Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore
...with the intent of writing a post around it, and as usual it languished in the draft bin until now.
Two items that I think are related to this topic, via the Catholic Church, are:
- Conflict surrounding the Baptism of the infant children of gay couples. You can read an article on the topic HERE.
- There is also the Synod on the Family occurring in Rome now; you can click HERE for an interesting read on that event.
Here's what I find distressing in all of this: The Church may in fact say that two individuals of the same sex can never be married. The Church can say that two unmarried people should not have children. The Church can proclaim that only certain kinds of opposite sex marriages are considered valid. All of that is the right of the Church...their church, their rules. No one is forcing anyone else to join a specific religious denomination in this country. However, and related to the above, the Church teaches that access to the sacrament of Baptism shouldn't be denied based on the marital status of the parents, provided that there is an intent to raise the child Catholic (reference HERE). Failing to follow your own rules seems a bit, well, wrong. Also, the Church in theory has a "love the sinner, hate the sin" attitude regarding homosexuality in general, yet the rhetoric one hears from conservative Catholics is far from loving. Want proof? Go to (conservative) Ignatius Press and search for books using the key word "Gay" and you'll see what I mean. Heck, I'll even do it for you (click HERE and look at the first book you see). It's impossible to be welcoming on one hand but then with the other point a finger at a "homosexual agenda".
I know. there are plenty in the LGBT community that are far from loving when it comes to most organized religions, but it's important to note that they don't get to use the whole eternal damnation weapon either. ActUp, for example, doesn't claim to speak for God, but organizations that do...be they Christian, Jewish or Muslim...should be held to a higher standard of conduct. Yes, when you claim to be "one of the good guys" then you shouldn't be shocked when, well, people actually expect you to be a "good guy". Example? How about honoring your word to love the sinner more than you simply hating the sin, for starters. Man, that "turn the other cheek" stuff really is hard to pull off, especially when the other party is so very different than you.
By the way, what precisely is the "homosexual agenda"? Is it to somehow convert others to homosexuality? I don't know about you, but nothing is ever changing my (hetero)sexuality, so pardon me while I view that concept with just a bit of skepticism. Fear mongering should be beneath the dignity of a traditional religious conviction anyway, and yet elements of the Church are all too willing to engage in it as part of an extremely misguided "culture war".
So what is the real "culture war"? That's the one that centers around item #7 of the Huffington Post article, namely false advertising. In 1950 maybe that was acceptable; it's not in 2014. Organized religion, meet the connected world, where your failing to live up to your own proclamations will be noticed and will be documented by snarky bloggers (and such).
I'll end this posting with a more personal note. In my own religious formation there have been times when I've been to church and it has been very welcoming. My religious experience in college was a good example (disclaimer: I was the president of the Catholic Student's group my senior year). Yet, so many others were very far from welcoming. These were the churches run as cliques where homogeneous groups of folks would just as soon ignore someone new as say hello to them. Not all are like this, but many are, sadly I will add. More than anything else though, organized religion...especially the Catholic Church...harms itself far more than any outside force ever could simply by virtue of its inability to live up to its own high moral standards.
"We have met the enemy and he is us." - Walt Kelly
© Stephen G. Albert, 2014