Eventually, however, the curtain was pulled back and I was forced to see some of the negative mechanics that kept the organization running. I had to take a hard look at people, including elders, who had made the decision to leave the congregation, and at those, including staff, still struggling to stay committed to the community. On the surface, there was unity in diversity. But as you moved further in and further up, you quickly learned that you don’t challenge the ideas of leadership, even if they were constantly changing at the whims of one individual. There was manipulation and power and even sparks of anger lurking in the deep.
I was already in the midst of difficult conversations with leadership when the statements began to appear. Gradually, issues that arose were addressed in sermons, and the sermons were posted to the website as Statements of Belief, representing the whole body to the public. One statement, on the nature of church itself, had direct references to conversations I had participated in. Others didn’t affect me, but I knew they had created a barrier to others remaining in community there. And a few, particularly those on the role of women in the church and homosexuality, caused quite a stir.
Now that stir, mind you, was not within the congregation itself. In fact, it seemed that few within the church were even aware that the statements existed. For me, they were part of the catalyst of leaving the church – it was difficult for me to justify worshipping under the banner of “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” (which was explicitly stated in the Statement of Belief, and which when I questioned the pastor about the inclusion of the statement, was defended as being “catchy”). There were other reasons, of course, but these statements did help to make my decision clearer.
What offended me more than the presence of the statements was their disappearance. You see, it didn’t matter that people were leaving the community, hurt at feeling pushed away, because they could not concede agreement with the Statements of Belief. However, when professors from the local university, a community partner of the church, began questioning the association of the university with a congregation that made such public statements limiting the participation, and even the humanity, of women and lgbtq individuals – when the professors began calling for an end to the community partnership – the statements were quietly removed from the church’s webpage. Again, many congregants never knew they were there, so they certainly did not notice when they disappeared.
Did the views change?
Was reconciliation pursued?
No. The offending views were just quietly tucked away so as to improve the public image of the congregation for the purpose of community partnerships.
This is how I feel about the Republican response to Rep. Todd Akin’s comments about rape and reproduction. His comments caused an uproar, so they want to hide him away. The problem is, he is not the only person making such comments, and he is not the only person pushing related legislation.
What offends me more than Akin’s comments is the attempt by his party to pretend those views are not part of their platform, that they somehow do not represent the legislative plans of the Republican Party. Disassociating yourself from one person because he said what he was thinking does not make the problem disappear – it only serves to make you look hypocritical. I have to at least give props to Huckabee for publicly validating Akin as a prophet of the party.
What offends me more than the atrocities of war being justified overseas, is the denial that they are happening, or at the very least, that they are wrong. We cannot vehemently decry waterboarding under one administration, and sit idly by while the next allows the murder of field rescuers. It is hypocritical, and it is evil.