Friday, October 14, 2011

Pastor Fired for Linking to a DADT-Repeal Article (or why GLBT people believe that Christians hate them)

I learned of a story on John Shore's blog about a pastor who recently got fired.  An anonymous pastor told the story of the week he got fired from an anonymous church (anonymous so that he doesn't lose his anonymous severance package).  Pastor X made the mistake four weeks ago of responding on his personal Facebook account about the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell.  Actually, he didn't respond so much as...  Well, let him tell his own story for a bit:
Four weeks ago the discriminatory law of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was finally abolished. Even though no one in my church community was aware of my views on homosexuality (I have been intentionally tight-lipped about it, knowing how divisive that issue is), and I’ve never talked about it, I felt like it was good to celebrate the end of discrimination. So I posted a link to an article about the end of DADT on my Facebook page. I made no commentary on the article–which was not about the “issue” of homosexuality at all. [He shared the article to which he linked: written by a leading politician, it simply could not be more innocuous.--J.]

Over the next few hours, several people from my church started commenting on my wall: “How can a Christian be pro-homosexuality?” “Why is a pastor actively promoting the gay-lifestyle?” and so on. Even more people were calling/texting/emailing our lead pastor and the chair of our elder board.

What resulted over the next six days was not fun. The chair of the elder board called for an emergency board meeting to deal with me. I was summoned to the board meeting, where I was forced to give my stance on homosexuality (even though the church has no official stance on the matter, and has never before talked about the issue). And even though I reminded them that we all agree on our church’s statement of faith, ultimately, when they learned that I don’t view homosexuality as a sin, and that I would be in favor of two gay people being allowed to get married, they came to the conclusion that I was unfit to be a pastor at [Name of Church]. And within a week of posting the article on FB page, I was fired from a church I’d served faithfully and helped to build for five years.
To clarify. Pastor X linked to a non-editorial news article about DADT's repeal without comment and found himself fired for promoting homosexuality within one week of the incident.  Pastor X had a five year professional and personal relationship with this church's staff and was directly involved with the phenomenal membership growth at this church.  According to Shore, who has watched videos of this pastor in action, he's quite the charismatic and talented uber-preacher.  But he linked to an article, which brought him in front of the elder board and the pastoral staff, which led to an extended examination of his beliefs about the place of GLBT people.  And then they fired him.

This firing obviously affects Pastor X and his family and I truly wish them well.  But it also highlights why GLBT don't believe it when evangelical and other conservative Christian church leaders and members say they love and welcome all people, including GLBT people (such as the recent hubbub with Bill Hybels and Starbucks or Jim Wallis and Sojourners refusing to allow an online advertisement encouraging churches to reach out to all people, including GLBT people). 

The truth is that the Church lies when it says that it opens its door to all.  It doesn't.  If it did, a married heterosexual pastor could link without comment to an article about gay and lesbian service members no longer getting fired from the military to his personal Facebook account without getting fired from the church.  If a married heterosexual pastor cannot link without comment an article about DADT's repeal on her personal FB account without getting booted from the church, what is the likelihood that a GLBT person (or the family member or friend of a GLBT person) would -- or should -- ever seriously believe that they could ever have a place in the church?

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