Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dear Pastor Warren, Can you understand the harm?

From Faith In America: Ending The Harm Caused by Religion-based Bigotry

Tracey Zoeller: If I Were Your Daughter...


Dear Pastor Warren,

I would like to ask you to stop and think about the pain your words and attitude towards me, are causing myself and those I love. When my family hears individuals such as yourself, compare me to pedophiles, can you stop and think for a moment about the pain inflicted, when you cause them to think about me in such an ugly context.

My father can no longer show me his love as he once did, because his church teaches him that my sexual orientation is act of choosing to live a sinful lifestyle. But I’m the same little girl that used to lean against his side, on so many Sunday mornings. He believes my salvation is in question, and I know that must make him incredibly sad. It hurts me to know I am causing him sadness. We no longer talk like we once did, there’s a wall between us now, because he believes I chose to be gay.

My sexual orientation was not a choice for me, Pastor Warren, no more than your sexual orientation was a choice for you. Can you understand the spiritual violence that you are inflicting upon me and others? If I were your daughter, would you still say I was the equivalent to a pedophile? Would you still use your Bible to condemn and reject me as an unrepentant sinner? Would I still not be welcome as a member of your church? Can you accept me, just as I am?

Sincerely,

Tracey Zoeller
~~~~

Mitchell Gold: An open letter to Pastor Rick Warren


Announcer: Mitchell Gold, author of “Crisis.” Forty stories revealing the personal, social, and religious pain and trauma of growing up gay in America.

Mitchell Gold: Dear Pastor Warren,

I’m Mitchell Gold, founder of an organization that works to help people understand the harm caused to gay teens and adults, and their families and friends.

We recently delivered to you a collection of personal stories from individuals who speak to you about the harm caused, when religion based bigotry and prejudice is used to justify rejection, condemnation, and discrimination, to gay Americans. You’ll find additional stories in a copy of my book “Crisis,” which I have also sent to you. I hope you will take the time to read them.

Pastor Warren, the issue is not about denying gay Americans the same rights as other Americans enjoy, although that is certainly something that for which we very strongly advocate. And the greatest harm does not come from you saying we shouldn’t marry. What causes so much pain, is when you say we are inferior, and when you look upon us as unworthy to share the same rights as others. More damaging is when you promote such rejection and condemnation, as the right thing to do if you’re a person of faith.

We’ve been down that road many times before. People of faith once were taught that rejection and condemnation, toward women, people of color, minority religious groups, or interracial couples, was the right attitude for them to hold. We know today those past examples of religion based bigotry and prejudice, have been proven wrong.

As you’ll recall, the Southern Baptist Convention, your Christian denomination, formally apologized to people of color on June 20th, 1995, for their role in the horror of slavery and segregation.

Why is that pastor Warren? I hope you can agree that it was because Americans of all faiths, realize the harm that was being done to those individuals targeted by such bigotry and prejudice. The pain felt by a young African teenager when saw individuals and institutions look upon him as unworthy and inferior, is the same pain, that millions of young gay teenagers feel today, when you say they are unworthy, inferior, and unfit to be fully welcomed by their family, friends, coworkers, or church. And make no mistake about it, your words do that.

Pastor Warren, I am sincerely and respectfully asking you place on your heart, the immense pain that is being brought to bear in the lives of gay Americans, in the name of traditional church teaching. It is my hope that you will come to understand that such harm can no longer be justified, and have the fortitude, to join others, including those in your own faith community in calling for its end. It’s important for you to connect the dots of the history of discrimination in America. I call upon you to say that religion based bigotry has no place in the soul of your church, or in America.

Respectfully,

Mitchell Gold
~~~~

An open letter to Pastor Rick Warren

by Dr. Rodney N. Powell
Former Civil Rights Activist




Dear Mr. Warren,

I am certain that you are aware of harm and history of religion based bigotry in the U.S., particularly related to black Americans, women, and homosexual Americans today, of all races and ethnicities. Therefore, I must assume that you do not care about the negative consequences of religion based bigotry, and the devastating social and psychological harm done to the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans. Especially vulnerable teenagers, who are just beginning to discover and understand sexual orientation and sexual identity.

