On May 8, my fellow North Carolinians will be voting on Amendment 8–an amendment that would define marriage between one man and one woman as the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in NC.
I have spent the last five years working as a full-time or contract grantwriter and public affairs officer with the Alliance of AIDS Services – Carolina, which often rolled over into fighting for LGBT rights, as well. So I’ve been following the debate very closely. And one disappointing fact that presented itself was that many of our community churches were not practicing what they preach.
It’s easy to “preach to the choir.” Of course congregation members sitting in church or Sunday School are of similar opinions; it’s the people outside the church walls who may need (or want) to hear your message. I never understood why different churches weren’t interested in ministering to the members in our community who I supported through the Alliance: those living with HIV or AIDS. Those churches were more interested in how the disease was transmitted, not in the needs of the individuals living with it. I wanted to remind them to consider this sage advice from Matthew, Book 7, Chapter 1 in the King James Bible: Judge not lest ye be judged. There’s also good advice in the Good Book about helping others: in Galatians 6:2 we learn, Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ; and in Proverbs 22:9 we learn, He who is generous will be blessed, For he gives some of his food to the poor.
But the lessons I learned as a child, and live by as an adult, didn’t seem to penetrate the closed minds of those congregations–their assumptions being, for the most part, that HIV is a punishment from the Almighty for sinful living, or being gay. Fortunately, there are also a good number of churches in my community that do assist and support members in our community living with HIV disease, knowing that HIV does not discriminate AND that every single person in the world could be affected.
Last week I was horrified to discover that the Apex Baptist Church is displaying a HUGE vinyl sign in the front yard that encourages its flock and community to vote FOR Amendment 8. Did you know that churches are prohibited from engaging in any political campaign activity.
The written word is a powerful weapon. I encourage our community churches to be very careful in the way they influence their flocks. Because, like I said above, it’s easy to preach to the choir. Apex Baptist Church: have you not been following the barrage of media coverage of bullying, the increase in teen suicides, and hate crimes against the gay community? Why would you post signs that make me assume you would turn away anyone who needed spiritual counseling because they have a different opinion than you?
Shame on you.
Maybe you need to watch Tesla’s version of Signs to get a little perspective. Because I don’t know about you, but on this beautiful, sunny April day, all I have to say is “Thank you Lord for thinking about me, I’m alive and doing fine.”