59 percent of teenagers who grow up as church-going Christians abandon their faith in adulthood. One of the major reasons is the gay rights issue. Overall, the perception–a largely correct one, I’d add–is that modern conservative Christianity is dominated by sex-phobic bigots who use God as a cudgel to beat all sorts of people, but especially gays and lesbians. No wonder many in the younger generation want out.I think that my denomination, the PCUSA, actually has a chance of not looking too idiotic and bigoted once we finally stop pandering to the anti-gay faction of the church. Let them go. Here is a place for them.
Whether they go or not, it really doesn't matter. What we need to do is simply do the right thing, such as pass the marriage equality overtures at this upcoming General Assembly. I hope the commissioners will also approve a resolution affirming Evolution Weekend and the Clergy Letter Project that I plan to introduce, putting our denomination clearly on record as supportive of science.
Another of the reasons cited in the book You Lost Me, referred to in the Salon article, is the anti-science perception the youth have of Christianity. In the eyes of your kids and grandkids, Christianity isn't just dated and boring, we have crossed the line. Christians are a bunch of superstitious bigots. We have earned that label.
I tend to agree, in part, with an opinion by Henry Greene in Presbyweb. Rev. Greene was criticizing a statement by the GAPJC regarding one of the many cases the anti-gay crowd continues to file against gay clergy. The statement reads:
Such thoughtful disagreement among reasonable and faithful Presbyterians is itself an important and faithful part of the Reformed tradition.Rev. Greene disagrees. He doesn't think both sides, anti-gay vs. equality can both be faithful positions. Unless you translate the meaning of "faithful" as simply being stubborn, one side clearly is not "faithful."
I agree. They are opposite positions.
Rev. Greene doesn't spell out which position he thinks is the faithful one. I will. It is not a reasonable and faithful interpretation of scripture, our tradition, and basic human decency to deny equality to LGBT people and to enshrine prejudice under the cloak of holy writ.
Those who attack, bully, berate, and bear false witness about LGBT people are not faithful by any definition of the word. No matter how much they try to disguise their prejudice with piety it is still prejudice. When those who know better, when those who know that second class status leads to violence, when those who know that the right wing is harming human beings, our churches, and society, and yet continue to pander to them by calling their hateful and bigoted views "faithful" we drive away not only our youth but any decent person who happens to observe the church from the outside. We make a mockery of the message of Jesus.
Obviously, those with harmful views don't think they are harmful. They think they are all about love and righteousness. So we can have some pity on them. They know not what they do. Who knows, maybe one day like poor old Saul, they will be blinded on the Damascus Road. It does happen.
In the meantime, we do them, nor the church, nor actual human beings who are harmed by religiously disguised homophobia any favors by pretending that anti-gay rhetoric is "a faithful part of the Reformed Tradition." It isn't. It is time to be clear about that.