terrorists have distorted the BIBLE and used it to abuse and
oppress Gays and to hold hostage the spirituality and sexuality of Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender People!
This WEB SITE is a WEAPON to fight back!
web site is intended to give encouragement and hope to the multitude of
homosexuals and others who have suffered from unrelenting attacks by
religious leaders. Jesus taught that God loves and accepts you as
God's children, just as you are. Being gay does not cut you off
information in this web site will help you to answer the ignorance that
represses and wounds the human spirit. Give yourself the time it
takes to study all of this site. It will equip you to feel good
about yourself and to help others do the same.
SPECIAL NOTE ON BIBLE TRANSLATIONS:
Truluck's own translations and paraphrases of the Bible passages are
used in this web site. Beginning in January, 2000, Dr. Truluck
added to this web site the full text of key Bible passages used in each
of the 52 Lessons in the book version of "Steps to Recovery from Bible Abuse". These Bible passages are listed at the end of each of the Twelve Steps
along with the titles of the Lessons. You can click on the Bible
references and see them to read and study along with the rest of the
material in this web site and use them along with the book. This
will make both the web site and the book more useful by making the
Bible material more readily accessible and easier to understand.
See all of The Bible and Homosexuality materials. The printed passages usually are long enough to make clear the context of the main ideas. Brief
quotations of the Bible can be misleading and confusing.
author has been guided in his translations and paraphrases of biblical
material by the exact meaning of ancient Greek and by the need to cast
the message in language and ideas that are clear to today's
readers. The attempt has been made in the translations to be
inclusive and use inclusive language without being distracting.
main purpose of this web site is to encourage people who have been
abused by the Bible and religion to take a fresh look at the Bible for
themselves. Discover the spiritual help there that has been a
source of encouragement and peace of mind for many multitudes of people
in many different cultures and religious traditions.
When you finish studying this site, please e-mail the author at
firstname.lastname@example.org and tell how this site has helped you.
religions besides Christianity have oppressed and abused
homosexuals. For Gay and Lesbian affirming web sites by other
religions, see the Gay Religion Links on Yahoo! for Judaism, Gay Spirit Visions and Unitarian-Universalism. See also White Crane. Another helpful link for Christians is Gay Christians. See the Resources pages
of this site. The basic approach of "Steps to Recovery from Bible
Abuse" will be helpful whatever your religious background might be.
a recent home spiritual growth group, the question was asked, "How is
Christianity different from all other world religions?" My answer
was that Christianity is the only world religion that does not do what
it claims to do. All other religions basically do what they claim
to do, whether it is honoring ancestors, respecting nature, accepting
all religions, or learning the teachings of a great teacher like the
Buddha. Christianity claims to follow Jesus in giving and
demonstrating God's unconditional love for all people.
Christianity, however, does not carry out that claim and denies it in
countless churches, councils, denominations, radio and television
preachers, and a steady flow of books, magazines, and web sites.
web site is a fresh look at "The Bible as the Friend of Lesbians and
Gays." It is both new and old at the same time. My position
that the Bible never discussed or condemned homosexuality is often
called "revisionist". It is not. The revisionists are those
who have read homosexuality and homosexuals into the Bible through a
few out-of-context and incorrectly translated verses and by incorrectly
reading current sexual attitudes into the culture of Bible times.
web site attempts to do two basic things. It focuses on Jesus and
the living Spirit of Jesus within every believer as the true and
relevant guide to all scripture and all of life. It also gives
detailed information and facts about Bible words and translations to
clarify the truth as the Bible writers intended. In giving these
details, this study brings out the cultural milieu in which Bible
materials originated and which greatly influenced what was written and
why it was written.
20:31 states that "these have been written that you may believe that
Jesus is the Christ, the Child of God; and that believing, you may have
life in Jesus' name." Jesus throughout all Four Gospels rejected
and replaced the legalistic judgmental religion of Law with himself and
gave the one consistent commandment: "Follow Me."
(BE SURE TO READ
"A TRUE AND PERSONAL STORY" AT THE END OF THIS PAGE BEFORE YOU LEAVE "WHY THIS SITE".)
This update was added September 14, 2002:
"FIVE YEARS LATER"
YEARS AGO today, September 14, 1997, my web site on "Steps to Recovery
from Bible Abuse" was published on the internet. At that time,
only a few million web sites were on line. Now, more than 100
million new web sites are added to the Internet every month!
soon as my web site was published, I looked up the name on Yahoo and
Alta Vista, and to my surprise, I found that not only had my site been
listed with links, but each separate page and section was also listed
with links and appropriate titles. I assumed that some dedicated
gay person had found it and decided to make it as available as
9/14/97, my site has received approximately 20 million hits. I
looked today at the listing for "Recovery from Bible Abuse" on the
major search engines and found my web site listed first with related
sites listed also: Yahoo listed 27,600, Alta Vista listed 10,420, and
Google listed 31,900.
of the basic web site material plus 52 "lessons" on related issues were
published by Chi Rho Press in my book: "Steps to Recovery from Bible
Abuse" in January, 2002. The book, now it's second printing, has
been placed in the hands of hundreds of gay positive pastors, including
all active MCC clergy in the US and foreign countries. Home and
church small groups are using the book and web site as a basis for
spiritual recovery and growth in hundreds of cities on four
continents. Some people may be using it in Antarctica, but I have
not heard from them yet!
of "updates" related to my web site have been sent out to people around
the world who have used the web site and book and requested the
updates. These updates also are picked up and sent out to
thousands of additional people by various GLBT positive lists around
the world. The purpose of the updates is to add current
information to the web site and to deal with developing issues that
concern all of us in our personal spiritual journeys.
Several people in various
countries are translating my material into local languages.
has always been basic in all of my writings and workshops. The
true meaning and identity of Jesus has been obscured by contemporary
religion and demands careful reexamination and a fresh look. Most
of my recent updates have dealt with my growing conviction that the
true Spirit of Jesus is already within us and surrounds us in every
aspect of our universe.
already are created in the "image of God" and you do not have to go
somewhere outside yourself and your immediate world to experience and
know the God and Parent of Jesus. My recent thinking and writings
have focused on your experience of the "Jesus within" and the God who
already accepts and affirms you and is present with you at all
times. The hand of God is at work in your life at every moment of
your existence. Your willingness to listen to God and recognize
the presence of the eternal Spirit with you is essential to your growth
and peace of mind.
religion has been discredited at every level. The religious use
of biblical material to condemn and reject LGBT people has been shown
over and over to be inaccurate and misinformed. My web site was
the first on the Internet to spell out in such detail this
self-defeating inaccurate use of Bible material to single out sexual
orientation and same-sex love as a target for religious attack and
rise of the "Ex-Gay" industry has further muddied the waters of truth
and common sense in the homophobic religious war against GLBT
people. Yet, no matter how clearly the false claims of the
"ex-gay" advocates are refuted, a growing multitude of disappointed and
frustrated gay and lesbian people are being sucked into the dismal
self-rejection and determined mental illness of "Ex-Gayism." (See
all of my web site material on "THE EX-GAY FRAUD."
in spite of the clear evidence of credible biblical research and
scientific medical opinion in psychiatry that refutes the religious and
psychological assumptions of anti-gay conventional wisdom; cultural and
social misunderstanding and rejection of homosexual orientation
prevails like an incurable disease of plague-like proportions.
this point, the logical question seems to me to be: "What can
adequately replace contemporary religion?" Perhaps, almost
anything! Letting go of abusive contemporary religion is a lot
like trying to break up with an abusive lover. Severely mixed
feelings cannot sustain any enduring relationship with people or with a
religious system. LET GO AND MOVE ON!
home small group study and dialogue may be the most viable replacement
for contemporary church type religion, which is based primarily in
medieval points of view and methods. Small group home study
allows individuals to be open and accepting of each other and
themselves and to be non-judgmental and willing to share and learn from
for the individual and acceptance of the value and validity of each
person follows the attitude of Jesus as spoken in The Gospels.
