In a country that doesn't (officially) recognize state-sponsored religion, whose Constitution says "all men are created equal," where bigotry and bias are abhorred — why do otherwise intelligent and sensitive people feel they can engage in hate speech against gay people?

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Monday, June 05, 2006

Evil Dwells In Minnesota Church

Remember when church was a refuge from the politics in which we might have been embroiled? Remember when church was a place where untold peace and compassion reigned? Remember when any church's doors were open to all who felt moved to enter, instead of what they have become lately — country clubs where insincerity and separation prevail, and folks try with all their might to keep "those people" out?

George Bush, Karl Rove and the Republican conservative crusaders have changed all that. They wanted to change America — and they have. In their never-ending thirst for power, they have corrupted the holiness of the church setting. Their actions have made it so churches are centers of hate and hostility and are therefore increasingly irrelevant in all our lives. God is weeping, I am sure.

The Washington Post article below chronicles where we are. It is remarkably sad people who are striving to be part of a community of believers are actively being turned away. I don't know what to make of it. No matter what you wear, no matter what you've done — if you are there to partake in the healing that receiving holy communion represents, it is especially evil to be denied. Communion was never meant to be for a select few. I'm surprised anyone could ever feel this is either practical or blessed.

(Editor's Note: The headline of the article at the link makes a judgement call with which I wouldn't have gotten away in my high school journalism classes. The folks wearing sashes are not "activists." That's a politically-charged word that carries a weight not befitting the eloquence of the display. The writer says as much in his copy. I've changed the headline here and feel qualified to do so (my journalism degree makes me comfortable making such an editorial decision). The Post ought not to have made such a careless copy error.)

Communion Denied To Church-Goers
Gay Rights Supporters Wear Rainbow Sashes to Minn. Mass

Monday, June 5 — More than 50 gay rights activists wearing rainbow-colored sashes were denied Holy Communion at a Pentecost service yesterday at the Roman Catholic Cathedral in St. Paul, Minn., parishioners and church officials said.

In an act that some witnesses called a "sacrilege" and others called a sign of "solidarity," a man who was not wearing a sash received a Communion wafer from a priest, broke it into pieces and handed it to some of the sash wearers, who consumed it on the spot.

Ushers threatened to call the police, and a church employee burst into tears when the unidentified man re-distributed the consecrated wafer, which Catholics consider the body of Christ. But the Mass was not interrupted, and the incident ended peacefully, said Dennis McGrath, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

"It was confrontational, but we decided not to try to arrest the guy," he said.

The dramatic episode capped several years of increasing acrimony over the Rainbow Sash Movement, an effort by gay Catholics to counter what they view as homophobia in the church.

Beginning in 1997 in England, some Catholics have worn the sashes over their left shoulder to Mass each year on Pentecost, the day on which the New Testament says the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus's disciples. Because the holiday is a celebration of God's gifts, "we think it is an appropriate time to celebrate the gift of our sexuality," said Brian McNeill, a rainbow-sash organizer in Minneapolis.

For a few years, sash-wearers were allowed to receive Communion in some U.S. cities, including Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Rochester, N.Y. But since 2004, most U.S. bishops have cracked down on the movement.

Last year, Cardinal Francis Arinze, head of the Vatican department in charge of worship, wrote a letter to Archbishop Harry J. Flynn of St. Paul, stating that the rainbow sash is a sign of protest against the church's teachings on sexuality and that the Mass is not an appropriate forum for protests.

The movement's leaders insist that wearing the sash is not an act of protest.

"When Archbishop Flynn and Cardinal Arinze say it's a protest, I say, 'But you guys aren't the ones wearing it — we are, and we see it as a celebration,' " McNeill said. "The premise of the sash is that gay people are part of the Catholic community, part of the people of God. We are there proudly celebrating Mass." ... — By Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff Writer

Out of anyone, the man mentioned in the second paragraph, who broke his wafer into pieces to share it with those being castigated, behaved in the manner most "Christian." His act gives me hope that the spirit of Jesus was there that day — and perhaps it has begun to change hearts and minds. I sincerely can't believe I am saying this referring to a church, but — nonetheless — his powerful, brave act reminds me that even in the most evil and hostile places the spirit of God can be found.


Blogger LadyCelticFire said...

Tee hee see I woulda gone in NOT wearing the sash, and in my BESTEST Fagh Hag voice said "Ewwwwwwwwwwwww OMG who put Pepto in these OMG." and spit it out... But thats just me hehehe

9:21 PM, June 09, 2006 <$BlogCommentDeleteI

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