Monday, March 10, 2008

Post Deleted at the UCC Spirit Cafe Blog

In her introduction of Barack Obama at General Synod 26, remarks recently posted on YouTube, Associate General Minister Edith Guffey declares about the United Church of Christ (UCC): "We are a diverse church with many different perspectives and opinions."

That's true when you compare one local UCC church to another. But at the national level, finding expressions of the "diverse church," are darn near impossible.

Here's an example. An evangelical United Church of Christ pastor blogging at the denomination's "Spirit Cafe" had his Lenten devotional removed by the the site administrator in mid February after he wrote that homosexual behavior was immoral and claimed people have left the lifestyle with the help of Exodus International.

Rev. Randall Forester, pastor of St. Paul's Community Church in Chicora, Pennsylvania, had been posting articles at the Spirit Cafe blog since its inception two years ago. But apparently, his last article crossed some invisible line. i.UCC site administrator Andy Lang quickly deleted the post and justified his action to Forester, saying:
I've unpublished your blog in the Spirit Cafe until we can have a conversation about what you wrote. i.UCC is an open and affirming community. It is designed to be a safe place for lesbian and gay Christians. It is not a place where Exodus International, which, believe me, has done more harm than you can imagine, will be lifted up by a representative of the community as an example of faithful discipleship, or where homosexuality will be described as an example of the bondage of immorality...

If you feel that this is an unwarranted interference with your continued participation as an i.Guide, we can talk about it. Frankly, I am disappointed, because I thought that as an evangelical with a dialogical spirit you would understand that such a comment from an would be inappropriate. I am equally disappointed that you did not have the good judgment to consult with me first before writing a blog on this subject. As I said, I'll be glad to talk about it.
On the UCCtruths discussion board, some have said Lang is properly doing his job. He is reinforcing and upholding the convictions of General Synod delegates, who dictate the direction of the national church, and General Synod has a long tradition of welcoming and affirming the gay community.

Yes, General Synod has declared its will and the national office is carrying out its wishes. However, it's amazing that once an issue gets decided, any expression of dissent on a national stage is rarely permitted-- and in this case, snuffed out.

But also, this summer's General Synod said they acknowledge, "the existence of a broad spectrum of thought on contemporary issues of theology and ethics, and advocates fair representation of all points of view in all settings of the United Church of Christ" (lines 36-39 from the resolution, "Covenantal Relationships").

So how will that get worked out?

When it comes to sex, religious liberals like to tout how tolerant they are compared to those intolerant religious conservatives. But this incident illustrates that liberals have borders just as real as their conservative counterparts. It's just that liberals and conservatives have their fence posts in radically different places. Liberals believe homosexual relationships are blessed by God. Conservatives believe these relationships are sinful and grieve the heart of God. Theologically, there is no middle ground. Apparently, there's no common table at the Spirit Cafe to discuss it either.

The United Church of Christ is a grand ecclesiastical experiment of "unity amidst diversity." Is it possible?


But not when the majority silences the minority.

Next time: The "forbidden" devotional.


David said...

Oh yes, I fill so sorry for conservatives. They can barely get their message of homophobia out without the interference of liberals.

I suppose advocating a psychological treatment that is not only not endorsed by professional mental health organizations, but condemned as unhealthy and destructive, would have something to do with it.

Living the Biblios said...

Thanks for your tears David!

Sadly, one of the messages that many in the GLBT don't want to hear is that people can get out of the lifestyle and do get out.

Paul says as much in 1 Corinthians 6.

David said...

The "lifestyle"?! Good Lord. If you continue to try to inflict pain onto your brothers and sisters in the UCC then it really is best for you and your congregation to leave. Is there anything we can do to help that process? Perhaps we can recommend another denomination for your congregation to join?

Okie said...

David, Your last comment doesn't sound very INCLUSIVE to me!

David said...

No, it sure isn't. We stand against evil and those who wish to harm. Always have, always will.

Gregory said...

While I don't agree with the ideas against GLBT. I do agree with you on the lack of inclusion that people claim to have. You have rights in an inclusive organization and those opinions are right to be shared. It is hypocritical.

David said...

I agree, that's why I fully support ending the effort to be "inclusive". I certainly do not want to "include" open homophobes such as Mr. Weis. The effort to "include" cave-dwelling Neanderthals from Kansas is short-sighted and will ultimately hurt the UCC. Let Kansas remain in the 19th century. The rest of us have some social justice to do.

Gregory said...

David you should probably just stop trolling a person's blog if you don't have anything positive to say. I grew up in a UCC church in Overland Park, KS. Before it disbanded I had the opportunity to meet and grow up with people in Pastor Weis's church. White Memorial Camp is one of the most important places in the world to me. I consider the group of people that I grew up with like brothers and sisters. I respect Pastor Weis because he is a good person and the fact I know the people of his church are good people. Jesus wept and seeing your disrespect for my brother’s minister makes me weep. While I don’t agree with some peoples ideas I do respect those people, because we all have rights. David you are lucky this is the internet. I just noticed most of your comments are extremely libel.

David said...

"David you are lucky this is the internet. I just noticed most of your comments are extremely libel."

Come on! Libel?!? That's hilarious! Would you prefer, Gregory, if I made my comments in print, perhaps via mail? If so, which address shall I address it to?

I will speak out against the evil of homophobia and reparative therapy. I will speak out as others before me spoke out against sexism, slavery, and racism. You and your brethren will not silence me.

Gregory said...

You can send it to the Kansas City Star. Here is the address and phone number. Maybe if your lucky my friend can take photos for you good luck on that. I'm done arguing with you my friend.

Kansas City Star
1729 Grand Blvd
Kansas City, MO 64108-1458
Phone: (816) 234-4141