Sunday, May 01, 2016

A Christian's Confessed Change of Mind of Gay Rights and Marriage Quality


I have often said that the best justification for not wanting to call one's self a Christian is the behavior of those loudly embracing that title - especially those in "conservative" denominations.  Instead of love for others, kindness and good works, the hallmarks of such Christians is hate, bigotry, judgment of others, and hypocrisy that would the Pharisees of the New Testament.  I have in many ways ceased to think of myself as a Christian because the word carries nothing but negative connotations.  The exodus of the under 30 generations from organized religion demonstrates that I am not alone in this feeling.  I happened across a piece in DailyExtra by a former conservative - ultra-right wing might be a more apt description - Catholic that explains his conversion on gay rights and his need to leave the Roman Catholic Church, especially after the way his was treated by the "godly folk" when he began to question their hate and animus based beliefs. Here are excerpts:
Pigs flying overhead, hell freezing over and any other clich├ęs you can come up with to describe shock, incredulity or even horror: Michael Coren, writing an article for Daily Xtra! If it’s any comfort, until around two years I also would have thought the idea preposterous. I say it with no pride, and more than a little shame, that for the longest time I was considered an opponent and even an enemy of the LGBT community. That changed, or I changed, after a set of events and experiences in early 2014, which I chronicle in my new book, Epiphany: A Christian’s Change of Heart and Mind over Same-Sex Marriage.
The entire process is too long and multi-layered to explain in a column, but the origins were in then foreign minister John Baird’s entirely justified and vital criticism of Uganda’s proposed legislation to make homosexuality a capital crime.
I suppose the door had been opened. Shortly after this, World Vision, an international Christian charity group, announced that people in same-sex relationships were welcome to work for them. Within 24 hours, however, pressure from Christian groups and churches had forced them to backtrack. They had threatened to withdraw their funding. In other words, fire the gays or African children will die. Christ must have been weeping. 
I certainly did. This was not the faith I had embraced so many years earlier. I spoke out against Christian homophobia, called for a new conversation, pleaded that we listen rather than shout. Which led to a campaign of abuse, threats and insults that I have never encountered in a long journalistic career that includes time in Northern Ireland, the Middle East and war zones.
I was seeing a new, deeply disturbing face of Christianity . . . . In June 2014, I wrote my syndicated Sun column — in a dozen newspapers — apologizing for any pain I had caused gay people. I didn’t even mention marriage at this stage, but offered contrition for my actions and words. Believe me, it wasn’t easy.
What happened next changed my life. The waves of love and warmth that came to me from gay people all over North America and even Europe broke my heart. I was also fired from columns, lost numerous speeches and was labeled an adulterer, a thief and someone who was mentally ill. People wrote to my wife, claiming that I was having an affair with another man; my children’s Facebook pages were trolled and they were in turn accused of various crimes.
If the desired effect was to change my mind, it worked. It radicalized me, obliged me to read, think and pray harder and to soon realize that I had been wrong on marriage — to be candid, I think I knew this anyway but lacked the courage to say it. So I did indeed come out, as it were, and declared my support for equal marriage. I also knew I couldn’t remain in the Roman Catholic Church any longer and retain self-respect. I could not lie, could not pretend. I no longer believed in the Catholic Church’s moral teachings.
Yet all of this was product not of a weaker belief, but of a deeper Christian faith, and a belief in a Jesus who accepted everyone and who personified not judgment but love; a man who never even mentioned homosexuality but did scold those who condemned others, and who assumed that only they were pure and righteous.
I joined the Anglican church, where I have never been happier. That move was made public by some right-wing Catholic bloggers and the attacks were multiplied. I was dismissed from more columns and had more speeches cancelled — and while money and career aren’t the issue here, I probably lost half of my income — which is ironic, as one of the attacks on me was that my move was motivated by money!
Now comes a book and, I am sure, more darkness from those who dance in its shadows. But my only regret is that this didn’t happen earlier. Let me say again, even though I have said it countless times: I am sorry for any pain or harm caused. I can’t expunge that, but I can make sure that what years I have left are devoted to what is true, good, noble and liberating. Thank God for my epiphany.   
Few are more mean and vicious than the "godly" conservative Christians.  Like Islamic fundamentalists, hate and mistreatment of others are their main fruits of their religious belief.  The sooner society at large recognizes this reality and the sooner journalists and politicians cease giving deference to such foul people, the better off the world will be.  In my view, the death of Christianity - especially conservative strains - would be a net positive for the world. 

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