Something Happened……..time to spill the beans

bigotry

by Kenneth Justice

~For the past 7 years of my life I have been working in either the human service field (County Jail, Rehab Clinic, etc) or have been studying psychology and counseling at the academic level.

In January of this year I stepped away; five months ago I needed a break…..something happened.

It all started more than a year ago when I began working at a rehab clinic as a volunteer, progressed to overseeing the Intern program, and at the end of the year was told I could apply for a job and would be hired if I wanted the position.

However, last July one of my clients was kicked out of our program……

for being gay!

I was pissed off.

The rehab clinic I was working at had  fairly conservative evangelical Christian roots, but I thought that was all in their past….mistakenly I thought they had progressed beyond their fundamentalist history……I was wrong.

The client who was kicked out had an alcohol problem….without releasing too much personal information about him; suffice to say he was a lifelong alcoholic and our clinic was the last chance for him or he would have to go to jail….as far as I know he is currently in jail because our clinic kicked him out for violation of terms.

Because I was the proverbial low-man on the totem pole, I would have gotten nowhere had I registered a complaint.

A few months went by and one of the new clients that came my way in September; was not only gay, he had been actively working as a male prostitute for the past six years……..

This was NOT something in his file…..he shared this with me privately in a one-on-one session…..

Technically, I was supposed to be registering the content of our counseling session in his file but I intentionally left out the fact that he was gay…….he had come in due to heroin addiction which is all I ended up recording; that we had discussed his heroin use.

The organization behind the clinic I was working at is rather well known and if I mentioned their name many of you would be instantly familiar with them….

So where does that leave me?

In my 35 years of life, I have not actively sought to defend the homosexual agenda, I have not marched in gay rallies, and for the most part, other than knowing friends and family who are gay, I’ve never really spent a ton of time thinking about the subject of homosexuality…….until last year.

When I saw firsthand the discrimination by an Evangelical Christian organization towards homosexuals… I became very upset…….

I am not asking Evangelical Christians to endorse homosexuality

I am not asking Evangelical Christians to rewrite their doctrines

However, isn’t the refusal to help someone merely based on them being gay; the very essence of bigotry???

Google dictionary defines bigotry as, “intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself

Isn’t this what conservative Christians and Evangelical Christians are guilty of; Have conservative Christians replaced unconditional love with totalitarian bigotry?

I realize that my academic credentials and work experience qualify me for many other jobs in the counseling field….I’m not worried about myself.

Actually, taking a break from counseling has given me the opportunity to write this blog which I never had time for in the past.

But, this issue isn’t about me…..its about the people in this country that need help….the people who need to be loved, cared for, and reached out to with open arms……

I once had dinner with a Baptist Minister (he is now currently an ordained minister of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church), he adamantly told me he would never allow a homosexual to enter his house and be near his children.

He also said, “If ever I meet a homosexual I would never leave without telling them they are living in sin and doomed to hell unless they repent”

All of this leads me to ask; what is going on?

What am I missing?

I have a very strong faith in God…..my Christian faith is unwavering…..

However, my faith in the church is floundering…..I fear that the church, in its quest to preserve their biblical dogmas, have embraced a level of bigotry which we have not seen in many years. …

There is so much more I want to say on this subject but alas….the aroma of coffee is in the air and I know that it’s time for my next cup….

Kenneth



Categories: Religion

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46 replies

  1. You’ve made an important distinction between your faith in God and your faith in the church; one is a faith in the mysterious, the other a faith in human beings. Go with the former and recognize that the latter are flawed. Disclaimer: I am not a Christian. I don’t even believe in God. But I have the utmost respect for Christians who actually follow the precepts of Jesus and accept all of humanity (in all its ugliness and despair) with open arms. Granted, I see very few of those Christians because they tend to be humble and quiet, but they are out there providing comfort and support unconditionally to those who need it most. I think you can easily put yourself in this group.

    As for the “Christians” who will not tolerate lifestyles or views separate from their own, keep in mind that they are simply flawed human beings. They enjoy the other trappings of the religious life: order, prestige, power, control, money. Quite a contrast when you consider how the new pope washed the feet of prisoners (including, gasp, two women) on Holy Thursday.

