Category Archives: Methodist

For Christians, President Obama Said Much More Than You Think He Said

Well, he finally did it.

This afternoon, President Obama said in an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts that he supports the right of lesbians, gays, and bisexual people to marry the person they love. Here are the three short clips ABC has shared, followed by the reason I think this matters. (Hint: It’s a game changer, and not for the reason you think.)

I’ll let others talk about why this is a monumental step from an LGBT point of view. Joe Jervis and Pam Spalding had particularly insightful reactions over at the Village Voice. Over at America Blog, Joe Sudbay and John Aravosis outlined the history that led us to today’s statement. And David Badash has official reactions of many Gay, Inc. leaders. And of course, anti-gay industry leaders are uniformly apoplectic. Jeremy Hooper has those statements.

As for me, I’d like to recognize what Obama said to religious Americans, because it was something different than most people think, and that difference could help craft the discussion going forward.

Religious Americans, particularly Christian Americans, are the ones holding back LGBT rights in this country. Just yesterday, Pam’s House Blend ran this picture of a church marquee at a church that doubles as a polling place in Wilmington, North Carolina. It was a pointed declaration to Christians going to vote on an anti-gay marriage amendment that if they wanted to be “good Christians,” they had no choice but to vote for the amendment.

This is what we call "passive electioneering."
This is what we call "passive electioneering."

(It’s a United Methodist Church, because of course it is.)

Planned or not, this is the context of the president’s statement, so it’s important to note exactly what he said to Christians who have been told for generations that as Christians, they can’t be in favor of civil rights for LGBT people. Watch the second video again and notice what he’s not saying.

He isn’t saying “I’m a Christian, but I think LGBT people should have rights.” He’s not even saying, “I’m a Christian, and I think LGBT people should have rights.”

No, President Obama is saying, “I’m a Christian, and that’s why I think LGBT people should have rights.”

Linger on that for a minute. The difference between those three statements is not inconsequential. In fact, it’s hard to overemphasize the importance of that nuance.

As offensive as “God is in the mix” was during that debate about civil marriage rights in 2008, the way he said it gave religious people permission to question their cradle-born beliefs about gay people. And as frustrating as “I’m evolving” has been for those of us who could really use (and deserve) equal rights right now, it has given Christians who might not know any out LGBT people permission to find room within their faith for new understanding.

And now, President Obama has called on Christian Americans to take the next step. He hasn’t told them to throw away their faith; that’s a fool’s errand. Rather, he has pointed out to them that LGBT inclusion very easily blends into the core of their faith as it already is. Just as importantly, he has given a voice to Christians who have already made that journey but have been intimidated into silence.

Will he convince the religious right? Of course not. I daresay that wasn’t even his goal. But there are people in the pews whose anti-gay positions are just an unconsidered default, and he might convince them to adjust their thinking to a more Christ-like attitude. He might get pastors in Middle America not to go quietly along with what Maggie Gallagher and Tony Perkins say they have to do. He might give closeted LGBT kids, teens, and adults who are steeped in anti-gay Christian dogma a new perspective that leads them safely out of the closet.

Like I said, this could be a game changer, far beyond just a conversation about legal rights. Well done, Mr. President. I’m impressed. (Now don’t make us push so hard for the next one. Deal?)

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One Tweet Response To UMC General Conference 2012

Well, it’s over. So much happened at the United Methodist Church’s 2012 General Conference since my first post about it. The bottom line is that for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, we’re exactly where we were two weeks ago. All we really have to show for this mess is a few fresh scars.

© UMNS | Click for original
© UMNS | Click for original

My heart doesn’t know what to make of it. I’ve been asked more than once why I don’t just leave. Will Green of Chicago said it best in this tweet from Friday morning.

Click for original tweet
Click for original tweet

This is where I stand, even if I have to do it from outside the Church walls for a while longer. I don’t know if that’s healthy; I suspect that it’s not. But it’s where I am.

