Global to local news headlines pass over our various internet screens so often and in such great numbers that we often don't have time to see how the issues intersect and where there is a cause and effect. Gil, though, latched onto two headlines in the New York Times, one on May 5, 2013 and the other May 18, one about a United Methodist pastor who may possibly be put on trial for performing his gay son's wedding, the other about a gay man being shot on the street in the West Village. Below are my reflections on the juxtaposition of these headlines. ~Marilyn
Maybe to see the connection, the headline "In Shadow of the Stonewall Inn" should be replaced with "In Shadow of the United Methodist Church." For all the sunshine and goodness the church may bring to people's lives, the shadow side of its policies against LGBT people is often the root that feeds the tree of evil oppression. When a church continues to affirm that "homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching," the distance between discrimination and acts of violence is shorter than church leaders think.
In Uganda, for instance, a bill is still in play that would give homosexuals the death penalty is directly linked to Christian teaching. Those sentiments were heard from delegates to the 2012 United Methodist Church General Conference, the legislative branch of the denomination. (Yes, 2012!) These abhorrent and evil-causing statements were not voted down by the majority of delegates. No, instead the anti-gay stances and policies were upheld. (Yes, 2012!)
This while all around the church, a majority of Americans favor making same-sex marriage legal and while most Protestant denominations have moved way beyond prohibitions of LGBT ordination and pastor's presiding at same-sex weddings. Openly gay and lesbian pastors have been consecrated as bishops while the United Methodists still hold church trials for LGBT pastors who are open about their sexual orientation, who choose to live lives of balance and truth. Enforced silence is its own kind of death penalty.
While there is no known connection between the killer and the church, the anti-gay religious stances have fueled legalized discrimination and degradation more than any other source. We celebrate the bridge builders, the pastors and church members who intentionally step out of line, who speak faith to fear and love to disenfranchisement.This is the United Methodist Church at its best; the message of "less than" in the name of God is its worst.