Monday, September 04, 2006

Intolerance Goes Both Ways

I’ve recently read three different articles that point to the same problem: the pro-gay movement in North America is becoming ever more aggressive and anti-family. The first incident is in Canada.

Craig Chandler, rhe owner of a pro-family website, which has Scriptural statements against homosexuality on it, has been repeatedly sued by pro-gay groups through the Alberta Human Rights Commission. He has already had to spend close to $100,000 of his own money for defense. He expects that it will cost him $250,000 more before the last two cases are settled. He describes the problem as a Kafka-esqe situation where his legal rights are in question:

"'The thing about a Human Rights Commission complaint is that it doesn't matter if it's right or wrong, you still have to foot the bill. If I want to get our money back, I have to take them to civil court,' which, Chandler pointed out, will only incur further expense without the assurance of winning."

"Chandler vociferously denies any accusations of hatred against homosexuals on the part of him or any of the websites. 'They're saying the websites are anti-gay,' he said to 'We're not. We're not anti-gay. Hate's not a family value.'"

"However, he adds that 'Sometimes the truth hurts...That's exactly our perspective on it. The gay and lesbian community, homosexual activists, they don't want anything but complete silence to any disagreement to their views on the issue.'"
VirtueOnline - News - Islam, Persecution & Culture Wars - ALBERTA: Homosexuals Seek to Shut Down Canadian Pro-Family Websites

The second issue involves a conservative Episcopalian bishop's (a rare breed these days) sermon in one of the more liberal congregations in his diocese. He preached from the lectionary, something required of priests in the Episcopal church, and the passage he chose from the several there was from Ephesians 5. As he read the passage, and then preached, he was continually hissed by members of the congregation.

The 21st verse says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” It continues, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.”

“Bishop Sauls told approximately 45 worshipers at St. Martha's. 'That is not a message that preaches well in 2006... But the bishop focused on the rest of the passage, which calls on husbands to love their wives unconditionally and selflessly 'just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.' The passage also contains the egalitarian commandment: 'Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.' This is'a radical idea,' Sauls said..The prolonged hissing didn't seem to faze Sauls.”

The article goes on to say that the church, in worship, celebrated a child's birthday and the anniversary of a gay couple.
Bible Belt Blogger: Bishop preaches unpopular text, gets hissed

The final incident comes out of the PCUSA. One of the independent organizations of pro-gay people in the PCUSA is called More Light. It has organized hundreds of churches to support the ordination of GLBTs along with same-sex marriage. They are following the Canadian model, trying to seek out and attempt to silence those who disagree with them. Most alarmingly, they are organizing people to make derogatory reports of any “anti-LGBT activity” in their church

“Following the principle that sunlight is the best disinfectant, if you're aware of this type of anti-LGBT activity taking place, or about to take place, within your presbytery or session, you'll help the entire More Light Movement if you can write a few paragraphs (short is fine, long is OK too) about what's happening locally and send it to us.... We'll edit your notes for clarity and publish a news item here on the MLP web site blog.”
MLP - Call for information: tell us about any anti-LGBT post General Assembly activity in your Presbytery or within your church

We should never be anti-gay people. Any kind of bigotry is wrong. But it is not homophobic to disagree with the homosexual lifestyle. It is not wrong to speak plainly one’s spiritual views, so long as those views are not forced on anyone. What’s happening in these examples, though, is the tip of the iceberg of a new kind of intolerance found, of all places, in church.

Keep praying--keep the faith


Paul Thomas said...

God Bless you Tom, Sir,
thanks for a great yet disturbing article. I am an apostolic christian yet my passion is to connect with all believers of Jesus Christ our God. Your article reminds me of the neccessity to connect beyond our organisational barriers and differences and stand against this tide of filth in our society.

I locked into this article after reading how a Christian in Cardiff Wales near to where I am based, was arrested after handing out leaflets during Cardiff's Gay Mardi gras a celebration which attracts some 40,000 gays and lesbians.