You never know ahead of time what you will learn from a single
individual that comes into your life, even briefly.
that: "Every person is an abyss and one becomes dizzy standing on the
edge looking in." The possibilities of what you can learn from
one person in a small group are incalculable and unexpected. Read
all of "Acts of Faith" by Iyanla Vanzant for practical help in learning
from and teaching the people who come into your life.
WHERE FROM HERE?
do we go from here? We simply continue to remain faithful to our
calling to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Sovereign and
Savior, Jesus Christ. The Spirit of Jesus is your guide and the
energizer of your spiritual life. You are not without help.
You have all the help that you need. Use it.
Please contact me if you would like to have help in starting your own
group. See also: "START YOUR OWN RECOVERY GROUP."
Added as update on February 1, 2002:
RESPONSE TO TERRORISM
web site in September 1997 and book in January 2000 both began with the
basic reason for all of my ministry: "Religious terrorists have
distorted the Bible and used it to abuse, oppress, and hold hostage the
spirituality and sexuality of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered
people." My web site and book are my attempt to give you the
information and ammunition that you need to fight back!
people face an intense life threatening form of religious and cultural
terrorism every day. The persistent threat of bodily injury and
ridicule and the potential loss of self-esteem, job, income, housing,
family, and social status simmer just beneath the surface of the
society in which all of us live. Abusive religion has played the
leading role in creating an atmosphere of terrorism confronting GLBT
is the time to take arms against a sea of terrorism and by opposing end
it! Religious terrorism against LGBT people is based on ignorance
and misinformation. Our survival as a people is at risk. We
cannot ignore the ignorant abusive religious attacks against us any
more than Todd Beamer and Mark Bingham could ignore the terrorists as
they took over flight 93 to use it as a weapon of terrorism to destroy
many innocent people. (See link to article on the Internet.)
President compared the old creed: "If it feels good, do it" to the new
creed: "Let's roll!" President Bush was not thinking of LGBT
people, but I am. The time is now for us to move from demanding
our right to "do it if it feels good" and move into our necessary
counter attack against religious terrorism! "Let's roll!"
religion has always terrorized people who are insecure, uncertain,
filled with socially induced guilt, and struggling with
self-acceptance. Child raising techniques in our culture have
persistently used abusive religion to try to control children, and the
deep scars left by abusive religion never heal for most people.
it be great if challenging and changing abusive religion was as simple
and obvious as attacking and killing the terrorists who had killed the
pilots and aimed the plane as a missile against Washington, DC!
The basic problem with recognizing and defeating abusive religion is
that abusive religion and self-hate have been internalized to some
degree in every one of us, and we easily become our own worst enemy in
self-destructive thinking and behaviors.
THE BATTLE LINES
battle lines between abusive religion and all marginalized minority
people have been drawn for a long time. We have become a "nation
of sheep" and allowed ourselves to be seduced into believing many
obviously ludicrous religious teachings about God, the Bible, Jesus,
and especially ourselves. Accurate information is readily
available. Ignorance is no longer a valid excuse for cooperating
with your own destruction by terrorism religion!
web site and book are just a small part of the vast wealth of fresh
factual information offered by many web sites, writers, professional
medical and legal associations, organizations, and institutions.
Lesbian, Bisexual, Transsexual people have been required by religious
terrorists to dig their own spiritual graves and then like deer in the
headlights stand paralyzed while they are shot to death by legalistic
judgmental cannons of abusive religious warfare. Our transition
from victims to combat troops has already begun.
can be defined as the use of power by the strong to control and destroy
the weak. We cannot allow ourselves to be made weak by submission
to unrealistic illogical impractical teachings and demands of abusive
LEARN THE TRUTH
truth really does set you free. Knowing and believing in your own
personal truth is liberating. Acting on your own truth by "coming
out" to yourself and to others is a giant step into freedom and a
transition from victim to freedom fighter. The self-defeating
contradictions of "living in the closet" weaken all of us and make us
ineffective in recognizing and defeating terrorism in the many forms
that attack us.
know that there is great risk in coming out and being yourself, whoever
you are. Yet greater risk looms ahead for you if you deny who you
are and try to hide from yourself and the reality of who you are.
Internal confusions and contradictions sap our energy make us
ineffective as persons and useless as warriors in any cause, even our
lot of you are uncomfortable with using war and fighting terminology to
describe your situation and your way of dealing with terrorism from
religion and culture. You cannot, however, ignore the reality of
religious terrorism's threats to your self-esteem, self-acceptance, and
your capacity to enjoy a full and meaningful life. You are not
garbage; so don't let anybody treat you like garbage! If you
believe you really are garbage, you will act like garbage, and that is
a steep downhill ride to a very hard landing.
who have become convinced that their basic nature is somehow flawed and
even evil in the sight of God have a hard time developing objective
personal insight into their self and into their real life
situation. Challenge the threatening and demeaning assumptions
that have been dumped on you by others. Take a good look at what
you believe about yourself. Dispute the negative assumptions
about yourself that sick abusive religion has inflicted upon you.
warfare is a reality, and your greatest problem in dealing with
spiritual warfare often is the presence within you of many opposing
sides. Remember, however, that you are not alone! Whatever
you are struggling to resolve within yourself is also happening in
millions of other people.
small group study and dialogue, reading accurate information, writing a
daily journal, getting physical exercise, taking time to rest and
relax, and a lot of other avenues of reflection and renewal are open to
you. If you cannot find a small group to join, start your own
group. Do whatever fits you.
February 1, 2002
YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE GAY
TO BE ABUSED BY RELIGION
December, 1989, I received the following letter. It reminded me
that many people besides homosexuals have been abused and hurt by
legalistic judgmental religion.
wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your web site and just how helpful
the information it contains has been for me and my husband.
are just beginning to recover from a horrific experience in a
legalistic, fundamental, extremist church. Neither of us is
homosexual, however my husband was molested as a child. He never
ever told anyone what had happened or how it had affected him. He
just finally told me a few months ago. He struggled all his life
with bi-sexual feeling and couldn't talk to anyone about them. I
understand why he couldn't.
were fundamentalists to the core. We home schooled our children
and loved and listened to all the "religious right" tv and radio
programs, magazines, books and organizations. It got to the point
I was wearing only homemade dresses, wearing a head covering…My family
thought I was nuts. I was raised in a non-religious home.
