I’ve been contemplating writing this blog post for days now…since the conference and decision by the United Methodist church to treat LGBT people differently; to deny them marriage ceremonies and the opportunity to serve in the church by ordination.
Let me first tell you that I am not very heavily involved in my church, which is the United Methodist Church, but I was raised in the church, attending Sunday school and later participating in teen Youth Group and Sunday services. I was baptized in the UMC at age 12 and today I go occasionally to remind myself of my upbringing and to see the people at church who I didn’t get to see otherwise very often.
The church I attended, since I was a toddler, was St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Kittery, Maine. It was very old, built in the 19th century and if walls could talk I am sure it had many memories and secrets it could tell. I once kissed my boyfriend while we were up in the belfry to ring the bell calling people to church one Sunday when I was just a kid. I learned the “trust fall” in our Youth Group meeting one evening in my teens. I attended weddings, funerals, services and special events at this church. I sang hymns from the old wooden pews, prayed with my congregation, and put my money in the offering plate as it was passed from person to person toward the end of every service. After church services on Sundays, I would gather with the rest of the people in the community room downstairs and drink coffee, have sweet snacks, and chat about life with the others. I shared in love, laughter, anger, sadness, and tears with those people. They were my church family. And somehow I always thought they would continue to be that family when I needed them.
Then, during a huge convention held by the UMC, comes this completely hateful judgement against the LGBT+ community of the Methodist Church; against a community that has dutifully supported that church and who were formerly proud to be treated fairly equally by the UMC – at least here in the USA. A formed statement denying the LGBT+ members church marriages, the opportunity to serve the church in formal capacity, and any equality with non-LGBT+ members.
My own church always seemed so welcoming and I once even spoke before the congregation about being a lesbian living with HIV even. Now I discover that what I formerly believed about the UMC is all based upon lies. My church is control and owned by a governing body that openly declares and professes that it will provide NO support, inclusion, protection or tolerance for the LGBT+ members.
The whole thing makes me sick. It makes me angry and sad at the same time. All of those years I had been supportive of my church and had been proud to be a member now mean absolutely nothing. My existence is an abomination to God in their governing body’s eyes and minds.
I am sure that not all of the private members of the UMC church share these feelings, LGBT+ or not, I know I have supporters but it’s the whole damned idea of being shunned in this fashion on the world stage. I have read that many of the congregations around the country have bucked this decision and are telling us they love and support us despite this ruling and I appreciate that but it doesn’t negate the fact of the matter.
It is high time to END federal tax exemption for ALL religious organizations. Time to stop treating churches like they are “neutral” spaces – because they are NOT. Churches preach political views, are homophobic, bigoted and racist organizations and it’s high time we stop supporting this behavior being perpetrated in the name of “God” and “religious freedom” – BULLSHIT is what it truly is.
Atheism is looking mighty good these days.