The Raving Theist

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Unity

September 26, 2005 | 25 Comments

The Unity Fellowship Church in East New York makes Jill of Feministe “want to start going to church again.” Headed up by a black minister with AIDS, Unity is “a Christian denomination explicitly set up to serve gay, bisexual and transgender members of minority groups.” An assistant minister there teaches a Sunday school course on homosexuality and the Bible.

Which combination of race and sexual orientation would qualify Jill for membership there is unclear, but the real question is why she would recommend the church to anyone. Gays, bisexuals and the transgendered don’t escape Leviticus alive. That Sunday School course couldn’t teach GLBTs anything but self-hatred. Unless, of course, the premise of the class is that the Bible is somehow gay-friendly, which you’d have to be really, really stupid to believe. Is Jill suggesting that GBLTer’s are really, really stupid? Recommending that church is like suggesting Jews join a denomination that uses Mein Kampf as scripture, but which has a Saturday School course explaining why der Fuhrer wasn’t actually anti-Semitic and how all those passages suggesting otherwise have been “misinterpreted.”

The minority group members of that church are going to find their guns particularly empty when battling against the mainstream hetero racial and ethnic denominations. For example, there’s a near-consensus among the black Protestant Churches that homosexuality is an abomination. Their clergy don’t see discrimination against GLBTs as anything close to a civil rights issue. Pastors like the Rev. Gregory G. Groover Sr. know how to read: “As black preachers, we are progressive in our social consciousness, and in our political ideology as an oppressed people we will often be against the status quo, but our first call is to hear the voice of God in our Scriptures, and where an issue clearly contradicts our understanding of Scripture, we have to apply that understanding.” Even the Rev. Al Sharpton knows that his “religion does not support homosexuality” and believes that gays will go to hell. He marches them because “God gave people the right to choose-even to choose sin” and he believes in fighting “for people to have the right to go to hell.”

In a subsequent post, Jill is upset that gays are being weeded out of the Catholic priesthood. She criticizes one supporter of the policy for implying that God’s love is “something they can’t get.” Well, it’s certainly not, if God wants them stoned to death and tortured in hell — rather than wait to be weeded out, they should bolt as fast as they can, or better yet, never join in the first place. Jill doesn’t quote any of the gay seminarians regarding their views on whether women make good Catholic priests, but I guarantee she’d be in for a surprise if she did. No, I’m sure they don’t believe in weeding the girls out . . . but . . .

Later in the post Jill concurs with the suggestion that gays can suppress their sexual urges as well as straight priests, but why is she recommending that sort of self-torment to anyone? Yes, perhaps it’s discriminatory to suggest that lesbians lack the discipline that straights do to wear a head-to-toe burka. But it’s hardly worth joining the Taliban to disprove that slur.

Groucho Marx wasn’t joking when he said he’d “I’d never join a club which would exterminate me as a member.” It’s beyond me why Jill insists that GLBTs should flock to churches embracing Christian texts and traditions. If she believes the crazy myth that salvation is available only to those who accept the resurrection story (presumably the reason she’s not recommending that GLBT’s crash the Hindu or Wiccan religions) she’s in no position to criticize the lesser, subsidiary rules about what behavior disqualifies one from the kingdom of heaven. Everything else is just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Comments

25 Responses to “Unity”

  1. Tomek
    September 26th, 2005 @ 12:43 pm

    Suggesting that a person chooses to be gay (or hetero for that matter) goes against all persona accounts and scientific findings. That in addition to the suggestion that gay people are somehow an abomination and should be punished, puts such beliefs outside the domain of reason or morality. But since when does Chritianity subscribe to these values?

  2. June
    September 26th, 2005 @ 1:13 pm

    TRA, have you thought the economics of religion through? Given some neglected segment of humanity like gay minorities, you rent a hall, get some priestly garb, and start a church. Don’t forget to file for tax-free status and property tax exemptions. That’s the key!

