Disappointed with headline

40

To the Editor:

As a member of the Island clergy, and a resident pastor, I wanted to speak to the recent act of affixing offensive decals to three of our Island churches, as reported in the Dec. 5 edition of The MV Times (“Homophobic decals affixed to Vineyard churches”). I’d like to first speak to the action that was perpetrated, and then to the reaction that was published by The MV Times.

In looking at the photograph of the decal, I could see that it was produced (and obviously placed) by someone reasonably familiar with the biblical text, as the message of the decal does indeed echo the meaning of Isaiah 3:9 — I encourage my readers to look up and read Isaiah 3:9. However, in focusing on the message printed on these decals, we’re missing the real problem — the action of whoever placed these decals. After all, affixing decals to buildings that are not one’s own is by common understanding and legal definition an act of vandalism. It is a crime, and as a criminal act against someone else’s property, it is by biblical definition a sin. I’m sure that whoever did this act would not appreciate a stranger “tagging” their home or their business — as such, this criminal and sinful act was at core an unneighborly act, and therefore an unloving, un-Christlike act that whoever did needs to confess, repent of, and make restitution for. 

As Christians, Jesus taught us to “love your neighbor as yourself” and to “first take the beam out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” While the New Testament does record that the earliest Christians did not shrink from identifying the presence of sin, they more often did so to correct the sins present within their own faith community, rather than in their surrounding society. They also certainly never vandalized the pagan temples of the Greeks and Romans to emphasize their message. To do so would (and does) misrepresent the Christian message of redemption and restoration from sin through faith in Jesus Christ.

That said, I find that I must also speak to the reaction — specifically in how The MV Times chose to publicize this event with the headline, “Homophobic decals affixed to Vineyard churches.” What was it about these decals that made them “homophobic”? Was it the act of vandalism that occurred, of which these decals were the means, or was it the message of the decals themselves? It was clearly the message printed on the decals that is regarded as homophobic, and therein is the issue in question. Rather than focus on the vandalism, the act that occurred, The MV Times chose to react by labeling, and dismissing, a certain viewpoint (a viewpoint gained, by the way, through a legitimate reading of scripture) with a pejorative. This, I believe, is just as damaging an act to our community as the act that was initially perpetrated, and only serves to increase the dearth of discourse in our society and culture.

The statement presented by the Island Clergy Association (and gladly signed by myself) contains the excellent statement, “We are deeply concerned by the erosion of civility and the current trend that relegates those who disagree to a demonized other, one whose voice and opinions are not worth listening to.” The label “homophobic” does precisely this to a traditional moral and spiritual teaching of Christianity gleaned from both the Old and New Testaments that is held by millions of sincerely loving Christians worldwide. I’d like to suggest that a far more accurate and unbiased headline for this article should have read, “Three Vineyard churches vandalized.” Such a headline, along with an appropriately written article, would have served to unite our Island community instead of further fueling the problem.

The Rev. Matthew B. Splittgerber
Vineyard Assembly of God

 

40 COMMENTS

    • There was nothing wrong with the “Homophobic decals…” headline. I’m sure some were bothered by its candid accuracy. The Times did not conjure the use of “homophobic” out of thin air, either. Rev. Bill Clark labeled the vandalism as such when interviewed.

      No one failed to address the “real” problem. The article was balanced. It talked about the crime and also focused on what multiple members of the clergy thought of its message. THEY deemed it hateful. The combination of the quote and LGBTQ colors made the intent clear. Hate speech is a “real” problem. Using the Bible to deliver one’s message doesn’t soften or legitimize the blow.

      This letter reads like an excuse to remind us all that being gay is still considered wrong within Christianity. Followed by a weak attempt to turn the tables, claiming those who won’t accept such a destructive message are divisive. Speaks volumes that anyone would be more concerned with the points you’ve raised, Rev. Splittgerber, while knowing some on the Island are harboring bad feelings towards a vulnerable group. Feelings they suddenly have an urgent need to express. In public. By, as you illustrated, illegal means. Shouldn’t that be the greater cause for alarm and warrant your attention and empathy? Nope. You’re busy complaining about a headline and upset that a spade was called a spade. Be responsible. Don’t feed into the discriminatory message of the decal. Don’t play coy about what constitutes homophobia. Don’t play the victim by acting like the hateful thing here is the correct use of vocabulary. This letter and its timing are shameful.

