Dear American Christians (Part Two)

Dear American Christians,

I wrote you earlier this year about much the same thing I will say today. And, in truth, I’m not really speaking to all American Christians. Just those who believe they are being persecuted for their faith. Primarily, White Evangelical Protestants.

A poll in 2014 show that you, White Evangelical Protestants, believe you are more persecuted than Blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, Atheists, or Jews. In recent days, media has been aflame with right-wing pastors and politicians, proclaiming the end of the world because of same sex marriage.

Let’s be very clear about a few things. Your faith is absolutely not at stake, and you are not experiencing real persecution of any kind. We Christians are absolutely as free to exercise our faith as we ever have been. We can go to church without fear of being hunted down for doing that. We can pray with our families. Our churches can create clinics, and schools, and non-profits that serve God and the world. And nobody is going to impinge that right in any real way.

churchburning
(From the Charlotte Fire Department)

Well. There are a few exceptions to the previous, actually. African American Christians are in clear danger, and are being persecuted and scapegoated in our culture. Nine were martyred while attending a recent church Bible study.

Unlike the fictional, media-created-flames of Christian persecution rhetoric, actual African-American churches are actually in actual flames right now. A half dozen have burned to the ground in the past week….a number that surpasses mathematical coincidence.

Meanwhile, in other the parts of the culture, Gay and Lesbian Christian are being denied the right (and rite) of marriage, even legal Civil Marriage, in some places. Even though Civil Marriage is now a Civil Right. And lest you think that’s all fiction, in a Tennessee store this week, this sign appeared:

SignCollage

Or, witness the hate mail to Rev. Gilbert McBride, who performs same sex weddings, and was recently sent a note, which said this:

“As you may or may not have noticed is when your wife died, no one came and brought meals or even so much as condolences. That’s because as a minister that performs gay weddings, you deserve all the bad that you brought upon yourself…Do this town and your family a favor and get a rope and hang yourself. People like you disgust us. We don’t want or need your kind around us making our town look worse. I personally hope you die a slow and ugly death. Maybe you can catch aids from your friends. Just die.”

I am not trying to compare the vast, historical and current sufferings of African-Americans with LGBT Christians/Allies. Clearly, those experiences are different, and comparisons are not helpful in many ways. But I am saying, their experiences intersect in that both groups experience very real persecution/exclusion in our society today. While, on the main, you are not.

You can go to church without fear of being shot. Think about that. Because, every day, African-American Christians have to wonder if they can. They have to worry. Our Muslim friends worry every day if somebody is going to attack their Mosques, or scream at them on a street corner.

As for you, nobody is going to come for your Bible. Nobody is going to do anything to impinge upon your right to practice your religion in your home, or your church, or even in public.

Yes, you are now being asked to respect the Civil Marriage Rights of gay and lesbian people. That is absolutely true. Especially government workers who are sworn to uphold the Constitution.

Many of you believe same sex marriage is against the Bible. In responding to this, then, I would remind you what Rev. Bob Jones wrote in the 1960s, in and around the time of the “Loving” decision:

“Wherever we have the races mixed up in large numbers, we have trouble….These religious liberals are the worst infidels in many ways in the country; and some of them are filling pulpits down South. They do not believe the Bible any longer; so it does not do any good to quote it to them. They have gone over to modernism, and they are leading the white people astray at the same time; and they are leading colored Christians astray. But every good, substantial, Bible-believing, intelligent orthodox Christian can read what the Word of God and know that what is happening in the South now is not of God.”

The same claim to “orthodox” Christianity is made here in the 1960s to defend segregation (in the name of God) is often used by evangelicals today, as they deny full participation to gays and lesbians (in the “name of God”), and to drive their sense of “persecution” and “offense.”

(Many thanks to Rachel Held Evans for the incredible blog that lifts out this quote from Bob Jones, and many others….)

Scholars have done research on the “persecution complex” that you often feel. Conservative scholars, that perhaps you can hear from more than you can hear this message from me. Check it out here.

