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“Embarrassing to be a Christian”

Earlier this year, my son, Mike, and I were featured in a Newsweek interview (Feb. 16, 2009) that created a firestorm torched by fundamentalist Christians over my comment: “It’s embarrassing to be a Christian.”

The Newsweek article entitled “Delicious White Whine” – Mike did ‘School of Rock.’ Mel worked for Pat Robertson. Now they’re an amazing ‘Race’ team. www. Newsweek.com

The World Magazine response:
http://online.worldmag.com/2009/02/09/its-embarassing-to-be-a-christian/

Mike

The interviewer asks if Mike considers himself a Christian.

MIKE: “I don’t really consider myself a Christian. It’s complicated, like everything else but I think what my Dad is doing as far as reaching out to the conservative Christian community for inclusion is a really courageous thing.”

MEL: “It’s ironic because given the state of what it means to be a Christian these days, I’m not a Christian either. I’m a mediocre follower of a first-century Jewish teacher. And being Christian brings up all those stereotypes that are so destructive to the gay spirit. So when Michael says he’s not a Christian, I completely understand and feel the same way. I hope that one day we can reclaim that word, but as it stands now, it’s embarrassing to be a Christian.”

You should read the hysterical responses storming across the blogosphere calling me the devil’s helper or worse. You will find more than 100 responses at the World Magazine link posted above. I dare you to check it out. It’s a veritable treasure chest of short, pithy, sometimes hilarious, sometimes tragic summaries of the fundamentalist Christian worldview (with a few very intelligent response thrown in.)

I could spend time defending my own Christian faith but I’m no longer willing to argue with my friends on the religious right. We have the Soulforce Equality Riders to that. These are young justice volunteers who travel across the US visiting Christian universities and military academies entering into dialogue, discussing and debating policies that discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Fundamentalist Christians continue to misuse the Bible and ignore scientific evidence “to prove” that homosexuality is a sickness to be cured and a sin that needs to be forgiven. Soulforce has two pamphlets that can be downloaded that respond in detail to these false charges: “What the Bible Says – and Doesn’t Say – about Homosexuality” << http://www.soulforce.org/article/homosexuality-bible >>
and “What the Science Says – and Doesn’t Say – about homosexuality –
<< http://www.soulforce.org/article/homosexuality-science >>.

Let the young people of Soulforce Q continue to dialogue and debate the issue. I’ve decided, however, that it’s better to use my time trying to make it clear (especially to my LGBTQ sisters and brothers) that God created us lesbian or gay, bisexual or transgender and God loves us exactly as we were created.

Whether fundamentalist Christians believe it or not, I can say without fear or ambivalence: “I am gay. I am proud. And God loves me without reservation!”

I don’t know where you are on your own journey of faith but I do know this: You are welcome to join me and my friends at Soulforce whether you are a member of a faith community or not.

I’m hoping that you have read my autobiography, Stranger at the Gate: to be Gay and Christian in America.” It will give you a better perspective on who I am and where I’m coming from as you read my blogs in the days ahead.

I grew up in a loving Christian home with parents who meant well but almost destroyed my spirit with their antigay beliefs. I spent 35 years on treatments hoping “to overcome my homosexual orientation” with ex-gay programs including everything from prayer, fasting, cold showers, to exorcism and electric shock. Finally I was able to overcome the decades of half-truth, hyperbole and lies about homosexuality and homosexuals that I had heard from my childhood. Now I am can accept my sexual orientation as a gift from God to be accepted, celebrated and lived with integrity.

Finally after being a victim of fundamentalist Christian biblical misuse, I began a ten-year investigation into the war that fundamentalist Christians are waging against LGBT people. My latest book Religion Gone Bad: Hidden Dangers of the Christian Right (to be reissued April 2010 by Alyson as Holy Terror) is a kind of expose on fundamentalist Christians and the way they are using the homosexual issue to raise money and mobilize millions.

In coming months I will use this blog to continue my journey where Stranger at the Gate left off. That book tells the story of my struggle to accept myself as a homosexual. The occasional blogs you’ll find here will explore my struggle to discover what it means to be a gay man, to look at the questions, decisions, issues we face AFTER we’ve accepted our sexual orientation.

My answers may be totally wrong. They may make you as angry with me as those who fundamentalist Christians who responded to the Newsweek story. Oh well, I’m just 9 months from being 70. I only have so many years left. Why not risk them on seeking the truth about issues we would – I would – rather ignore?