      Of course vandalism is universally wrong, regardless of what was written. Of course doing this to a church isn’t legal or acceptable. Who, besides the perpetrators, implied otherwise? The police said it’s an arrestable offense. I trust they will make that arrest if the suspects are found. Not sure what more you wanted from the paper or public on that front. The content of the decals matters most because it’s dangerous. Displays of homophobia need to be denounced, especially with our national track record of violence and mental illness. Reporters SHOULD be more focused on the human impact than physical property damage, if you insist on pitting the issues against each other. Property can be fixed. People can’t. This particular incident wasn’t violent, but it was hateful. Slippery slope. Plenty of examples in recent years of what happens when that kind of prejudice is allowed to fester.

      As for the laughable claim that early Christians never vandalized the sacred spaces of those who came before them, I take it you never had to read about Constantine and his son. Or maybe that wasn’t early enough for you. History’s still replete with tales of Christians being destructive. At least in my timeline. Maybe not in the alternate universe where anti-gay messages fail to qualify as homophobia. Funny, I see tons of blatant racism lately, too. And the racists are always more concerned with having to wear that label than they are with the neverending problems and pain caused by racism. How self-centered. How “unneighborly”. In my book, sincerely loving people would not need any of this explained to them.

      The reverend should be embarrassed by this letter. I trust he won’t be.

        • Thank you, Jackie. I agree with everything you said in your thoughtful post. These sentiments would be dangerous coming from anyone, but they are particularly disturbing coming from a person who holds an influential position in our community.

          • I am trying to understand. The writer is a Pastor of a local church and someone said is ”influential in the community”. The vandalism occurred to three churches. These churches while differing denominations are also christian churches and ostensibly believe that Christ died for our sins and rose again. So what are we saying? Churches who support homosexuality are good churches and those who do not are not good churches. Are we saying that. Well if that is the case what about the fairy tales they believe in like some guy Jesus walked the earth, was crucified and rose again and will come again to redeem believers? Some of the people on this post think this is a load of nonsense. So I am having trouble understanding what you are proclaiming and defending. You dont want church homophobia but you also think churches and belief in Christ is silly. Please explain.

          • Andrew, not sure if you were talking to me or not. I was the one who said pastors are influencial community members. They are, in the eyes of some. Doesn’t mean I agree with their beliefs or let them influence me personally. Just means I acknowledge that the words of religious leaders are taken seriously by a portion of society and, as such, they have a responsibility to denounce hateful. I’m not defending anything besides the LGBTQ community’s right to live peacefully, without encountering messages of intimidation or being shamed. The decals aimed to do both.

    • Local Opine, I meant to direct my comment at the author of the letter, not you. Accidentally hit reply underneath your post. Sorry about that.

  1. God is watching you MV Times.Everyone is a power of example,one way or another.Remember if the MV Times prints it, it must be true.Don’t think just read it in the MV Times.

    • By getting it exactly right, do you mean to say you support the idea that the Pastor brought up that homophobia shouldn’t have been mentioned because it is a viable belief for religious people to have? Because honestly, this doesn’t seem to have been done in style or graciousness. Seems more like this Pastor is trying to stir up a controversy that has no need to exist. As stated in the original article, interviewees described the vandalism as homophobic. Therefore, it doesn’t seem to this reader like the Times did anything wrong by writing the headline the way they did

  2. so far ( I am comment # 5 ) we all agree this pastor nailed it. Great letter —
    I will however disagree on one point — (I’m Don after all)
    That being “They [Christians] also certainly never vandalized the pagan temples of the Greeks and Romans to emphasize their message. ”
    It seems to me that according to scripture, Jesus himself was guilty of some degree of vandalism when he “cleansed the temple” . John 2:13-16
    For a slightly better understanding of the circumstances :
    https://www.bibleodyssey.org/en/passages/main-articles/jesus-and-the-moneychangers

  3. Surprised a pastor would bring up reasonable readings of scripture.A reasonable reading of scripture could lead you to the conclusion it is acceptable to own slaves and to beat them to death. A reasonable reading of scripture could lead someone to decide their wife not leave the house when menstruating. These ideas are of course complete hogwash.Just as anti gay bigotry cloaked in scripture is. Just call it what it is.Cowardly acts by bigots.