United Methodist Church Divided On God’s Unconditional Love

Rachel Maddow got a surprise last Sunday when she appeared on Meet The Press. During a debate about the pay gap between men and women in America, she found out that Republicans just don’t believe that the pay gap exists. They think it’s explained by men working more hours, women having more part-time jobs, and other factors. She spent a good portion of her show Monday night talking about her surprise and showing with real data that the disparity isn’t explained by those factors, and made the point that perhaps the disagreement on the facts has been a problem in the discussion of policy. After all, if Republicans think it isn’t a problem, they aren’t going to work to fix the problem. It’s a good point, one that can be brought into other areas. To wit:

For the last seven days, and through this Friday, the United Methodist Church (UMC) has been holding its big quadrennial General Conference in Tampa, Florida to talk about new legislation in the Church, decide what problems we need to focus on, and what basic tenets need to be updated, introduced, or deleted from the Book Of Discipline (BOD), the Church’s Constitution. (More information on the structure of the UMC and function of General Conference here.)

There was a bit of an uproar on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 over several items. The biggest of them, at least rhetorically, was the addition of what should be a wholly uncontroversial phrase to the BOD. Here’s the newly amended preamble, with the addition in bold:

“We affirm our unity in Jesus Christ while acknowledging differences in applying our faith in different cultural contexts as we live out the Gospel. We stand united in declaring our faith that God’s love is available to all, that nothing can separate us from the love of God.”

After some contentious debate, the legislation passed, but not by much. In the end, only 53 percent of delegates agreed to add this very basic, very obvious, very scriptural, very Wesleyan affirmation of God’s love. Think of that. Nearly half of United Methodist delegates refused to affirm God’s unconditional love for everybody.

For the first time in a while, anti-gay and conservative United Methodists had to discard their usual “Gays Go Away” rhetoric and expose their true meaning: “People Who Don’t Believe Exactly What We Believe Go Away.” During the debate and the vote, the General Conference Twitter feed was filled with good people who were stunned by conservative United Methodists’ admission, stunned that in 2012 something so foundational to Methodism was even up for debate. More than one person said something to the effect of “This isn’t the UMC I know.”

Thanks to Pastor David Lafary for this image from General Conference 2012
Thanks to Pastor David Lafary for this image from General Conference 2012

Here’s the thing. This vote didn’t surprise me. At all. I figured it would pass, but it was fairly predictable to me that it was close. To be honest, I was as stunned by straight allies’ reactions to this admittedly horrifying vote as they were by the horrifying vote. This vote is the Church I’ve always known, the Church as it’s always presented itself to me.

In 1972, at the first General Conference after the 1968 merger of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church, anti-gay language was added to ¶ 161G, saying “The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.” *

Ever since, for longer than I’ve been alive, progressive United Methodists have been trying to remove the anti-gay language and ever since, for longer than I’ve been alive, conservative United Methodists have been beating them back. Every now and then something gets through that almost affirms the existence and value of gay United Methodists, but it’s always accompanied by some other statement that pastors are free to discriminate against gay people, or a reaffirmation that gay people are “incompatible” with the UMC.

But the vote Tuesday morning was different. The added language was so basic that those opposing it laid bare the unvarnished rejection that anti-gay United Methodists have been lobbing at gays for 40 years. The argument against was something along the lines of “you can be separated from God by things that you do,” by which they usually mean to say “you can be separated from God by the genitals of a person you have sex with or want to have sex with or even are just attracted to.” But because the wording was so broad, it became clear that their position was unscriptural from a Methodist point of view. “You can be separated from God by things that you do” means that much of what people do all the time separates them from God’s love, and that’s just not what United Methodists believe. At least we don’t unless you’re gay, in which case we’ve believed that since 1972.

Bishop Melvin Talbert said at the 2008 General Conference that when African Americans were separated into their own segregated conference from 1939 to 1968, at least they were still connected. At least the relationships and the dialogue could continue. But the UMC has chosen for 40 years to shut the church’s door on lesbians, gays, and bisexuals **, something that hasn’t been done to any other group. That’s a special kind of attack, one that you can’t know very easily from the outside.

I’m not saying that my straight ally friends and compatriots have done something wrong. On the contrary, there are wonderful allies working very hard to make a place for gays and lesbians in the UMC. I have a feeling that before this vote, many straight allies in the UMC had honestly never had the vitriol leveled against them as it is leveled against gay people in the UMC every day. They hadn’t been on the receiving end of this kind of attack, and they were shocked to learn, just as Maddow was on Sunday, that the reality of this argument we’re having is different than they thought.