They thought we had gone off the deep end, which we had!
make a REALLY long story short, I ended up with a serious depression
and almost committed suicide because of all the legalism. As a
woman, I was treated like shit by the church, other men, as well as my
husband. So I threw off all the legalist garbage and went on my
own search for God, for the real Jesus. Found Him too. And
He isn't anything at all like the one we had been lead to believe in.
living right smack in the middle of the bible belt, USA, isn't easy.
The computer is my lifeline for now. At least until we can find
somewhere we fit in, which isn't gonna be too easy. I'm thinking
and praying about placing a small ad in a local paper and see if there
are any others, straight or not, who would like to start a support
group. I have to admit that the possibility of the backlash from
the local "fundies" scares the hell outta me.
"This has gotten really long. Better go. Thanks for the site! Keep up the good work!"
have received many similar letters from non-gay people who have
suffered abuse and oppression from religion. This web site is
here to inform, encourage, and help anyone who finds it.
Religious abuse and oppression of homosexuals, women, racial
minorities, children, scientists, divorced people, mentally ill and
retarded people, prisoners, the homeless, many other minorities, and
anybody who is "different" are the result of ignorance and a distorted
and twisted use of the Bible. Use this web site in any way that
helps you and pass it on to others.
MY BACKGROUND FOR THIS WEB SITE
I was a Southern Baptist Pastor and Professor, I wrote Adult Sunday
School materials for the Southern Baptist Sunday School Board.
This web site and my book are my attempt to build on what I learned
there and to provide quality gay positive spiritual materials for Gays,
Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transsexuals and all other people abused and
wounded by sick and oppressive religion. Steps To Recovery From Bible Abuse
was developed during my years of teaching, writing and preaching in
Metropolitan Community Church ("MCC") Atlanta and when I was Senior
Pastor of Golden Gate MCC, San Francisco, and MCC Nashville.
own personal experience with "steps to recovery" began when I admitted
in 1989 that I had lost control of my drinking and was an
alcoholic. I finally went to an AA meeting in Atlanta with my
friend Daniel on August 8, 1989, took a "white chip" and began the road
to recovery that continues to the present. I learned that the key
for me was to live "one day at a time" and to turn my life over to God
to help me keep my promise to myself to get sober and stay sober.
I continued to teach the Bible at First MCC in Atlanta and then became
Pastor of Golden Gate MCC in San Francisco, I began to realize that
addiction to abusive religion was an underlying basic problem for many
gay and lesbian Christians. When I became Pastor of MCC
Nashville, I began to work out the "steps to recovery" that are given
in this web site and in my book, Steps to
Recovery from Bible Abuse.
led Bible Study groups and Spiritual Recovery and Growth groups at each
of the churches I served. For over two years, I led a weekly
Spiritual Recovery and Support group in my home while I was Senior
Pastor of MCC Nashville. Our average attendance varied from 10 to
35 people. We learned from each other. We developed an
accepting and nonjudgmental atmosphere where people felt safe to be
themselves and to deal with their own personal and spiritual
issues. We learned to help each other by accepting and listening
to each other. This web site will help you start such a group
The material in my forthcoming book, Steps To Recovery From Bible Abuse, published by Chi Rho Press,
consists of 52 chapters that were developed from these weekly home
group meetings and that provide information and guidance for following
the Twelve Steps To Recovery outlined in this web site.
The following updates relate to
why this web site is here:
main purpose of "Steps to Recovery from Bible Abuse" web site is to
give encouragement and hope to people who have been denied
encouragement and hope by the abusive use of the Bible and religion
See May 14, 2001, update on "FOLLOWING THE WRONG JESUS"
The following Update was added on September 10, 2001:
What destructive force most compromises your freedom? Is it a person? A habit? Inner conflict?
Abusive religion? What?
came declaring his purpose to be a liberator. His liberation
ministry was set forth clearly in his keynote speech given in Luke
4:18-19: "The Spirit of God is upon me; Because God has anointed
("messiah") me to announce good news to the poor (the
"outcasts"). God has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and the recovery of sight to those who cannot see and to set free those
who are downtrodden ("kicked" and "stepped on"); to announce the time
of God's acceptance of all people."
Jesus made it clear that his mission was to liberate the people from
sick religion and to open their eyes to the hypocrisy and lies of
abusive legalistic religion. All of the Gospel of Luke
demonstrates how Jesus accepted and liberated people who were "kicked
and stepped on" by religion.
religion that Jesus faced, like religion today, defined itself
primarily by who was left out, who was unclean, who was a "sinner" and
who was considered to be righteous by keeping every detail of the
Law. The mysterious final statement that Jesus came to "proclaim
the acceptable (or "favorable") year of the Lord" seems to me to say
that Jesus was showing how exclusive rejecting religion was being
replaced in the present time ("year") of God's acceptance (of all
SICK RELIGION IS NOT NEW
is not just speculation. The clear application that Jesus made
about these announcements was to remind the people that God had always
accepted outsiders and aliens as when Elijah and Elisha ministered to
non-Jews. The reaction of the people was to turn against Jesus
and attempt to kill him in defense of their exclusive misinformed
incident at the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus demonstrates
several very significant features of the religious situation we face
today. Sick religion is hard to challenge and change. Sick
religion is possessive and controlling and refuses willingly to give up
power. Sick religion holds people captive, blinds them to the
truth, and turns them against each other and against anyone who
challenges their legalistic abusive teachings.
who are victims of sick abusive religion are "downtrodden, "stepped on"
and "kicked around." Does this sound familiar in the experiences
of GLBT people today, including you and me? GLBT people obviously
are not the only victims of abusive religion.
YOUR "HOUR OF DECISION"
the beginning, Billy Graham called his radio and later television
broadcasts "The Hour of Decision." I listened to these programs
on radio long before I saw any television. You and I also face a
clear hour of decision now. You have to decide to accept, affirm
and define yourself as God has created you in God's image or else allow
misinformed abusive religion to judge you and define who you are.
confusion and conflict about your true identity as a GLBT person
distracts you from living your life to the fullest and diminishes your
sense of well being for a lifetime. You cannot be healthy and
happy trying to build your own self-esteem and trying to please abusive
religion at the same time. You face a necessary "hour of
decision" even as you read this.
the Gospels, Jesus constantly called for an immediate decision: "Follow
me." This always meant and still means letting go of sick abusive
religion in order to enter into freedom, love, joy and peace.
LIBERATION MEANS CHANGE
can be ours, but are we there yet? The path of abusive religion
leads to conflict, contradictions and confusion, not to freedom.