  4. Kudos to the MV Times for calling the homophobic, bible-quoting decals illegally posted on churches exactly what they are: homophobic. It is disappointing when religious leaders fail to object 100% to homophobia. Thankfully, there are many religious leaders who no longer fall back on the homophibia, cruelty, racism and sexism written in a book some worship as the word of their god. Within Christianity today, there are various views on homosexuality, some more “Christian“ than others. These days, same-sex marriage isn’t just legal and perfectly normal among most of us moral, law-abiding citizens, but these marriages are as moral, regular, and blessed as opposite-sex marriages. In fact, same-sex marriage partners are like all marriage partners, as free to divorce, cheat, and have sex with a porn star as the Christian chosen-one-in-chief, Donald Trump. When a church, mosque, or synagogue doesn’t welcome, accept, and respect different life-styles that hurt no one, they are more damaging than helpful to humanity. When Christians, Jews, or Muslims, think their way is the only way to live, their “book” is the only book, their antiquated laws are the only laws, none of us will get along. That should be most obvious to religious leaders. The decals were most definitely homophobic as well as illegally placed on churches. I find it hypocritical and an abuse of our LGBTQ neighbors to object to this newspaper calling the issue behind these decals what it is: homophobia. It’s too bad when a religious leader takes the time to write about a church’s “traditional” (antiquated) view, but doesn’t take the same amount of time to write letters to this paper decrying the sins of immigrant children dying in US custody.

    • Just to be clear. We give the letter writer license to object to the headline, but those aren’t our words in the headline. They are reflective of the story. It was religious leaders in the story who were calling out these decals as a sign of homophobia. This is a direct quote from Rev. Clark. “It just reminded me there’s a lot of work we’ve yet to do about homophobia.”

      • Thank you, George. Your headline, “Homophobic decals affixed to Vineyard churches” was very clear, apt, and right, but it led the writer to ask, “What was it about the decals that was homophobic?”. The message of the decals is “regarded as homophobic” because the blatant homophobia of the message makes it so.

  5. To learn more about this church, I went to the Vineyard Assembly of God webpage, vineyardag.com, and under the resources tab, there is this link under “Dealing with Same-Sex Attraction”: http://www.alive-in-christ.net. There are several links from here, (including “Same-Sex Attraction and the Church: Compassion without Compromise”) and this quote:

    “I used to heavily identify myself as dirty and unworthy of God’s grace because of my sin, but being able to share with this group has helped me to recognize the redemptive qualities of my God. It’s one thing to have accountability at my church and with sisters, but it is another thing to experience it with others that struggle the same way you do.” — A female participant

    Following more links, this letter to the editor, which fails to recognize and condemn the homophobia of the message in the decals, should not surprise anyone.

    • Following and reading as much as I could stomach of the links provided makes perfectly clear the thought process behind this letter. This gentleman’s church allows bigotry as long as it’s wrapped in scripture.As with most people and organizations these days, he doesn’t have the courage to just come out and say it. Essentially he’s saying be a homophobe, just don’t commit vandalism in order to show it.

      • Thanks for posting the link, Jackie. That does shed further light on things. Unfortunately.

        I agree with you, islanduh. Have never understood why we are supposed to make an exception for bigotry that stems from a religious source. Is that somehow less dangerous or hurtful than self-driven bigotry? No. It all boils down to the same thing. It causes innocent people distress. Again, it’s remarkably selfish for a pastor to expect the public to worry about whether the word homophobic is too harsh, all while he continues to promote the idea that moral people are sinners for falling in love with someone of the same gender.

  6. What qualifies an outside critic to define the truth of a man’s faith or the purity of the thoughts in his heart? There seems to be a mistaken belief that sexual orientation is absolutely core to a person’s identity whereas religion is something else entirely — so superficial that any given person is one monologue away from enlightenment. Yet human history demonstrates that religion is so core to human identity that countless people have been willing to burn rather than recant their deepest beliefs. Furthermore isn’t it also bigoted to believe that a person is incapable of expressing disagreement with a person while also treating them with dignity and respect? Time and again, we’ll see stories of Christians cast aside for expressing orthodox Christian beliefs about marriage and the family using the justification that this view somehow means that they can’t be trusted to treat colleagues fairly in the workplace. Yet time and again these individuals have long and established track records free of any claims of discrimination or mistreatment. Their actual record is irrelevant compared to hypothetical fears. Some Christians are bigots. They actually do hate others and harbor malice in their hearts. But actual Christian orthodoxy — including orthodox Christian sexual morality — is anything but hateful. It expresses the beauty and intent of creation, it honors both the marriage vow and the single life, and it creates a framework for having and raising children in loving, stable homes. It recognizes that each and every person must put a restraint on their desires, orienting their lives towards the true end of man; glorifying God and enjoying Him forever.