And I wept with them after the vote on Tuesday morning. No, I didn’t weep; I sobbed. I sobbed because for the first time, people working on my behalf received what gays and lesbians have been receiving from the Church for 40 years, and it hurt them. Pain, disbelief, and despair permeated the messages coming from Tampa, and the punch in the gut that I read in their messages was all too familiar. I don’t want them to feel this; it hurts to know that they do.

It sucked. It was a bad morning, one that I wouldn’t wish on anyone, and it sucked.

But my hope is that this horrible experience gave straight allies a Rachel Maddow Revelation, that it helped those fighting alongside us to understand a little better the reality LGBT Methodists live in, and that that better understanding will help them fight the battle in ways that none of us have considered before.


* The timing of this addition was not an accident. In September of that same year, the American Psychological Association removed homosexuality from their list of mental disorders. Conservatives in the UMC apparently got wind of this and wanted to affirm their disdain for gays, a statement that was previously unnecessary because we were officially considered mentally ill.

** The UMC is accidentally more accepting of transgender women and men than the rest of the LGBT community. Gender identity wasn’t a part of the original “incompatibility” clause, and being trans isn’t an official barrier to marriage rites or ordination, for example.

Rev. Duane Clinker’s Must-See Marriage Equality Testimony

I have to tell you, spending a day or two reading and listening to people like Linda Harvey and Greg Quinlan ain’t easy. (I haven’t even gotten to the really horrible ones. I so dread the Matt Barber post. You don’t even know.) So I’m taking a quick break from my Truth* Academy series to build my courage up again.

In the meantime, here’s a video from a religious leader who actually understands what God’s talking about and the role (or the lack thereof) of religion in government. Rev. Duane Clinker spoke in February during Rhode Island’s hearings on a potential marriage law that is still awaiting action.

Thank you for your testimony, Rev. Clinker. From the bottom of my soul, thank you so much.

Sometimes I lose track of how actually hurtful, how literally full-of-hurt, the words of the anti-gay industry really are, but about a two and a half minutes into the video, it came rushing in and I started to cry.

Not because you refuted what “they” say, but because your words matched Christianity’s PR, and I suddenly remembered what Christianity feels like without the hurt and the hate. Thank you for reminding me.

Rev. Clinker preaches and leads the congregation at the Open Table of Christ Church in Providence, Rhode Island. If you’re in the area, drop in and see what real Christianity feels like. duane-clinker

LGBT Advocate Joey Heath Featured on PBS

In the past, you may have seen me mention Joey Heath, the young gay man who was denied a transfer of membership in the United Methodist Church a few years back. His challenge of that decision put him at the center of the UMC’s controversy about LGBT inclusion.

Joey was interviewed for the PBS series Religion & Ethics Newsweekly. It airs tomorrow (check local listings) on PBS, but the segment was made available online today.

I met Joey a few months back in Washington, D.C., and I can tell you that he’s as contagiously optimistic as he appears on PBS.

Please watch before you read on. I’ll have some spoilers and a pop quiz immediately after. (Here’s a link in case the embed doesn’t work.)

 

 

Okay, hands up all who knew Bob Perdue was “ex-gay” before they mentioned it. Everybody? That’s what I thought.

It’s a good piece, and I’m glad PBS is tackling the issue, but I’m eternally frustrated by the presentation of “ex-gay” as a viable, healthy choice. The fact that the “ex-gay” industry has convinced Rev. Perdue that he was abused into being gay and needed to be repaired is heartbreaking.

I warn him, though, that passing that lie on to new victims is a dangerous, unGodly, and anti-Christ path to tread. Being gay is not a sickness, is not like alcoholism, and does not keep someone from “experiencing life to the fullest.”

(Also, if you’re going to reference Leviticus 18:22, I’ll quote Leviticus 20:13 right back at you. Pick up a rock and get to it, sir.)

Those statistics on homeless LGBT kids have been floating around for a while, but I hadn’t heard the one-in-three statistic for New York City. It’s so sad that so many parents are willing to throw away their kids. I daresay it’s a side effect of teaching such as Rev. Perdue’s.