Traditional abusive religion is not a road to freedom. It is a
detour around freedom. Liberation means a change in the way you
in Christ is based on recognizing and entering into the humanity of
Jesus. To deny the humanity of Jesus is to deny your own humanity
and cast yourself in the impossible role of trying to play God both by
abandoning your own relationship with God as Creator and Sovereign and
by assuming the hypocritical role of telling other people how to think
and run their lives.
identify with and follow Jesus is to accept and celebrate your own
humanity just as Jesus did his. You are not superman or
superwoman. You are blessed with the image of God in human
form. You can relate to God and to yourself and to others with
freedom and confidence, because Jesus has demonstrated and taught how
to do it.
religious crust that has accumulated over Jesus for 2,000 years has
obscured the truth and made Jesus into an unbelievable magician and an
object of superstition that hinders our freedom to be real and honest
to God, to ourselves and to others. True spiritual freedom means
rescuing Jesus from the fundamentalists and from every other form of
abusive sick religion .
WHAT IS THE WAY TO LIBERATION?
can you do to replace the abusive legalism in your life that you have
been conditioned to believe and accept as truth? No religion at
all is better than sick abusive legalism! Jesus came to offer
himself as a clear alternative to sick religion.
over who you really are is not limited to LGBT people. Abusive
religion hurts everybody. Parents cooperate with sick religion
and use it to control and invalidate their children. Politicians,
rulers and empires have used abusive religion to keep multitudes of
people in subjection. History has shown that true liberation is
receive abusive letters from committed legalists almost every day
telling me how hateful and mean I am to offer the kind of hope and
acceptance that is found for GLBT people on my web site and in my
book. Judgmental legalistic fundamentalists always seem to be
personally threatened by facts that challenge their systems. I am
an easy target, because I can be attacked anonymously in e-mail.
result of the steady stream of attack e-mail that I get is to convince
me of the absolute necessity of keeping my web site on the Internet to
help LGBT people deal with ignorance and religious abuse. I am
amazed at the level of blatant ignorance about the Bible that is
demonstrated by people who feel that it is their calling to defend the
honor of God against heretics like me. I shudder to realize the
hold that ignorance has on millions of religious people.
is never healthy or redemptive. Most real liberation is freedom
from some form of ignorance. God's truth will set you free to be
yourself and to realize your potential as a fully functioning human
GAYS AND LESBIANS ARE REACHING OUT
I received a phone call from a gay man in Israel who had studied my web
site and was reading my book. He wanted to thank me for my help
and to talk with me about his own situation. I am constantly
amazed at the lengths to which many of our GLBT people are willing to
go to find some relief from the conflicts and confusions in their own
lives and with their families caused by abusive sick religion.
last night I received another call from a friend in Nashville,
Tennessee, who continues to wrestle with anxiety and fear based on his
background of abusive legalistic religion. The long-term effects
of sick destructive religion are far more devastating and deadly than
most people realize. We tend to excuse traditional religion for
its horrors without ever facing the absolute necessity of letting go so
that we can move on to truth, life and freedom.
need for encouragement and support for GLBT people exists
everywhere. Wherever you are, reach out with love and
encouragement to touch people around you. You will surely include
some LGBT people in your reach.
receive just about as much e-mail from people who have had the joy of
helping somebody else with my material as from people who have found
help for themselves. Helping to lift up somebody else always
lifts you also. We will always need each other. And thanks
to the presence of the Spirit of Jesus within all of us, we have each
THE ADVENTURE OF REACHING OUT
people traditionally have retreated and hidden their identity in
closets of fear and shame. Reaching out to others is something
new. Reaching out, however, is part of following Jesus, who said
that he would teach his followers to become like him and reach out to
people. Reaching out to encourage others is built on your own
self-acceptance and self-esteem. Letting go of abusive religion
is an essential step in becoming a freedom missionary.
you have found the way into freedom, you can lead others to find it
also. You have "reach out" means at your disposal that never
existed in the time of Jesus. You have the telephone, post office
mail, e-mail, transportation to take you to visit with others, and you
have the Internet. You may feel that you cannot explain fully the
solutions needed to overcome abusive ignorant religion, but you can
send others to my web site or give them a copy of my book.
home study groups are springing up all over the world to learn and
discuss my material. I rejoice in what God is doing to multiply
the ministries of many people. If you reach out to share your
truth with others, I would love to hear about it.
PRAY for me and for my ministry this coming weekend when I will lead
Sunday worship, spiritual renewal and a Saturday workshop at MCC
Winston-Salem, NC, with Rev. Ken Hull. If you live near
Winston-Salem, I hope that you will come to the workshop on Saturday
and the Sunday worship services. Call the church at 336-784-8009
for information. Thanks!
"It's too bad that ignorance is not painful."
The following update was added on April 21, 2001:
following material is a rational basis for my ministry, web site and
book and for our commitment to change our world and make it a better
place for everybody. You may want to print it out to read and
keep it and pass it on.)
preacher, his face distorted with rage, shouts anti-gay slogans from
his pulpit into a television camera. A mother quietly tells her
son that he is no longer her son because he has just revealed that he
is gay. She adds, "God doesn't love you, and neither do I."
A politician declares to a group of GLBT people, "God will destroy
you!" A newspaper prints a series of letters to the editor that
allows religious fundamentalists to vent their homophobic anger in
irresponsible abusive distortions of the Bible. All of this is
spiritual violence, and it is wounding and destroying far more lives
than most people realize.
abuse hurts both the abuser and the abused. Hate is a bitter
emotional diet. Being hated takes a heavy emotional toll on every
victim of spiritual violence. Physical violence against
homosexuals is unnecessary. Teach them to hate themselves enough,
and they will destroy themselves and each other.
violence is not a new phenomenon. It has taken an endless variety
of forms and expressions throughout human history. From the
condemnation and casting out of people who don't believe the prevailing
religion to hanging witches and burning heretics, spiritual violence
has been one of the most persistent and creative human activities ever
manifested in social behavior.
SPIRITUAL AND EMOTIONAL VIOLENCE
and emotional violence often go hand-in-hand. Children are
demeaned, condemned for their behavior and told that God does not love
them. When spiritual and emotional abuses are combined with homophobia,
the devastating results are life-long.
of the most common passive/aggressive forms of spiritual violence is
shunning. The "righteous people" refuse to speak to or even look
at the offending person. My friend Jo told me of visiting a very
religious home where a little six-year old boy was being ignored by his
mother, who told Jo not to speak to him because he was not yet
converted! The unnerving spectacle of a young kid trying to get
his mother's attention and being ignored because he was not yet a
religious convert is truly disturbing.
church denominations today still hold formal trials to determine if
members are homosexual and then excommunicate those who are. I
personally know that many of the leaders of the most prominent church
that does this are gay themselves.
centuries, people who do not conform to local religious expectations
have been publicly humiliated. Preachers today will single out
gay and lesbian people for public rebuke and ridicule from the
pulpit. These acts of spiritual violence usually go un-challenged
by the people who should know better. I have decided to
paraphrase the statement of Jesus: "They will scourge you in their
synagogues" as "They will humiliate you in their churches."