    • What qualifies an outside critic to define the truth of a man’s faith or the purity of the thoughts in his heart? THE SECOND AMENDMENT. (Why is it so hard to include women and their hearts about an elitist faith?) Gender identity is largely influenced by genetics— you know, biology and science. You are not born with religion, although it is likely you will follow whatever tribal beliefs from your birth family you have been indoctrinated into. That’s also science, Darwin, and all that. For sure, there are the vulnerable among us who are ripe for the picking and you get elitist spinoffs– EST, moonies, Scientology, Jim Jones, Evangelicals, Born Agains, etc. There are interesting studies on alcoholism and vulnerable born again christians, for example. GW Bush used born again religion to help him stop his alcohol abuse. Trouble starts when former abusive drinkers use religion as a crutch, the way they used alcohol, trading one compulsion for another, but most often the new obsession with religion is not imposed on the rest of us. But I digress. When tribal beliefs speak and behave more as cults, less as religions that are valuable to humankind, you get pushback– and very little respect from those who don’t buy what you’re selling. Remember numbers 7 and 8 in 10 symptoms of cult indoctrination sufferers?
      7. The group uses thought reform (brainwashing), like citing scripture, to enforce the cult groupthink; (they insanely cite scripture to atheists and agnostics and obsessively repeat their cult’s memorized teachings…)
      
8. The group is elitist. (They think, not only that their religion is better than everyone else’s, but that every one else who doesn’t buy their story will have something terrible happen to them— like perishing in an apocalypse or burning in hell for eternity.)

      The evangelicals’ story of the apocalypse sounds nuts to people who are not indoctrinated. It’s like the doomsayers carrying signs that the world will end in 1979… but now it’s 2019. It’s crazy.. And people are allowed to say it is nuts and cultish, just as evangelicals are allowed to come up with telling Jews they are are “non-completed” Jews because they haven’t accepted your savior. Say what you want, Andrew, and so will I, (until George puts the kibosh on it).

      Along with the elitism is the obnoxiousness of cult members imposing their beliefs on others. Ever been approached by Hari Krishna at the airport? Annoying, right? That’s what your bible quoting comments do— bother people because you are imposing something that is viewed as cultish. You want to be in a cult, fine. If you impose it on others, as you often do here, selling what few of us are buying, then prepare yourself for the pushback.

      Religion throughout history has been a cause for murdering people. “My religion is better than yours, so if you don’t convert, you’re dead”. Or, “We don’t want you in our religion at all, so we are going to kill you because you are not like us and our religion”. Yay, religion, right? And then of course there is the elitist arrogance of going to far-away, undeveloped places that one religion finds not civilized enough, so the elitist religion goes in and murders an entire culture, buy hey, it’s worth it to convert more people to the bigger, stronger, richer, more elite religion.

      The MV Times comment feature is not exactly the place to proselytize, but when you do, you get what you get. I’m sure there’s a church group that will support you, Andrew, but it is not here. It is not bigoted to tell a person that what they spout is nonsense. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and your opinion on religion is just that, your opinion. Homophobia, however, is worse than nonsense.

      Orthodox Christian sexual morality, as you describe it, indeed as the website for the above letter-writer describes it, is homophobic, and most of us are not buying it, because, you know, homophobia is hateful. When you recognize that same sex marriage partners are raising children in loving, stable homes, then tell me about how honoring marriage is important to your church’s beliefs. Until then, the hateful positions you describe are unacceptable.

    • Andrew, your opening line strikes me as ironic. Outside critics caused this problem. They’re attacking the purity of all same-sex relationships, proclaiming them shameful. Do you take issue with that? If you find it unacceptable to make assumptions about what’s in another’s heart, then anti-gay attacks should offend you, yes? I’m not criticizing what’s inside anyone’s heart. I’m disgusted by the externalized hatred that innocent people have to endure. In the form of illegal acts, no less. The bigot(s) who tagged the churches are to blame for dragging religion into the spotlight and discussion, not those of us who object to their bigotry. Now we have a pastor who contributed this lovely letter and made things worse, despite knowing people are hurting.

      I am equally opposed to anyone who attacks the LGBTQ community, religious or not. It isn’t bigoted to shut down dangerous hate speech. It’s prudent. Suppose it would be hypocritical if one were to single out Christians while giving a pass to gay-bashing atheists, but I’ve never seen that happen. Let’s not further recast this incident with Christian beliefs in the role of victim. Doing so is unfair and unhelpful to the real targets. (Take note, Rev. Splittgerber.)

      When it comes to hate speech, I don’t buy into “fine people on both sides”. You either stand up for those being harassed or you don’t. If you don’t, accept that you are part of the painful cycle. “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” I appreciate the members of the clergy who labeled these acts honestly. They did so without renouncing their faiths. Others can choose to follow in their footsteps. We have free will, especially in matters of what we accept and project. I don’t regard religion as superficial like you mentioned. Yes, it’s deeply ingrained in some. But we have a duty to regularly reassess which teachings serve the greatest good and which have proved to be destructive forces. Otherwise, we’re fleshing out the plot of The Lottery.