Kudos to Joey and the others on the side of God who were interviewed for this piece. You’re a wonderful example of what The Church should be.

Welcome to our church. You’re not gay, are you?

I consider myself fortunate on my church home. Our minister is a true man of God and my fellow members are warm and caring. We’re active in local, national, and international mission work. We enjoy a true sense of family that I’ve found to be rare.

Not all people are so fortunate. Most mainline churches aren’t terribly up front about their stance on gays, so you can’t always tell what you’re getting until months have passed.

Such is the case for “Mike”, whose letter I ran across last night. Written in early 2007 about an incident in early 2006, the letter illustrates the danger at hand when we gays search for church homes.

I’ve decided to protect the identity of the writer, the pastor, and the congregation in this post. For reference, I’ll just say that this United Methodist congregation is located in the Church’s South Central Jurisdiction.

Dear Jeff:

During the last 9 months, I have debated whether to write these words strictly for catharsis or to write them and actually send them to you. When I began this morning, I figured that I would choose the former. But as the day progressed, two events galvanized my decision to proceed with the latter. The first was during lunch at [restaurant]. My partner had mentioned his father in passing but then began to cry: the man died of cancer almost a year ago. The second was my hearing you on a local radio station, advertising █████ █████████ Church’s assortment of Easter services. I wish listeners had access to the list of tacit conditions and exclusions.

Surely you recall having e-mailed me in mid-July 2006 and asking whether I could meet with you. None of the times you suggested fit with my schedule that week, so you then said that you were going out of town but that you would be back in touch with me during the last week of July. I waited.

Guessing what you wanted to talk about was no mystery. I am not oblivious to where I live and the kinds of people that surround me. But before you write me off as just another deviant suffering from inner brokenness, I will explain the gross assumptions that you have either made for yourself or accepted on the secondhand testimony of others.

My partner, whose name I imagine you never bothered to learn, is an unusually tender-hearted, sensitive, and deeply caring man. Hallmark commercials, cute babies, and small acts of kindness will bring him to tears. Mere days after his father died last year in [other state], we were sitting in church here. █████████ ██████ was preaching, and she made a comment about God wanting people to have strong family connections—with our brothers, our sisters, our fathers, and our mothers. When she said “our fathers,” he started crying. Seeing this was painful because I hate to see anyone hurting. I put my arm around him to reassure him that he wasn’t alone. He was shaking a little from the crying, and I did my best to comfort him.

It would appear that others sitting in church saw one man with his arm around another man and on that sole basis concluded that two gay men were scheming and plotting to flaunt their aberrant lifestyle for all to see. Of course, had he been a woman, no one would’ve thought anything of it. But men, real men, don’t show their emotional weaknesses, I suppose. In the weeks that followed, other statements from the pulpit would resonate with his loss, and he would cry or lose his composure; I would hold his hand, although each time he recovered a little faster. But the damage was done: entire groups of people evidently assumed that I am a homosexual, concluded that I had brought a filthy outsider into the church, and mobilized to treat him and me with, at best, cool civility, lest God think they condoned my evil choice. Jesus would be proud. When I stopped coming to services, presumably there was no longer a need for you to contact me, as you had promised.

You’d think, since God is said to be love and has promised in scripture never to leave or forsake me, that his church would be the one place in the world I should be able to go without fear of being judged or treated with disdain. I ask myself how Jesus would have responded had he seen someone anguished over the loss of a family member. Would he have stopped to think, Hey, I’m a man, and so is this person suffering here. Maybe, since my showing him compassion could be misconstrued as overtly homosexual behavior, I’d better play it cool.

I’m not denying that I’m gay and that I brought my partner to church with me once he moved here from █████ (where we met when I was working there in 2004). But people saw me touching another man and, without stopping to think, assumed the worst. They didn’t try to find out anything else; once their minds were made up, the unconditional love, kindness, and compassion of Jesus Christ evaporated. I assumed that people complained to you—or maybe you drew these conclusions yourself. Either way, hating for the sake of pharisaical righteousness is easier than thinking for oneself, than following Christ’s model. People who once greeted me warmly every week would look at me with barely concealed disgust—or, in some cases, wouldn’t meet my eyes. I’ve run into members of the church and clergy in public, and where once they would seek me out, now I have become invisible. They will look everywhere in a room except for the spot where I am, their eyes glossing over me as if retroactively I never existed.

