Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Jim Wallis & "the video"

Because I don't "belong" to a specific church or denomination, their internal positions on same sex marriage & the ordination of women & LGBT aren't of much concern to me. I'm most in agreement with the United Church of Christ & Reform Judaism,  which ordain  gays but leave hiring of them up to the individual congregations, &  clergy are permitted to officiate same sex marriage ceremonies if they choose.

The message of this video is something else. 

Sojourner magazine (print & online),  the mouthpiece of so-called "progressive Christian"* Jim Wallis, rejected this Mother's Day ad as too controversial. Wallis' defense of the decision was extraordinarily lame. Wallis is in actuality now a moderately conservative Evangelical Christian who, years ago when a vacuum of leadership existed on the Christian liberal/left, managed to convince a lot of people (including Barack Obama) that he was really important & spoke for millions of Christians  concerned with alleviating poverty & promoting peace (which ought to concern everyone). LGBT issues  made him anxious. He considered them divisive. He's always been wishy-washy on LGBT civil rights. This was alright 10 or 15 years ago. But now there are many  competing voices & organizations, some clear lines have been drawn between churches & denominations that welcome & those that don't, & there are nuances of welcoming of which this video represents  one so broad that a Roman Catholic acquaintance pointed  out it is in accord with Catholic guidelines  issued in 2006.  The women in the video are not demanding to be married & then ordained. They're just ... in a church, seem to be a couple, & the boy may be their son. 

It may be a watershed moment for Wallis - he hasn't realized it yet - & unless he changes he's going to lose many long-time supporters who viewed the American religious landscape through the narrower prism of Sojourners.  They may now discover there are plenty of alternatives, & also that maybe it's not such a hot spiritual or political  strategy to  compartmentalize "justice" & pretend the compartments are unconnected. If one supports the advancement of women's rights in third world nations, & opposes the oppression of religious minorities, one will invariably bump into the persecution of homosexuals.  All religious fundamentalism is related.  If you "call out" the American Christian right on poverty, military spending,. women's rights etc, sooner-or-later you have to deal with its homo-bigotry, because that's part of package, & the Christian right isn't content  with enforcing institutional doctrines within their own churches; they want those irrational prejudices codified in civil law.But American society is inexorably, demographically   overcoming those prejudices. Jim Wallis is so clearly behind the curve that his rejection of the video (& make no mistake, the decision was his, not his staff's) is earning him a much-deserved & overdue verbal beat-down from many of his own supporters.

*In  sense of supporting  what he considers a progressive political agenda. Doctrinally "progressive" Christians can mean a lot of things.

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