Recently I watched
part of a really stupid television debate about the problem of the
humiliation and bullying of GLBT children in school. The woman
who represented the religious right denied that there was a problem and
blamed the gay activists for causing the trouble. It was truly
insane. Gay and lesbian children who are humiliated in school
because of their sexual orientation are the victims of spiritual,
emotional and sometimes physical "hate crimes" and need all the help
they can get.
minority parents don't reject their children because of their
race. Parents of gay children, however, often reject them because
they are gay, even if the parent is also a closeted homosexual.
Family religious values have been used as a basis for incredible
rejection and abuse of GLBT children. Many of the "run away
teens" in our big cities are actually "throw away LGBT kids" who have
been forced from their own homes because of their sexual orientation
long before they were prepared to survive on their own. Many of
continues to be the leading cause of death of gay and lesbian
teenagers. In the 30 years since the gay rights movement began,
little progress has been made in correcting the self-hate and
self-destruction that spiritual abuse creates in gay youth.
Churches continue to trumpet their ignorance about homosexuality and
homosexuals. The continuing growth and powerful influence of the
"Ex-Gay Fraud" is alarming. Look at the web site for "Focus on
the Family" and be shocked at the extent of the "ex-gay" industry and
the misleading professionalism that is enlisted to make the whole thing
seem to be believable. It isn't.
POLLUTION OF SPIRITUAL RESOURCES
policemen become criminals, what happens to law enforcement? When
firemen become pyromaniacs, what become of fire protection? When
politicians become crooks, what happens to government? When
preachers and religious leaders become spiritual abusers and deceivers,
what happens to faith, hope and love? The pollution of spiritual
resources by homophobia and radical distortions of the truth about the
Bible and God has cut off millions of people from the spiritual
encouragement and help that they need and deserve.
explanations and interpretations about God are not God. Confusion
comes when language does not mean what it intends to
communication. Not one word in the Bible means exactly the same
today as it meant 2000 years ago! Few words mean the same thing
today that they meant even 100 years ago. We live in a religious
environment of confusion and misinformation because language is
confused and the entire religious world has become a "tower of Babel."
is dominated by the use of meaningless and irrelevant words and symbols
to express equally meaningless and irrelevant ideas and
teachings. We do not live in the first century or in the Middle
Ages, and we do not think or live in any culture but today.
addition to the confusion caused by rapidly changing culture and
language, the contradictions and conflicts among religious groups
present a confusing noisy demand for "values" that other religious
groups call "nonsense" and still others call "evil". The most
vigorous and violent attacks on religion have always been perpetrated
by rival religion.
violence is based on misinformation. Religion is seldom
objective, realistic, logical and based on accurate information.
Religious teachings and practices are based more on emotions and family
conditioning than on reasoned study of factual information. A
great deal of spiritual violence is based on misinformation about the
Bible and about the history and nature of religion. Correcting
religious misinformation is a formidable task against deeply entrenched
prejudices and long standing customs. Few things are more
emotionally defended or attacked than religion.
does one find accurate adequate information? The Internet offers
everything, but the overwhelming distorted and confused face of
religion on line is hardly a final solution for the inquiring open mind
that seeks to know the truth.
you dare to look within yourself for the truth about yourself and the
God who made you? Perhaps. To what extent do the heavens
tell the glory of God and the firmament reveal the work of God?
Is nature "red in tooth and claw" or is the whole creation "the voice
of God" that is always heard in every place? What approach to the
Bible is really relevant to your personal search for truth? What
is the relevance of the Bible today? These are questions you have
to answer for yourself. The answers of other people often only
distract you from discovering your own truth that fits and satisfies
with others in small group study and dialogue can be helpful. We
can learn a lot from and along with others as we think and share, learn
and grow. How can we avoid letting small group dialogue become an
end in itself that simply reinforces the problems that we already
have? Is there a way to avoid judgmental rejecting attitudes in
groups dialogue? Where does our freedom to be ourselves really
HIDING THE FACE OF GOD
Spiritual violence can hide the face of God. In Matthew 23,
Jesus spelled out in detail the destructive power of abusive sick
religion in obscuring the truth about God and God's will for all
people. As one preacher liked to say, "Most people have had a
mild dose of religion and it has made them immune to catching the real
thing!" "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing" is probably
more prevalent in religion than in the manufacture of dynamite!
violence leads to death. Death may be slow and tormented by
self-doubt and internal stress and confusion. Death may be final
and tragic by suicide. Death may be prolonged by self-destructive
attitudes and behaviors that sabotage lives, careers and
relationships. However life works out, the wages of spiritual
violence is death. No illness, disease, plague, economic failure,
political tyranny or military disaster threatens the human race as much
as spiritual violence. The object of all violence is to control
or kill. Spiritual violence intends to control or kill.
Spiritual violence kills the joy and hope that make life worth
living. No wonder so many victims of spiritual violence give up
THE SOLUTION TO SPIRITUAL VIOLENCE
asked me for my opinion, but here it is anyway. From what I have
seen so far, the only hopeful light at the end of the tunnel is
Jesus. I am not talking about the fake Jesus of traditional power
religion but the real Jesus manifested in the humanity of Jesus of
Nazareth in the Gospels. The Spirit of the real Jesus is
demonstrated clearly and simply in love: love for yourself and for
others no matter how different from you they might be. To love
and accept yourself and others as Jesus demonstrated and taught, you
have to reject and abandon traditional religion, just as Jesus did.
Let go and move on.
Stop the violence. Start over. Follow the real Jesus.
See Soulforce site and Jesus Bible Studies.
TRUTH RESTORES HOPE
of the main reasons that this web site is here is to provide accurate
information to you about spiritual issues related to sexual
orientation. The truth will set you free. The following web
site update was sent out at the end of December, 1998:
TRUTH THAT RESTORES HOPE
By Rembert Truluck
of our lesbian, gay, bi, trans sisters and brothers give up hope and
suffer depression because of lies about the Bible and sexual
orientation that have been dumped on them in the name of God! One
of the most destructive recent distortions of truth was the national
ads and other media attempts to confuse and depress homosexuals with
the false claims of "Exodus" and other "Ex-Gay" groups that represent
the rapidly growing "ex-gay" industry. The "Ex-Gay" Fraud
is a hoax that has taken a heavy toll in human suffering, depression,
and suicide. See "THE EX-GAY FRAUD."
profession works harder to help troubled people restore an attitude of
hope in their lives than do medical doctors who are specialists in
psychiatry. Earlier this month (December, 1998), the American
Psychiatric Association took a strong stand against the fraudulent
"ex-gay" therapies and declared that "there is no evidence that sexual
orientation can be changed". For the details of this report, see PSYCHIATRY AND MEDICINE.
DENIAL AND DEPRESSION
Jesus declared that "The truth will set you free." (John 8:32), the
immediate response of the religious leaders was to declare that they
were the children of Abraham and had never been slaves to anyone!
