article placeholder

Religion blog: Priorities of faith

I was digging around for something to write about for this week’s blog, and came across the blog I wrote for the last election cycle. I'm not sure if I'm happy to have found it.

We have indeed made history by electing the black person to the office of President of the United States. This president has done more for the LGBTQIA community than all previous presidents combined. So yes, I'm happy about that, excited even.

While I am excited about these things, it appears not much has changed in three years since it was written. So here is a retread with a few edits here and there to bring it up-to-date.

article placeholder

Religion blog: Here we are again

Sunday is a day of mourning. It is not a day that is on the national calendar. In fact, with the exception of a small percentage of people in this country, this day of mourning will pass completely unnoticed.

If these words I write look familiar, they are because nothing has changed since I last wrote them, except some people are more aware.

Again this year those who take a moment and remember on this day will find themselves swinging between tears of grief and deep waves of anger not to mention a certain amount of fear of further attacks.

article placeholder

Gay Ga. mega-church pastor reflects on year of coming out

Bishop Jim Swilley a year after coming out

Last year, Bishop Jim Swilley spoke from his heart to his congregation at Church in the Now in Conyers, Ga. He came out as a gay man, shocking many of his mega-church congregants and making national headlines.

The Oct. 13, 2010, sermon sparked a mass exodus from the church. Attendance dropped from approximately 2,500 on any given Sunday to only about 500. The church was forced into foreclosure on its massive property and is now renting one of the buildings back from the bank for worship.

The Georgia Voice spoke with Swilley last year about his coming out, and recently went back to follow up on how he, his family and his church are doing a year later. Despite the changes to his Conyers congregation, Swilley remains confident in his journey as a gay Christian and hopeful for his new project, Church in the Now Midtown.

article placeholder

Religion blog: Taking ownership of our faith

If you live in Georgia the story of Shorter College and the faith statement employees are required to sign is about a week old. There has been no shortage of opinions concerning this “goodie-two shoes” approach to controlling people’s lives.

I guess as a private institution they can have any rule they want. With that said, the college has absolutely no business in people's bedrooms. They choose to quote the Old Testament for the reasoning for this rule ... I believe that in the Old Testament polygamy seemed to be acceptable, stoning wives for adultery was the law of the land and marriages, for the most part, were arranged. Shorter University is on a power trip of the worst kind.

Yet, there is a deeper and far more dangerous issue which is occurring with regard to this faith statement people are being forced to sign.

article placeholder

Religion blog: A pastoral thought

The Occupy Wall Street protest seems to have taken on a life of its own, spreading from Wall Street to major cities across the world.

I find it amusing, in an ironic way, that those who supported the Tea Party folks find the Occupy Wall Street protesters repulsive. One would think that both of these movements would literally shout “There is something very wrong with our society!”

With all the mess going on, and the awful things each side are saying to each other, with the news media behaving like vultures and people jockeying for position, we now see this fighting as standing in the way of making sure our country is protected, secure and safe.

article placeholder

Pride Eucharist offers unconditional affirmation

A visit to church might not be an obvious entry in a Gay Pride itinerary, but for more than two decades Integrity Atlanta has made sure the affirmation of Pride extends to the spiritual realm. “So many people ...
article placeholder

Religion blog: ‘To Serve and Protect’

Leave it to the Atlanta Police Department to give me more grey hair, something to write about or maybe just vent. It seems the Atlanta Police Department is in what is known in the world of sports as a "prolonged slump."

Generally, in major league baseball when a prolonged slump gets too long, the President of the ball club fires the manager. In the case of Atlanta, the manager is the Chief of the Atlanta Police Department George Turner and the President is Mayor Kasim Reed.

Mayor Reed appointed Turner to his position after being less than honest during his campaign for mayor by saying he was going to do a national search and get the best person for the job in the country.

article placeholder

Religion blog: Our spiritual Titanic

If there is one thing that's as sure as the rising or setting of the sun, it's that Christians don't like to be called out on their crap.

After my last blog, I caught more then my share of grief from folks who think the Christian faith is the one and only answer in the universe – there is nothing they could do that could be considered terrorism.

They hide behind theology that says the only way to God is through Jesus the Christ.  They measure a person’s worth by whether they are “saved” or not.  They say they help those who are hungry, homeless or on society’s edge because it's the right thing to do.  Lurking behind that hypocrisy is the real reason: to win souls for Christ.

It is precisely this kind of arrogance, questionable traditions and just flat out power and control issues that have left churches empty, struggling to pay the bills and worship services looking more like a Hollywood production than actual worship.

article placeholder

Religion blog: Are Christian extremists that much different than foreign terrorists?

"I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." — Mahatma Gandhi

Maybe it is because I am getting old and my ability to just blow things off takes more energy then I have or it may be because Mahatma Gandhi’s observation of Christianity is right on the mark. Sadly in this day to call oneself a Christian has become embarrassing in the world we find ourselves living.

So if this blog today seems like a rant, maybe it is. However, I would like to think it is a call to those in the Christian faith who see the teaching of Jesus as far more important than the institution of the church, to start speaking loudly and clearly, as it seems the extremists now own the faith. I really think it is time for those who follow the teaching of Jesus to take back the conversation rather then letting the extremists destroy us.

article placeholder

Religion blog: Did you see the elephant in the room during the raid on the Eagle?

There is an old story that has been around for a long time and told with many variations to the moral of the story and so today this story sums up the raid on the gay Midtown bar the Atlanta Eagle, the Atlanta Police Department and some of our brothers and sisters in our community.

One day three blind men encountered an elephant.

Upon touching the elephant's tail, the first blind man exclaimed, "I declare, an elephant is exactly like a rope."

The second blind man, bumping into the elephant’s side, said, "No sir, you are wrong. An elephant is exactly like a wall."

Then the third, having grasped the elephant's trunk, declared, "You are both mistaken. The elephant is exactly like a snake!"