Our lives begin to end on the day we remain silent about things that matter. – Martin Luther King, Jr.
If you’ve been on the interwebs at all this week, you’ve probably heard of Charles Worley, Pastor at Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, NC. There are at least two words in that clause that I take exception to, but more on that in a moment. Worley delivered quite the sermon, not long after President Obama announced his support of marriage equality.
Worley’s words are hard to listen to, and because I value you and your sanity I don’t really want you to hear this. But when one has the opportunity to view source material rather than second-hand discourse about that material, it is better to go to the source. So, here it is:
Yes, you heard that correctly. Worley advocates for concentration camps for gay and lesbian people. (H/t to Slacktivist for calling this what it is: concentration camps.) He openly calls for the systematic, state-sponsored death of millions of people. And he does so from the pulpit during a sermon. Read that again.
He. calls. for. the death. of millions. from. the. pulpit. during. a. sermon.
My mouth keeps open and then closing again, but no words emerge. Yet I know that I cannot and must not remain silent about this. And neither can you.
Fortunately, many others have already reacted with much more eloquence than I can muster. My favorite, no surprise, comes from Fred Clark at Slacktivisit:
I’m sure Worley will try to say he was only “joking” — that he wasn’t seriously suggesting rounding up millions of Americans and locking them away until they die. But he isn’t joking in that video. The only playfulness in his comments is the smirking “I couldn’t get it past the Congress,” and that, for Worley, is the joke here — that concentration camps are what we ought to do, if only, alas, we could. Read the rest.
Am I wary of thrusting this tiny, hateful man and congregation further into the spotlight? Do they deserve the attention? Yeah, very worried that every character I type is pointing to the festering evil mind of an otherwise small, small man. But (yeah, you knew there was one more) if Christians who follow Compassionate One don’t speak up – over and over again – then voices like his, so easily tossing around the heresy of a hateful God, are allowed to speak without counter. We must raise our voices and join a chorus of love that crescendos over the cacophony of fear and hate. Silence is consent. Read the rest.
Bruce Reyes-Chow on slippery slopes:
Likewise, those of you who continue to give life and validation to anti-homosexuality thinking must know that you have been given the privilege of being thought of as reasonable and faithful. This protection has given you a false security that your words, no matter how diametrically different they may sound from Worley’s, do not lead to violence.
They do. Read the rest.
Eugene Cho says, Repent!:
Wow, this takes the prize for the most idiotic, insane, stupid, asinine, cruel, ungodly, foul, inexcusable, heinous, and disgusting comments by any person – let alone someone that calls himself a pastor and shepherd. Read the rest.
Finally, Clark has a fuller roundup here.
Again, Dr. King reminds us why it is so important not to remain silent in response to such evil:
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
Because I know, love and strive to follow Jesus, I believe LGBT folks should have full civil rights, including marriage. I believe in full-inclusion of LGBT folks in the church – both as members and as clergy. Obviously, church and society have a long way to go before such full inclusion is reality. People like Worley and places like Providence Road make it that much harder.
I hate that “pastor” and “Baptist” are words that connect Worley and me. It is attitudes like his – and the apparent support of his congregation – that give pastors and Baptists a bad name. It’s speech like his that forces me to very clearly say that my heritage is with the American Baptist Churches, USA, one of the historic mainline denominations. ABC/USA hasn’t found its way to full inclusion yet either, but we will get there. Finding our way onto the side of justice is part of who we are.
Worley and his words are so hateful that I need the whole Thesaurus.com entry on despicable to even begin to describe him and them: hateful, beyond contempt, abject, awful, base, beastly, cheap, contemptible, degrading, detestable, dirty, disgraceful, disreputable, down, ignominious, infamous, insignificant, loathsome, low, low-life, mean, no-good, pitiful, reprehensible, shameful, slimy, sordid, vile, worthless, wretched.
Yeah, I’d say that about covers it.