jennifer hanigan

a pinch of this and a dollop of that

Us vs. Them

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flagsToday I did an uncomfortable thing: I showed up at the local Veteran’s Day parade, found the PFLAG group, and marched with them. Why uncomfortable? Well, I didn’t expect to know anyone, and groups of people I don’t know scare me a bit, and I knew that there would be others around us who hated what they saw.

I shouldn’t have worried (this won’t stop me next time, I promise you). When I found the group, I said, “I think I’m with you,” and they cheered. One woman lent me a beautiful rainbow umbrella, and the group gave me candy to throw to children as we walked the parade route. I have no idea if any adults disapproved of our presence there, but the kids loved me.

This experience was an interesting contrast to my recent experience at church.

When I came out, I was immediately removed from my ministry position. It was explained to me like this: “When a police officer kills someone, they’re put on administrative leave while everything is sorted out.”

Yeah, you read that right.

Three weeks ago, I was asked to leave the church entirely (well, they gave me the option of lying about my beliefs instead, but I could have sworn there was a commandment against that). This time they told me it was to avoid division in the church body. I’m still trying to wrap my head around how forcing someone to leave isn’t division.

When I told a little of my story to the PFLAG group today, their response was to invite me to a support group, and suggest churches they’d found to be gay-friendly. They weren’t at all bothered that my beliefs might not match up perfectly with theirs. As far as they were concerned, I belonged.

And that’s a thing I’ve noticed more and more lately. This ‘us vs. them’ thing? It’s not coming from queer people. It’s coming from the church. Take the Nashville Statement. It doesn’t just state that homosexuality is wrong, it claims that if you disagree, you can’t even be a Christian. And I’ve seen some people say that gay folks have appropriated the rainbow from God, and how dare we. I can’t think of a more ridiculous argument, especially in the face of 1980s children’s cartoons, Lucky Charms cereal, and Lisa Frank school supplies. I’m fairly certain one is allowed to be both Christian and a carrier of colorful Trapper Keepers. But Christian and gay? Hell no.

Well, people, your Christian Agenda is working. I’ve noticed lately that when the topic of “Christians” comes up in conversation or in my thoughts, I think in terms of “them” rather than “us” or “me.” Don’t get me wrong, my faith in God remains intact. But my identity as a Christian? It’s been stolen…by the church.

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