Tuesday, September 22, 2009

JAMAICA'S GAYS WORSHIP IN THE CLOSET

Most of the institutionalized Church in the world has done inestimable harm to LGBT people. In Jamaica, it's unbelievable how the ignorance and mendacity of most of the clergy and their followers in the institutional Church has caused untold suffering, including murders, of LGBT people.

Where are the voices of the clergy against this horror? Where are the voices of the sanitized professing Christians in the U.S. and elsewhere against the venomous rhetoric of the clergy in Jamaica and in all other places where homophobia is equated with "spirituality" in the minds of demented and warped individuals who have the temerity to sing such hymns in church as "Amazing Grace"?

KINGSTON, Jamaica — It takes just 15 minutes to set up an underground church.

Two boxes and a white sheet make up the pulpit. The altar is a card table. Folding chairs constitute the pews. Then Rev. Robert Griffin, a solidly built gay American minister in his mid-40s, unpacks a battered cardboard box; inside is a wooden chalice, two candle holders, a communion plate and a dog-eared copy of the King James Bible. Add a pianist warming up on an electric keyboard and suddenly an empty meeting room is transformed into the Kingston branch of the Sunshine Cathedral, Jamaica’s only gay church.

“We call it church in a box,” said Griffin, who travels to Jamaica once a month from Florida to hold services for Jamaica’s gay community. He helped found this congregation five years ago after reading a Human Rights Watch report about institutionalized anti-gay violence in Jamaica....

Ministers here regularly condemn homosexuality as a mortal sin, citing the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and God’s destruction of these cities because of the immoral behavior of their gay inhabitants. They also frequently quote verse 20:13 of Leviticus, which declares: "If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death.”

“Ministers here are endorsing violent acts, calls for murder, to incite riots,” Griffin said. “I hear it being done here, I read it in the papers here, I have even heard it myself. They tell me: ‘We don’t believe in homosexuality and homosexuals should be killed because that’s what the scripture says.’” These beliefs also feed another equally pernicious notion about homosexuality. Since gayness is seen as an ungodly and unnatural act it is widely believed that the only way a young person becomes gay is by being coerced or raped by a gay man.

“That’s a misuse of the pulpit to me,” he said, with a look of outrage on his face. “In this culture, sex and homosexuality seems to pack the churches on Sunday morning. And if a minister is perceived to have not preached against homosexuality on Sunday morning, then that minister has not actually preached, if you will.”

“But we know that scripture says a lot of things,” he said. “My pushback is to ask why is that one particular verse up higher than other verses in that particular section of the Bible? There is another passage that says, 'Slaves, obey your masters.' Well, that particular part of the Bible hasn’t changed. But our attitudes certainly have changed about how we look at slavery."


[For the full article, see here.]
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4 comments:

Leonardo Ricardo said...

Thank you Jerry. This is very helpful and I don´t know if you´re aware that Archbishop Drexel Gomez, West Indies (Jamaica included) is the chairperson for the The Anglican Covenant...it´s a document awaiting completion that would castigate Anglican Church Provinces that allowed LGBT Christians at all levels of Churchlife. The guy, Gomez, is quite the nasty piece of work as Jamaica is the number one country in the Western Hemisphere that records case after case of bloody/deadly hate crimes committed against LGBT Christian/others.

I have crosslinked to your comments, hope it´s ok.

Jerry Maneker said...

Thanks Leonardo. Of course, it's OK to cross-link this, or any, post of mine.

In biblical times, it took guts to be a Christian, as one could easily be imprisoned, tortured, or even killed for proclaiming the name of Jesus. Now, in these days and times, any two bit thug can claim to be a Christian and, even worse, act out their mendacity and say they are doing so in the name of God.

And blind lemmings who regularly go to church, and who who view themselves as "Christians," can remain silent in the face of the oppression of others by assorted clergy and other professing "Christians," thereby facilitating that oppression, putting the lie to their profession of faith.

Best wishes, Jerry.

genevieve said...

The way I have chosen to approach the problem is educate those who really know little or nothing about GLBT people. I have done it little by litle but I'm doing it. I would love to have more opportunities.

Jerry Maneker said...

What you're doing is very valuable work, genevieve! The opportunities will come, and you will also make those opportunities! So many people are ignorant about the realities of LGBT lives and also about the realities of being defamed and consigned to pariah status within society. You're doing very valuable work in educating people! Best wishes, Jerry.