World Vision USA has been all over the feeds of my American Christian friends over the last couple of days. Unbeknown to many - well unbeknown to me anyway (and here is a learning point about checking the background of organisations you support) - W.V. USA had a policy not to employ workers in same-sex relationships because to do so would be "unscriptural". The reason this has been all over Facebook is because in a compassionate, humane and inclusive Christian move, W.V. USA had reversed that policy.
Then the shit hit the fan. The Religious Right - Fundamentalists and Evangelicals - came out in force with their Biblical proof-texts to complain about the change of policy and threatened to remove their sponsorship unless the policy reverted to the original, ie: no Gays. W.V. USA caved in and within 48 hours it was business as usual.
Then the shit hit the fan again. I popped over to the W.V. USA's Facebook page to express my discontent at the U-turn on the U-turn. I was delighted to find there many thoughtful and compassionate comments from American Christians who supported the initial inclusive change. I also encountered - and was disappointed but not at all surprised - expressions of the same old tired anti-LGBT sentiments and prejudices wrapped up and disguised as Christian doctrine.
I should know better, I suppose, than to engage with these folk but, emboldened by the many Liberal American Christians who had, I added my twopennyworth. Regardless of the fact that I was polite and used temperate language and theological argument I was called a bigot and accused of smearing other Christians. I was told that to withdraw my sponsorship would lead to untold suffering in third world countries.
Now is it just me who recognises the irony in being lectured about withdrawing my sponsorship by people who 48 hours earlier had been threatening to do the exact same thing? Or the irony in being accused of smearing other Christians when W.V.'s original employment policy and its decision to U-turn on the U-turn had done exactly that? Or the ridiculousness of being called a bigot for expressing discontent at someone else's questionable moral actions?
What also struck me (again) was the determination of many who supported the original policy on "Biblical" grounds to avoid engaging in discussion or considering that there might be alternative Christian perspectives. No one would engage with me or answer my questions but rather continued to restate their own proof-texts with an increasingly bad tempered and exasperated manner. When I offered to debate the hermeneutic of key N.T. Greek terms and phrases there was a deafening silence.
According to one commentator, failure to agree with the party line is evidence of Atheism or false discipleship.
Those who disagree with the Biblical Literalists are roundly and arrogantly condemned as not being Christians, or of being false Christians, which is an outrageous abuse. It must be wonderful to know the mind of God in relation to the spiritual status of others.
One pastor who acknowledged being gay was then referred to as "pastor" in all subsequent posts. "You aren't a proper priest." He was told. "You can't be gay and a minister of God." Isn't it depressing?
I hate that sort of language.
The idea that anyone who is straight could support their gay brothers and sisters was clearly an idea beyond contemplation. "No, you must be gay or you wouldn't be saying these things."
How dare anyone judge the spiritual status of anyone else and make self-congratulatory and damning conclusions about others?
Learning point. Don't engage in religious discussions with people who can neither spell nor punctuate. That is as a good an indication of someone's theological literacy as you can get. "I'm concerned about the soles of others." Ah, right.
Having chosen not to be provocative up until that point, I couldn't resist pointing out that gay-marriage becomes legal in England and Wales at midnight tonight and my own view that this will bring the Kingdom of God closer