Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Word Not Happy With "Would Jesus Discriminate?" Campaign

While many in the Indiana GLBT community have welcomed the recent "Would Jesus Discriminate?" Campaign--part of a nationwide effort to end religion-based discrimination, Indiana's largest GLBT publication, The Word, is not. In its July edition the newspaper editorializes against the manner in which the Jesus MCC, one of the midwest's largest GLBT churches, is conducting the campaign. The newspaper complains of church members placing the "Would Jesus Discriminate" signs in public rights of way, which is against the law, throughout the Indianapolis area, as well as its perceived intolerance of the church towards others' points of view. The Word writes:

So what gives with the MCC Church and their recent anti-homophobia campaign? Church volunteers posted signs in public rights of way and then screamed discrimination when towns and cities rightfully asked that they be removed as they would any other illegal postings. And, we’re told by at least one source, church leaders were reminded in advance that such postings were illegal and might result in a backlash, but they went forward anyway.

While this newspaper does not and never would support discrimination, we find the MCC’s double-standard difficult to deal with, but somewhat sadly, we feel, typical of a church which we feel in many ways is as intolerant of others’ points of view as many they criticise for being inflexible and unresponsive to gay and lesbian needs.

The Word seems as much or more concerned about the manner in which Jesus MCC attempts to bring folks over to its side and its efforts to speak for the GLBT community as a whole as it does its illegal placement of yard signs in public rights of way. Illustrative of this The Word explains is:

. . . from witnessing and attempts at proslytizing by church members to those who are happily not religious or who have chosen (or been born) into a non-Christian religion, to suggesting that some of the MCC’s leadership speak for many in the general gay and lesbian community who might not agree with parts or all of their message, especially as it relates to their brand of Christianity.

It saddens us when anyone tries to speak for us gays as a group, because just as this newspaper does not have that right, nor do we expect it, neither do any of the often self-appointed "leaders" who step forward and throw themselves in front of TV cameras and call daily newspapers pretending to talk for you and me.

As far as the current hooha and the MCC Church—nothing against their beliefs, but we feel that any attempt to convince outsiders that they speak for you or me any more than local rights groups, rabbis, or mainline Christian leadership do is wrong —regardless of whether or not they feel they have a unique relationship with a higher power.
The Word, despite its criticism, emphasizes that it "support[s] the church's message and oppose[s] any sort of homophobia."

It should be pointed out that, while locally people associate the "Would Jesus Discriminate?" campaign with Jesus MCC, the campaign is actually the brainchild of Mitch Gold, a North Carolina furniture maker who is Jewish. He founded the "Faith In America" campaign to help educate the country about the harm brought about by religion-based bigotry against the GLBT community based upon fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible by relating past efforts using similar Biblical pleas to discriminate against African-Americans, women, Jews and other minority groups.

UPDATE: After posting this item, AI noticed that the Faith In America website used our June 15, 2006 post on the Jesus MCC Town Hall Meeting verbatim on its press room site. AI doesn't object to their use of it, but it would have been nice if the organization had asked first and then attributed it to AI rather than commit a copyright violation.


Anonymous said...

I, for one, welcomed the signs for making people think about their
religious convictions.

That being said, it sounds like someone at the Word has a personal beef with Jesus MCC. Sign placement aside, what they are doing isn't hurting anyone.

I can attest that we've been proslytized numerous times from members from Jesus MCC. I take it with a grain of salt, and politely decline their invitations to visit their church. Sometimes our rejection is taken courteously, sometimes not.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, the Word (actually it's just Ted and not some group of employees, or any other group of people) is again playing games.

I suspect he's still reeling from the lashing he got over the Kiser mess he stirred up, and this is yet another effort to strike back at the GLBT community for what it said about him on AI a few months ago

Ted is saddly pathetic, and his advertising circular, the Word, continues to be an embarrassment for our community.

It's best just to ignore him.

Anonymous said...

when will the pettiness ever stop? when we present a publicly divided community, it makes it very easy to play us against each other.

i've said it before, i'll say it again. they (the folks actively seeking to pass laws) have at least an aircraft carrier, if not a whole fleet. we are in a rowboat and can't even paddle all at once, let alone in the same direction!

Anonymous said...

Aw, look at the Word, trying to be all relevant and topical and newsworthy and such. Ain't that cute?

It's sort of strange to hear some of the same things I've said in the past (self-appointed leaders jumping in front of TV cameras) coming out of Ted's mouth, but I don't think it applies here as well as to some other groups and events.

While I'm happily agnostic/reformed/Catholic/mock Hindu in my spiritual beliefs, I'm not offended by Jesus MCC's evangelism. I've held religious conversations with members but never felt I was getting the hard sell I've received from Jehovah's Witnesses and such who refuse to leave my doorstep.

And I'd love to see an actual example of the church "speaking for the whole community" because I certainly haven't seen that in any of their press or news articles about this campaign. If Ted were a real journalist he'd cite something specific to back up his charge.

Maybe he should stick to covering events at the Unicorn club and the 501. That's a bit more his speed.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Your comments are welcome, but let's try to avoid personal attacks--please.

Holly in Cincinnati said...

This Jewish lesbian does not support Jesus MCC in any way, shape or form. It's good that the campaign exists, but its motto is patently wrong - an honest reading of the NT (AKA Christian Scripture) will make it clear that Jesus DID discriminate.

As someone who has been proselytized to (or at) many times by members of Jesus MCC, I find it grossly offensive and inherently anti-Semitic.

I suspect that Mr. Gold is nothing but an apostate, a Christian of Jewish birth who falsely claims to be a Jew while practicing Christianity.

Anonymous said...

As a "founding member" of JMCC, I'm proud of our latest efforts to combat the homophobia so prevelant here in Indiana. Regretfully we may of posted signs in the "wrong" places,{along w/numerous other postings}but our message is plain and clear, God's love is to ALL who call upon His name! Concerning our "pros-lytzing", it is part of what God calls us to do, a practice of our faith. If one doesn't wish to hear, then say so! We have found something WONDERFUL in Jesus Christ! We only wish to share it. Our critics may hate our message, be they straight or gay, for whatever reason, but we are not giving up! And this man ain't shutting up until the Lord calls him home. God bless you all. Michael T. Driskell Deacon JMCC