They lived in denial that they had ever been slaves in Egypt and
Babylon, were currently under the total control of the Roman Empire,
and were subject to a demanding and destructive legalistic religious
system that denied their God given freedom even to enjoy real rest on
the Sabbath. When your hope is based on your own ability to obey
the absolute laws of the legalists, you have no hope. Faith
equals hope. Law equals despair.
freedom to live in the hope that Jesus gives is being denied to many
homosexuals by homophobic religious demands and promises that are based
on abusive use of the Bible and on flawed and discredited
psychology. The truth, however, will set you free.
is war! When President Roosevelt tried to rally the spirits of
the American people during our nation's darkest hour of depression and
war, his firm promise was repeated many times: "All we have to
fear is fear itself." The many cultural and religious forms of
homophobia that surround and oppress us are the fears that attack us
from without and from within and "makes cowards of us all".
Perfect love casts out fear. Jesus cures homophobia.
TRUTH AND HOPE
the brilliant light of truth, accurate information, and "the facts"
about sexual orientation, the Bible, Jesus Christ, and the clear
conclusions of the medical, legal, and psychological professions that
as a homosexual person you are not sick, broken, or depraved. You
are a child of God and a fully loved and accepted member of the family
of God, no matter what some churches and preachers say about you!
Enter into and enjoy God's perfect inclusive unconditional love
revealed in Jesus.
the NEW YEAR with hope, love, joy, and peace within. Your new
self-confidence and self-respect will be not only a basis for renewed
hope in your own life but also will be an encouragement to other
Happy New Year 1999!
am convinced that not death or life, not even angels, not politicians
(rulers), not things in the present or things in the future, not force,
not highs or lows, and not any other created thing will be able to cut
us off from the love of God in Christ Jesus, who is our true
Leader." (Romans 8:38-39)
following Bible study was begun and used while I was teaching religion
courses at the Baptist College of Charleston, SC, from 1973-1981 and
was further developed and applied to our community in Atlanta, San
Francisco, Nashville and in my forthcoming books. It gives a
clear biblical basis for why you need the information in "Steps to
Recovery from Bible Abuse."
STAND BY ME
Your Ministry of Encouragement
Read: John 14:12-18, 25-27; 15:26; 16:13-15, 32-33;
Acts 4:31-37; 9:26-28; 11:19-30; II Corinthians 1:3-7
King's story, "The Body," was made into a delightful movie about a
group of boys on a great adventure to locate a body in the woods.
The movie explored dynamics of growing up as the boys stood by each
other in a series of exciting and threatening events. The movie
and the hit song from it were titled, "STAND BY ME."
my ministry as Pastor both in Southern Baptist and in Metropolitan
Community Churches, when I visited people in hospitals or at home in
times of serious illness or grief and bereavement, the usual response
was, "Thank you for coming. Thank you for being with me."
People seldom commented on what I said. They simply said: "Thank
you for being here." I learned that often when people are under
great stress, the less said the better. Often a loving hug and to
"weep with those who weep" says far more than words can. Pastoral
Care Professor Dr. Wayne E. Oates at seminary taught the symbolic role
of Christians "being there." We represent God's love and
presence. Dr. Oates cautioned us not to talk too much or try to
explain everything but to let our presence in love and care speak for
THE SPIRITUAL GIFT OF BEING THERE
you for being here when I needed you!" "I just want somebody with
me. I don't want to go through this alone." "Where is
everybody?" "Please come see me." "Please go with me.
I can't face this by myself." Do these words sound
familiar? Have you said them yourself? Everybody needs
somebody sometime. Many homosexuals and especially people with
AIDS and those who love them often go through loneliness, isolation and
feelings of abandonment. For many in our community, the greatest
spiritual "gift" of all is the gift of showing
may have helped with the great work of "Open Hand" in taking meals to
people with AIDS, been a volunteer in an HIV/AIDS support ministry, sat
with a friend or lover for many weeks and months of suffering just "to
be there," or been a volunteer "BUDDY" to a person with AIDS.
When I was a volunteer for "emotional support" at the showing of the
Names Project Quilt in Atlanta in May, 1988, I stood with Barbara as
she stooped down to attach a "BE A BUDDY" pin to the quilt panel she
had made for her brother. It was the pin that had been worn by
the friend who stood by her brother and cared for him in the final
months of his life.
and I stood by the quilt panel for several minutes and held hands and
cried. Nothing was said. Nothing needed to be said.
Many years have passed, and I am choked up again as I write this.
I still feel Barbara's pain. We are gradually learning the
healing power of just being there.
JESUS AND STANDING WITH OTHERS
invented the ultimate "buddy program." The final promise of Jesus
Matthew was "I am with you always." Read John 14:16-17, 26-27;
15:26-27; 16:13-16, 32-33. Jesus described the Holy Spirit as
"the one called alongside" (Greek: PARAKLETE, "comforter" in KJV) and said in
14:18, "I will not leave you abandoned ("orphaned"). I will come to you." Then in John 17:18-26,
Jesus prayed that his followers would be as close together and united
with each other as Jesus is with God. This remarkable prayer of
Jesus reminds us that we have the same help to handle stress as Jesus
had. We have each other and we have God. "I am not alone,
because God is with me!" John 16:32.
carefully and prayerfully selected a group of intimate friends "that
they might be with him" (Mark 3:14 and Luke 6:12-16)) as he coped with
the increasing pressure and threats to his life that led quickly to his
arrest, trial and crucifixion. What a personal disappointment it
must have been for Jesus later when he was arrested and "they all left
him and fled" (Mark 14:50).
A MAN NAMED "ENCOURAGEMENT"
was a model disciple. Read the story of Barnabas in Acts 4:32-37;
9:26-28; 11:19-26; 12:25; 13:1-5; 15:30-41. Barnabas means son of
"encouragement," which is Greek paraklete,
exactly the same word used for the Spirit in John 14:16,26;
15:26. It is the nickname given to "Joseph the Levite from
Cyprus" by the apostles (Acts 4:36).
stood with Paul and identified with him to encourage the apostles to
trust and listen to Paul, who was a recent convert and a former enemy
(Acts 9:26-28). The term "take hold of" in 9:27 where "Barnabas
took hold of" Paul in the presence of the apostles is the word that was
used of Peter taking hold of Jesus in Matthew 16:23 to rebuke him, of
Jesus taking hold of Peter to save him from the stormy water in Matthew
14:31, and of Jesus taking hold of a disabled person to give healing in
Mark 8:23. The word "take hold" means literally "to draw to one's
self" and was used to express affection and close identification by one
person with another. Without Barnabas, we may never have heard of
Later, at Antioch, Barnabas was being true to his name in a ministry of "encouragement" (
to new believers (Acts 11:19-24). Barnabas left Antioch to look
for Paul, found him at Tarsus and brought him to Antioch to help in
teaching the new converts, who were first called "Christians"
(Christ-like) at Antioch (11:25-26). The rest of the story of
Barnabas revealed his strong role in the expanding and inclusive gospel
that in Acts 15 was finally seen to be the good news of God's love for
ALL people. Nobody was left out. It is fitting that the
last word on Barnabas pictures him standing by a young man named Mark,
whom Paul did not like and did not want to take with them on the next
missionary trip. Barnabas separated from Paul and took Mark with
him. Much later, Mark was reconciled with Paul (Col. 4:10) and
went on to give us the first written gospel of Jesus Christ. The
"being there" ministry of Barnabas was important beyond anything he
could ever have imagined.
