Major attention-grabbing activities took place over the last week in both the Catholic and Protestant domains. To my way of thinking the elevation to sainthood of two popes was a bad idea; I think that doing one ceremony lacks the dignity that ought to be accorded to both men. If you are going to ascend to the lofty level of sainthood, you at least deserve your own ceremony. But apparently doing them together in one was a way to accommodate the many pilgrims who wanted to be present. Thus does publicity trump reverence.
Going from the sublime to the ridiculous, a group that calls itself Family Foundation is staging the 40-day hunger strike for the denial of marriage equality. Their timing is meant to coincide with a court case, not Lent as I had guessed last week. On their website they make the following statement:
“Our state and nation are mired in a morass of confusion and post-modern thinking that does not believe in absolutes nor that any truth can even be known. Nowhere is this more evident than in the current debate raging about what constitutes marriage. Pagan philosophies, a secular humanist education establishment and an entertainment industry that is absolutely determined in pushing the envelope on decency and morality have all combined to turn this great land into a country that our forefathers could not even begin to recognize.”
They overestimate Pagan philosophies; nowhere have I read about any form of marriage equality being practiced in Late Antiquity, nor in modern countries that espouse non-Christian faiths. As for our Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson would have appreciated a little tolerance, I'm sure, considering that he loved a black slave whom he couldn't have married in his wildest dreams. These same people in Virginia who call themselves Christians would deny that right to him today, citing proof quotes that referred to Hebrews during the Babylonian Captivity and have no relevance today. Not to mention that there is no such thing as Old-Testament Christianity. No proof quotes from the Old Testament are relevant to rules and regulations that pertain to Christians.
But the statement goes on to say:
“The Supreme Court begins its session on October 6. We fully expect it to take a marriage case sometime in the next year. In the natural, it looks like a David vs. Goliath battle. The federal government, the news media, Hollywood, the public education system and big business all are arrayed on the side of same-sex ‘marriage.’ Only the church stands in support of God’s design for marriage.”
If I had been the writer of this article, I would have left out King David. We might mention the "Biblical" definition of marriage as one man and 500 women: wives, slaves and concubines. This was the definition of marriage in the days of the kings David and Solomon, and even with that King David had one of his officers murdered so that David could take his wife. Nice--but it isn't going to fly with evangelicals, I don't believe.
I am glad that they put the word "church" in lower case, because there is no such stand in the Christian Church as a whole. I emphasize again that my denomination, the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA) is fully inclusive, and admits same-sex couples equally as parishioners, and members of the LGBT community to the ordained ministry. So this group has no business speaking for the Church in America or anywhere else.
Their whole statement is a way of saying that they are determined to remain out of step with the Twenty-first Century, as though they could veto it for everyone and go back to the Nineteenth Century to restore the benighted, racist version of Christianity that dominated the South until the present time.
They might not be noticed, though, because of the rise of hunger in America as the Republican Party--the party of family values, so they say--is merrily cutting food assistance to American families and children. They have no conscience (none) as they create a situation in which children and adults go to school and work with nothing to eat all day, and perhaps little at night.
Make it your business to know if anyone among your co-workers or your children's friends is going hungry, and do something about it. Pack an extra lunch or encourage your co-workers to make their lunch break a buffet that they can share. Pack an extra breakfast for your children to give to another child who is hungry all day. It is a stinking, scalding shame to America that it is falling on us to help alleviate hunger in the richest country in the world.
My church gives out food to more than a hundred people a day who come there looking for something. This is a disgrace; please give to the Tucson Community Food Bank or your own church's pantry operation, or any other organization you can find.
I hope that some Christians in this country have at least the courage of the basketball players who protested racist remarks made by the team owner Sunday. The shame that he brought on the organization cannot be undone, but the players do not have to accommodate him. Just so, the American Christian Church in the mainstream ought to have the courage to step up and say that the attitude of the Family Foundation is not the attitude of American Christianity. I will say so, but I have not seen much evidence even that the Church here was prepared to stand up to the late Fred Phelps, even to help him correct his ignorance of the very faith that he preached.
If the American Church doesn't grow a spine to fill up the place that doesn't have one right now, they can expect more reports from the research foundations that we are dwindling away. Perhaps it has to be this way, so that the sick, weak Church can die and a new one can rise in its place.
For more info: if you want to fact-check my claim, look up this story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/04/25/virginia-christians-prepare-for-40...