One exception to this unfortunate trend, however, reminds me that there are Methodists here who, per the Book of Discipline, are committed to “social witness against the coercion and marginalization of homosexuals.” And he might well also believe the passage stating that homosexual behavior is incompatible with Christian teaching. Regardless of his beliefs, [another pastor at the church] has many times found me in public, looked me in the eye, shaken my hand warmly, and asked with seemingly genuine curiosity how I am doing. Many of the friends I made in that congregation continue to treat me with that same decency and kindness—as I imagine Jesus would.

As for those who presumed to know my heart and mind, drawing broad-sweeping and vast conclusions based on fractional minutiae, I’m not sure they would know the love and grace of God if it bit them. A friend told me how it works: the most generous donors to your church also happen to be the most conservative. We must always keep them happy, even at the expense of emulating Christ.

One other thing: my partner knows nothing about any of this: not people’s putative reactions, not your e-mail, not this response. Please don’t contact us, lest he learn of these issues. I will not risk poisoning him to the idea of church. He might see your church as not only tolerating but also embracing people who are kind only to those of identical mind. The real test of Christianity is how you treat people who are different. The real sermons of Christianity are the lessons people learn from observing you, not from listening to your words.

When did Christianity become nothing more than decrying abortion and homosexuality? When the church newsletter stopped coming in the mail, I got the message. I took the money that I had set aside for your church and gave it instead to the American Red Cross and the ████ Food Bank—two organizations that practice religion that is pure and undefiled, as the scriptures define it. I’m fairly certain that both groups, and the people they benefit, are grateful for my help, no matter what sex I’m attracted to.

Your church got the best of both worlds, though: you kept cashing my checks even after defaulting on the Christ-like behavior. Jesus saved his harshest words for ostensibly religious people who were certain of their doctrinal accuracy but whose hearts were necrotic. Maybe you should change the church’s motto: “Sharing the heart of Christ … but only as long as we’re in our comfort zone.” My sharing the heart of Christ will manifest itself through caring for my partner during his time of emotional turmoil. Maybe that’s how he will perceive Christianity: individual kindness rather than the warped version that I encountered.

[signed]

Thanks to Mike for letting me publish his letter on the blog. I’ve been in a similar circumstance (though not (directly) because I’m gay), and revisiting the experience is not my favorite pastime.

In an email this morning, Mike mentioned that Jeff made one attempt at email contact (against Mike’s expressed wishes), then months later when he saw them at a restaurant. He also said that the pastor he had praised in this letter has now been maneuvered out of direct contact with the congregation.

Is it any wonder so many LGBT people have divorced themselves from religion? Do you begin to see why so many of us have a sense of urgency about the changes the Church must face?

The Religious Right’s “Manhattan Declaration”

A group of well-known anti-gay activists released their “Manhattan Declaration”, a treatise on their stance against civil rights causes, with a special focus on The Homosexuals. I’m not going to dirty my blog with the whole 4,732 word screed. For that you can go to Jeremy Hooper at Good-As-You, who got his hands on a copy before it was released.

Signers (so far) include:

  • Chuck Colson, convicted felon and long-time foe of civil rights, who helped write the document
  • Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl, who last week threatened to shutter all Catholic charities in Washington, DC if a gay-marriage law is passed by city council
  • Jim Daly, Focus on the Family’s new president, who misrepresented the science of anthropology earlier this year in order to make a false point about Homosexual “Marriage”
  • James Dobson, Focus on the Family founder and long time opponent of civil rights, not to mention truth and integrity
  • Tony Perkins, Family Research Council president, who earlier this year said that the United States should stand with George W. Bush’s “Axis of Evil”
  • Bishop Harry R. Jackson, Jr., colleague of Leroy Swailes in the fight against a potential gay marriage law in Washington, DC
  • Catholic Bishop Richard J. Malone, whose diocese in Maine raised over half a million dollars to remove civil rights by passing the plate during worship services three times
  • Alan Sears, Alliance Defense Fund president, who for some reason failed to rush to the defense of Louisiana’s Keith Bardwell when he refused to marry an interracial couple, even though doing so was clearly mandated by a statement earlier this year
  • Mark Tooley, President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, which bribed (or attempted to bribe) United Methodist General Conference 2008 delegates from Africa and South America to vote against gay-positive measures
  • Gary Bauer, president of American Values and standard go-to bigot for FOX News
  • Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage and Liar-in-Chief for the anti-equality movement
  • Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Church, who says that Democrats are Nazis
  • and many more

Seriously. It’s like a Who’s Who of Religious Right leaders. It’s nice to have them all in one place, I guess.

