Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Action Plan for People of Faith Opposed to Anti-Gay Discrimination: New Recommendations

When the news broke that Catholic dioceses around the nation contributed to the successful crusade of the Portland, Maine, diocese to remove the right of civil marriage from gay citizens, I posted an action plan for Catholics who want to protest such political misuse of donations they have given to the church. Today, I’d like to note some new resources that extend this action plan.

First, I’d like to recommend for your consideration the Affirmation Declaration issued yesterday by leaders of various faith communities in response to the recent Manhattan Declaration. The Manhattan Declaration proudly continues the stigmatization and marginalization of LGBT human beings in the name of God.

The Affirmation Declaration counters this ugly political agenda by noting that,
1. The key indicator that one lives in union with God is that one lives a life centered on love—love made visible;

2. To be authentic, love must be embodied in actions;

3. The Christian community has, over the course of history, sometimes embodied love in exemplary, liberating ways in the struggles of each era, but has sometimes failed grievously to embody love at various points in history.

4. In the challenge to recognize the full humanity of LGBT human beings, Christians today are faced with an historic decision akin to the decision facing people of faith in the period of slavery, during the Inquisition (when Jews, heretics, and witches were executed at the church’s behest), and in the millennia in which women were considered the property of men.
We have a chance today to make our voices heard in a unique way—in a way not available to people of faith who lived in these previous eras. By signing the Affirmation Declaration online, people of faith worldwide can indicate their determination to resist the debasement of their faith represented by statements like the Manhattan Declaration—which has garnered thousands of online signatures since it was released.

I encourage you to read the Affirmation Declaration and think about signing it. And if you do support it, please also consider circulating it to your family and friends. I’m grateful that several members of my family and several friends have signed this document after I sent it to them by email last night.

A second action item: at his outstanding blog, out gay Catholic priest Geoff Farrow has a list of recommendations for action for those concerned about the current situation in Uganda, where the legislature (of a nation whose population is over 40% Catholic) is considering instituting the death penalty for homosexuality. Geoff Farrow’s action recommendations also include several action steps that Catholics opposed to the horrendous anti-gay discrimination now being promoted by the Catholic hierarchy around the world may take.

Please consider Fr. Farrow’s outstanding action plan. And, as with the Affirmation Declaration, I recommend that you circulate the plan to others who may take action.

Geoff Farrow’s recommendations for action link to a Christmas Eve call for action that Fr. Tony, another out gay Catholic priest, posted on his blog this past Sunday.

Fr. Tony notes that the current stepped-up campaign of the Vatican and many bishops to stigmatize gay and lesbian people and remove rights from this targeted minority is of a piece with the hierarchy’s refusal to ordain married men or women. It is not merely gay folks against whom the hierarchy discriminates, Fr. Tony points out. Married Catholics and women are also treated as second-class citizens in the Catholic church.

Fr. Tony’s action recommendation is simple: if you disagree with these discriminatory policies in the Catholic church, refrain from contributing money when you attend the Christmas Eucharist this year. Fr. Tony recommends that you put a pebble into the collection basket instead of money—a symbolic act to give back to the bishops the stones they have cast at members of the body of Christ.

I’d add one thought for your consideration: it would be good to accompany your pebble with a note explaining why you do not choose to donate to the church this Christmas. I’d also encourage those taking this action to consider circulating their protest notes online and to local media outlets.

As Fr. Tony concludes,

The Roman Catholic Church in America is at a crossroads. There will soon be either a healthy enlightenment or a rapid withering. Catholic women, married men and gay men who understand that their bishops are speaking for the Pope rather than for Jesus Christ in this matter will save their Church if they act together. Christmas Eve is the perfect time to start.

I am urging you to refrain from financial support as an act of love for your church. I do not want to see the Catholic Church destroyed by a generation of bishops who are confused and in need of your intervention. They will someday thank you for doing what they could not do.

And as with the previous action recommendations, Fr. Tony encourages those who find value in his Christmas Eve action plan to circulate it to family, friends, and other Catholics.

Addendum: I'd like to take note of two other fellow bloggers who have recently written thought-provoking commentary on several of the action items listed above:
Jayden Cameron at Gay Mystic, and Michael Bayly at Wild Reed.