more of the same.

  • Bill

    “To believe in your church’s teachings about homosexuality being wrong” is the EXACT definition of bigotry.
    From Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, (c) 1998:
    “Bigot”: A person who regards his own faith and views in matters of religion as unquestionably right, and any belief or opinion opposed to or differing from them as unreasonable or wicked. In an extended sense, a person who is intolerant of opinions which conflict with his own, as in politics or morals; one obstinately and blindly devoted to his own church, party, belief, or opinion.
    Your belief that homosexual individuals are immoral is a bigoted position, plain and simple. The fact that you are just following your religion’s teachings does not absolve you of that. I’m not saying you’re evil or immoral or not-PC enough. Just that your stance on this issue is bigoted. Accept it for what it is, and if you can’t make peace with that, maybe you should examine that belief in a little more detail.

  • Bill –
    Christianity, and Judaism for that matter, is based in large part on the adherents of those faiths (regardless of their sect, or denomination) belief in the veracity of the Bible (one of human culture’s oldest extant continuously published books).
    To the faithful, God literally speaks through words of the books of the Bible …to both Jews and Christians (the former do not accept the NT, of course; nor do Jews accept Christians as a subset of Judaism, through the rabbinic writings of Paul of Tarsus).
    In the interests of your enlightenment, the core scriptures dealing with homosexuality from the Christian perspective are found in Romans 1:18-32 (quotation from the New American Standard Bible):

    18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
    19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
    20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
    21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
    22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
    23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
    24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.
    25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
    26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,
    27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
    28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,
    29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips,
    30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,
    31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;
    32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

    Now. Your point is that anyone who believes in the truth of these scriptures (in particular) is a “bigot” towards homosexuals, correct?
    To rephrase the question: isn’t it consistent that, by your logic, and by the Webster’s definition that you provide, that Christians who accept the scriptures are perforce bigots?
    …and too, doesn’t it also follow that the Bible is in essence itself the source of Christian bigotry?
    Now, since you apparently hold yourself to the view – as you’ve so eloquently expressed in the postings of your argument – that Christians are by definition bigots, and the the Bible is the source of Christian bigotry …what light should we shine on your “faith” or “belief” or “viewpoint” or “worldview” that Christians are bigots?
    Shouldn’t we all be led to conclude that – by definition (as originally provided by you) – you yourself are a bigot?
    To paraphrase you (in light of the excellent quotation from Webster’s):

    Bill’s belief that Christian individuals are bigots is itself a bigoted position, plain and simple. The fact that Bill is just following his viewpoint does not absolve him of that. I’m not saying Bill is evil or immoral or not-PC enough. Just that Bill’s stance on this issue is bigoted. Accept it for what it is Bill, and if you can’t make peace with that, maybe you should examine that viewpoint in a little more detail.

    Bill? Unlike my usual vituperative and cynically caustic posting to cretins like you, I was purposefully being kind in my response to your little piece of distorted reality, wherein you’ve expressed your blatant unreasoning hatred to Christianity (and, I would suspect, “religion” of any sort – as you define it – in your warped and twisted worldview).
    I won’t promise to be nearly so kind in any further responses, should I maintain my interest enough to be motivated to again respond to your inevitably puerile diatribe against one of human culture’s greatest historical forces to moral legitimacy.
    And the relevant focus of the Christian discussion of the Methodists, Billy-Bob, is homosexuality, not homosexuals. AND whether an authority figure – a pastor – can continue in what is apparently an unrepentant practice of sin, and still have the force of that authority (there is a scriptural answer to that question, as there usually is).
    And. Just FYI. Within Christian Biblical doctrine, homosexuality is – by Biblical definition – a perversion. BUT homosexuals are merely your typical, garden-variety sinners (just like the rest of us) …which means that they are as subject to the Grace of God, and salvation through the Blood of the Lamb, as anyone else.
    Your sin, btw, is hypocrisy …and whether from the secular or ecclesiastic view, hypocrisy is that one-and-the-same sanctimonious sin that Phariseeists have always gravitated towards, like bees to honey (or, in your case, like flies to carrion).
    PS – I only decided to participate in the discussion at all because Andrea “Twisted Spinster” Harris put a hand in, and I linked to it from her blog.

