Saturday, May 14, 2011

John Shore Responds to Jim Wallis of Sojourners

John Shore has written both an open letter to Jim Wallis of the "progressive Christian" Sojourners magazine and an article at Huffington Post about why he wrote this letter. Shore notes that what compelled him to write to Wallis was "the tsunami of outrage" occasioned by Sojourners' refusal of the following "welcome" ad by Believe Out Loud.

In a Religion Dispatches article that summarizes the controversy to date, Sarah Posner quotes Julie Kennedy. Kennedy, who identifies herself as the queer daughter of a preacher, wrote the following to Sojourners in an attempt to express her "shock" and "total frustration" with the situation.

. . . With your dismissal of this ad I felt you dismissed the foundation of what I have believed [Sojourners] to be. I’m trying to understand how an ad that says “welcome all” is bringing up “hot topic” issues. I have to wonder if the ad showed a homeless family coming into a church would you have published it? My gut feeling is that you would, but since it was a lesbian couple you backed a way.

Yesterday Jim Wallis, the Editor-in-Chief and Chief Executive Officer of Sojorners, issued a statement on "Sojourners’ Mission and LGBTQ Issues." It is to this statement that John Shore responds.

Shore begins by highlighting the six key points of Wallis' statement and then acknowledges that he takes "no pleasure in banging on Wallis." He notes that:

By all accounts [Wallis] has accomplished a great deal of good in the world. He has fought to free South Africa, to reduce nuclear arms, to stop the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to bring about global economic health, to pass immigration reform laws and to bring an end to human trafficking. Winner of the 1995 Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award, Wallis is spiritual adviser to President Obama.

This is hardly a man I'm inclined to criticize.

But, alas, this is also a man whom I believe to be dead wrong on the gay issue. . . .

He then launches into his critique by highlighting the following quote from Wallis in which Shore believes Wallis makes the point that "he so noticeably avoided" in the six points of his statement.

We can make sure that long-term gay and lesbian partnerships are afforded legitimate legal protections in a pluralistic society without changing our long-standing and deeply rooted concept of marriage as being between a man and a woman.

Following is that part of Shore's response to Wallis – and, in particular, to the above quote – that I find most compelling. It's also very pertinent to what's taking place today in Minnesota with the whole marriage amendment issue. Shore's words could just as well apply to those here who, on one hand, are saying that gays and lesbians deserve "respect," yet, on the other hand, are hell-bent on denying them and their families the rights and benefits that come with civil marriage.

[This is] the giant undercooked waffle that so many Christians cannot seem to sweep off their table or return to the kitchen: Gays should have all the rights the rest of us enjoy; but make no mistake: since their romantic love is inferior, they are inferior.

And no matter how much syrup is poured upon it, that particular waffle remains unpalatable.

Mr. Wallis, I implore you to consider that saying that it is your long standing, deeply rooted conviction that marriage should only be between a man and a woman is tantamount to saying that gays and lesbians are (pick your word/phrase) unnatural, inferior, morally corrupt, shameful, disgraceful, freakish, an abomination before God. That is necessarily the correlative truth to "the only legitimate, God-pleasing marriage is between a man and a woman." That's what those words of yours mean, friend.

You are saying that gays and lesbians are, in every way that really matters in life, inferior. You are saying that the Bible says that. You are saying that is what God believes. You are making that statement as large and true as anyone possibly could.

So. You know. Stop doing that.

At any rate, if you're going to claim that gays and lesbians are an affront to God (which is what you claim: put down that fork!), then it is simply not feasible for you to at the same time claim to be against the bullying of gays. That's like building a huge public swimming pool facility, throwing open its doors on its Grand Opening, and then publicly taking a bold stance against people swimming. It just doesn't make sense. Swimming in them is what people do with pools. Just like bullying is what people do to others whom they've been taught are so inferior that God has made a big point of condemning them to hell forever. One inevitably follows the next. It's just human nature.

Also, please understand that it's not the actual, physical bullying that most hurts gay and lesbians. What most hurts them – what destroys their optimism, crushes their hope, obliterates their self-esteem, and finally compels so many of them take their own lives – is the message in which that bullying is grounded.

Gay youths don't get being beaten up for what they've done. They get being beaten up for who they are.

"You deserve our scorn – and have God's scorn – for the despicable thing you are," is about the most annihilating thing a young person can hear about themselves from their peers.

If you're sincere about wanting to help stop the bullying of young gay people, Mr. Wallis, then please stop sending their bullies the message that while God might disagree with their tactics, he not only applauds, but is actually the source of, their motivation . . . .

To read John Shore's response to Jim Wallis in its entirety, click here.

Recommended Off-site Links:
An Open Letter to Jim Wallis – John Shore (Huffington Post, May 9, 2011)
Progressive Christian: Wallis "No Longer Speaks for Us" – Sarah Posner (Religion Dispatches, May 9, 2011).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Same People
The Same Premise
Separate is Not Equal

1 comment:

Ray from MN said...

I've just read Wallis' 2008 interview in Christianity Today. I've read his recent Sojourners blog reasons for not accepting the ad in question.

They seem logical to me from his point of view.

John Shore says that Wallis' reasons are "tantamount to saying that gays and lesbians are (pick your word/phrase) unnatural, inferior, morally corrupt, shameful, disgraceful, freakish, an abomination before God. That is necessarily the correlative truth to "the only legitimate, God-pleasing marriage is between a man and a woman." That's what those words of yours mean, friend."

Just what kind of reasoning would possess someone to conjure up such an inflammatory statement as this? Jim Wallis is considered by many Christians (including many Catholics) to be closest thing to a Protestant saint since Reinhold Niebuhr.

Just what do you suppose that the word "friend", the last word in that quotation, means?
So Shore would be saying that every Christian in the world is guilty of far more heinous thoughts, words and deeds than Wallis?

And apparently you whole-heartedly agree with Shore, Michael?

Apparently there is never a justification for not agreeing 100% with something that the homosexual community proposes?