    They come, they join, they contribute, they donate, they enroll in Sunday school. As you start pulling in the bucks, you spend a few hours putting together some Bible shit to stroke the congregation.

    Anyone can do it. Let’s start the Church Of St. Adolf. You put together a class on how good Hitler really was: He eliminated unemployment in Germany. He built schools, hospitals, and freeways that are still used today. He provided cars for the average folk (remember the Volkswagen?) and reclaimed territory stolen from Germany after World War I. He pushed back Communism in the East and Imperialism in the West. And Hitler never lost a single person to a hurricane!

  3. oliver
    September 26th, 2005 @ 4:21 pm

    I’ve seen churches like this before – there are some in the UK,

    for example:

    http://www.mccmanchester.co.uk/bible.htm

    But I think RA is right in that you can only really be a gay Xtian if you are selective about what bits of the Bible and tradition of the church you accept. Then again I guess most Xtians do that anyway…

    That website seems to decide that if you look through the Bible and find something that’s not ‘loving’ towards GLBT people then it can’t have come from God… seems a bit head-in-the-sand-ish… :

    ”We need to develop, what feminist theologians call, an interpretation of suspicion which questions how texts either affirm or condemn women, lesbians, gays and other minorities. If they are condemning then they are not, and cannot be, words from a God of Love!”

    Elsewhere it says we can ignore Leviticus like we ignore rules on shellfish etc and it says St Paul’s disapproval of gays and lesbians was just his own biased opinion, like saying women can’t speak in church and must wear hats.

    Oh well… I guess there are ‘Xtians’ of all flavours, even ones like Don Cupitt and John Shelby Spong who don;t seem to believe in God at all… ‘Christianity’ just becomes whatever people want it to be (maybe just being what the believer considers a ‘good’ person or something…), a process that I suppose has been going on since the 1st century , although at least until the Reformation there were powerful people deciding on what orthodoxy would be….).

    Oliver

  4. Jason Malloy
    September 26th, 2005 @ 4:30 pm

    When Hitler said we should “eliminate the Jewish vermin”, he was talking metaphorically, about the “Jewish vermin” inside us all. He was saying we should destroy that greedy, venal man that lives inside us all. He was using a stereotype to convey a moral lesson (a parable if you will) that was meant to uplift the common gentile as much is it was the common Jew. It was an uplifting message for us all really.

    . . . of course then he actually did murder a lot of, quite nonmetaphorical, Jews, later on, but that’s only because he misinterpreted his own texts. So let’s spread the true word to make sure that doesn’t happen again!

  5. Jason Malloy
    September 26th, 2005 @ 4:47 pm

    Also some might question Hitler’s use of a negative stereotype in his parable, but you have to understand that he was only using simple examples that he knew the common German would be familiar with. Its like Jesus’ use of slavery to show people how they needed to be ready for his return:

    Luke 12:46-48

  6. zombiedeathkoala
    September 26th, 2005 @ 5:01 pm

    I, for one, was delighted to hear the Church is formally kicking out gays. The sooner gay Catholics wake up and smell the hellfire, the sooner they can leave behind that pathetic, hateful, ignorant farse of a belief system. Guess what, homosexuals: the Catholic God hates you. But there’s some good news, too, because you can just as easily make up another God to worship, and you will be just as right (and just as wrong) as you were when you kissed the Catholic God’s arse.

    The only thing more pathetic than human beings debasing themselves in the service of magical Sky Daddies is when they debase themselves in the service of Sky Daddies who hate them…it’s like being in an abusive relationship with an imaginary friend.

  7. hermesten
    September 26th, 2005 @ 5:11 pm

    People who go to a church like this one are co-opting their own destruction. Pretending that Christianity is rational and tolerant won’t change the fact that it is irrational and deadly intolerant, but it may well lure people into the comforting fiction that there is room for everyone in Christian America. The people who control the fundamentalist agenda of the Christian church in America have no intention of making room for anyone who doesn’t share their theocratic vision. If you’re a homosexual, a communist, a socialist, a “liberal,” a libertarian, a Muslim, an atheist, perhaps even a Catholic or a Jew, the Christian right just wants you gone: either out of the country or dead.