    • 1WriteWay,

      I suspect Christianity has become very unappealing to those outside of the faith because of the actions of the church…..its pretty sad 😦

      great point about the Pope

    • For myself, I’ve just always had doubts and I’ve never been able to reconcile why bad things happen with the notion of a caring God. I have envied people who can find comfort in their faith. If there is a God, a Heaven and Hell, then I hope I will be judged on the basis of my actions. That’s my only comfort.

  2. Once saw the best bumper sticker “Oh Lord, protect me from your followers”. The core of Christianity should be love, without that foundation things can only go wrong and the name of Jesus tarnished

  3. Remember Christ would dine with the sinners, never let the human failings ,their bigotry get in the way of accepting God’s love. We don’t have to accept what others do with their lives but Christ expects us to put our hands out openly to help in their needs, otherwise we can’t call ourselves Christian , thank you for sharing and being caring ,gene

  4. So whilst worshipping a man who walked amongst the very worst of humanity, who reached out to the sinners and who, I’m fairly sure, but acknowledge the fact that I’m not all that up on my Biblical studies, never said a word about homosexuality, these people are refusing help to man man in desperate need because he’s gay?

    On the plus side, if I’m doomed to hell unless I repent, at least I won’t spend the afterlife being nagged about my sexuality.

  5. It is also unfortunate there are “sexually immoral” leaders among church leaders themselves. They, too, shall not “inherit the kingdom of God”. I heard an NPR discussion that 1 Corinthians was written to the church leaders, directing chapters 5 and 6 to the behavior of the church leaders themselves. Add hypocrisy to bigotry.

    • Mary,

      Do you remember the Ted Haggert scandal from a few years ago??

      After (married) Haggert got found out to be hooking up with male massauer’s he sure changed his tune quickly….

      Now that he has had to learn what humility is he is no longer throwing stones at others like he used to do with regularity….

    • Good case in point. Maybe those who scream the loudest should be looked at more closely. What really gets to me are the churches that hide it. Or the chuches that try to hide it and still protect their own.

  6. It’s such a heartache that bigotry and lack of compassion are far too real.

  7. I agree with you completely, People with problems need help. My wife left the Catholic Church because of their rigid restraints. She was not allowed to attend mass because she was divorced, and because they considered homosexuality a sin. Many of our friends and relations are gay. Yet, the church covers up the sexual abuse of children. They move the offending priests to a different location. This situation has been particularly bad in native communities where they have the least protection.

    My spirituality tends more toward Buddhist philosophy, it allows all faiths, it is open minded concerning new ideas. They even suggest questioning Buddhist beliefs on faith alone. Question everything! They support loving kindness towards all beings, without restriction or condition.

    I spend time every day with homeless people: some are gay, lesbian, or bisexual, some have AIDS, some are, or have been, prostitutes (male and female), some have committed crimes including murder. Most have served prison sentences. The common denominator is that these people came from families where they were neglected, abandoned, sexually and/or physically abused.

    Because I am not affiliated with any organization I have no restrictions. These people are my best friends -people I can count on.

    Cheers,
    Dennis

  8. I gave up faith and belief in God for lent decades ago. Why would I have to believe something I know profoundly? Religion baffles me for all its contradictions, as does science, the flip side of the same coin, in my view. The concept of Eternity, God, Source, Divinity, cannot be defined with any one finite discipline. As perfect expressions of Infinity, why would we have anything other than diversity? Why would Self express only in one mold? It doesn’t – and the evidence is all around us. Going out for coffee today! xoM

  9. The reason I left the Roman Catholic Church is because of all the hatred. Church member were constantly told to follow the tenants of the Church to the letter and have nothing to do with gays, pro choice people, environmentalists even (because of the “man has dominion” thing). Not only did we have to FOLLOW those tenants, we had to tell people who weren’t following them that they were going to suffer eternal torment in hell. In other words, I love you with the love of Christ…..as long as you do what I tell you to.
    Makes me ill.

