Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mass mailing from LGBT lobby gives insight into Lent, Episcopalian style!

Just in time for Ash Wednesday and Lent, the following letter landed on my desk. I leave the punctuation and highlights as in the original unless otherwise noted:

Dear sisters & brothers:

Many unchurched lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender [LGBT] people in your community are spiritually searching. They are looking for a faith community where they will be welcomed and affirmed as beloved children of God. You can encourage them to visit and join your parish by becoming a Believe Out Loud Episcopal Congregation.

A Believe Out Loud Episcopal Congregation is a mission or parish of our denomination that publicly welcomes and affirms LGBT people and that has completed the simple, three-phase process described on the back of this letter. If your parish qualifies, I invite you to become a Believe Out Loud Episcopal Congregation by registering online at [original has link] or by returning the bottom third of this letter in the reusable envelope in which it arrived.

Once your parish registers as a Believe Out Loud Congregation, you will be added to a national database of welcoming and affirming faith communities.

Thanks for considering this step toward fuller inclusion and wider evangelism. Please contact me if you have any questions.

Heaven's blessing,

John Clinton Bradley, Acting Executive Director
(original includes email and phone contact)

Believe Out Loud Episcopal Congregations is endorsed by the Bishop's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Ministry [Los Angeles], the Committee for Gay and Lesbian Ministry [Rochester], IntegrityUSA, Oasis Ministry Michigan, Oasis California, Oasis Missouri, the Oasis [Newark], the Oasis of New Jersey, and TransEpiscopal.

[back page]

Phase 1: Ready?

Does your congregation already have a history of publicly welcoming and affirming lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender [LGBT] folk?
- If the answer is NO, we strongly recommend you continue with Phase 1.
- If the answer is YES, decide whether your congregation would benefit from continuing with Phase 1 or is ready to move to Phase 2.

Attend a Faith-Based Community Organizing workshop offered by the Institute of Welcoming Resources [original has link]

Download and use IWR's Building An Inclusive Church Toolkit to evaluate, organize, educate and prepare the congregation [original has link].

Phase 2: Set.

Ask the vestry or annual meeting to adopt a public statement explicitly welcoming and affirming LGBT people. [Example statements can be found on page 28 of the Building An Inclusive Church Toolkit.]

Phase 3: Go!

Publish the statement.

Register as a Believe Out Loud Episcopal Congregation.

Work with IntegrityUSA to make your congregation even more welcoming and affirming.

Consider becoming a corporate member - or Proud Parish Partner - of IntegrityUSA.



OK, where to start? Certainly not with the Bible or any of Christianity's spiritual wisdom, even though most of us just mouthed the Ash Wednesday call to "a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word."

So let's just look at their lead claim, that they are offering us growth:

In 2007, IntegrityUSA did a survey of its membership and "friends." Guess what? A gaggle of gay white men. Not the expansive, inclusive critter this letter would have you imagine.

The Bishop and a bunch of clergy from our neighbor diocese of Iowa signed onto a letter endorsing same sex "marriage". Have a look at the ten year attendance and membership trends for that "welcoming, affirming and evangelizing" entity. (Yeah, it's a bar graph - roughly 1,000 fewer people attending per Sunday, which in that diocese meant a 25% loss.) And here's Rochester, one of the letter's proud sponsors. Newark's another one.

Folks, it is the same old ploy. A handful of activists say all the words we want to hear about people swarming into our aging, closing churches. But just the opposite happens - the pace of decline and closure gains momentum.

But we fall for it every time.

And the gaggle of activists - especially clergy - feed off the carcass of what was once a church. And have you all noticed the shift from "nice, monogamous same-sex couples" to inclusion of bisexuals who, if sexually active, can't possibly be monogamous?

Heaven's blessing, all. Last one out, turn off the lights.


Mary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Archer of the Forest said...

You got one of these letters too?

The Underground Pewster said...

I dared inspect the BOLEC page on the Integrity site, and you would not believe how they have brought the gulag to TEC...

"The following are Believe Out Loud Episcopal Congregations. If you have a negative experience at one of these congregations because of your sexuality orientation or gender identify, please contact John Clinton Bradley at !@#@#$%^"

Don't mess with the people with the black sedans!