Your religious beliefs and attitudes that cause you to be intolerant of the lives, opinions, behaviors, and identities of gay Americans, is not the issue. This issue is the actions you and others take regarding these beliefs. I steadfastly support your right to hold these religious beliefs, including your belief in the inerrancy of Biblical condemnation of homosexuality. However, your religious beliefs do not give you the right to oppress gay Americans, and encode your religious beliefs into customs, and codify them into laws that deny justice, equal civil rights, and first class citizenship to other Americans. When you seek to force your views and intolerance on others, you are no different from racists, segregationists, sexists, anti-Semites, and other bigots throughout America’s history of religion based bigotry.

Dr. King, vigorously and harshly, challenged and rejected the acceptance of institutions and persons who advocated and advanced religion based racial persecution, and its resultant bigotry and hate. It is astounding to me, and I am certain, to other former student leaders of non-violent protests, during the civil rights movement, such as congressman John Lewis, that you will deliver the keynote address at the Martin Luther King commemorative service, at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Mr. Warren, I do not believe Dr. King would find your spiritual leadership unifying, and I am certain he would not find it to be part of his vision for America, of the beloved community.

I suppose you will say you motive is to honor or please the god you love, however, I must ask whether attitudes and actions derived from misunderstanding, and bigotry, and deeply hidden prejudices please your god. Does it honor your god when innocent persons, especially teenagers, are devastated by words of condemnation and rejection.

Emmet Till and Matthew Shepard were innocent victims of hate and bigotry, and their deaths are directly related to such words spoken by religious leaders.

What I do know, as someone who learned the meaning of justice from Dr. King, is that both religion based bigotry and political expediency that exploits it for votes, perpetuate hate and injustice. And both, miserably fail Dr. King’s vision of the beloved community.

Mr. Warren, your pastoral leadership would not please Dr. King, and it certainly does not honor him.

Sincerely,

Rodney Powell
______________________________

Also, note the many letters from others that Faith In America sent to Rick Warren, intro:

Dear Rev. Rick Warren,

Faith In America is a nonprofit organization that works to educate Americans about the harm caused by religion-based bigotry and prejudice.

Several weeks ago we began collecting examples of that harm as it exists in the lives of gay Americans, their families and their friends. Most are from people who have experienced the pain of rejection and condemnation but some are straight allies who, like more and more Americans, understand why it can no longer be allowed to flourish in our society.

We hope you will take the time to read these examples and open your heart to an understanding of why we can no longer allow religion to be used in a way that exacts such a horrific human toll on the lives of so many Americans.

Sincerely,

Mitchell Gold, founder

3 comments:

Chew said...

So are you saying that because Christians believe homosexuality is wrong and immoral that they are bigots? The Bible speaks clearly about homosexuality and how it's a detestable and a sexually immoral act. It's been understood so much that we still use the term "sodomy" (referencing the country of Sodom) with a definition as "Carnal copulation in a manner against nature; Any of various forms of sexual intercourse held to be unnatural or abnormal, especially anal intercourse or bestiality". Even in the new testament in Rev. 21:8 it says "8But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death"

You miss the point entirely though. It's not just homosexuals who are sinners. Everyone is a sinner, and everyone is condemned to eternal damnation unless they repent. Turning to God, understanding we have sinned, and that Jesus, being the one sinless man, the Son of God, died for our sins. Then turning away from sin and putting your trust in the salvation that Christ has made available to you. Thats the point. We are sinners, but there is salvation through Christ.

If you come to Christ and repent, but yet still live a life of sin, then you haven't repented. God isn't just a loving God, He's also a God of justice. We being sinners have broken His law, the 10 commandments. Being the judge, He demands justice to be made.

If us being the criminals in the court say "But God, we have been good people and have given to charity, can we be let free?", would only be making a mockery of the court. The laws have been broken and someone has to pay the fine for it. The fine being eternal death in Hell for our sins. However, Jesus died and has paid the fine, but you however have to put your faith in Him and trust in Him. Then repenting, turn away from sinful ways and following in His teachings.

Chew said...

Sorry that so many have come to the realization that sin causes so much damage to family relationships. But it is the sin that causes these damages, not the church, or a pastor, or God. Each and every person sins, and as such it causes so much damage in our lives. People need to learn to take responsibility for their own actions. Homosexuals and heterosexuals are both guilty. If I was a parent and my child told me they were homosexual I would be upset, but I wouldn't love them anyless. The same is true if my child would be a liar, a theif, or has blasphemed God's Holy name.