      I thought it over and can’t see how religious rules gleaned from a text are native to a person the way sexuality is. Biblical teachings are absolutely learned. Even if they resonate deeply or were passed down through generations, you still have to adopt them from others. If these parts of us were comparable — if we possessed hardwired Christianity — missionaries wouldn’t have needed to travel to the farthest corners of the globe, shoving Bibles down the throats of so-called heathens who already had their own traditions. They did so because even the most devout knew religion has to be taught, chapter and verse, in order to continue. Sexuality differs in so many ways. LGBTQ doesn’t need to go door to door in an effort to recruit.

      Once taught, religion can become a huge part of a person’s paradigm, which accounts for your example of being willing to burn. The core beliefs we develop, especially as children, are ultra-powerful. That goes for both healthy and unhealthy beliefs. They originate with outside influences but feel like parts of us. It’s true, such beliefs are not easily changed. It takes work. I feel doing that work is the moral path if your beliefs are harming others who have harmed no one. Especially when those beliefs account for a tiny percentage of a religion’s canon. Doesn’t it make you wonder why so many Christians harp on the anti-gay portions of the Bible but let numerous other “sins” slide without comment? The disproportionate emphasis tells me they want an excuse to discriminate.

      “…isn’t it also bigoted to believe that a person is incapable of expressing disagreement with a person while also treating them with dignity and respect?”

      What you would be “disagreeing” with here is a part of who someone is. Not just actions. Not just adopted beliefs. An intimate part of his or her nature that harms no one else. To categorize that as automatically bad IS disrespectful. Utterly so. Even if you were nice to that person the rest of the time, you’ve done damage. We all know when there is underlying judgement. Let’s not kid ourselves. At best, you would be talking out both sides of your mouth, which is what this pastor has done. The “hate the sin but love the sinner” approach. Some are impressed by it. I am not. Notice it still involves hate. I think it’s backhanded and fails under real-life conditions. Absolutely no one wants to hear that their partnerships are dirty and wrong but that you love them regardless. That feels high and mighty and makes them out to be lesser than. They’re not going to register the “love” aspect. How genuine is it anyway if you (the royal you) don’t have their backs during these times of need? It’s also self-serving. You get to keep judging them without guilt because you’ve treated them squarely on other occasions. How we treat others shouldn’t depend on feeding our egos. When genuine, love involves offering people what they need. Gay and trans people don’t need more judgement. I promise. There’s an endless supply. 😔

      “…the true end of man; glorifying God and enjoying Him forever.”

      I understand. But not everyone is Christian. It isn’t right to hold the world to a strict Christian model. If it works for you, that’s fine. To imply it’s the only way to structure a successful family unit dismisses those providing loving LGBTQ homes. If you have no malice in your heart, please consider how invalidating others on such a personal level makes them feel. Labeling your disapproval as respectful disagreement doesn’t make it any less hurtful. We are not talking about disagreeing on something minor. This cuts people right to their cores.

      Sorry for the excessive length. I have a lot ot trouble organizing my thoughts when writing.

      • Your thoughts, Aquinnah, are very well organized, based in logic and bathed in compassion for humanity. One is not born with a particular religion – it’s something inculcated by one’s family and/or community. One may be born with sexual identity or gender identity that is considered outside the norm of their family or community’s dominant religion. Historically, those outside the norm were at best stigmatized, and at worst, persecuted. Rev. Splittberger and Andrew need only look to Nazi Germany to see what happens when marginalized groups, including LGBTQI+ are targeted. Claims based on Biblical references were made to justify enslavement and racially mixed marriages. One would hope that those that adhere to a biblical worldview would take into consideration that shameful history and look instead to what is considered Christ’s greatest commandment:love their neighbor as thyself. (Mark 12:31)

        • Thanks very much for your kind words, JB, they mean a lot. You brought up some excellent (though terrifying) examples of where this path can lead us if we don’t speak up when we see wrongdoing. I really don’t know how much more has to happen before we all just agree that the human cost for certain beliefs is way too high. Guess that’s naive. WWII, among many other events, should be enough to teach us that just because millions of people get on board with an idea, that doesn’t make it morally sound or erase its negative impact.

        • I agree with you JB. Also, “Love your neighbor as yoursel,f” from the Hebrew bible, is a core commandment of Judaism. It is paraphrased and expounded on in the New Testament. In both cases, the biblical “neighbor” isn’t quite clear, but it seems it does not mean what we’d like it to mean and it’s pretty much tribal. But it’s a good sentiment that many of us, of any religion or not, could do better on practicing.