I do want to pull out one significant line from the final paragraph of this long, rambling tome:

… nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family.

Attention signers of this nonsense and their followers:

NO ONE HAS SUGGESTED THAT CHURCHES SHOULD HAVE TO BLESS GAY MARRIAGES!

NO ONE HAS SUGGESTED THAT CHURCHES SHOULD HAVE TO LOVE OR APPROVE OF GAYS!

STOP SPREADING LIES!

STOP SPREADING FEAR!

You’re Christians. Start acting like it, for God’s sake.

Catholic Church Threatens to Leave Homeless Out in the Cold

If you weren’t convinced that the Catholic Church considers charity an expendable nuisance before, maybe this will do it.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington [D.C.] said Wednesday that it will be unable to continue the social service programs it runs for the District if the city doesn’t change a proposed same-sex marriage law, a threat that could affect tens of thousands of people the church helps with adoption, homelessness and health care.

Under the bill, headed for a D.C. Council vote next month, religious organizations would not be required to perform or make space available for same-sex weddings. But they would have to obey city laws prohibiting discrimination against gay men and lesbians.

Important distinction here: This bill would affect religious organizations, not churches. So, for example, if the United Methodist Church wanted to keep LGBT people from being ordained or mopping the kitchen floor, they’re allowed to do that. A religious organization, or an organization that is managed or maintained by a church but that also receives funding from the government, has to abide by discrimination laws.

This isn’t a new law, by the way. This is the way it’s been for ages. It’s why a Methodist organization in Ocean Grove, New Jersey couldn’t refuse to allow a lesbian couple to use its pavilion in 2007. The boardwalk was run by a religious organization, but received property tax breaks in exchange for the property’s legal classification as public.

In short, if you’re receiving funding from the government, your business ceases to be a strictly religious business. Likewise, in some states if your commercial business provides services that are considered “public accommodation”, you aren’t allowed to discriminate just because you call yourself a Christian.

Okay, back to it:

Fearful that they could be forced, among other things, to extend employee benefits to same-sex married couples, church officials said they would have no choice but to abandon their contracts with the city.

“If the city requires this, we can’t do it,” Susan Gibbs, spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said Wednesday. “The city is saying in order to provide social services, you need to be secular. For us, that’s really a problem.”

Not at all. The city is saying that in order to receive government funding, you need to be secular. It’s that whole establishment of religion thing in the First Amendment. If you want to provide social services on the government’s (and therefore the people’s) dime, you have to follow the government’s rules like everybody else.

Catholic Charities, the church’s social services arm, is one of dozens of nonprofit organizations that partner with the District. It serves 68,000 people in the city, including the one-third of Washington’s homeless people who go to city-owned shelters managed by the church. City leaders said the church is not the dominant provider of any particular social service, but the church pointed out that it supplements funding for city programs with $10 million from its own coffers.

So the Archdiocese of Washington is saying that they’re going to leave a third of the district’s homeless literally out in the cold because they might have to give a gay man’s spouse the same health insurance (for example) benefits as a straight person’s spouse would get.

I wonder: What is the the policy of Catholic charities toward people who cohabit outside marriage? Are they turned away from the bread line? Does the archdiocese regularly quiz social services employees about their sex lives? If a straight woman divorces and doesn’t seek a Catholic annulment, is she fired?

Or do they just get their vestments in a knot when they get to target The Homosexuals?

I know that many Catholics disagree with the Archdiocese of Washington’s threat. I personally know many Catholics who, like Mother Teresa, consider charity of utmost importance to the Church. If you’re one of those Catholics, this is your chance to make a difference.

Here are some important phone numbers for you to call and politely but firmly voice your disapproval.