  8. prayertulip
    September 26th, 2005 @ 7:35 pm

    Not true Hermesten. I don’t want them or you dead. Where did you get that idea?

  9. Mookie
    September 27th, 2005 @ 12:33 am

    My uncle is homosexual, and at one point wanted to become a methodist minister. Before that I knew or understood that he was gay, I knew that xians did not like homosexuals. I was therefore more shocked to learn that he wanted to be a minister than that he was gay.

    Why anyone would want to join the ranks of those sworn to despise them is beyond me.

    prayertulip,

    “Where did you get that idea?”

    From the psychopathic televangelists, and their screaming minions.

  10. hermesten
    September 27th, 2005 @ 10:10 am

    Prayertulip, I’ve read my post several times and I don’t see where you were even mentioned. I did use the more generic term of “Christian right” but this followed my use of the term “the people who control the fundamentalist agenda of the Christian Church in America.” Obviously there are those on the Christian right who are not part of this agenda, some who reject it outright (Frank for instance, though he is really a libertarian, not a rightist), some who sympathize with it, some who are indifferent, and some who actively support it.

    Ever hear of Christian fundie Bob Enyart? I’ve watched his TV show and heard him openly call for the death penalty to be applied to homosexuals and “pornographers.” The people supporting the agenda of which I speak openly call for a Christian theocracy based on Bibilical law and have many more supporters who are more circumspect, such as members of congress. I, and my son in college, have personally heard Christians say that atheists should be killed.

    Most of the people promoting this radical agenda are smart enough to know that their extreme views turn most people off, and they are usually careful to restrict their more extreme notions to their immediate circle of supporters. It is people like them, not people like you, who are determining the direction of American Christianity. They know they would lose hands down if their agenda was subject to a vote so they are slowly acquiriing political power via the Republican party. They already have a disproportionate influence on Republican policy, espeically in foreign affairs, and have gained considerable power on the federal bench.

  11. Jill
    September 27th, 2005 @ 1:51 pm

    “Which combination of race and sexual orientation would qualify Jill for membership there is unclear…”

    They don’t have those qualifications. That’s what’s appealing about it. They embrace all of their members.

    “It

  12. Nick the Dick
    September 27th, 2005 @ 2:08 pm

    People cannot avoid judgments; every thing is not a post-modern moral equivalent.
    There are facts and there are falsehoods, as well as gray areas.
    Religion is false.
    Jill you promote a falsehood by promoting this church.
    Giving the church positive publicity is promotion of it.

    I am sure Jill has many more weasel words to deny she means says or anything at all.
    Jill I don

  13. Therese Z
    September 27th, 2005 @ 2:38 pm

    Where did anyone get the idea that the Unitarians were Christian? They weren’t when they were founded about 100 years ago. They’re UNItarians, meaning they deny the three-fold (Trinitarian) God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Louisa May Alcott and her father Bronson are famous Unitarians.

    They’ve since meandered away from that position of an actual God, but of only one nature, to a place where the word “God” does not even appear in their mission statements. Where atheists, pagans and Wiccans are cheerfully welcomed. Their motto should probably be “we believe in, at most, one God.” Bless their messy spirituality, they believe in human reason as the most exalted thing in the universe, and God only as a name for some power they identify as they will.

    Read their website (Unitarian Universalist Association). The argument for why anyone would want to join should proceed from there. They’re “church” for someone who wants a group of people to hang around with on Sundays, who feel that they should be somewhere all singing in unison facing the same way…

    What do you get when you cross a Unitarian with a Jehovah’s Witness? Someone who rings your doorbell, but doesn’t know why.

