This is the third in a series of guest posts in a series called “I Would Like You To Know”. In an attempt to create a space for people of all backgrounds, races, religions, creeds, ethnicites, genders, sexual orientations, disabilities, and socio-economic statuses I am seeking guest blog posts. If you would like to share your unique background, I would love to hear and share your story. Email me at Rachel[@]deletingtheadjectives.com with your name, a link to your blog, and a brief synopsis of your story with the title “As a _________ I would like you to know” in the subject box. You fill in the blank and the subsequently the gaps in our collective knowledge.
As a Pastor, I would like you to know that I am just as sick of the extremists as you are. Maybe even more so.
Being on the Internet, you have probably taken place in a debate or two. Have you ever been having a decent conversation going with someone else of a differing opinion, and felt like you were really getting somewhere, and then, suddenly, someone else joins your side in a way that makes you want to slap them? They do so in a way that is so rude, so ignorant, so WRONG that you feel that your entire platform has been lessened, even tainted, by their approval?
This is how I feel about the folks out at Westboro Baptist, or any number of other “Christian” speakers who claim to share my faith and yet do so in a way that publically denigrates it. And it leaves me in a special kind of limbo.
You may have seen the “Not all Men” argument rightfully denigrated all over the internet recently. “Not all Christians” isn’t all that much better. The extremists, those people who, in the name of my faith, attack, hurt, and marginalize others in public forums, and even in the lawbooks, are legitimately harming others, and when those people tell the stories of what the “Christians” did to them, it does nobody any good to say; “Not all Christians are like that.”
Part of my job is to try to get the extremists to back off, but talking to them about it rarely accomplishes much. Apparently, serving the Lord means never having to say you are sorry, even your method of doing so goes explicitly against scripture and every voice against them is seen as another sign of the glorious apocalypse to come. Persecution, from any source, is now seen by many of them as confirmations. You can’t really do much with that.
I think part of the reason I started becoming more “out” as a Pastor with my on-line persona is to offer a counter-voice, rather than being one of the multitude of Christians who, through our silence, offer tacit approval to the extremists. I can’t expect people to believe that not all Christians are extremists just by insisting that such is the case. I need to stand against them, to make my voice heard, carrying a counter-message. Ironically, that “counter-message” is, I believe, the actual message of the scriptures. Sometimes, I actually start to think that I am doing some good in that regard.
And then some idiot starts burning Qu’rans in the name of God. One step forward, several thousand steps back.
I’m not asking anyone to feel sorry for me beyond understanding the frustration. Part of being a Pastor in today’s world is teaching Christians how the world has been taught to see us, and showing them how to work to change that image, or at least to offer an alternative through public works, rather than debate. If you are not a Christian and are suspicious of us, I know that you have been given plenty of reason to be that way, and it would be disingenuous to ask you to change your mind just on my say so. Hopefully, I e can perhaps start to offer another way of thinking about our faith. I hope you’ll give me, or someone else like me, that chance.
In the meantime, if you are a Christian and see me discussing faith on-line, and jump into the debate by pointing out that everyone who disagrees with “us” is going to hell, I just want you to know that your approval fills me with shame.
Dan McCurdy is a storyteller, amateur game designer, musician, and all around geek. He is also a Presbyterian Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Weyauwega, WI. This pastor explains it all at Ask Pastor Dan and can be found on Twitter @TheRealRevDMc.