Monday, July 17, 2017

In the News: Leaving Southern Baptists, David Gushee's Advice to Eugene Peterson, "Ecumenism of Hate," and Sr. Sally Butler on Abuse Crisis

Things I've read in the past day or so that may interest you, too:

The first time I was called a nigger to my face was by a fellow camper at a Southern Baptist Convention retreat near Oklahoma City. I was 13, and it was 1995. Devastated, I complained to a counselor who suggested I pray for the ability to turn the other cheek. Since then, I have done just that and more: I've been an ordained minister in the convention for almost a decade. 
But I've had enough. Today I am officially renouncing my ordination in the Southern Baptist Convention, the country’s largest Protestant body, with about 15 million members, and the world’s largest Baptist denomination. 
My reasoning is simple: As a black scholar of race and a minister who is committed to social justice, I can no longer be part of an organization that is complicit in the disturbing rise of the so-called alt-right, whose members support the abhorrent policies of Donald Trump and whose troubling racial history and current actions reveal a deep commitment to white supremacy.

David Gushee comments on what has just happened to Eugene Peterson, noting that "the evangelical establishment will immediately seek to destroy anyone who breaks with their understanding of orthodoxy on LGBTQ issues." Having been through this same kind of trashing himself when he began questioning the hatred of LGBTQ human beings by the white evangelical establishment, Gushee writes,

If you do decide to make the break, you have to be spiritually ready. You have to know what’s going to happen. You have to count the cost before saying anything. You have to understand that those who stand with scorned and marginalized people will be scorned and marginalized. 
You have to realize that whatever abuse you are taking from evangelical authorities is nothing compared to the abuse that LGBTQ people have taken from pastors, teachers, parents, and "Christian friends" every day of their lives. 
Then that all has to get connected to your Christian discipleship. You have to reach a place where you see that being abused by religious authorities for standing in solidarity with those they deem unclean is exactly what happened to Jesus, the One whom you have pledged to follow, imitate, and obey.

Some [right-wing U.S. white Catholics who support Donald Trump] who profess themselves to be Catholic express themselves in ways that until recently were unknown in their tradition and using tones much closer to Evangelicals. They are defined as value voters as far as attracting electoral mass support is concerned. There is a well-defined world of ecumenical convergence between sectors that are paradoxically competitors when it comes to confessional belonging. This meeting over shared objectives happens around such themes as abortion, same-sex marriage, religious education in schools and other matters generally considered moral or tied to values. Both Evangelical and Catholic Integralists condemn traditional ecumenism and yet promote an ecumenism of conflict that unites them in the nostalgic dream of a theocratic type of state. 
However, the most dangerous prospect for this strange ecumenism is attributable to its xenophobic and Islamophobic vision that wants walls and purifying deportations. The word "ecumenism" transforms into a paradox, into an "ecumenism of hate." Intolerance is a celestial mark of purism. Reductionism is the exegetical methodology. Ultra-literalism is its hermeneutical key.

Dan Stockman writes about Dominican Sister Sally Butler:

"Every morning, this priest would go to church, celebrate Mass, molest a child, then have breakfast with us," Butler says. "How does that happen? I still can't wrap my head around that." 
So the next day, when she walked into Mass at St. Michael-St. Edward — where she had lived for more than a decade and attended daily Mass for 25 years — she began to feel as if there was a huge weight pressing down on her heart. 
"It was a physical reaction that frightened me to death," she says. 
That feeling progressed in the months that followed until she could not enter the church at all.

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