Orthodox patriach incites violence and Jesus rides the gay bus. But Where is the LCA?
A post by Neil Hart on homosexuality, LGBT, lesbian and gay stuff and the Lutheran Church of Australia.
Gay rights activists planned to march in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, last Friday to mark the International Day against Homophobia.
According to the Orthodox Church News the head of the Orthodox Church called on the authorities to ban the gay rights rally . In an open letter the Patriarch Ilia II wrote…
Any religious and scientific teaching — except for modern pseudo-science — considers homosexuality to be an anomaly and illness… The authorities should annul permission given to homosexuals for the demonstration.
A year ago a similar gay rally — the first of its kind to be held in Georgia — was violently broken up by a group of Orthodox priests and their supporters shouting abuse and aiming punches at the activists. With the words of the church stirring the anti-gay public sentiment the scene was set for a similar outcome at this year*s rally.
It was over before it began. Orthodox priests marched at the head of an enormous crowd of a reported 20,000 to the place where gay rights activists had begun to alight from buses provided by the police. The activists were quickly forced back into the buses and attempted to make their escape through the crowd.
According to the The Age one of those smashing the windscreen of the bus and the man attempting to drag the driver through the open bus door were priests.
Following the violence the Patriarch made further statements as reported in the Orthodox Church News.
We distance from violence… I hope that everything will be calmed down. I call on our people on all sides to go from streets and return back homes and to pray for each other.
How very Christian of him.
But referring to the gay rights rally, he said:
It’s something that should not be propagandized. We should know that this is a sin before the god.
As much as the Patriarch would like to distance himself from the violence that grows from what appears to be a widespread fear and hatred of LGBT people in the nation, he cannot. As a loved and respected leader in this deeply religious country his words carry a great deal of weight.
He could have chosen to use those words to help build an attitude of justice, understanding, tolerance and love in his nation and his church. He could even have chosen to withhold his words and not add to the hate. But he chose to speak words that grow from ignorance and fear and the resultant violence was completely predictable, expected even. His attempt to distance himself is a nonsense and his call for calm and prayer is nothing more than after-the-event-cover-ur-ass-sanctimonious-bull$h@t.
Now, reader, I freely acknowledge that the Lutheran Church of Australia is not the Orthodox Church in Georgia. I also acknowledge that there are truckloads of cultural differences between our two countries.
The Bishop, pastors and leaders of our church are no less loved and respected by their followers. The words that they speak are just as influential in the lives of their followers. Like the Orthodox patriarch they can choose to use their words to do good or to bring harm.
Officially and publicly our church calls our LGBT friends sinful, disordered and diseased. Homosexuality has recently and publicly been likened to pedophilia, and bestiality by the Bishop of the LCA.
In a recent seminar organised for LCA pastors, chaplains and church workers the keynote speaker suggested that
- Homosexuality should be considered a mental illness.
- Countries that execute their homosexual citizens compare favourable to our own because they send a clear anti-gay message to their young people while our *tolerant* attitudes distort their morality.
- Parents of gay children should seek confession and absolution for the guilt they carry for having a gay child.
- Despite all medical evidence to the contrary, young gay people can change sexual orientation and that no harm comes to them in the process.
The above is a sampling of the way the leaders and pastors of our church choose to use their words of power. While many of our church leaders and pastors possibly (?) don’t agree with these words they choose silence. They withhold their words. There are no, repeat no, public words of understanding, justice, tolerance and love for our LGBT friends. There are only words that do harm followed by after-the-event-cover-ur-ass-sanctimonious-bull$h@t statements gathered under an ill named banner of Pastoral Care.
We are not Georgia and our Church is not their Church .
But, reader, ask yourself. Do our words bring help or do they bring harm?
As I watch the little yellow bus battle its way down the street through the howling, deeply religious, clergy inspired mob I am reminded of another time and another street. I am reminded of one who also took a short terrifying journey through a violent crowd. I am reminded of the words he spoke and the Psalm from which they came.
Psalm 22 (Selected verses)
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
From birth I was cast on you;
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
Many bulls surround me;
Roaring lions that tear their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted within me.
My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.
Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
People stare and gloat over me.
But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
Deliver me from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.
Rescue me from the mouth of the lions.