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10 October 2011

Praise: Metropolitan Community Churches

Today's Huffington Post has an article by Nancy Wilson, the head of the Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC).  Dr. Wilson focuses on the different approaches to sexuality and charity between the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) and MCC.  Before continuing, I should note that I am Jewish and take no religious side between any of the factions of Christianity.

The only reason that this caught my eye is because the RCC has been regularly attempting to influence American politics.  The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States begins with

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

Read liberally, there is little to prevent any religious body from attempting to influence U.S. politics.  The First Amendment ensures that the United States will not be a theocracy and will favor no religion more than any other.  So far so good.

It should be no surprise that religions and, in the case of the MCC and the RCC, factions of a religion do not always agree.  The MCC welcomes people as full equals, requiring only faith in Jesus, without regard to sexuality.  The RCC, as evidenced by a letter from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to President Obama, does not welcome people as equals.

Of course, there is no rule that says that any religion has to welcome everyone.  I would be opposed to any such outside rule.  The First Amendment is a great guide ... let religions act for themselves, not by government directive.  If a religion wants to welcome only people who are over six feet tall, of Asian ancestry, and natural red-heads, that should be their right (although the congregation is probably going to be fairly small).

But even as the government should not going butting into the internal rules of a religion, I would like the opposite to be true.  Sadly, it is not.  In addition to the RCC, many evangelical protestant organizations attempt to sway politics, like the Liberty Counsel, affiliated with the church of the late Jerry Falwell, the American Family Association, originally Methodist and now the church of Bryan Fischer, and some non-Christian groups like the Orthodox/Hassidic Jews of Brooklyn.

It is refreshing that Dr. Wilson is speaking against the bigotry of the RCC:

As the head of the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) with churches in 40 countries, I can tell you that church dictates against gay people cause real harm, and I will not stay silent. I speak because Jesus sided with the poor and socially outcast people who were daily excoriated by the religious leaders of his day.

Would that she did not have a reason to do speak against the RCC.  I'll give Dr. Wilson the last word on this, from the end of her article:

Bishop Dolan! Catholic officials! Listen to your people. More Catholics in the pews support marriage equality than any other Christian faith group. Bishop Dolan, hit the restart button on the Gospel. You don't have to read between the lines to know that we are called to love and serve, not judge and condemn. I call that good news.

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