The Norman Transcript


March 6, 2014

Church: A stepping stone?

NORMAN — In the weeks before Christmas something remarkable happened in Norman.

A small coalition of Christian churches — the Quakers, St. Stephens Methodist, United Church of Norman UCC and First Presbyterian Church in Norman — co-sponsored an ad in The Transcript that simply read, “Not all Christians are anti-gay. As Christians we welcome, honor and affirm LGBT persons and their families.”

But those two sentences were noticed and talked about around the world, from Australia to California. Such is the power of modern media. Behind those two sentences lay months of visits, networking, appeals to clergy, requests to parish councils and vestries. In the end, four churches, out of a dozen approached, signed on to that simple welcome.

The experience of trying to get Christian pastors to speak a word of welcome to LGBT persons has made me realize why so many gay and lesbian people feel such profound alienation from the church. Surveys among LGBT persons indicate a widespread experience of rejection and hostility at the hands of Christians, and a sense that the church is not the place of healing, compassion and welcome but uniquely the single greatest threat to their physical safety and civil rights. And can we blame them?

Christian leaders are sanctioning violence against gay people around the world. Nigeria’s Catholic Archbishop recently praised as “courageous and wise” that country’s draconian new anti-gay laws which, among other things, makes holding hands with a person of the same gender a crime. And anyone who attempts, officiates or attends a marriage between persons of the same sex will be jailed. Words do indeed have consequences.

After the Archbishop’s statement this week, mobs roamed the Nigerian Capital pulling suspected gay persons from their homes and beating them with impunity while the police joined in.

Groups of babushka clad grandmothers prowl the streets in Russia with vigilantes and stone persons perceived to be gay with rocks daily brought to the Orthodox churches to be blessed by priests. These things, and worse, are happening around the world. They are happening here.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Hnsen Luger Kate Hansen still riding the Olympic cloud

    Not many people can say they actually accomplished their lifetime dreams. Even less can say they did it before turning 22....

    March 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tests of a living faith

    We recently started a study on Wednesday nights of the letter James wrote to the church. This Bible book is a practical guide to Christian living, but more than that, it really forces one to think honestly about their faith. Is your faith ...

    July 24, 2014

  • Which Bible bit is most misinterpreted?

    The Rev. Scott Gordon, Claycomo Baptist Church: Many passages vie for consideration, but the first “bit” that came to mind we find in Matthew 7:1-6 and Romans 2:1-5....

    July 24, 2014

  • CAIR-OK plans day of service

    The Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-OK) will join Mercy Youth Club and IST Youth at the fourth annual Ramadan Day of Service Saturday....

    July 18, 2014

  • Guest preacher and author to speak

    The Reverend Dr. James White will preach, as well as discuss, his new book, “Brief Christian Histories: Getting a Sense of Our Long Story,” this Sunday at First Christian Church, 220 S. Webster. White will preach at both 8:40 and 10:45 ...

    July 18, 2014

  • Life on earth is a vapor

    The last of the baby boomers turn 50 this year. This generation of Americans, born from 1946-1964, is named after the post-World War II “baby boom.” I am a baby boomer and as one of the “late boomers,” one of the last to turn 50 — ...

    July 17, 2014

  • What does a bird ‘alone on a housetop’ mean

    Reassurance of God’s mercy The Rev. Betty Hanna-Witherspoon, Ebenezer A.M.E. Church: This verse, Psalm 102:7, has a notation in the New Living Translation, “A prayer of one overwhelmed with trouble, pouring out problems before the ...

    July 17, 2014

  • Hillsboro resident’s first CD will benefit Haiti missions

    When Angie Sawyer's son passed away at age 5 she tried several ways to deal with her grief. But none of them worked, she said, until she turned to God. So to tell her story, she recently recorded her first CD, “On The Right Track.” All ...

    July 10, 2014

  • Anti-bias order creates rift

    In the intensifying debate over religious liberty, President Barack Obama faces pressure from opposite flanks as he prepares to issue an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against gay and transgender people in ...

    July 10, 2014

  • Is anything really free?

    We have just celebrated the nation’s 238th birthday. We are extremely proud of and attached to freedom. The Founding Fathers wrote into the founding documents practical truths that make those freedoms attainable. I love the fact that they ...

    July 10, 2014