  10. It should be about love. Not about judging –just about love. You have a good heart.

  11. I’m not gay, I’m married with children. But I had a recent and very close frienship that went down the tubes because my “friend” believed I was a “sinner” and he chose to distance himself from me. That hurt so badly! All of a sudden, everything I’d brought to the friendship was null and void. I have a deep faith that sustains me. But I am very disappointed by most people who do not practice what they OR God preaches: love Him and love your neighbor…regardless! I would never nor have I ever turned anyone away or out of my life because of how they live their’s unless they introduce a threat to my family. And even they I still stay in touch if it’s okay with them. This makes me so mad! LOL!

    • Betsy. After I left the Catholic Church a very good friend of mine call me all the usual names and then refused to have anything to do with me. Years later after not stepping into the church for all that time, I had a conversation with another friend who had not seen me for years. After hearing that I was no longer a practicing Catholic (an Apostate according to him), then he also refused to have anything to do with me. Even though I said that friends can have many other things in common besides religion. We both loved music very much. That simply wasn’t enough for him. I had to be Catholic in order to be his friend. It’s really sad that such strictness keeps people from associating with someone who is a wonderful person.

    • Yes. It is sad. I was surprised at how small I felt even though I’m confident in my relationship wih God (who I know understands me and loves me completely, flaws and all). I realized that I’d been judged up against an impossible standard throughout the whole friendship. That was so strange to find out. That in his eyes I was “bad”. Yuck! I would never want anyone to think that they were bad or wrong just because they were working things out at their own pace! Thanks for reahing out xuerspage (name? LOL!)

    • xuerspage, are Catholic Church refused to have anything to do with you? I think not all Catholic are like that.

    • After being treated so awful by the two people I mentioned and having NO ONE in the entire church ask me why I hadn’t been coming to church after going there for 20 years, I decided that I did not want to be a part of something whose members were so uncaring.

    • I’m sorry to hear that 😦

    • It was hard for a time, but I finally decided that if the person that I am is not good enough for them then I don’t want to associate with them any way. It’s THEIR loss, not mine.
      Peace

  12. Betsy. It’s Cher. Yes, just like Wat’s Her Name 🙂

  13. I’m afraid to say the the church’s stance on homosexuality defines most of what repels me from any religion. As you say, it’s bigoted… and it’s completely hypocritical. Religion is all about power and self-preservation. I can’t express how sad I am for your clients and others like them.

  14. Jesus lived among sinners and Paul went to gentiles, pagans and Greeks. The lesson of Paul’s ministry is that the Messiah is not the property of the Jews (in today’s case Fundamentalists) and that this new subset of a Jesus movement within Judaism(which obviously evaporated) was a religion of INCLUSION for ALL who accept the invitation Jesus offers. “All who seek a seat at the Table are welcome.”

  15. institutionalized religion is hypocrisy…I turned my back on it long ago…my father was a minister so I did learn the bible when I was young…lesson from the bible…Jesus ministered to prostitutes, lepers and others that were not among the fortunate in life or socially acceptable…I live in Quebec now and they have many magnificent churches (mostly Roman Catholic but that doesn’t matter) you look at the wealth of these churches and then look at then look at the poverty in the community in which they are situated and that tells you all you need to know about Organized Religion…and the church is the last people that should condemn homosexuality when you look at how many priests have sexually abused children to have it swept under the carpet and kept out of the public eye…I find organized religion uses doctrine to serve their own ideals and ambitions…because if you read the bible then you know it is about love and acceptance…

  16. This sentence underlines your whole post, “However, isn’t the refusal to help someone merely based on them being gay; the very essence of bigotry???” I am a believer, I consider myself a Christian, and yet, I am amazed at how unloving and bigoted some ‘Christians’ can be. Although, to point something out, the church is just made up of people, and aren’t people all capable of doing stupid things and of behaving badly? Just because someone is a Christian or goes to church or believes in God, doesn’t mean that they are somehow now perfect. I know, I know, it’s still upsetting to see people being barred from receiving much-needed help, simply because they are gay. Or a minority. Or poor. Or whatever. I agree with you, completely.