  7. . Aquinnah you have a well reasoned post. It is thoughtful and unlike other posts that simply rant. However you continue to define hateful speech and hateful thoughts based upon your own preferences. I do not support attacks on anyone. I will not discriminate on anyone. I am free to disagree with a lifestyle and that is protected by the First amendment. Are you suggesting that one can never ”invalidate others on such a personal level because of how the feel”? You are invalidating me and I might be hurt by it. I am not holding the world to strict Christian model but I try to use scripture as my roadmap for life. Are you saying I shouldnt or must not? Hundred of millions of believers do. Are they all bigots or in la la land? You have decided that disagreeing with homosexual lifestyle is hate speech. Others do not. We are at a standstill. I am not going to stand on a corner and yell at gays, nor put up posters. I dont agree with it but I will defend my faith when it is under attack. Some on this webpage want to silence the Pastor and he is a decent honorable man who defended his faith yet regretted vandalism. You say” religion is a huge part of a persons paradigm” and I say the same for secularism. You say LGBTQ doesnt recruit the way missionaries do and did but recruitment is everywhere and disagreement is shut down. You also dont seem to forget that I am talking principle to a people post in a newspaper and not talking specifically to a person who might be an object to that principle. You have no idea how I engage with people who I disagree with in all manner of communities. Your thoughts are well organized and your best post ever. How I wish we could talk point by point to everything you have artfully said.

    • Andrew, I will try to reply to some of your statements later. First, since you do not agree with the definition of hate speech used by myself, other commenters, and some Island religious leaders, can you give me examples of what you *would* consider to be hate speech where sexuality is concerned? This isn’t rhetorical or sarcastic, I would like to know. Thanks.

      • Aquinnah. First there is a difference between thought on the one hand and hurled invective towards someone on the other hand..If I thought to myself ” I am not going to vote for that guy because he is black” that would be impure thoughts and I would want that person to rid him/herself of that kind of thinking. Yelling at a black man that he is a no good @#$%^$# would be hate speech. Having a world view THOUGHT that practicing homosexuality is not a good idea for all kinds of reasons is not hate speech because I am not speaking. Hurling invective at a homosexual is hate speech. Being asked by someone what they think about homosexuality and answering truthfully that you dont agree with it is not hate speech. Thinking is not hate speech. It might be impure but it isnt directed at anyone. The comment on the church door is vandalism but the biblical quote is not hate speech. Romans 1 on homosexuality is not hate speech. Believing that same sex marriage is wrong is not hate speech. Not serving coffee in your shop to same sex couples is wrong, illegal and unbiblical. Not allowing a homosexual is your church is unwelcoming, hateful and unbiblical. Yelling at me that I am a right wing religious zealot is hate speech. Thinking that about me is unfortunate but not hate speech. I am friends with gay people and on occasion due to certain circumstances they ask me what I think of their lifestyle and I tell them. They dont think my comments are hate speech. They disagree with me and often agree with me on the statistical pathology of the community but they are not angry with me. Whatever one thinks of the Bible there are countless people who follow it as a prescriptive force in their lives and if one really understands the Bible and Gods plan for man it has proven to me to be the best way to live. There are a few people, Christians who are very bad examples for Christianity due to their behavior toward gays and who by their actions do not represent biblical teachings. I am not against racially mixed marriages, never have been and their is no biblical admonition for it. We are all fallen, all sinners, saved by grace.

        • Andrew, “not agreeing with homosexuality” is the same as not agreeing with the natural color of my hair. It’s illogical and uneducated. We are not “all fallen, all sinners, saved by grace” and when you are able to accept that not everyone has to believe that in order to behave themselves or perhaps feel good about their past, then you’ll stop feeling attacked. If you insist on attacking everyone who does not conform to your indoctrination (by telling them they are damned to hell if they don’t accept your savior) you will continue to get pushback. It’s pretty simple.

  8. Why do religions obsess over what other people do with their own genitalia? It’s creepy and disturbing. That’s what sexual repression does to people. As a once devout Christian, I am now disavowed from all organised religion. I find them all deeply hypocritical.

