Saturday, August 2, 2014

Another Church Fires Another Gay Employee for Having a Family // Why Do LGBTs Continue to Work for Anti-Gay Religious Institutions??

The Daily Herald published a story a couple days back about the music director of a Holy Family Catholic Community in Inverness, IL. This guy had been working for the church for 17 years. He and his long-time partner were vacationing last week in Rome, when his partner proposed to him. They posted the announcement online for their friends and family.

Then this happened:
On Sunday, after leading the music for all five Masses at Holy Family, Collette said church pastor Terry Keehan asked him to come to his office. "He said, 'I know this is something you've been longing for a long time, and in light of this I'd be happy to accept your resignation,'" Collette said, recounting what Keehan told him. Collette said at first he considered resigning, but something inside him told him he shouldn't because he had done nothing wrong. He left Keehan's office without resigning, but was fired Monday, he said.
The Archdiocese would not comment to the media about Keehan's firing, but instead issued a bumper-sticker response about expecting church staff to "conform their lives publicly with the teachings of the Church."

Keehan was fired this past Monday and allowed to come back to get his stuff to the church anytime except for Thursday, because that's when the choir meets for practice. One has to wonder if he is even allowed to return for Sunday worship, assuming he wants to return.

Earlier this week, I read an introductory post on the Gay Christian Network from a gay teen whose life goal is to become a youth pastor and eventually a lead pastor within a church. This comes after a series of interactions with other GCN members who had also chosen ministerial work and now find themselves fired, or excommunicated, or on the verge of being fired, or on the verge of being excommunicated because they are LGBT or because they have children who are LGBT.

I have brought this up a few times over on GCN, but it rarely goes over well within those boards: LGBT people need to get out of the Church or they need to focus on promoting affirming church communities. We know that the Catholic Church does not accept us or our families. We know that the Southern Baptist Church does not accept us or our families. We know that most Evangelical churches do not accept us or our families. The same could be said for myriad other churches and denominations.

But LGBT Christians continue to populate these churches. They continue to invest themselves within these communities and propagate the messages communicated by these churches. We continue to provide music and music leadership for these churches. We continue to sculpt new generations of Christian youth with messages that are hostile to us. And then we seem shocked when we eventually get booted out.

Meanwhile, too many LGBT Christians look down upon those churches that actually do embrace, employ, and affirm us and our families. We will invest years of emotion, energy, and creatively into anti-gay churches, but totally stay away from actual affirming churches. It blows my mind.

For those teens who want to join the ministry and serve at their local mega-church when they grow up: Why not volunteer at the local food bank instead or become a social worker or a school teacher or go anywhere else beside the Church? You do not want to live your life in a perpetual state of fear that you will be found out. It's really not worth it.

I guess I just get tired of hearing about stories of LGBT church employees who get outed or who get engaged or who become parents, and who immediately express shock and surprise that their church employer fired them. This happens too often to be a surprise. Seriously. It's time for a career change, folks!


Donny Jacobs said...

Hear, hear, Jon! I would add that, unfortunately, not every church or minister or congregation that advertises itself as welcoming to LGBT folks actually is. Check out this blog post I wrote in 2006:

Jon said...

Thanks Donny. It's true that they aren't all welcoming as advertised, but it's a better start for us than churches that we definitely know are out against us!

PS: I checked out your blog post. I wouldn't last more than two weeks there! :P

Alison said...

I worked at a Catholic school in Alabama for three years. It was the best job I've had yet--there are many good things about that church, and it was easier there than in a public school to address students' whole development, outside of course material.

Still, I signed my initial contract with trepidation, and a big part of the reason I left was knowing that, no matter how much my principal loved me (she asked me 3 times to reconsider leaving), that it would take one disgruntled parent to spot me holding hands with my partner, and I'd be out on my keister.