Wednesday, December 22, 2004

I just thunka something

Random thoughts in re: the UCC's "God Is Still Speaking" ad. More specifically, some of the backlash it's provoked from the Religious Right.

A conflict mediator once told me that people who place a premium on living a moral life can irritate the shit out of the people around them. Even if they have no intention of judging others, their deeply-felt commitments can come across as implicitly judgmental. Having grown up with any number of hippies, peaceniks, sandal-wearing Jesus freaks and activists, that rang instinctively true.

So I'm not without empathy for the Southern Baptists and other denominations that feel like the "GISS" ad cast an accusatory finger their way. Conservative evangelicals are no more racist than anyone else; in fact, they're probably more racially diverse than the liberal mainline denominations. Some of that has to do with where various churches have their strongholds; Southern Baptists and Methodists are racially integrated at least in part because they're based in the South. Episcopalians and the UCC, on the other hand, are typically stronger in northern--and less racially diverse--areas.

But all that said, to hell with the Southern Baptists and the other denominations getting their undies in a bunch over this ad.

If they're going to whine about feeling judged, they might as well hold up a mirror in front of their faces.

How long has the American public had to listen to the smug moralizing of Jerry Falwell?

How long have we had to be told that we're not "really" moral because we believe in tolerance, grace and mercy? Because we believe in not legislating our religious beliefs? Because we're not Republicans?

Screw 'em if they can't take a joke.

If the Religious Right wanted to respond positively to the "GISS" ad, they'd highlight their true diversity: among the poor and those recovering from substance abuse. For all the carping I (and many like me) do about conservative evangelical churches, there's no disputing that they do a magnificent job of drawing into the fold alcoholics, former drug addicts, the most street of people. They are to be commended for that work, and they could rightly point to it with some pride as their particular strength in the practice of welcoming.

Instead, they've responded by milking the persecution complex for all its worth. This, while claiming to be in the ascendancy in American politics and society.

Nice work if you can get it.

At 10:53 AM, Blogger Dr. Bruce Prescott said...

Amen, brother. Well said.

At 10:47 PM, Blogger gordbrown48 said...

One of the things I learned from reading Karen Armstrong's "Battle for God" was how much fundamentalism is rooted in populism. Mainline churches are the religion of the elite, evangelical churches are the religion of the street. So, while I am incapable of checking my brains at the door in order to go to church, I am also more aware that my disdain for emotional responses to God's word is rooted in classism.
Having said that, I believe that a message of Christian hospitality including inclusiveness is important and I'm hopeful that God is using the controversy in this case to raise awareness of UCC and their spirituality.

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