Rev. Harry Knox
Interim Executive Director
Two events in the news yesterday have pushed me to the computer when I should be doing numerous other tasks, but this is too important. I need to speak out.
First was the shocking diatribe of North Carolina pastor Sean Harris of Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, in which he tells fathers to “man up” and “punch” their male children if they act “effeminate”. He goes on to tell parents to confront “butch” behavior on the part of their daughters and to reinforce gender stereotypes by insisting that they “act like a girl and walk like a girl and talk like a girl and smell like a girl”. This rant came as part of an effort by conservative Christian leaders in NC to promote an anti-marriage constitutional amendment currently being voted on in the Tar Heel State. http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/05/02/north-carolina-pastor-retracts-sermon-remarks-about-punching-gay-kids/?hpt=us_t4
The second was equally shocking: five liberal anarchists in Ohio tried to blow up a major bridge in Cleveland yesterday, claiming they are part of the Occupy Movement. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2137918/Cleveland-Bridge-bomb-plot-Occupy-anarchists-arrested-plotting-blow-Ohio-bridge.htmlhttp://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2137918/Cleveland-Bridge-bomb-plot-Occupy-anarchists-arrested-plotting-blow-Ohio-bridge.html
Episcopal leaders around the country have been a major part of the Occupy Movement and thanks be to God, for they have stood up for the poor and disenfranchised in a season of turmoil when the rich are demanding even more of the world’s resources and money and the poor are suffering more than ever before.
The anarchists don’t represent the Occupy Movement and Sean Harris doesn’t talk, or act, like most Baptist ministers I know.
Here’s the point. No matter what end of the ideological spectrum we represent, we must not - as a joke, as a political statement, or just out of frustration - EVER recommend or commit violence. And we must never blame Jesus for it when we do.
As we move ever closer to General Convention in Indianapolis in July, it becomes increasingly apparent that Integrity’s years of graceful, loving engagement with people who do not know LGBT people well, and who do not understand our gifts for ministry and community building, is paying off big time. We are poised, with your help, to achieve blessings for same gender couples, canonical changes that will encourage the full inclusion of the ministry gifts of transgender people in the Episcopal Church, and a strong response on the part of TEC to bullying. Our prayer is that the Church’s response to bullying will not just be empty words, but will result in real changes that will be the proper antidote to the diseased thinking of people like Sean Harris.
Young people that heard Pastor Harris’ sermon on Sunday will need places of safety in their lives. We pray that Episcopal churches, Episcopal schools and public schools will be among those safe spaces as a result of work we will do at General Convention. We trust in God’s promise that our deeds will be rewarded.
Harry Knox can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Watch for Integrity's new DVD, VOICES OF WITNESS: Out Of The Box which highlights the stories of just those people that Pastor Harris condemns.