  9. In the above letter and in some of these comments where homophobia is actually defended, it is important to note that support of Donald Trump is also a way to show support for homophobic hatreds and the most unAmerican kind of discrimination. If you support Trump, you support his proposed and implemented discrimination against LGBTQ people. In a rambling and self-serving but ultimately disingenuous comment, apparently about how being homophobic in thought is fine among those who accept Jesus as a savior, Andrew says this: “Not serving coffee in your shop to same sex couples is wrong, illegal and unbiblical. Not allowing a homosexual is your church is unwelcoming, hateful and unbiblical.” And yet the Trump administration, which is not only supported but is viewed as doing no wrong particularly by evangelicals, has a history of both proposed and implemented LGBTQ discrimination that is so long and involved and immoral and un-American, (never mind un-Christian) that it makes one’s head spin. The only conclusion is that it is, at best, fake-Christian to support Donald Trump, be homophobic, and then try to tell anyone about the “purity” of one’s heart as if that is the way to defend particular “Christian” hatred of human beings.

    Examples:
    08.23.19 – Following accused sex offender Roy Moore’s lead, the Trump Administration submits an amicus brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to rule against workplace protections for LGBTQ Americans.
    09.27.19 – The Trump Administration pens a “statement of interest” in support of granting the Archdiocese the ability to discriminate or even fire a person from their job because they are LGBTQ.

    and:
    https://transequality.org/the-discrimination-administration

  10. Andrew, yes, it’s very difficult to address all aspects in a comments section. There are many context-lending tangents to the points I want to make. They’re too much to tackle here. Will try to be brief. Realistically, get cozy and have a cup of tea handy.

    “I am free to disagree with a lifestyle and that is protected by the First amendment.”

    Legally speaking, that’s true. To me, that’s not a good reason to continue doing so in public, especially right after an anti-LGBTQ incident. The Westboro Baptist Church is also protected under the law. (I don’t think they should be, but that’s another discussion.) They use that as an excuse to continue to abuse people. With rights should come responsibilities. I am not accusing you of being a WBC member or partaking in their protests. Just making a point that the Constitution provides us with a legal out for even the most extreme hatred. It doesn’t serve as a moral or ethical compass or take into account whether our decisions are tearing apart our communities. It’s up to us, in the here and now, to actively decide how we want to live together. More simply put, just because we *can* say something doesn’t always mean we should. We all have to pick and choose our battles carefully, with an eye towards consequences for all. Not just those that will affect us personally.

    I also take issue with the constant framing of LGBTQ as “a lifestyle”. I think that’s inaccurate and designed to put the burden on gay and trans people to change. Again, wish I had time to elaborate.

    “Are you suggesting that one can never ”invalidate others on such a personal level because of how the feel”?”

    When I said that, I was thinking of the suicides, physical attacks, and murders plaguing LGBTQ. I was thinking mostly about young kids, some of them Christian, crying themselves to sleep because they’re gay or trans and alone. Ashamed. Scared out of their minds to tell anyone and lose their families’ love. Horrified that they’ve let God down. Some of them end up homeless, some turn to drugs, some self-harm. This isn’t melodrama. It’s the real headline news we should all be objecting to. I appreciate that you said you’d never attack anyone, but I also believe *any* support for anti-LGBTQ sentiment feeds into causing people deep shame and pain. Surely we don’t want to do that?

    So. I was suggesting you should weigh this degree of suffering from “objections to gay lifestyle” against any benefit you receive from making those objections. See if the math sits well with you on an instinctual, humane level. If you’re fine with it, that’s that. If you can even somewhat see that this opposition has historically caused more harm than good, I would suggest contacting the Island pastors who labeled these acts homophobic. Get their take on why. They would be better equipped to express these ideas within religious parlance than I am. To my simple way of thinking, there is nothing in the world worth the cost I just described. And I can’t wrap my head around any group, Christian or other, who claims the moral high ground but looks away from suffering and their part in it. Life is full of painful events that we can’t change for each other. Please understand that we CAN free LGBTQ people from the sense of shame being forced upon them.

    “You are invalidating me and I might be hurt by it.”

    Definitely not my intention, so I apologize if it came across wrong. I feel I’ve said nothing to invalidate you as a person. I am only invalidating one tiny part of the Bible and the idea that it can be imposed on everyone. You are more than a few select passages of scripture, and respectfully, I am not aligning you with those words to begin with. You are. That’s why I said that although religion runs deep, accepting beliefs is still a choice we make as adults. We are responsible for what we continue to let influence us. All of us. Pointing this out is not the same as debasing gay or trans people and their families. They are OFTEN told the love they share is shameful. Think about how you would feel to be told that your love for your wife, if you are married, disgusts someone. I would never say that to you. I don’t know any gay or trans people who would, either.

    “I try to use scripture as my roadmap for life. Are you saying I shouldnt or must not?”

    No. If you want to live as a Christian, that’s your right, which I said earlier. I just don’t think others should be held to every Bible quote or judged as wrong for being different than you are. They have rights, too. And different doesn’t necessarily mean bad. There is more than one way to create a home filled with a sense of decency. That, I know for sure.