TLF+ said...

Archer - yes. Looks like our diocesan lists are available for direct mail marketing.

By the way, I am the executor for the estate of a recently deceased and very rich man from Benin. Might your parish send me its bank routing and account numbers so I can deposit a large sum of money he wished to see in church hands?

Pewster - when will the Executive Cmte. close another program and divert the money to buy them black helicopters ?


Tim, I'm interested in the assertion that those who identify as bisexual "if sexually active, can't possibly be monogamous."

That would come as surprising information to many folks I know and work with ... those who identify as bisexual because they are equally attracted to members of the same and opposite sex and have made a lifelong, monogamous commitment to ONE person.

Just wondering what your supporting data is.

Lenten Blessings from Sunny Southern California!
Susan Russell

David Handy+ said...

Thanks, Tim, for another delightful expose. I particularly liked the humorous exchange with Underground Pewster.

As for Susan Russell,
I guess it's a compliment when the opposition takes notice of you. Of course, attraction to both sexes is one thing; behavior is totally another. And it's the immorality of same sex BEHAVIOR that's the point.

TLF+ said...

Sigh. I am not going to get into one of these silly shifting-premise arguments, Susan. My main point is that this letter promises "growth and evangelism" when TEC's "State of the Church", the Church Insurance Company and plenty of other data, empirical and anecdotal, shows decline , and your niche group's ascendence in the clerical bureaucracy has not slowed this. In fact, you've probably accelerated it. So to send out a letter to these tired old congregations promising what you can't deliver, just to get some rainbow flags hung around a few towns, is pretty damn cynical. LIE is not too strong a word.

As for the "I know bis who are monogamous" argument, Integrity has spent years saying that you can't separate identity from action. So what is the silly point of listing "B" if that's not what you are advocating? Why isn't your movement a "pan-monogamy" movement? Why isn't it something like SLGOM&C (Straight/Lesbi/Gay/Other Monogamous or Celibate)? That would at least have allowed an argument for some coherent expansion of the traditional teaching - but y'all put ordination entitlements ahead of that - ahead of the well being of the body of Christ.

Ideology aside, Anglicanism is meant to include but resist leadership by the groups furthest from its center. To take a more "conservative" example, Charismatics should have a presence but shouldn't run the thing. Your niche club is now in the center - but not leading so much as feeding off the corpse of a denomination that did not take care of its own heart.

At some point, we (me too) all need to drop this whole pretentious show and admit that, as far as a church, we failed big time. You are a very successful advocate for those most like you, I'll give you that. But don't call it inclusion or evangelism. I'm not a bewildered culture-Christian vestry member grasping for gimmicks to grow a moribund old parish. Integrity's letter didn't fool me; your cynical effort to shift the debate just proves the emptiness of the letter. And, by extension, of TEC.

Anonymous said...

To: TLF+

Greetings from ANOTHER Southern Californian, proving Susan Russell is not the only individual here.

LOVED your response. I wish everyone was a clear, firm and open about their beliefs as are you. Unfortunately, The hostile takeover conducted by IntegrityUSA over 35 years went mostly undetected by the majority of laypeople - because of TECs leaders' silence.

I first learned about this calamity when Jefferts was appointed. Our Bishop went along with the silliness, and I started looking online for the procedures to remove a Bishop. Quite by accident I stumbled on Integrity's site and was literally astounded to see what had been going on for decades.

Integrity was not at all coy about their plans. The Mission Statement published at the top of their site (now withdrawn) said it all:

"To reduce systemic heterosexuality in the episcopal church"

Please note the difference between THAT goal and the desire to increase acceptance of homosexuals. It was telling also that the mission of the "local chapters" had nothing to do with acceptance:

"To report back to the National Organization any local issue that might interfere with our goals and plans."

As a lifelong Episcopalian, it was with a VERY heavy heart that I left the infected Church. But, God has plans for us all and I am now delighted with my new spiritual home - one based on The Bible, of all things! Such Churches still exist, contrary to TECs view of God's creation. Go figure.

Again - my heart is warmed that there still exist within TEC individuals such as yourself who speak and live God's Word. This behavior by TECs leadership during the past 30 years would likely have prevented the decay of the Church. Perhaps TEC can be saved. Perhaps.