O that the church would wake up and be a voice. We can change things if enough of us become a voice. After all wasnt it the minority that caused all this trouble in the first place?

May I have your permission to blog some of these points on my blog acknowledging you as the source of this information and also
Ill post a link to your blog site

God Bless you

Paul B Thomas.

Mark Smith said...

You are right - intolerance works both ways.

I attempted today to do some research on the first case that you cite. However, Mr. Chandler's website appears to be down for renovation and I was unable to find any actual quotes from that site anywhere, including in the many right-wing blogs citing the case. Therefore I cannot comment on that one.

In the second case, it was completely inappropriate for the bishop to be hissed. A more appropriate reaction would be to walk out. There is no reason to disturb a sermon.

In the last case, I disagree. There has been a lot of talk since the General Assembly about filing "test cases" on G6.0106b - on "making sure that the constitution is enforced". MLP as an organization is attempting to centralize the reporting of anti-gay incidents in churches and presbyteries. This is no different from The Layman (or even Presbyweb) printing stories of churches who try to leave the denomination. It's information gathering - NOT intolerance.

Please try not to confuse your unhappiness about the existence of MLP with intolerance by them. In this request, they said nothing about the PEOPLE who might be discriminating - they were looking for information on the acts of discrimination. Come back to me and show me intolerance once MLP actually DOES something rather than just asking for information.

TomGray said...

Dear Mark,
The difference between what MLP is asking and the Layman is that MLP is recruiting people to do what could easily be described as spying. The Layman is a newspaper, with reporters who do what such have always done.

Mark Smith said...

MLP's website is the online incarnation of More Light Update - a monthly publication of More Light Presbyterians.

As such, it bears the same relationship to MLP that the Layman bears to the Presbyterian Lay Committee, yes?

When it comes to spying, let's not forget that the Layman was the publication where the "secret" PCUSA property papers appeared.

TomGray said...

Dear Mark,
Someone gave the papers to the Layman. They did not ask church members to be on the lookout for such. In the 30+ years I've read the Layman, I've never read of them asking people to send in news (to my knowledge), but, naturally, people who sense news will forward it. This is VERY different from what MLP is doing, in my estimation.

Anonymous said...

"Dear Mark,
Someone gave the papers to the Layman. They did not ask church members to be on the lookout for such. In the 30+ years I've read the Layman, I've never read of them asking people to send in news (to my knowledge), but, naturally, people who sense news will forward it. This is VERY different from what MLP is doing, in my estimation.


Sounds a lot like what happens at every journalistic organization that the political left (not necessarily religious) SO loves. They're called ANONYMOUS SOURCES.

Uh, hello?


Sydney Talon said...

From the linked story: "Lexington Episcopal Bishop Stacy Sauls, speaking at one of his diocese's more liberal parishes, was hissed by at least one parishioner during his sermon on Sunday.

The member disapproved of the text the Rt. Rev. Sauls had chosen to preach on -- Ephesians 5:21-33. The passage contains 2,000-year-old advice for marital couples, including this controversial command:
"Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be in everything, to their husbands."

May I ask what led you to include this example as relating to gays in any way? One would assume a married heterosexual woman most likely to hiss such a command.

I am gay and Presbyterian, but I will not try to argue the great issue of the day. I only ask, did you not unjustly blame gays here for something they likely had nothing to do with?


TomGray said...

Dear Sydney,
The article itself went out of its way to identify this as a progressive congregation, particularly siding with gays.
I believe that a proper understanding of this passage would overcome any hissing, if one were willing to be open to it.
Also, it is simply crude to hiss at a preacher, and abominable to hiss at Scripture

Anonymous said...

And just because the congregation is progressive, the hissing somehow relates to the homosexual members?

The article may have gone out of its way to mention it, but at no place did say that the "hissing" was made by someone of a particular sexual orientation. To draw conclusions based on absolutely nothing tangible is exceptionally ignorant. To perpetuate them is inexcusable.