Also a side note about our country's heritage. This country was founded by Christians (not diests), and the gospel of Christ.

It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.
- George Washington


The general principles upon which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity...I will avow that I believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.
- John Adams


It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was found, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.
- Patrick Henry May 1765 Speech to the House of Burgesses


So you may disagree with Christianity, but if it weren't for Christianity, we wouldn't have the Declaration of Independance nor any freedoms we have now.

Emproph said...

“So are you saying that because Christians believe homosexuality is wrong and immoral that they are bigots?”

Absolutely! But I too am a bigot. I’m bigoted against bigots, so let’s use the word hatred.

The hatred is not in believing homosexuality is sinful, it’s in wanting to.

“The Bible speaks clearly about homosexuality and how it's a detestable and a sexually immoral act.”

Loverly. And if the Bible spoke highly of murder, would you then approve of that?

“It's been understood so much that we still use the term "sodomy" (referencing the country of Sodom)”

Really? You think gang rape is the moral equivalent of an adult consensual relationship? And that offering up one’s virgin daughters to be gang raped is a good and noble thing for a father to do? (And btw, it was a city.)

“especially anal intercourse or bestiality”

Again, you consider manipulative sex with an animal to be the equivalent of consensual sex with another person?

And the whole anti-gay “anal intercourse” mantra is just another red herring. If you were really against anal intercourse, you’d be railing against anal intercourse, not FIXATED on when gay men have it.

"But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars…”

“sexually immoral”


Since there’s no clear definition, based on the other adjectives in that verse, I’m going to guess that “sexually immoral” is in regard to sex that hurts someone, like a rape, or a child molestation.

Those are real life destroying events that happen every single day, yet as a “Christian,” what’s you’re biggest concern of the day? Gay guys having fun poking each other in the arse.

“You miss the point entirely though. It's not just homosexuals who are sinners.”

Oh me oh my, how silly of me. So it’s not just about HOMOSEXUALITY? You mean HOMOSEXUALS aren’t the only sinners? Thank goodness it’s not just about the sin of HOMOSEXUALITY. It’s nice to know that there are other sins in addition to HOMOSEXUALITY, and that HOMOSEXUALITY isn’t the only sin there is, or even that HOMOSEXUALITY is the worst sin there is. It’s all so clear to me now that it doesn’t all have to do with HOMOSEXUALITY.

“and everyone is condemned to eternal damnation unless they repent.”

I’m attracted to guys and I hope to fall in love someday. How exactly does one go about repenting of that? Seriously, how? By renouncing my human desire for love and intimacy? Whom am I offending? God? Do you think God is the victim in all this?

“God isn't just a loving God, He's also a God of justice.
The fine being eternal death in Hell for our sins.”


If that’s your idea of “justice,” let alone the justice of a loving god, then you are plumb out of your mind.

Yeah, you and I need to have a little sit-down-pow-wow-chat about God, salvation and the nature of love. But first you have to get over your superiority complex, and I don’t think that’s something you’re willing to do right now. I think you enjoy thinking that you’re fundamentally less sinful than I. After all, at least you have the “moral” sense to know to be attracted to the opposite sex.

“If I was a parent and my child told me they were homosexual I would be upset, but I wouldn't love them anyless. The same is true if my child would be a liar, a theif”

Then you make no distinction between sinfulness and sinlessness. Because you make no distinction between the innocuous and the malicious. A same-sex relationship is not an act of harm, lying and thievery are. What you’re describing is not morality, but moral relativism.

But keep telling yourself that it’s really God who’s offended by man on man sex.

“Also a side note about our country's heritage. This country was founded by Christians (not diests), and the gospel of Christ.”

It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.
- George Washington


1) That’s an appeal to authority, a logical fallacy.

2) Like the Bible, you weren’t there, you don’t know.

3) A simple Google search shows that the Washington and Henry quotes are inaccurate, if not entirely false. And I’m too tired to look up the Adams quote.

That’s evidence of what I just said about moral relativism, you place such little importance on distinguishing fact from fiction. For all I know, those quotes could be accurate, and Snopes and Religious Tolerance could be wrong. But the issue is about the fact that you didn’t take the time to recognize that there’s a conflict before presenting them as “truth.”

If you can’t be trusted to have verified the little truths, how can you be trusted to have verified the big one?

And I don’t disagree with Christianity, just your version of it.