stood with Paul at the "Jerusalem Conference" when Peter, Paul, and
Barnabas convinced the other leaders that all people should be accepted
as believers without having to become Jews. See Acts 15. In
view of the totally inclusive spirit of Barnabas, you can see why Paul
was so upset when certain Jewish believers from Jerusalem came to
Antioch and, as Paul said in Galatians 1:11-13: "When Cephas (Peter)
came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he as to be
condemned. For prior to the coming of certain men from James (or
from the Jews), Peter used to eat with the Gentiles; but whey they
came, he began to withdraw and hold himself apart, fearing those "from
the circumcision". And the rest of the Jews joined him in
hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their
led to Paul's conclusion in verse 16 that "Nobody is justified by works
of the law but through faith in Christ Jesus…for nobody can be
justified by the works of law." Read all of Galatians to see how
Paul taught a totally inclusive gospel of Jesus. Note especially
3:28 and all of chapter 5.
YOUR MINISTRY OF ENCOURAGEMENT
II Corinthians 1:3-7 for an impressive summary of the believer's call
to "stand alongside" those who suffer pain and oppression. In
this passage, the word "comfort" is paraklete, which literally means "called alongside." The word "tribulation" (Greek thlipsis)
means "pressure." In this passage, the source of encouragement is
God and our encouragement of each other comes from God's presence with
us. Read Romans 15:4-7 for a powerful reminder that encouragement
and perseverance in the Bible come from God: "May God, who gives
perseverance ("super remain" or "never give up" in Greek) and
encouragement, grant you to be of the same mind with one another
according to Christ Jesus. Therefore accept one another just as
Christ also accepted you to the glory of God."
presence of the Spirit of Jesus in our lives empowers us and gives us
wisdom to be a friend and caring support for one another in times of
stress and testing. As was said to the signers of the Declaration
of Independence, "We will all stand together or we will all hang
FAITHFULNESS UNDER FIRE
Old Testament pictured God as steadfast, dependable and
unchanging. Frequently the term "steadfast love" or "faithful
love" translated the Hebrew term HESED, which was used to refer to the "covenant
love" from God toward the people of God. The Greek PARAKLETE
("called alongside") was used in translating Isaiah 40:1: "Comfort ye,
comfort ye, my people, says your God." Read Isaiah 40:1-11 and
notice close relationships with the Gospel of John.
In studying the meaning of PARAKLETE
in the Bible, I was curious about how the Septuagint (Greek version) of
Psalm 23:4 rendered "Your rod and your staff comfort me." I was
not really surprised to see that it was PARAKLETE. So
I looked up the Hebrew word that was back of PARAKLETE. It is NAHAM, which is an intensive form that means "to console, comfort" from a word that means literally "to draw breath
forcibly, pant, sigh, groan." This was an exciting discovery.
comfort as God stands alongside us is given to us as we "breathe in" or
receive encouragement from God. The Hebrew word for Spirit is RUACH, which means
"to exhale, breathe out forcibly." (See Genesis 2:7 and Ezekiel
37, where breath, wind and spirit are all the same word.)
23:4 paints a beautiful word picture of our comfort coming from God as
God breathes out to us the life giving Spirit and we breathe in and
receive the Spirit. Jesus made this explicit after the
resurrection in John 20:22: "Jesus breathed on them and said to them,
receive the Holy Spirit." When we faithfully stand with one another, we
continue the work of the apostles, the ministry of Jesus, the mission
of the Holy Spirit, and the creative and comforting work of God.
"COMFORT" originally had its primary sense of "to make courageous, brave, strong," from the Latin fortis,
from which we get "fort, fortify, etc." Now, however, "comfort"
implies soft and frail. We use "comfort" for a soft, pliable bed
means "to be called alongside" others, not to make them dependent and
weak but to encourage them to be strong, brave, and courageous and not
to be victims but to live in the hope, love, joy and peace that are
given in Christ.
has God's presence with you encouraged you recently? How has God
used you to stand with others under stress? One of our churches
called their outreach and support ministry for People with HIV/AIDS the
"PARAKLETE PROJECT." How can your spiritual recovery and support
group earn this name?
purpose of disciples of Jesus is to give support, acceptance, love and
encouragement to people under stress and pressure. We are not
called to judge and condemn or to apply rigid legalism and law to the
lives of other people. To follow Jesus is to love as Jesus loved.
"YOU ARE NOT ALONE"
Update for November 11, 1999
and "Depressed" are the two words most often used by GLBT people who
write to me about the overwhelming stress in their lives that has been
caused by homophobic parents, churches, friends, and society. I
have used both words to describe myself at times. Perhaps you
a recent article from Chris Purdom on "Religion at CritPath," Vanessa
Bauza, of the "Sun-Sentinel," told the story of Joe, a young gay man
who "was depressed and felt isolated" until he found Project YES in
Miami, Florida, "and finally felt he belonged." (See Interfaith Working Group
and ask to be added to their religion mailing list.)
groups are developing all over the nation to provide information and
acceptance for GLBT people who feel "isolated and depressed."
Martha Fugate, founder of the Miami Project YES, said: "The kids are
OK. It's the world that needs to change." She has led more
than 58 congregations of various denominations to sign a model
statement "agreeing to minister to the spiritual needs of all people,
including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth." Martha
Fugate's concern to "do something about the conditions that were
driving teens to kill themselves, including isolation, stress from peer
pressure, lack of acceptance, teasing and depression" led her to
organize a few volunteers in her home in 1995.
OTHERS HAVE WALKED IN YOUR SHOES
are not alone in your struggles, because millions of other GLBT people
throughout the world have felt the same pressures and dealt with the
same kind of difficult family and personal situations that you face.
Support Groups are found in all large cities and in an increasing
number of small towns and rural areas. An easily reached source
of information is The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches. My web site and book are intended to provide information and practical materials to guide in
establishing small group spiritual recovery projects both within and outside of churches.
I have learned from many of you who have written to me to tell me your story of how you have faced and dealt with the
homophobic pressures in your world. Somebody else that you know needs to hear your story also.
