An Apology

Confession: churchies make me nervous.

For clarification, a “churchie” is someone who self-identifies as “born again,” a “follower of Christ,” someone who “found Jesus,” and/or anyone who describes him/herself as “religious.”

I am not proud of this confession, but I share it now as we move into hearings on marriage rights, which is generally argued on religious beliefs.

Here’s the deal…churchies are the people who say things like the following:

On marriage equality: “Basically marriage will be completely destroyed, families will be destroyed, children will be hurt by this. And freedom of speech and freedom of religion, including in the pulpit itself, will absolutely be bulldozed over,” Mathew Staver, Dean of Liberty University’s School of Law.

After the Aurora, Colorado massacre: “We don’t have a crime problem, a gun problem or even a violence problem. What we have is a sin problem. And since we’ve ordered God out of our schools, and communities, the military and public conversations, you know we really shouldn’t act so surprised … when all hell breaks loose,” Mike Huckabee, former Governor of Arkansas.

On marriage equality: “Anything other than a man marrying a woman is two disturbed people playing house,” John Hagee, senior pastor and founder of Cornerstone Church.

After the Newtown massacre: “The question is going to come up, ‘Where was God? I thought God cared about the little children. God protects the little children. Where was God when all this went down?’ Here’s the bottom line, God is not going to go where he is not wanted,” Bryan Fischer, American Family Association.

These are churchies.

Let’s be clear: I grew up Catholic. My grandma’s best friend, a man I deemed my “other” grandfather, was a Catholic priest. I was 10 when I received my first bible. I was wrestled out of bed every Sunday for the Catholic dance – stand, kneel, sit, kneel, wine, kneel, sit, stand. I never felt connected to God in a Catholic church. I remember feeling closer to God during conversations with my grandma than I ever did sitting in a pew, robotically reciting the prayers I had learned in CCD class.

After my parent’s divorce, my mom took us to a Lutheran church. It was here that I went to church camp, sang in a choir, and joined a youth group. Church was fun and filled with volleyball and lock-ins. It was also here that I began hearing about “totally twisted perverts” – the homosexuals who could destroy life as we knew it.

I stopped going to church when I was a teenager. I haven’t returned. Well, I go when required – weddings, funerals, the occasional family outing.

Churches (and the churchies) make me nervous. And here’s why…

The God I have come to know – the one that asks me to be the best me – is not the God that these churches (or churchies) speak of. That God is scary. He believes we are all sinners – hate the sin, not the sinner. He is vengeful and spiteful. He shows his wrath by helping kill innocent children or desecrating cities due to homosexuality. The God of the churchies needs a mediator to hear you – a priest who can tell you what your punishment is for the sins you have committed. Churchies stand outside military funerals and claim their God kills soldiers because “God hates fags.”

I am not trying to get into a religious discussion – that can’t be done in a blog or on Facebook. I am happy to go to coffee and have a legitimate dialogue, as I have been known to do with many a Christian.

What I do want this blog to be is the start of a change. For me.

This is an apology to you, my Jesus lovin’ Christian friends. I apologize that I allowed these churchies to cloud my assessment of you. I am sorry that I let a select few corrupt my views of so many.

It is not your fault that a few of you are extremists. It is not your fault that a select group of you seem unloving or judgmental. It is not your fault that the loudest (and generally angriest) of you are generally the only ones heard.

Perhaps it’s because only recently have I actually met a few of you that helped me redefine what “churchie” means: that being a Christian means loving all and being the best you. It means having a relationship with God outside of your relationship to others. It means being comfortable enough in that relationship to not need to make others feel like their relationships are less than. Being a real Christian means that you spend your days being the best you and understand that others need to be the best them.

So, while you may not catch me at church every Sunday, what you will see is me being my best me.

More importantly, you will see me change…’cause we are nothing if we can’t evolve.

It’s taken me a while to figure this out, but I know that you will forgive me…it’s kind of what y’all do.

PS. Heard of the Reformation Project? It’s kind of awesome.

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It’s Personal.

So, Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas Governor and current media personality, has declared today a Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day. Why?

“The goal is simple: Let’s affirm a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the Godly values we espouse by simply showing up and eating at Chick Fil-A on Wednesday, August 1. Too often, those on the left make corporate statements to show support for same sex marriage, abortion, or profanity, but if Christians affirm traditional values, we’re considered homophobic, fundamentalists, hate-mongers, and intolerant.” (http://www.mikehuckabee.com/supportchickfila)

As a reminder, during an interview with the Baptist Press, this is what Dan Cathy, Chick-Fil-A President, said after being asked to address his franchise’s support of the traditional family:

“Well, guilty as charged.”

He went on to say:

“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that…we know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”

Then, in an appearance on The Ken Coleman Show, Cathy took his comments slightly further:

“I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,’ and I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is about.” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/17/dan-cathy-chick-fil-a-president-anti-gay_n_1680984.html)

After these comments, I made a YouTube video. You can see it here.

Today, more than 600,000 people have said that they will support Chick-Fil-A.

I have had numerous discussions with many people recently about this topic – both religious and political. Apparently, you post your thoughts on YouTube and people tend to wanna talk to you about them. Who knew? I welcome these conversations because if nothing else, I’m putting a face on this issue with the people who know me…or semi-know me…or know someone who knows me.

And I will continue to make it personal. It’s hard to be anti-anyone who occupies time in your life. In your space.

Look, I am clear that we live in a very divisive world. It’s the one we have created. “You are different than I am.” “You think differently than I do.” You are “other” than me.”

We use these differences as a means to separate the “right” from “wrong.” If someone is “other” than you, it’s easier to make him/her “bad,” while you remain “good.” These differences help create “normal” or “traditional” versus “different” and “scary.”

Let’s be clear…

Supporting Chick-Fil-A today (or any other day for that matter) is a direct slap in my face. Not because I don’t support free speech – I made a YouTube video for cryin’ out loud ‘cause I’m all for the freedom to express your opinion – but because this is wrapped up in so much more than free speech and the support of the “traditional family” or “Godly values.”

By saying you support “traditional family,” you’re telling me that the family I create will never be “normal” or “good” or “right.” Why use the word “traditional” if not to show how anything else is abnormal?

This is about so much more than marriage equality or chicken. It’s about looking someone –  a fellow human being – in the face and telling her, “You are not the same as me and, therefore, don’t deserve the same.”

Buying a chicken sandwich or those amazing waffle fries (dammit.) today isn’t supporting free speech. You know that. Don’t try to convince me differently. You know that today is not about supporting free speech or Godly values. Today’s “Appreciation Day” is about supporting a business over a person. A person that you have deemed “other” and, therefore, wrong or bad or different or scary.

I share these faces with you.

They are just a handful of teenagers who killed themselves rather than face a world where they felt they were too different to ever fit in.

They are just teenagers.

Not wrong or bad or different or scary. Just kids.

 

I share this face with you. It’s mine.

I love to laugh. In fact, I laugh too loudly when something happens that I find enjoyable. Music feeds my soul. Going to the theatre is the thing I could spend the majority of my money on. Over the course of the last year, I have given and/or helped raise over $20,000 for organizations that help make our world a better place. I have too many dogs, but love each of them. I own my own house and my own business. I drink a lot of coffee, and I love cheese. I have a hard time saying “no” to my friends and end up overextending myself on a daily basis. Daily, I try to make a difference in our world.

These are just some of the things that make up me. These are the things for which I will hopefully be remembered. Note that “being gay” isn’t one of those things.

Enjoy your waffle fries. Or better yet…don’t.

This is personal. I won’t let you forget that.