Letters to the Editor: Religious leaders should adopt goal of non violence

10/3/2006

Editor,

How sad and terribly disturbing are the recent remarks of the pope pertaining to the religion of Islam. His attitude unveils the root cause of most of the bloodshed for the last 2,000 years which says, “Ours is of God and theirs is of the devil.” 

For the first 325 years, early Christians took the non-violence of Jesus seriously. After Constantine and Nicea, the church adopted the concept of just war. Since then Christian governments have been manufacturing justification for their “just wars.” 

About 700 years after Jesus, the religion of Islam came on the scene and also adopted the concept of just war (jihad). And, perhaps, following the lead of Christianity, Moslem governments have been manufacturing justification for their “just wars” ever since.

It may be that the only hope for humanity is for leaders of all religions to cease branding each other as evil and seek union within the Great Spirit of the universe.

C.E. Swain
Carthage

 

Editor,            

Unless Dr. J.E. Galloway (letter to the editor, Sept. 20 Advocate) rewrites the gospels, the most authoritative person in the Bible (Jesus, not Paul), never mentions homosexuality. Period. 

Galloway says that all homosexuals who practice homosexuality are unrepentantly living in sin. He also says that anyone living unrepentantly in sin “should not be allowed to remain in the church.” 

What then do we do about the problem of those who come to church while unrepentantly, either publicly or privately, living in sin? How do we purge those persons from the church, especially when some of those persons won’t even tell us who they are? How do we get them to tell us who they are so that we can kick them out of the church? What do we do if we know who they are but we cannot get them to admit the sinfulness of their behavior and to repent from it (or to just leave the church when they are directed to do so)? 

What besides homosexuals unrepentantly practicing homosexuality and “heterosexual(s) who commit adultery” does Galloway judge to be “sin,” and, thus, the basis for not allowing those who want to come to church to come to church? 

Should we not allow folks to come to church who unrepentantly:

  • Refuse to tithe
  • Drink alcohol (even at times to the point of intoxication)
  • Indulge in greed and gluttony
  • Enjoy casino gambling or bet on sporting events
  • Lapse in their church attendance because they sometimes just don’t feel like coming
  • Do not verbally share the message of salvation with others
  • Harbor racist or sexist or elitist views
  • Wonder whether some who are not professing Christians might actually not be going to Hell
  • Elect to not give time in service through the church
  • Fail to comply with civil law (e.g., IRS Code)
  • Have an abortion
  • Recognize and acknowledge irreconcilable discrepancies in the Bible 

It is clear that some in the United Methodist Church wish to purge the UMC of unrepentantly practicing homosexual Christians. Perhaps the Apostle Paul would endorse this, as might some of the Old Testament writers. I am confident Jesus would not. 

For those who would use the Bible as a weapon against homosexual Christians, there is nothing they can do, short of rewriting the Bible, that makes Jesus speak to the subject. Paul and the writers of the Old Testament who opine on the subject do not speak for Jesus. 

Galloway and others who endorse his solution for “sin” in the UMC should publicly clarify whether this is about barring from the UMC anyone who unrepentantly practices any form of “sin,” as they define it, or if it’s really about simply eliminating all practicing homosexual Christians from the UMC. 

Regardless of what is contained in the writings of Paul and the Old Testament, I believe that Jesus would challenge me to welcome at my church those whom others would purge from theirs. 

The group of people Jesus explicitly and consistently condemned was the self-righteous religious establishment of his day who were always trying to justify themselves by condemning others. As I read the gospels, the Gospel of Christ proclaimed to set free first and foremost those who were being oppressed and even persecuted by those preoccupied with purifying the church, much like some would have us do today. 

The church’s best hope for a vital future is for those of us in the church to live to be more like Jesus. Lord, may that begin with me. 

Open Hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors. Amen.

Mark McLain
Madison

 

Editor, 

I do not understand the minds of “Christians” who can blame any one group for the “demise” of the United Methodist Church. I do not understand the minds of “Christians” who can condemn anyone as unworthy of membership in the church. If practicing homosexuals are “sinners” and not welcome in the church, then none of us are welcome in the church – for we all are sinners. 

Homosexual Christians are not any less welcome in the arms of God than heterosexual Christians. God made us as we are and, as I was told as a child, “God don’t make no junk.”  Ignorance and fear are what drive people to use the Bible against others in hatred and condemnation – fear of things we do not understand. I find no place in my Bible where Jesus speaks against homosexuality. He does, however, speak against stealing, lust, lying, pride, judging others and, yes, even divorce, to name a few. I don’t see anyone pushing to keep divorced people out of the church. That is as ludicrous as trying to bar practicing homosexuals from the church. We all are sinners.  

No sinners in church? There would be no church. 

The greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself. 

I work with the youth in my church, and my prayer is that if they only remember one lesson from our time together, it will be to love as Jesus loved. That means to always open our hearts, and our minds and our doors to all without reservation, without condemnation, without any conditions at all.

Ann Messner
Madison