The Church and the Homosexuality Debate

Column by Bishop John Shelby Spong on 29 October 2003 0 Comments
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What can we do about a preacher in our state whose web site is "God hates" and who is constantly harassing churches that seek to be open to new knowledge about homosexuality?


The task of Christians in dealing with both prejudice and ignorance is to be loving, to absorb the hostility and not to respond in kind. Ultimately, ignorant and bigoted behavior will die of its own absurdity. The activity of this preacher has opened the eyes of many clergy, who were themselves once quite negative to gay and lesbian people, and caused them to look again at their own prejudices and to begin the process of change and growth. The great Episcopal Bishop of Kansas, William Smalley, is one of them.

I try to respond with conversation first. If that is not allowed, I ignore them. If that is not possible, I call the police. If the verbal abuse becomes physical abuse, I seek legal redress. I support freedom of speech even if that speech is frightening, hostile and uninformed but when freedom of speech becomes abusive behavior, I seek the protection offered to me under the laws of this country.

I have been picketed by this man on several occasions in my life. It is an honor to recognize that this preacher is so threatened by the insights that I offer to the world that he seeks to silence me or at least to make it impossible for my words to be heard by those who want to hear them. Truth will always trump ignorance. Prejudice is never eternal. This man will not endure and his legacy of hatred will not prevail.

-- John Shelby Spong




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