The QuasiChristian

Critical Thinking and Spiritual Reasoning

Faith, Hope And Love: Ending LGBT Teen Suicide

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) pri...

Rev. Patrick S. Cheng, Ph.D.

I have been simultaneously horrified, saddened, and enraged at the spate of suicides in the last month by teenagers and young adults who were bullied for being, or being perceived to be, gay. Billy Lucas, 15, hung himself on September 9 from the rafters of a barn. Seth Walsh, 13, hung himself on September 19 from a tree in his backyard. Tyler Clementi, 18, jumped off the George Washington bridge on September 22. Asher Brown, 13, shot himself in the head on September 23.

As an openly gay minister, theologian, and seminary professor, these suicides have brought back vivid memories of being bullied myself in junior high school. I remember being taunted so badly at the bus stop on Helen Drive that I no longer wanted to go to school. I remember being kicked out of my tent at Cutter Scout Reservation, with my possessions thrown in the dirt, and spending the rest of the night under a picnic table. I remember spending my recesses and lunch breaks in the Taylor Intermediate School library, which was a place of refuge for me, thanks to Mr. Rand, the kind-hearted librarian.

I believe this recent string of suicides by LGBT young people is, at root, a religious problem. For me, there is a clear and indisputable link between these horrible deaths and the rhetoric espoused by anti-gay Christians who continually condemn lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people as sinners worthy of divine punishment. Where else do you think the bullies learn their behavior? No matter how well intentioned, anti-gay Christians need to understand that their nonstop rhetoric of sin and punishment creates a toxic environment that views LGBT people as less than fully human and thus deserving of socially or religiously sanctioned violence — including self-inflicted violence.

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October 8, 2010 Posted by | Commentary, Current Events, Societal Concerns | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Christianity Must Adapt — Or Perish

Alex Wilheml (The Huffington Post)

There is a fundamental question facing Christian sects in America, an ideological distinction that cleaves the many churches into two different camps: is it better to fit the church and Christianity to the world, thus keeping the faith relevant, or is it better to mold the world to the faith? Put more bluntly, whose vision of the future of Christianity is correct: the conservative, literal Baptists or the modern, liberal Episcopalians? Which is best for the people? Which is best for the world? Are their dogmas really so distinct?

The non-religious of the world will be quick to point out that this is in fact something of a new question, whether the religion should fit the culture or the other way about. Historically, Christianity’s church held much more control and influence in daily lives of people around the world. The question of adapting the religion to better fit a morality in flux (most people would say for the better) was moot. The Bible and the Church were both the guide and the morality.

Modern times have changed the equation. Freedom to practice religion as one wishes implies less central homogeneity among Christians. Without a central core, doctrine can wander. Once you have the freedom to leave to find a better-fitting sect, start your own, or just stop practicing all together, it becomes much more difficult to corral a society. Unless a single sect so dominates a certain area, no specific church or even Christendom can exert enough control to enforce its views. I would posit that voluntary assimilation is no control at all.

If the number of non-believers doubles again in 50 years, then by around 2050, the United States will be a majority non-religious country. Clearly, if Christianity seeks to not only stay relevant but viable, it must adapt. The proof is in the numbers; Christianity is suffering.

The Biblical passages subjugating women to the back of the bus need to be let go to reach the modern woman, who no more expects to be treated as a second class citizen than to be beaten. The passages condemning people born homosexual as abominations need to be released to make the church inclusive. The blatantly incorrect attempts at science and history in the book need to be shut out if Christianity is to attract the educated who could not reconcile the Bible and the real world.

If Christians want to find some sort of hope to reverse the trend in the game that they are losing, they would be wise to listen to … the person sitting next to them who left the Church because it never spoke to them. That person is the reason Christianity is suffering a silent crisis.

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October 7, 2010 Posted by | Church, Commentary | , , , , | Leave a comment

Open Your God Account Now, And Get A Free Gift!

Clay Farris Naff (The Huffington Post)

… I guess their sorrows had brought this couple to the point where they were ready to try anything, but they sure didn’t look happy about it. All that would change, the older guy promised them.

“Before I got saved,” he was telling them, “I done everything bad there was to do. Got to the point where I didn’t want to go on. But something pulled me up from the depths. Something called the Lord.” He beamed his big smile on each of them in turn.

“Your lives will change, too. You’ll see. All your troubles will go away if you give them up to Jesus. God has a wonderful plan for your lives. And,” he added, beaming at the Mrs., “our church shows biblically correct movies for the youngsters every weekend. You’re gonna love it.”

At this moment, I was seized with a powerful urge to pull up a chair and butt in. Of course, I didn’t — my mother raised me right. If I had, though, I would have said something like this.

“Hold on a second, folks. Before you sign up with the Jesus dealership, have you considered all your options? How about Hinduism? Of maybe you’d like to be Muslims? But what am I saying? When I look at you, sir, I see a man of discriminating taste. Not just any old religion will do for you. No sir, for you we’ve got something special: Zoroastrianism! Comes complete with both fire and water rituals. So, what’ll it take for me to put you behind the wheel of a new faith today?”

It used to be that religions proselytized with promises about the hereafter. If there was a present-day benefit to be gained, it was generally something like not being tortured or put to death. But all that has changed.

Like everything else, the competition for souls has gone global, and marketing reigns supreme. As in so many other areas, America has led the way when it comes to the commercialization of religion. Almost from the inception of the republic, there has been a strong streak of salesmanship in American religion. It started with Great Awakening, gained momentum with the televangelist, and only got stronger with megachurch. And so we have come to this: Coupon Clipper Christianity.

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October 6, 2010 Posted by | Church, Commentary | , , , , , | Leave a comment