JESUS ALSO HAS WALKED IN YOUR SHOES
of the main features in my 52 Lessons for weekly Study in my book deals
with experiences of Jesus in the Gospels that parallel what we face
today as GLBT people. Jesus also had to deal with parents who did
not understand him, friends and family that thought he was crazy,
religious bigots who hated him because he accepted and ate with
outcasts, teachers who distorted and abused the Bible, friends who
abandoned him and betrayed him, and just about all of the contemporary
problems that we face today.
pointed out in The Gospel of John that though he was often alone, he
was never really alone, because God was always with him. Jesus
frequently promised to be with his followers at all times and not to
leave them helpless. (John 14:16-18)
through the Four Gospels and look for the passages that show Jesus
dealing with issues and situations that you are facing now. You
will be surprised to see just how relevant the life of Jesus is for you
today. You will also find practical help in dealing with stress
that will equip you for healthy self-acceptance and prepare you to help
LEARN FROM YOURSELF
often overlooked source for help is your own experience. You have
learned a lot from your mistakes and failures as well as from your
successes. Remember what has worked for you and what has
not. Since 1987, when I first visited my sister in California, I
have kept a daily journal and written down the significant events and
ideas of each day. I have just written page 7650 in my
journal. I learn a lot about and from myself when I look back
over some of my own experiences. The journal has helped me to
write my web site and book.
you find yourself repeating the same mistakes in relationships and
getting involved in unpleasant and distressing situations over and
over? Do you know why you do these things? Writing a daily
journal and being honest in what you write to yourself can help you
more than you might think. When I read back over some of my
journals, I am amazed at some of the idiotic things I have done.
Sometimes I think I must be crazy. Then a little voice says, "But
ya are, Blanche. Ya are!"
you have not done so, read "My Story" in "About the Author" in my web
site. If you want to tell me your story, I would love to hear it.
don't have to be "lonely and depressed." There are many GLBT
people nearby who can and want to encourage and lift you up.
There is also somebody nearby who needs your encouragement and needs to
hear your story. Reach out. Somebody will reach back.
"Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world." --Jesus
"THE POWER OF PREJUDICE"
September 18, 1998, Update
is from "prejudicium" meaning "preconceived judgment or opinion" also
"an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before
sufficient knowledge" or "an irrational attitude of hostility directed
against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed
characteristics." (Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th edition).
graduated from high school in Clinton, South Carolina, in 1952. I
grew up in the "deep south" culture of racial segregation that was part
of the only world that I knew. When I went to Furman University
in 1952 and then to The Southern Baptist Seminary (Louisville) in 1956,
I was thrust into a new and changing world of desegregation and
cultural revolution that is still happening. At the seminary, I
was exposed to views that challenged the basis for segregation and met
many African American students. My first Greek teacher was a
Nigerian doctoral candidate. He and his wife were refused
membership in the seminary church, Crescent Hill Baptist Church,
because their policy then rejected black members. His wife was
refused admittance to the Baptist Hospital and the Methodist Hospital
and finally went to the Jewish Hospital, because at that time
denominational hospital admission policies refused to admit non-white
was not a surprise, then, when Dr. Emanuel Dahunsi returned to Nigeria,
he did not teach in the seminary there as expected but became pastor of
the largest Baptist church in Nigeria and began to work hard and
effectively to get the Baptist foreign missionaries out of his
country. He succeeded.
I learned and experienced new things and my cultural and religious
conditioning began to be replaced with information and enlightenment,
my racial prejudices and wrong attitudes melted. Many other
seminary students experienced the same thing. The problem was
that the local churches that we left to go to the seminary were not
changing. Many students returned to southern churches as pastors
and tried to bring their churches to a new way of seeing racial
prejudice and segregation.
of these new pastors lost their jobs almost as soon as they arrived on
the church field because they tried in one sermon to bring their
churches to a point of view that had taken 3 or 4 years and a lot of
research and experience for them to develop themselves.
became pastor of my first church, a small rural Baptist church near my
home town, while I was a student at Furman University. After 3
years, I preached at a black church one Sunday afternoon for a special
youth program. I had always wanted to preach in a black church,
and it was great fun. The next Sunday, when I arrived at my
church, an elderly former deacon met me at the door. He was
trembling with rage as he said, "Is it true what they say that you
preached to the niggers?" I said that I had preached at a black
church for their youth meeting. He replied, still trembling,
"Well, my wife will never ride in the car with you again!" And
she didn't. I had given her a ride to church every Sunday evening,
because he could not drive at night.
and his wife never came back to church. And several other
families quit coming to church. I had been in their homes for
meals many times. These people were like family to me. I
was planning to go to the seminary in the fall and had planned to stay
at the church until I moved to Louisville. Instead, I resigned in
July to relieve the pressure that was created by my going once to a
black church to preach.
learned not to underestimate the incredible power of prejudice and
ignorance. The dynamics of homophobia and prejudice against
homosexuals is remarkably similar to what I experienced about
integration and racial fears and hate many years ago. A lot of
the racial prejudice is under better control, but it still exists in
many destructive and dishonest forms.
For many people, racism is in the closet, but the destructive power of racial prejudice is still evident everywhere.
is even more destructive than racism. Today, few people would
argue that there is anything immoral in a person's race.
Prejudice against gay and lesbian people, however, is largely based on
the use of the Bible or traditional culture and family to reject
homosexuality as immoral, evil, sick, disgusting, and "an abomination
a young Baptist pastor in the 50s and 60s, I attended church board
meetings in which normally calm and gentle men became enraged, red in
the face, loud, and abusive when discussing such issues as the use of
Baptist Sunday School literature that "taught integration" and the even
remote possibility that the church might some day accept black
members. Racial rhetoric has calmed down, but most Southern
Baptist churches still have no black members.
Southern Baptist Convention recently "apologized" for their history of
racism. Almost no Southern Baptist churches in the south have
black members or clergy. The apology was empty and
meaningless. Yet in spite of all of the anti-gay rhetoric and
convention actions, Baptist churches all have gay and lesbian members
and far more homosexuals on church staffs and in denominational
leadership than anyone will admit.
against gays and lesbians underlies public policy and political events
in this country far beyond the visible actions of leaders and the
rhetoric that fills editorial pages with letters and opinions.
One of the really ugly features of racism in the southern churches was
the condemnation and rejection of any white person who spoke up for
civil rights for black people. You know what those people who
sympathized with blacks were called.
got e-mail today from a retired Methodist minister who is active in
PFLG who told me how he "went from nigger-lover in the 60s to fag-lover
in the 90s" and added, "I kind of like the sound of those two names,
especially the last.". There is nothing pretty or nice about
prejudice, racial hate, or homophobia. Prejudice is "man-made
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender people, we are blessed with a
mission from God to follow Jesus and "proclaim good news to the
outcast, liberate the captives, open the eyes of those who cannot see,
set free those who are kicked and stepped on, and proclaim a time when
God accepts all people equally." (Luke 4:18-19) We also enjoy the
support of many non-gay people. Many of our supporters have paid
a great price for giving their help and encouragement to us.
John Spong, Rev. Jimmy Creech, Rev. Mahan Siler, Rev. Cecil Williams,
Rev. John House and a growing army of heterosexual ministers and
leaders have taken the risk and paid the price of standing with us,
fighting for us, and telling the truth. I am grateful for the
non-gay ministers, politicians, business leaders, doctors, teachers,
parents and brothers and sisters who have stood by us and taken up our
cause for justice, fairness and human rights.
is still a powerful destructive force. Prejudice feeds on
ignorance. Resist prejudice of all kinds. Don't feed it. Don't
let it move in and live with you. It is an angry violent beast.
It will destroy the people who try to make it their pet.
"Accept one another, just as Christ also accepted
you to the glory of God." Romans 15:7