    There are many contradictions within scripture. There are passages that seem to validate acceptance of gay people. It’s my outsider’s take that if a Christian would like to remain Christian and embrace gay people at the same time, they can easily find Biblical grounds to do so. That some pastors have already gone this route makes me think it’s a fair point.

    “Hundred of millions of believers do [use scripture as a roadmap]. Are they all bigots?”

    No. I can name religious people who have never given me reason to believe they’re bigoted. Some have gone further and been very supportive. Fred Rogers. Jimmy Carter. Coretta Scott King. Rev. Clark, one of the pastors quoted on this incident. However, they are in the minority, least in my experience. Examples of religiously fueled bigotry seem endless. From hate crimes to certain sermons to so-called conversion therapy, which I consider abusive.

    “You say” religion is a huge part of a persons paradigm” and I say the same for secularism.”

    Of course. That’s why I said “we” have paradigms. Was not singling you out. Every person on Earth has a paradigm. It’s something I’ve worked with in trying to help people with PTSD. (Though I’m not a professional by any means.) I actually brought that up in an effort to agree with you that religion isn’t likely to be adopted or discarded within an instant. We should still be 100% accountable for our viewpoints and their impact. For adjusting them when need arises. Even if it takes time and hard work. And yes, my paradigm is a secular one. I went to church and CCD every week as a kid. It didn’t take root at all. I don’t know why.

    “You say LGBTQ doesnt recruit the way missionaries do and did but recruitment is everywhere…”

    I don’t know what this means. I was speaking of literal recruitment. Not support for tolerance of others. Pressured requests to join their group. I’ve never had a gay, bi, or trans stranger show up at my home uninvited to ask me to transition, etc., nor have I heard of anyone experiencing that. Ever. Like most, I do remember visits from religious strangers seeking to convert me. Including one when I was in the hospital. I am aware of no similar behavior from LGBTQ. If a gay man, for example, is going door to door and literally trying to change the sexuality of all his neighbors, he’s gone rogue. It’s not an institutionally sanctioned effort like that of a church. The message behind LGBTQ acceptance has NEVER been “stop being straight”. You are free to be straight. Others just want respect for being who they are, too. Seems reasonable to me.

    “I will defend my faith when it is under attack.”

    I don’t agree that Christians were under attack. Criminals attacked LGBTQ and their supporters. Most members of the community, *including* some Christians, countered these criminals in an attempt to keep peace. This is not about religious persecution. (Except what happened in Falmouth, which is also vile.) To keep steering it back that way is unfair. It’s about protecting at-risk people who deserve our empathy. The only Christians at risk here are those who work in and attend churches willing to hang pride flags. (And they are likely being targeted by other Christians, sadly enough. I doubt a secular person would use the Bible to make an anti-gay point.) I want those churches protected, too! If you do as well, direct disapproval towards those trying to intimidate them and those co-signing their sentiments after the fact.

    “You also dont seem to forget that I am talking principle to a people post in a newspaper and not talking specifically to a person who might be an object to that principle.”

    I see your point, though I try to keep in mind that anyone could be reading the stuff we’re writing, and it’s likely that people who fall under LGBTQ are keeping a close watch on this story. Understandably. We should be respectful of how this incident has impacted them. There was another letter to the editor that addressed the sadness people are feeling.

    “You have no idea how I engage with people who I disagree with in all manner of communities.”

    True. I am going only by what you expressed your views to be here. You worded the question about disagreeing with gay people while treating them with respect sort of in the abstract/hypothetical. I was trying to answer it the same way. More of a general “you” than a “you, Andrew”. As in, “IF anyone were to judge someone for who they are but then treat them respectfully in other situations, this is what I find problematic…”.

    “…the statistical pathology of the [gay] community…”

    Don’t know what this means, either. But I suspect I wouldn’t agree or like it. I’ve asked others for practical, non-religious reasons why being gay is wrong. Problem is, they came up with things like the spread of infection or promiscuity or cheating. None of their objections were exclusive to being gay. Straight people also experience these problems or engage in these behaviors. In huge numbers. So it’s not a matter of orientation. It’s just part of being human. Perhaps that wasn’t what you meant, though.

    I’m going to break up this wall o’ text by replying separately to your comments on hate speech below. Please try to keep an open mind and give me one more chance to demonstrate why the decals qualify. Why my definition is notsubjective but rather their very intent. After all, I doubt the vandals meant for any of us to interpret their actions as an act of love. Be back in a minute. Or two hours, depends on how long it takes me. 🙂

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