It is deeply important that you understand that your faith is not under attack because of gay marriage. It’s not under attack because of the policies of the President, or because of Muslims, or liberal Christians. It’s not under attack at Christmas. It’s not under attack on the 4th of July.

It’s just not under attack for any reason whatsoever.

So, stop with the being offended. Our mutual Christian calling —you and I— is to trust that if there ever was any scapegoat at all, it was Jesus and not us. And if we really believe Jesus, then we must really believe that his “scapegoating” (sacrifice) was sufficient, permanent, and efficacious. And as the Bible says, if there is sorting out of people to do in the end, that’s God’s work, not ours.

In the name of God, remember that our mutual calling as Christians is to out-do each other in love, not out-do each other in “being offended.” Our calling is to witness to the unbearably graceful love of God, and to share that love with others, not to build walls and Arks.

Please, dear American Christians, take a breath. Say a prayer. Allow the Holy Spirit to take you inside of your body, and to teach you the Good News of your personal safety and security.

And then, allow that same Spirit to help you reach out in love to all God’s Children.

Advertisements

Posted by

Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He has been Senior Pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas since 2001. During his tenure, church membership has grown almost 30 percent, and a completely new church facility (sanctuary and education building) has been constructed. Northaven is a leading progressive Christian congregation in the Southwest. Northaven is an eclectic collection of gay and straight families, artists, musicians, theater folks, academic theologians, lawyers and judges (go figure), socially conscious community activists, people who don't "check their brain at the door," and a wide array of others who either see it as their "last chance" inside the "institutional church," or their first trip back in decades. Eric is an avid blogger and published author.  Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's an engaging live performer whose first CD was released in 2000. His songs have won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. (As always, if you like this post, then "like" this on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too...)

11 thoughts on “Dear American Christians (Part Two)

  1. American Christians? I thought Christians without regard to their national origin were ALL ONE BODY BEING THE BODY OF CHRIST despite wherever they make their efforts to model their true savior Jesus Christ.

    Enough with the poor me, pity me alligator tears or crocodile tears or flooded rivers of woe …

    Without regard to nationality, Christians who are persecuted anywhere on this globe effectively makes for Christians being persecuted everywhere. There just is no “more black”, more lgbtq alphabet soup” persecution or any other combination any one can think up. WE ARE ALL ONE BODY, THE BODY OF CHRIST!

    This sort of liberal/progressive manipulation serves no useful purpose and gains no measure of useful two way dialogue. It only serves to widen the divide, polarizing Conservatives. Your liberal/progressive logic will not sway anyone.

    1. I’m not sure how the FACTS stated here are “liberal/progressive manipulation”. How does it widen the divide?

      To quote Eric here “Please, dear American Christians, take a breath. Say a prayer. Allow the Holy Spirit to take you inside of your body, and to teach you the Good News of your personal safety and security.

      And then, allow that same Spirit to help you reach out in love to all God’s Children.”

      I’ll say a prayer that more folks can open their hearts and minds.

    2. Mr. Meyer: It appears that you have no desire or interest in dialogue on this subject. It is your brand of prejudiced conservatism that causes harm for all on both sides, liberal and conservative. Until you realize this, you are never going to learn.

  2. Well said! Sadly, the ones crying the loudest are actually the persecutors and not the persecuted. The pastor you mentioned (I may well be in that boat in September when I conduct my first wedding for two women in the Florida panhandle) has been courageous in offering the Gospel. Who is burning down African American churches? Who is beating up LGBTQ folks? Who is waving that damnable racist flag? Yep… so called christians (lower case is intentional)… thank you for sharing the word!

  3. A very truthful, excellent posting you’ve done here! Of course Conservative Christians are not going to own their behavior and ungodly way of exhibiting themselves. It’s good that you are crying out, nonetheless. There are some of us out here who see what you see, who agree with you, no matter what these other alleged Christians may think. Leave it to God. He will sort it out in the end, but don’t stop writing about it!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s