I was most fortunate to have two friends who were Methodist ministers, both very open-minded and very loving people.
They frequently took heavy fire for being welcoming of gay folks, and even people of other faiths, and for standing up against haters in their own ranks.
The fact that I left Christianity to follow a Pagan path never meant that they weren't my friends any more, or that they suddenly would try to change me. Instead, they continued to be good friends. It's always a pleasure to count Christians like that among my friends. But what about the others?
I wish you could've known Barry. He was the best most Jesus-like minister or man I've ever met. Many people loved him, and when he drowned in an unfortunate incident in the Bay, it all but killed the church he was at, and a lot of Christians there lost their faith and moved away. He was always getting grief from conservatives. Some ministers and churches in PE didn't like him because of his uncompromising message of love and family. There were more than 1500 people at his funeral - at a hundred year old church that could only seat maybe 350. Even the church halls in the building next door where they could watch on projectors were overflowing. The week before his death I attended his last service, where he made everyone feel welcome and loved by the God whose footsteps he echoed in a way that nobody has been able to duplicate since.
Not everyone who wears the name-tag "Christian" is the same. Not everyone who calls themselves a "Christian" lives up to the reputation that label carries - and perhaps that is a good thing, since the reputation these days is not good - but in the end, the responsibility for how that reputation goes rests with those who identify with Christian religion.
People like Scott Lively and Pat Robertson claim to be "true Christians". They expound hatred in the form of lies and propaganda against minority groups in the USA. Lively has torn a path of blood stained hate in the name of his religion right through some African countries, particularly in Uganda, and also in Russia and its East-European neighbors. In Russia the Orthodox Church stands firmly behind Putin and his government's new oppressive laws which are destroying innocent lives before our eyes in the name of "Christianity". For decades now in South Africa, Errol Naidoo, Peter Hammond and Taryn Hodgson, and Ray McCauley seem to be the odds-on favorites to speak out on behalf of *cough* "true Christians" whenever there is some equal rights issue or anti-persecution effort that needs a few holes shot into it in order to allow an anti-human rights measure to progress.
Sadly, very few Christ-like Christians are seen to speak out in opposition to their hate. Hardly ever do we hear the voice of a Christian speak out clearly above the noise of baying and howling haters clamoring to vent judgement and destruction upon a perceived enemy. It's nice to have seen people like Barry, Desmond Tutu and George Irvine doing just that - but Barry is dead before his prime, and Tutu and Irvine are old - they're on their way out, they won't be around for much longer. Who will step forward into their places when they're gone? Who will counter the violent, indoctrinated haters being raised frothing at the mouth in charismatic movement churches and anti-gay youth groups? Who will be the voices of reason in the beachhead of CHRISTian love against the vast tsunami of hate dressed up as "the Christian Church"?
All it takes to be a voice against injustice, is to say something against it.
If everyone did so whenever they saw or heard the haters of the world using their religion as a hammer to pound others into the earth, to say "No! Not in our name!"... well, what a difference that would make.
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