  17. That is really sad! I couldn’t work for that organization either. I’m surprised how many jobs I’ve left because I had moral issues with the organization (not Christian organizations, but still, people who thought on some level they were doing well). I don’t know why it is important to these people to hold onto their hatred and why their faith, which is supposed to be founded on love of neighbor, seems so threatened by some neighbors they have to cast them out. I just don’t get it. Thanks for sharing this experience.

  18. You know, this is kind of the process I started when I was 15. My best friend at the time, came out to me. He had always been very depressed up until that point. When he came out he seemed happier and then a few years later he met a very nice man who he has now been with for many years. They are very happy together. As I saw the beginning of this process unfold, and looked at what the church was telling me, I ended up thinking; ‘how is this wrong? No-one’s getting hurt here. These people are happier!’. Obviously it was an age where I questioned a lot of my taught beliefs. Like you, I ended up feeling that I believed in God but I wasn’t sure I believed in the church. I spent about 5 years away from church before coming back. I came back because without church I drifted from god. I’ve spent the last 10 years reconciling the fact that just because I don’t believe the same as all the other members of the church (and some of them really piss me off sometimes) it does not mean church is not a good idea overall. I have yet to meet a church that has got things totally right, but I can think of no church more wrong than when everyone believes exactly the same thing. Homosexuality is an emotive and controversial issue. The task of the church is to argue our beliefs on these issues between ourselves in a caring, sensitive and tolerant manner.
    Yes, I really do believe that’s what god wants from us.
    Yes, I know that seems impossible when ‘they’ are acting like that.
    And yes, it probably would be impossible, without the grace of god.

  19. You know… I couldn’t disagree any more than I do with the whole gay/lesbian thing. However, I am not the judge. God is the judge. They as we all do, seal their own fate.

  20. i love faith, but i’ve decided i don’t love religion, at least as a general rule of thumb. there is far too much hypocrisy in it for my taste. truth is, when looking at the roots of religion, all of that hypocrisy is really about having control over people. money was almost always at the root of most christian based religions and the more they could control you the more money they’d get, etc. (you know the stairway to heaven bit – buy your forgiveness, etc.). anyway, as far as today is concerned – seems like there’s a dichotomy going on – people are either grasping harder than ever to their prejudices due to the change happening or others are embracing it (i do see those who embrace it even if it seems they’re in the minority). in my experience, bigotry/racisim/prejudice is very closely related to, if not in fact the same, as fear. people always fear what they don’t understand so it almost always comes out as anger or hate. this is me bringing out my inner nerd but “yoda” really was onto something when he said (and forgive me it’s not exact) it starts with fear; fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate. pretty ridiculous if you ask me. and now we’re back to my post about there being a need for “more love” not less. another great post! im glad you’re taking a break and having more time for this blog – im the better for it. thanks!

  21. I don’t really think of myself as religious, but I’ve gone to my sister’s church several times recently and they just finished a whole series on rebranding Christianity. I liked a lot of what they said — it was about countering exactly this kind of bigotry. About trying to truly live by Christ’s principles instead of going around judging other people by your skewed interpretation of them.

    I respect you for standing up for what’s right.

  22. Go Culture Monk! Shall I go? Yes, I think I might…. my Father was a Vicar in the Church of England. He preached about a God of Love. The very same right wing bigoted, reactionary fundamentalist Christians you talk of who are often homophobic and racist would have crucified the very Christ they now claim to folow. This is not about Christianity, it is about fear, power and greed – shame on them!

  23. I agree with a lot of what you say here. However the whole church is bad and Jesus is good thing get’s a little tired. I’m not saying I even disagree with it. But the Church is never going to be perfect because it is full of sinners. The main problem is that often those people forget that which leads to self righteousness and hence bigotry etc. My other thing is, two things we can’t do (as believers). 1. Criticize the Church from the cheap seats while not actually moving the gospel forward ourselves. All the poor me, church sucks, it doesn’t help the poor, doesn’t mean much if we aren’t helping the poor. Follow Jesus we say, but do we hang out with prostitutes and other “sinners”. Most of us, I’d venture no. So the Church doesn’t do it, but we don’t either – and guess who is the Church at the end of the day? 2. Criticize the the Church without actually talking to the people that run it. Now I get that we can’t get a meeting with the Pope. But I’ve watched a lot of my friends leave, church hop, and/or complain without actually ever investing one day in knowing the people at said church. Any time we turn people into “they” we are in trouble. It’s bad when the Church does it, but it’s equally as bad when we do it to the Church.