ALL of these services will be closed if the archdiocese follows through with its threat:
James Cardinal Hickey Center general information: (202) 772-4300 or (202) 772-4308
Denise Capaci, Adult and Family Services: (202) 635-5900
Regine Clermont, Housing and Support Services: (202) 772-4300
Meha Desai, Children Services: (202) 526-4100
Daphne Pallozzi, Developmental Disabilities Services: (202) 281-2700
Fr. Mario Dorsonville, Immigrant and Refugee Services: (202) 939-2400
Scott Lewis, Catholic Charities Enterprises: (202) 635-5900
Erik Salmi, Communications Manager: (202) 772-4390

Archdiocese staff:
Most Reverend Donald W. Wuerl, Archbishop: 301-853-4500
Rev. Adam Park, Secretary to the Archbishop: 301-853-4500
Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington: 301-853-4500
Most Rev. Francisco Gonzalez, S.F., Auxiliary Bishop and Vicar General: 301-853-4566
Most Rev. Martin D. Holley, Auxiliary Bishop and Vicar General: 301-853-4563
Bishop Barry C. Knestout, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General, Moderator of the Curia: 301-853-4520
Jane G. Belford, Chancellor: 301-853-4520

United Methodist Church Honored for False Advertising

The United Methodist Church got some great news on Tuesday. The Church has won Getting Attention‘s award for best non-profit tagline in the Religion & Spiritual Development category! From The Christian Post:

The annual Getting Attention Nonprofit Tagline Awards announced the winners on Tuesday and recognized the Methodists for delivering “a tagline trinity that supports its applied faith mission and is warm, enthusiastic and embracing.”

The United Methodist Church won the award under the Religion & Spiritual Development category. The denomination began an “Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.” welcoming and advertising campaign in 2001 to raise awareness and draw new people amid declining membership.

Research conducted in 2008 by The Barna Group for The United Methodist Church showed that a majority of people who were exposed to UMC’s ads recall the “Open hearts” tagline. Thirty-nine percent said they were fairly certain or extremely certain that they recalled the phrase and 12 percent said they thought they heard the phrase but were not certain of it.

open-hearts-minds-doors

Congratulations, United Methodist Church! Honestly, it’s a great tagline.

Now how about addressing the problem of your policies and Book of Discipline not matching your slogan? Like how every week you break the hearts of LGBT kids and adults suffering in silence while their church leaders pretend not to notice, or how pastors are allowed to close the doors to our membership, or how your minds are so closed that you won’t even agree that we don’t all agree!

Maybe someday the UMC will be worthy of such a lofty slogan. Lord knows there are people within the Church who try to make up for the downright ungodly policies you’ve codified, people like Adam Hamilton, Joey Heath, Karen Oliveto, Eric Folkerth, and the congregation of Epworth UMC in Portland, Oregon.

I have to tell you, Church, I’m so glad that my congregation doesn’t display an “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors” banner. At this point it only reminds me how much damage you’re doing in the name of God and how many lives you’re destroying around the world, may He have mercy on you.

But yeah, congratulations on your award.

So What Did You Do Last Weekend?

What an amazing few days at the National Equality March. At the March proper I met up with some Soulforce friends and unfortunately missed meeting up with several others.

My time before the March seemed to split between Christianity and DADT. Here is some of what I did last weekend. (I know some of these events were filmed; I’ll be linking later if I find the video online.)

First, regarding religion:

And concerning DADT:

  • Shook the hand of Cpt. Alex Nicholson, who was fired from the US Army six months after 9/11 and later founded Servicemembers United.
  • Stood a few feet from Frank Kameny (fought to overturn the gay hiring ban after being fired from the Civil Service Commission in 1957), David Mixner (the man behind the March), Lt. Tracy Thorne-Begland (came out on Nightline in 1992 and was subsequently fired from the Navy under both the original ban and under DADT), and many other LGBT heroes at a memorial service for Air Force Sgt. Leonard Matlovich.
  • Met Lt. Dan Choi, who recognized me from the facebook when I shook his hand, which is simultaneously insane and intoxicating. Oh, it made me all gooey inside. (His better half is fantastic, too.)

Whew. What a weekend. I’m a little overwhelmed.