  • J.R.

    Through your logic, morals and beliefs would cease to exist. Everyone would be free to do anything without fear of reprisal or of their God. Why even have churches if all their beliefs result in bigotry, at least according to you.
    You are a confused individual and from the sound of it, a bitter one.
    And Brandon, excellent post.

  • Bill

    Wow, you guys get REALLY defensive when you get called on for being bigots. I mean, if it’s something you believe so strongly in, do you really care that a significant portion of the country thinks you are bigoted? If you’re right, you’re right, the fact that I think you’re a bigot shouldn’t matter.
    And by the way, I am a Catholic and do not in any way think that religions are by their nature bigoted. Using the brain that God gave me (something that apparently is a little lacking in you, Brandon), I realize that saying homosexuality is immoral is a bigoted position, and choose to break from the Church in that belief, instead of hiding behind some completely outdated and misinterpreted Bible passages. Unless of course, you believe Timothy 2:11-12:
    “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission, and do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.” Which – actually – you probably do…

  • You’re not a Catholic, Bill. No, not really.

    • You may go to a Catholic church, but your understanding of Catholic doctrine is twisted by your [left-liberal] publically professed bigotry towards Christianity in general.
    • You hold the Bible in public disdain and ridicule, denying the basic foundation of what you claim to be your faith.
    • You smear those who revere the Bible as unsophisticated simpletons, and are unable to understand either their reverence for its truth, or their unwillingness to change the timeless unchanging and veritable Word of God.
    • You are unaware there is no logical continuity to your assertions; you lack the intellectual honesty or depth to grasp the palpable inconsistency of your pseudo-arguments.
    • In essence, you would “create” God in your image …and you would ask us to endorse and accept and express our chastened approval of your pseudo-intellectual, emacasculated creation as worthy of worship.

    Simply put, Bill, you are a Pharisee wearing a false Christianity as a garment …but you are blind to the revelation that what we see is merely an empty coat …or an empty creature.

  • Bill

    So if I have an opinion that goes against what is written in the Bible – say, I don’t know, that women should not be subservient to men – does that make me, what… a religious bigot? a sinner? what exactly? What if say, as a practicing Catholic who knows that the Bible was written by human beings, and believes, using my mind and my faith and my own relationship to God, that some passages should not be interpreted so literally that they would lead to the discrimination and, yes bigotry, toward an entire subset of the human population who did nothing to ask to be judged (as opposed to say, murderers)? Does that make me less religious than you, or somehow bigoted toward religion?
    I could not be more certain in my belief that God sees nothing wrong with homosexuality (or in women being equal to men). You could not be more certain in the opposite belief. You are hiding behind your religion to claim that you are not bigoted, which I have noted repeatedly, is no excuse, and is in fact, the definition of bigotry.
    Going back to the original post by Jared that started this discussion, “I find it curious that people try to make religions believe things other than their core beliefs.” Again, I have not, nor has anyone else on this post, asked any religion to change its “core beliefs”, despite Brandon’s defensive rantings. I just believe strongly that their beliefs in this instance are completely wrong and bigoted. You don’t have to change it, you can keep believing it, you can keep quoting the Bible, Brandon, and completely miss the point of my posts, but you aren’t changing my opinion.

  • What has become declasse apparently is Christ’s commandment of “love one other as I have loved you”. As the UCC ad says, Jesus didn’t turn people away. He accepted prostitutes, lepers, and all sorts of social outcasts. I think his commandment trumps some passage from an otherwise seldomly quoted book, Leviticus, which claims that a man lying with man as with woman is an abomination. In most Bibles, this passage is on the same page as the dietary rules, which say that we shouldn’t eat pork or shellfish. Also, it called for those people to be put to death. So, unless you think Matthew Shepard’s lynchers were righteous (I hope to God no one like that is responding to this thread), it might be time to realize that this ancient legal code was too harsh and arbitrary and that this was possibly one of the things that Jesus was trying to reform in his society. Jesus’ decision to heal people on the Sabbath in violation of Jewish law firmly established his contention that the formalities of religion take a backseat to love and compassion.