    Just my two cents. Love your blog

  24. I’m feeling justinmccampbell on this. Remember that the “church” is not merely an institutionalized organization. It’s a body of believers that includes liberals and conservatives, Catholics and Methodists, Calvinists and Universalists, you and me. So when you say the church is steeped in bigotry, you’re applying that label to a pretty broad and diverse group of people who may or may not actually fit the term. Yes, the actions of that Christian clinic are deplorable; I would never turn away a drug addict seeking help just because of homosexuality. At the same time, there are other Christian groups out there helping the least in society (my church is one of them.) We just don’t hear much about them because the work isn’t glamorous and the headline wouldn’t sell many papers…or pull in web traffic.

  25. I feel this… And your not missing a damn thing… The church is just a church… But god…

  26. I was raised in the American South and this is no new news for me. I grew up with institutionalized Christian racism, anti-Catholicism, and anti-Semitism. Most of my family still live in the South and think that way. Being anti-gay is just another group of people to hate. How this got started in the church, became accepted, and became a standard of virtue, I don’t know.
    did you ever see the movie “Cry, the Beloved Country”? It is about two Christians living in South Africa during Apartheid, one black and one white. Not on topic for anti-gay but it a profound movie I thought.

  27. These bigots 😦 I dislike their sanctimonious attitude.

  28. It is especially important and upsetting that addiction and sexuality are being separated here in order to assign treatment.

  29. All I can say without giving away my own story (really personal to me) is that I have thought the same thing…

  30. I struggle daily with the great chasm between churches who seek to be judge and jury, when it is God who reserves the right to both. So many are disillusioned by the this particular faction of the church, that worships its own power to control and demand conformity of its members. For me the way to faith and hope and love is looking for what I am instructed to do or pursue straight from the Big Guy, not from my fellow man. Thanks for speaking out, perhaps if enough of us express our dismay with actions contrary to Biblical principles (actions like judging and hating and pointing fingers at others) the larger group will hear and respond.

  31. I like your use of the definition: ‘intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself“- really says it all. I grew up in a Christian home and found the contradictions too difficult to deal with, so ended up forging my own path

  32. Is it that so much of religion has been the “hellfire and brimstone” kind, that unless you meet certain conditions, you are not saved. Plus each seems to think there is only one way to salvation – their way. That sounds like a God of conditional love, not the one I believe in. I have been a member of a Presbyterian, Congregational and Methodist church over the past decades and they seem to rigid for me. I see God as a loving God who loves each of us because we are. God loved us first, before we ever heard of God, there is no judgement ever and always forgiveness. There have been pharmacies lately who will not sell the “morning after pill” for religious reasons. What happened? Is it now “We will only deal with people who are like us”?

    Thank you also for speaking out, it is harder and harder for some of us to find our ow place or community that is based on unconditional love and support no matter who you are or what you believe.

  33. I was raised Christian, but I no longer believe this label fits me. The truth is, I found that dogma, mythology, and scriptural literalism too often overshadow the mission Christians are charged with. Jesus taught a brand of radical, dangerous love that extends beyond comfort zones and personal safety. This is often incredibly difficult, however. So to minimize the staggering inconvenience that comes with loving one another regardless of our differences in belief, organized Christianity now seems singularly focused on forcing everyone to adopt the same beliefs (which, it should be said, cannot be forced voluntarily one direction or another.) Meanwhile, meaningful action is lying forgotten in a dusty corner someplace while the church suffocates in finger pointing and lip service.

    The bottom line is, Jesus ate with the sinners and the tax collectors. He didn’t exclude those he didn’t agree with, he INTENTIONALLY reached out to those who were considered outcasts by everyone else. The point wasn’t that he was condoning any set of behaviors, the point was that it simply didn’t matter. He couldn’t have been much more clear about what to do, could he?

    Phew! End of rant. I could probably do with some coffee as well, it turns out!

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