Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Monday Sermon: What if Your Church-Going Community Wants You To ...Die?

It is a simple fact that in today's culture wars some people want others ... to die. And while it may be considered a cowardly act for those people to hide behind God for their desires, calling for the death of gays has occurred with brazen, unapologetic intensity.

The last weeks have seen a spate of unprecedented hatred spewed from the pulpit for gays. First we found out about the North Carolina "concentration camp' preacher, Charles Worley. Then we saw two little boys singing "aint' no homo goin'n to heaven". And the most recent incident concerned the preacher who unabashedly stated that gays should be executed by the state. Wanting people to die and go to hell has become a mantra of extreme fundamentalist circles. And while the dogma of some churches may seem to be contained within that church, it is not:

May 31, 2012:

Joao Simoes sued Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Union County Superior Court. He says that the hospital admitted him in August 2011, but that "requests for his lifesaving medication were not honored," and his sister was denied visitation rights.Susan V. Borga, M.D., from the Department of Behavioral Health and Psychiatry, allegedly approached Simoes while he was confined to the hospital's mental health wing. Borga is not named as a defendant.
Trinitas Regional Medical Center is a Catholic hospital and according to its website: "At Trinitas Regional Medical Center we dedicate ourselves to God's healing mission." Dr. Borga's reason for withholding medication was that "this is what he gets for going against God's will." She also accused Simoes' primary care physician of being gay and made disparaging remarks about the doctor having an accent. In certain cases, withholding "life saving medication" is a felony.

And nothing says "we want you to die" more than withholding life-saving medication.

It should be noted that the Indiana town of the "ain't no homos goin' to heaven" toddlers was the setting for one of the first nationally known teen suicides caused by bullying: Billy Lucas' death subsequently spurred gay sex columnist Dan Savage to form the It Gets Better movement.

The Wages Of Sin

Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel:

[Speaking about a relative] "He was seduced. Found a group of people who welcomed him and embraced him and accepted him. And they had counselors and others who said, 'This is what you are, you're gay, embrace it and be proud of it.' You know the rest of the story. He's in his thirties, his young thirties now, and he's dying of HIV/AIDS. The wages of sin is death."The sentiment of Matt Barber may seem steeped in the early days of the AIDS crisis, but "the wages of sin is death" has today been maintained as a warning for gays. Indeed, AIDS as a "gay disease" has never left the Christian Right mind set. The sentiment is echoed in Dr. Borga's statement. The problem today as many gay people see it, is that it has been transformed from a mere biblical warning into a threat: it has gone from "you will die" to "we want you to die!".

And I’m not ashamed of it. He [God] said put them to death. Shall the church drag them in? No, I’m not saying that. The church has not been given the power of the sort; the government has. But the government ought to [kill them]. You got a better idea? - Pastor Curtis Knapp of New Hope Baptist Church, Seneca, Kansas.

The Collective Mind

Today's church stresses that it is part of the community at large, but in many towns across the country, the church IS the community and the community IS the church. The bullying of Greensburg, Indiana's Billy Lucas is now tied to its Apostolic Truth Tabernacle. The supportive congregants of Charles "concentration camp" Worley's Providence Road Baptist church make up 40% of the town of Maiden, NC. The ratio for Knapp's church to Seneca, Kansas is higher. The governance of Trinitas Regional Medical Center was formed from three hospitals and covers all of Elizabeth, NJ (population: 120,000).

Each Monday, some communities reflect what the pulpit preached on Sunday.

When will it all stop? When will the hate speech disappear? Only when these churches are disciplined enough to choose their words carefully will the awful rhetoric subside: the pulpit should guide an community's spirituality, not manipulate a community mindset. Only when they realize they are dealing with people, not demons, will they cease their calls for concentration camps, for state executions, for the "wages of sin."

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