Monday, June 4, 2012

Update on "Two Men Are Friends, Not Spouses" Church // Learning How to Publicly Disagree

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a short piece about St. Francis Xavier Parish of Acushnet, MN, which posted the following message for one day stating "Two Men Are Friends, Not Spouses". I wrote it less to bad mouth the church, but to point out that -- despite assertions to the contrary -- anti-marriage churches in marriage equality states like Massachusetts can publicly disagree with marriage protections for gay and lesbian families and remain free from government arrests or intrusions. I noted in the piece that somebody protested the church sign and that the church.

Earlier today, someone asked me about threats of violence and arson by GLBT activists against the church. I hadn't read anything, so I did some searching and came up with reports that seem to confirm reports of arson, though the later reports really distorted other facts.

On 05/20/12, CBS Boston reported that there were a dozen protesters outside the church holding signs. Their protest was described as quiet, "never chanting or shouting." The signs -- with messages proclaiming stuff like "Marriage is about LOVE. Jesus Christ taught me to accept everyone" -- were left by the protesters outside the church when they left. This report reported that the church received threats over the sign, but nothing specific was mentioned.

On 05/21/12, The Christian Post reported that many of that weekend's protesters were former church members. This article covered the threats with more depth and also mentioned one anonymous threat to burn down the church building.

By 05/28/12, The New American was reporting on this incident, as were other sources. The New American now reported that many of the protest signs were sexually vulgar and offensive, as were the phone messages -- though this doesn't surprise me given that they were anonymous phone threats.

This incident reminds me of another recent case that I wrote about last week featuring the viral video of the little boy singing "Ain't No Homos Gonna Make It To Heaven". I had one comment to that post -- which I ended up not approving -- that gave the church contact information as well as the pastor's home phone number. There would have been no good from including that information on this blog!

Before you assume that GLBT activists and our friends are the only ones leaving anonymous threats, the same thing happens from Christian activists towards GLBT people and allies, as well as pro-choice activists and contraception/abortion providers. Heck, even Octomom has seen her share of death threats and violent acts after it was learned that she applied for food assistance for her 14 kids!

There is no reason why anyone should have threatened St. Francis Xavier Parish with arson because of that sign. There is no reason why anyone should have left them any threatening phone messages at all. There is no reason why the "Ain't No Homos" church pastor and his family should be harassed and there's no reason why my own church should be harassed because it affirms GLBT people and our families.

As a culture, we need to come up with more effective ways of communicating our disagreements. I'm fine with quiet protesters who take the time to call out people or institutions when they make statements or do things that they find offensive. I'm fine (obviously) with forums like this where people express disagreement. But you pretty much kill your own argument when you threaten to harm others over differing beliefs.

In other words, think before you post the inflamatory comment or leave that phone message. Imagine that it's your kids or your spouse who receive your call. We can do better than this.


Katy Anders said...

I learned a long time ago that there is no reason for me to believe that the people who agree with me are any smarter than the people who don't.

I wish it were otherwise, but...

When people get revved up, they say and do stupid things.

Jon said...

Very true, Katy. Thanks again for commenting. :)