Friday, February 5, 2010

The Hypocrisy of “Inclusiveness”

A letter to a Unitarian-Universalist Pastor:

Dear Pastor,

Usually I appreciate your thoughtful sermons. So please forgive me if I take issue with this one. In contrast to other churches, you extolled your church – the Unitarian-Universalists – as loving and accepting of the hurt, rejected and marginalized, a safe-haven. You highlighted two hot-button groups – those living out the gay lifestyle and those who have had an abortion. You also stated that, out of fear and ignorance, other traditions had rejected these folk; suggesting that your church had transcended these narrow judgments.

Conspicuously, you didn’t mention other groups of people and behaviors like adulterers, bigamists, pedophiles, rapists, liars or kidnappers. I refer to these groups simply to make the point that we all draw the line somewhere. There are belief systems and lifestyles – murder, genocide, robbing, and lying – which we all reject, as we should. It is therefore unfair to characterize those who would also proscribe abortion as intolerant and hateful simply because they regard this behavior as unacceptable.

While you might tolerate certain behaviors that an evangelical church wouldn’t, the latter would tolerate certain behaviors and beliefs that you wouldn’t tolerate. About two years ago, the soon-departing head of your education department made an impassioned plea for Sunday-school teachers for 4th grades through adult. I emailed my interest, but also confessed that I was a Christian. Consequently, I was rejected without an explanation.

Later, my wife Anita responded, on my behalf, by application to your church email requesting Sunday-school teachers. We never heard a word.

Let’s admit it – we are all judgmental and intolerant of certain things. It’s therefore highly misleading to present your church as the pillar of understanding and compassion and to demonize the rest. Ironically, I think that history would argue that Christianity has provided the best safe-haven for the weak and marginalized.

Instead, your message serves to reinforce inflammatory and misleading stereotypes that can only facilitate further polarization and intolerance, the very things that you want to eliminate.

I’m sorry to have used such direct language. I want to be open to your response, so I’d be glad to hear what you have to say, whether by email or in person.

Sincerely, Daniel Mann
(I haven’t yet received a response.)

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