I am continually amazed at church organisations and religious groups that spend money on websites and having literature printed that serve the sole purpose of demeaning someone else. To tell someone else that the life they are living is not acceptable to them. Do these churches use tithes to cover the costs? Are these websites tax deductable? When did being gay (the tide of filth in our society, as a previous poster put it...lovely Christian words) become a more worthy cause of religious outcry than the fact that innocent children die every day from diseases that are easily treatable? Homeless people dying on the street? Murder?

I fail to see how any of these actions described in the articles, or even in the comments, is considered a Christian act. Religion is supposed to be a beautiful awakening, an aid to the development of a relationship with God. I'm continually horrified to see that so many "religious" people are more concerned with who the neighbour has sex with, than their own transgressions.

Jesus hung out with the "filth" in his society. But he had strong opinions about people passing judgement on others. Especially in His name.

- Angel.

(heterosexual, married, religious... and more concerned with getting drunk drivers off the roads, murderers off the streets, food in the mouths of those who are unable to make ends meet, and ensuring that education is available to anyone and everyone)

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree that homosexuality should not be lauded or upheld in Christian settings. I think defies God's plan for creation and I haven't heard an arguement yet that would convince me otherwise (although I am always open to hearing arguements from the other side).

That said though, I wonder why homosexual issues are such a big deal for a lot of churches looking to leave the PCUSA, but nothing is said about divorce. Jesus clearly speaks out against it in Matthew 19:9 and yet you don't see anyone getting fired up about that in the PCUSA, many pastors and church officers have been divorced are remarried, some several times. It seems to me that divorce is a bigger elephant in the room than homosexuality is at this point?

-Mulling it All Over-

Anonymous said...

Dear "Mulling it all over",
I keenly remember being where you are from a philosophic standpoint. I was in my 20's and trying to make sense of what seems like unfairness by compressing complex ideas into something I could understand.

Now, through God's neverending teaching, I see that one issue is unrepentance. In your example, what if the divorced person in question said to you, "There's nothing wrong with getting a divorce. In fact, I plan to marry and divorce several more times in my lifetime." This in comparison to a person who says, "I am divorced and I have asked God to forgive me. I wouldn't wish this on anyone and I understand marriage is a sacred institution I will uphold in the future, God willing."

Whom would you choose to guide you in God's will based on your own study and holding what you see and hear against scripture?

I have changed so much over the years, I would barely recognize myself way back then. I love the changes that have occured in me because I know they weren't of myself but of the Holy Spirit gently prodding me through my conscience. Good Luck and God bless you.

Anonymous said...

I am happy to report that there is one Presbyterian church in Tulsa that is embracing the mission of the More Light Presbyerians. That enlightened church (pun intenteded) is College Hill Presbyterian (near the Tulsa University campus which is by the way a Presbyterian affiliated university). As a gay Presbyterian staff member in another church in the local presbytery, I admire the grace and courage of the College Hill Church to follow the teachings of Christ concerning accepting the diversity and uniqueness of all of God's people. Throughout Christ's life, I believe that the ultimate ongoing message that Christ taught was that Love never fails and will always prevail in the end, that Christ is the Light of the world, and that we are to love one another as we love ourselves.

FYI, if homosexuality was in fact a choice, then it would also be the case that someone of heterosexual orientation could "decide" to become homosexual. I have been told again and again by many straight people that they could not choose to be gay because they were created by God with the natural heterosexual orientation and to decide to become gay is simply not possible. The same set of facts is undeniably true for someone that is born homosexual. Why would someone choose to subject themself to the scorn of society and at best an uncomfortable life by deciding to be gay?!! For the record, the so- called "conversions" by the ex-gay movement are a scam that have in fact been admitted to any many cases by the participants that were supposedly converted. (If interested, you can visit the Gaily Oklahoman website, the state's gay publication, for more information on the reality of the Ex-gay scam)

In closing, I would encourage you to visit the website of the College Hill Church at

May the Peace of Christ be with you one and all.