  14. Kate B.
    September 27th, 2005 @ 3:20 pm

    Actually, Louisa May Alcott preferred what she called “the simple Buddha religion,” and did not believe that Christ was God’s son. She thought he was a good man, who led “the best life ever lived.” And she loved the book “Pilgrim’s Progress.” But she did believe in God quite seriously, as far as I can tell.

    My two cents.

  15. Nick the Dick
    September 27th, 2005 @ 4:17 pm

    Therese Z,

    Where do you get Unitarian?
    Jill from Femsite:

  16. Therese Z
    September 27th, 2005 @ 5:32 pm

    N the D: Reporting is hardly the place to find theology or catechesis. Read their website, it’s pretty clear. Find any mention of Jesus beyond considering Him as part of religious tradition akin to Buddha, Confucius, etc. Can’t be done.

    Kate B’s point is correct: Louisa May believed in one God, with Jesus being the “Child’s Angel,” the “Best Teacher.” She rejected the divinity of Christ. She DID believe in a loving, powerful, aware God, though, contrary to today’s Unity movement.

  17. Jennifer
    September 27th, 2005 @ 8:03 pm

    From Theresa Z

    The argument for why anyone would want to join should proceed from there. They’re “church” for someone who wants a group of people to hang around with on Sundays, who feel that they should be somewhere all singing in unison facing the same way…

    Doesn’t that pretty much define all churches? The social aspects are their only redeeming quality in any case. Given that we are a very social species, why not only enjoy the social aspects and leave the hate speach at home.

  18. Paul
    September 27th, 2005 @ 8:07 pm

    Yikes, Jeez o Pete, Unity is not Unitarian. *Really* different groups.

  19. Paul
    September 27th, 2005 @ 8:09 pm

    I was raised Unitarian. The history of Unitarianism is decidedly Christian, even as they rejected the Trinity and believed in a critical (!) examination of the bible (they could find nothing about the trinity in the bible). If they now are largely not Christian, it’s only because their rationality caused them to drift away from Christianity. Duh.

  20. Jill
    September 27th, 2005 @ 9:23 pm

    I do think it’s funny that, of all people, I am representing the religious side of things, and being told that I’m “retarded” for my religious views (which, it should probably be noted, I haven’t actually stated anywhere).

  21. Viole
    September 27th, 2005 @ 9:57 pm

    Having religious views is enough to get one branded as retarded around here, Jill. It probably comes from most of us being atheists, and most of us thinking we at least know the answer to the god-question if nothing else.

  22. Anonymous
    September 28th, 2005 @ 7:37 am

    How can Jill be representing the religious side of things and also not actually state her religious views anywhere? Is she practicing a form of intellectual dishonesty? Is she espousing a particular brand of religious worship without adopting it as her own? Isn’t this sophistry?

  23. Nick the Dick
    September 28th, 2005 @ 8:58 am

    Anonymous nailed it. Sophistry.
    Therese Z, Jill specifically states

  24. Elisson
    September 29th, 2005 @ 2:38 pm

    Is Jason Malloy being facetious, or a complete moron?

    “Jesus wasn’t saying that masters should actually beat their slaves, just like Hitler wasn’t saying anyone should actually harm Jews. They were both using illustrations that they knew common people would understand.”

    Well, I won’t try to pick apart what Jesus said, but Hitler was not using Jews in the sense of a parable. Even from very early on in his political career, he hated Jews, and his writings in Mein Kampf make it very clear that he desired their physical extermination. There’s no need to whitewash Hitler, bub.

  25. This Blog Is Full Of Crap
    September 29th, 2005 @ 3:18 pm

    Carnival of the Vanities #158 – Avignon Edition

    Once again, a piss-poor pathetic and lazy blogger has managed to get a slot for the Carnival of the Vanities and posted something that calling it “half-assed edition” would be an insult to people with just half an ass.I linked…

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