Magazine article The Christian Century

Forms of Protest

Magazine article The Christian Century

Forms of Protest

Article excerpt

THE EDITORIAL on ecclesial protest hits the nail on the head (May 24-31). As a 15-year-old white girl in the South, I marched with Martin Luther King Jr. We marched not to break the law, but to call attention to the law's unjustness. And, in doing so, we put our lives on the line.

The protesters in Cleveland were being arrested for disobeying laws regarding public access. While it looked good for the media, there was little if any point to it. The church universal, much less any particular denomination, is not going to change until the ministers in churches "invest" in the gospel of Jesus Christ. As long as we distract ourselves by arguing ad nauseam about who's in and who's out, who will be ordained and who won't, we won't have the time or the inclination to live the gospel. And we keep our jobs and pensions intact.

Think what would happen if all the ministers, priests and pastors really stood, as black Americans stood, and said this is wrong and we will not continue to obey a law of oppression that flies in the face of everything Christ taught. Further, what if they said we will not perpetuate injustice in our own congregations from misguided parishioners ... and then walked out until the hierarchy of the church realized it has no foot soldiers to command ... until the hierarchy has a "come to Jesus moment" about its discriminatory and un-Christlike actions?

Kathryn Taylor Parrish Tucson, Ariz.

What "Ecclesial protest" calls "street theater" on the part of United Methodist protesters at General Conference does not qualify for that sarcastic categorization.

Soulforce held a demonstration outside, it is true. However, United Methodists in dissent of their church's position on homosexuality expressed themselves during a plenary session of General Conference. They chose to stand or sit in silent prayer near the bishop's table. This was a message to the church, within the context of a church meeting. It was not a loud, public, self-serving circus, as the term "street theater" suggests.

Furthermore, not every clergy person will have the opportunity to perform a same-sex union for pastoral reasons, as Jimmy Creech and Greg Dell did. Many will not go out of their way to perform such a union, exploiting a couple for the sake of breaking church law--an act that the editorial regards as the only valid expression of dissent on this issue. The quiet expression at General Conference demonstrated integrity. Bishops Susan Morrison and Joseph Sprague, who were among the clergy arrested, took the risk of incarceration in order to be available as pastors to those who were jailed. …

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