UPDATE: The Anonymous Pastor has been found out.
John Shore updated his blog today to remove the letter that he posted from the anonymous Pastor and explained that the head Pastor discovered it and realized it was the former Pastor at his church. John goes on to explain how they are working things out and he hopes for the best. He said that he hopes that they will work out their differences in the manner that Jesus would. As much as I love John Shore and his writing and his way of looking at things, I disagree with him.
I understand why he pulled it. He doesn't want to cause any friction between the anonymous Pastor who has done nothing wrong and was cruelly and wrongfully fired after his views on same sex equality was discovered, and the bigoted intolerant Church that fired him. I get that, and if it was me in that position I don't know how I would react. I definitely do not want anything I write to cause someone like this anonymous Pastor to get in trouble.
However the "damage" as it were, was already done. The church found out he emailed the letter, they knew it had been posted, and so there was nothing to be gained by removing the post. Close the comments if you want, so no more gasoline can be thrown on the fire, so to speak, but at this point removing the post does nothing. It's a simple nice gesture, that accomplishes nothing, because it's already posted all over the internet on various blogs. Removing it from one isn't putting it out of sight out of mind.
And it shouldn't be out of sight out of mind. The Church should not be able to cover up what they did and hide behind their extortion of this man. People like them are the reason that so many people despise Christians and think that we are all hypocrites and fakes and bigots. People like them are the reason so many young LGBT teens commit suicide, because they continue to hammer home the idea that these teens are "abominations" and are going to Hell.
So while I can understand his wanting to placate the situation and not exacerbate it any more, I feel saddened that he took the post down, because at the end of the day that accomplished nothing. It's still out there, nothing has changed. Him removing it does not change the negotiations between the anonymous pastor and his former church.
It only comes off as a knee jerk reaction. And that saddens me to say because I have immense respect for John Shore and the work he does. I've written him several times and he's posted and answered a question I sent him that I was dealing with at the time. And his words helped me incredibly.
But I feel he is wrong here. That's my opinion, anyway
ORIGINAL STORY BELOW
I read this story earlier tonight and was shocked. It's one of these things where you just can't imagine can happen. Over at Johnshore.com, John posted an email he got, with identifiable details removed, from a Pastor who was fired from his church after five years of loyal service, after he linked to an article on Facebook about Don't Ask Don't Tell being repealed.
After he linked to the article, without comment, there was a reaction of outrage from those in his church who couldn't understand how a Christian could support same sex marriage specifically and homosexuality in general. Many of them complained to the board of the church he was a Pastor at, and they held an emergency meeting and fired him. They then told him that if he told anyone what they did, that they would withdraw the severence package that they offered him.
Below is a snippet from the longer piece at John's blog. I encourage everyone to check it out, after you finish reading my blogpost here, and see what the man has to say.
Four weeks ago the discriminatory law of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was finally abolished. Even though no one in my church community was aware of my views on homosexuality (I have been intentionally tight-lipped about it, knowing how divisive that issue is), and I’ve never talked about it, I felt like it was good to celebrate the end of discrimination. So I posted a link to an article about the end of DADT on my Facebook page. I made no commentary on the article–which was not about the “issue” of homosexuality at all. [He shared the article to which he linked: written by a leading politician, it simply could not be more innocuous.--J.]
Over the next few hours, several people from my church started commenting on my wall: “How can a Christian be pro-homosexuality?” “Why is a pastor actively promoting the gay-lifestyle?” and so on. Even more people were calling/texting/emailing our lead pastor and the chair of our elder board.
What resulted over the next six days was not fun. The chair of the elder board called for an emergency board meeting to deal with me. I was summoned to the board meeting, where I was forced to give my stance on homosexuality (even though the church has no official stance on the matter, and has never before talked about the issue). And even though I reminded them that we all agree on our church’s statement of faith, ultimately, when they learned that I don’t view homosexuality as a sin, and that I would be in favor of two gay people being allowed to get married, they came to the conclusion that I was unfit to be a pastor at [Name of Church]. And within a week of posting the article on FB page, I was fired from a church I’d served faithfully and helped to build for five years.
On the topic and issue of homosexuality (a word which I’ve wearied of saying over the past month), over the past five years I have journeyed with Jesus, and undergone a shift in my beliefs about people being born gay (versus merely “choosing”), about the Father’s posture towards such people, about their inherent right to love, and the beauty in their loving, committed, monogamous relationships, etc. No longer do I believe it is a sin to be gay.
And my heart and soul hurts at the rampant discrimination towards the GLBT community all around the world. I mourn that the church is not a safe place for them. I mourn that the church has chosen to alienate and in some cases attack them. I mourn that ignorance has clouded people’s judgment. I wish that people could open themselves to hear what other people are saying with regards to what the Bible says (and doesn’t say) about this issue. What science is showing us. What the GLBT themselves are saying. How being a follower of Jesus ought radically impact our posture towards the GLBT community.
These are scumbags that don't have the courage to back up their actions. Either that or they don't have the faith that they are doing the right thing. Maybe they know they are doing the wrong thing, but don't want anyone else to call them on it. I don't know.
However this outrages me. This bothers me deeply, perhaps, because I can relate to it so much. I've been a member of churches before that have made it known to me that they do not agree with my views on same sex marriage. I've had numerous people tell me flat out that they do not believe I am a "real" Christian, due to the fact that I support marriage equality, and that I do not view homosexuality as a sin.
And to be honest with you, despite my being extremely angered by those comments, I'm not really sure that they are wrong. I think that if the way those people carry themselves and behave and how these people are examples of their idea of Christianity, then I guess they are right. I'm DEFINITELY not what THEY would claim is a real Christian.
I think people in the church spend way too much time trying to enforce some ambiguous lines from the Old Testament, of which there is a point to be made that they are intepreting it the wrong way, and that the Bible doesn't really condemn homosexuality at all, then there is trying to display the love that Jesus Christ Himself exhibited.
Jesus did not say to love and care for everyone except those who do not believe what you do. Jesus didn't say a damn word about discriminating against those who happen to love a little bit differently than you or I do, and in fact there is discussion over whether or not a male servant that Jesus healed, as described in Matthew and Luke, was in fact a male lover of the Centurion.
To paraphrase an old comment by comedian Paul Mooney, "everyone wanna be a Christian, but nobody wants to be a Christian". Meaning that I think some people are more interested in saying they are a Christian and pretending that they are, rather than actually living up to what Christ said and did. Otherwise there wouldn't be so many Christians that are supporting Republican laws that are slanted against the poor and lower class in favor of the rich.
There are many elements to my faith that I don't really buy into. Some things more than others. And I get that there are many who do not see a way that someone can be a Christian and not believe EVERYTHING that the Bible says, and they don't understand how someone can be a Christian and support marriage equality, but I think those people are narrow minded and the end result of that way of thinking, is sad situations like this anonymous Pastor who was fired for the act of simply LINKING to an article about the ending of the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" rule, which was wrong from the start.
The Pastor talked about how he's got twenty families from that church that fired him that are interested in him starting a new church, as they are disillusioned with the one they are in. That's a heckuva good start to a new church, I think. He talked about how he's got a decision to make, and that he may be going back to another state where has family and friends.
I think he's better off without that spineless worthless church he was a part of. They exposed their bigotry and ignorance the moment they fired this man. I hope he starts up a new church and is able to get out the actual message of Jesus, and not just the message that some people want to get out there.
I wish him the best, and hopefully now that he is separate from that vile environment, he is able to start over and flourish even better.