Lutherans and Letters

Ann Rodgers talks with a few local Lutherans about their reaction to the recent decision to accept partnered gay clergy.  The language of acceptance was carefully tailored to allow those who object to equality on the basis of their religious beliefs to be free to continue to associate their bigotry with the Lutheran denomination.

Wow.  That's not a very reconciling sentence is it?  Still, I'm tired of being tiptoed around by frightened Christians, so whatever.  The trends in Christianity as a system are less and less relevant to my day to day life.  The behaviors of Christian-identified individuals is much more relevant.  Most people that I know who identify as Christian are relatively cool people who can compartmentalize their regular attendance at Mass with their true social justice beliefs. That's fine with me.  Let's have dinner. 

I mean who has time for this.

It's our job to continue to reach out in love to those who feel alienated,” she said.

Among them is the Rev. David Gleason, pastor of First Lutheran Church, Downtown.

“I'm sort of in a state of disbelief,” he said. “It was almost mind-numbing to see your church ripped apart right in front of you. I think there is more depression than there is anger on the part of people who opposed this change.”

He has parishioners on both sides. Some were thrilled, while others are asking how the congregation can stay in the denomination. He is counseling patience and holding meetings to help people work through their reactions. He has always told them that First Lutheran doesn't have to be affected by what the national church does, he said.

Still, he expects a variety of groups to try to lead his people out of the denomination. He was among several pastors in the synod to receive a lunch invitation from a local pastor in the 2.3 million-member Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, which is far more conservative than the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Lutheran CORE, a national movement of theological conservatives within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, isn't calling for a split. The Rev. Paull Spring, chairman of CORE, a State College, Centre County resident and retired bishop of Erie, warned against comparisons to the split in the Episcopal Church.

“We are not forming a new church. Our structure and polity are quite different from the Episcopal Church. We are asking people to stay as members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,” he said.

Nevertheless, he said, his group will be reorganizing as an alternative support system for congregations that can no longer trust denominational leadership, he said.

They didn't win, is how I read it, so now they are voting themselves off the island.  More battles over properties and endowments will ensue.  Mainstream Christianity will continue to breakdown as millions of Americans are led along by warring factions.  Reverend Gleason doesn't say what he did to educate his parishioners on the fact that gay persons are human beings to or to prepare them to embrace differences with open arms and hearts, rather than gathering their toys to take them home. 

One serious issue the LGBT community faces is that too many people within the mainstream congregations remain silent.  Someone at Reverend Gleason's church has a queer kid or sibling.  Was their a dialogue?  Do heterosexual Christians strive to put human faces on “the issue”?  That's what Janet Edwards keeps calling folks to do.  Are you up for the challenge?

Ann Rodgers is a good writer on religious issues, but I don't see how she has the patience to do it. 

On a related note, Geoff Mackey of Mt. Lebanon writes in to the Post-Gazette, taking Diane Gramley and the American Family Association of PA to task for co-opting the term family.

I'm also curious why right-wing conservative groups hijack the name “family” in their names? Gay and lesbian Americans are products of families; most gays I know still have great relationships with their families of origin. Gays and lesbians adopt children and create their own families. When did the word “family” elevate someone to a higher moral ground? Are heterosexual men and women who choose to remain single and not create a family “less than”? Please stop co-opting the word “family” as uniquely yours.

He also wonderfully takes the bull by the horns when it comes to her “poor Boy Scouts” argument

If the Boy Scouts are negatively impacted by the ordinance, so be it. They have taken the concept of being “morally straight” to literally mean “heterosexual,” which is an affront to respectable gay men who could contribute much to their organization.

Yes, finally someone is acknowleding that the Boy Scouts are making a conscious choice that makes them ineligible for public funding.  We've spent so much time here downplaying the issue of Boy Scounts being denied public land for their camping trips, that many queers have lost sight of the fact that the Boy Scounts DISCRIMINATE against kids and adults who are gay, not to mention damage the heterosexual kids who are taught that being gay is a bad thing (too bad if that includes your older brother).  I refuse to support them. I don't buy their junk.  I don't toss money in the collection box.  I would battle professionally against allowing them to use space that is dedicated to nondiscrimination against the LGBTQ community.  It isn't just a theory way above the kids' heads. It sends a clear message to the 12 year old trying to figure out what's going on inside his heart that he better keep his mouth shut if he wants to enjoy the perks of Scouting. 

Great job, Geoff.

Here's some hilarious feedback from PG readers who clearly don't have enough work on their desks in response to a letter affirming the LGBT community.  I'd almost prefer someone to tell me they hate me for being gay, rather than hide behind “I don't approve of your lifestyle choices, but I tolerate you.  And by the way you can't be a Christian or have any rights until you embrace the truth and the light.” 

A recent post about recycling even drew out the homophobia, including this:

Ok, you really have my attention now. The status quo? A bunch of women with alternative sexual orientation is the status quo? I don't remember anything about that in the old or new testaments. That would be status quo. You ladies really have it twisted. You have absolutely no idea what your talking about. It appears you just want to be angry about something and at someone rather than have intelligent conversation to discuss what is best and plan a course of action that is suitable for your educated beliefs.

I bet this guy would deny being a homophobe.  He would point out that he has gay friends; he's just labeling a specific bunch of women with whom he disagrees and that's not homophobic.  There's a big assumption on his part that any one of the other commenters are lesbians, but also the handy label of being “angry.” 

Yep.

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