I don't normally post a religious element to my blog but I cover religious bigotry in Morning Report and Complete Faith so I thought I'd mention something that struck me last week.
I go to a very small church, and in a time when clergy was thin on the ground, a few of us became worship leaders. We took a service every so often, just to relieve the strain on the clergy team. Recently, Single Dad Laughing's post about I'm Christian Unless You're Gay reminded me of an early talk I gave on being inclusive.
I asked everyone to stand up and set a random number of questions. If the congregation answered yes to any of those questions they were sent outside.
Did you have toast this morning? Yes? Bye bye.
Are you wearing socks? Yes. So long.
Did you clean your teeth this morning? Yes? Get lost.
The point of the questions, as I'm sure you have gathered, was to make my church totally exclusive. I only wanted the people that fitted my criteria. Of course, I made it so exclusive that there was no one left to hear my talk.
I listen to the leaders of my church as they deny GBLT people equal rights, and I am reminded of that talk. Does my church only want people who fit their narrow definition of what is right to be part of their faith community? You could say that they are not saying that. All are welcome, as long as they don't expect the right to be married before God like their fellow heterosexual members of the congregation.
Do I want to be part of a faith community that excludes people for who they love? No, I don't think so. My little church prides itself on being inclusive. I want to be part of that church, but not part of the exclusive community that has forgotten a basic commandment.
'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:31, NIV)