Bishop Mahee

My Faith Compels Me

Filed By Bishop Mahee | October 07, 2008 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: Amendment 2, Christian beliefs, Florida, Marriage Protection Amendment, Moral Majority, religion

While sitting in a leadership training for skills-building to defeat Florida's Amendment 2, it came to dealing with the other side on the religious arguments against homosexuality. The trainer instructed us to stay away from issues of faith, as that is an argument we will always loose. Now while I understand his objective to stay on message when in debate with the Christian Conservatives (C.C.), I have to take issue with sending the message that we have no faith.

I have often said that our challenge in the progressive communities is that we bring a knife to a gun fight with our strategy in dealing with the C.C.'s. We have waged a political battle where they have waged a spiritual battle- and we wonder why they have been so successful.

Baring in mind that segregationist thought segregation was just as much a biblical principle as protecting the sanctity of marriage, I submit that the civil rights movement would not have been successful had the battle not been spiritually waged. Not only did African-Americans and their allies not allow segregationist and their sympathizers to define Christianity from their perspective but they challenged those Christian conservative segregationist on the core tenants of the Christian faith- allowing the world to witness the lack of their witness in their violence.

Although the LGBT community has learned a lot of lessons and taken a lot of tips from the advances of the civil rights movement, this is one lesson we have yet to utilize. We not only do not utilize people of the Christian faith on our behalf but we push LGBT Christians to the back of the closet (pun intended).

John Stemberger, and the authors of the other hateful ballot measures like Amendment 2, have claimed a monopoly on what it means to be Christian and Republican. We have given the minority the privilege of defining for the majority- and history has shown us how dangerous it is when the minority decides for the majority.

The "moral majority" insults and assaults our civil liberties because their faith compels them to do so. My own faith compels me to remind the s-called Christian of John 3:16- "For God so loved the world" (which means everyone in it), and that Jesus did not come to condemn the world but in fact and indeed to model for us the miracle that transformation love can make in the world- especially when we love our neighbor as we love ourselves and we do unto others as we would have them to do unto us.

The so-called Christian Conservatives have set a moral high ground that even they fall short of with divorce, extra marital affairs resulting in pregnancy, and of course their own gay sex scandals. Again, these are the leaders that have dictated the standard that cannot bare them.

The so-called progressive Ministers, as well, have to give up this notion that "politics" has no place in the pulpit. We all know the other side has no issue integrating the two- and while we are deliberating they are galvanizing. Maybe candidate/partisan "politics" has no place in the church, but I would hope that issues of human rights and human dignity do.

So to my Minister colleagues that have stayed silent not only on measures like Amendment 2, but on issues of human fairness and decency, I say- challenge yourselves and let your faith compel you to speak out from your pulpit before November 4th. We cannot feed the sheep if we allow them to fill up on the conformity of hate and separateness.

Continue to walk in the light, redefine your faith, and remember it all about the rhythm.

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Amazing article, Bishop!

I agree that too often we give our opposition ownership over religion and faith, as if we are not spiritual beings as well.

And when it comes to speaking up from the pulpit, I wonder if you saw the story of the Catholic Priest in California who did just that against their amendment- and is now facing losing his position. We need more people like him who are doing what is right- even if it is hard.

What a great post, SF!

Thank you for always standing up and speaking truth to power!

Nice article Bishop Mahee. I think it's really important for us to remember that faith isn't a dirty word, although it has been sullied by right wing bigots. Growing up in a Mormon household gave me an interesting perspective on religion, to say the very least. But what I can't understand is how Mormons spent a good portion of their history being persecuted for what many considered to be a strangle lifestyle (polygamy), and now they're dishing it right back at the queers.

I really wish we could start a movement to have the IRS revoke the 501c3 status of all these churches who specifically tell their parishioners to vote for the anti-gay ballot measures. If they want to file for 501c4 status, fine. But let's call a spade a spade and name these folks for what they are - political lobbying groups with a little bit of religion on the side!

That's a great point, Serena- some of these groups are not churches at all, but rather political lobbying groups dressed up in religious garb. The fact that the "yes2marriage" (ugh) folks have sample sermons on their site only shows how they are using their pulpits as stump-speech platforms.