Friday, May 05, 2006

Fr. Thomas Williams on "inclusive Christianity"

I've seen these ads for the United Church of Christ, which basically say "come join our church, we're not judgmental". But what they really mean is: " we don't care about morality...everything goes!" Fr. Thomas has a few insightful thoughts, as always. Here's the intro to the National Review article...

Inclusive Christianity REV. THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, LC

To celebrate Holy Week and Easter, the United Church of Christ (UCC) produced an attention-grabbing television ad highlighting its inclusive policies.

Viewers watch (see here) an “intolerant” church rejecting — or rather, literally ejecting — a black mother, a gay couple, an Arab, and a person using a walker. As each tries to sit in a church pew, he or she is sent flying by an ejector seat. The ad contrasts the inclusive UCC with the ejecting church: “The United Church of Christ: no matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you’re welcome here.”

This is, in many ways, a wonderful message. It strikes a chord with us Americans in our conviction that all should be welcome, none rejected. The inscription on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, penned by American poet Emma Lazarus in 1883, sums up American open-heartedness:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

More to the point, wasn’t it Christ himself who welcomed the “wretched refuse” of his time, associating with publicans and adulterers, lepers, prostitutes, and the whole offal of Palestine? He and his disciples were from the wrong side of the tracks, the Palestinian outback of Galilee — a powerful message for the rich and famous of his time and ours. He was fiercely criticized for fraternizing with outcasts, and disparagingly dubbed a “friend of tax collectors and sinners.” Isn’t this absolute inclusiveness essential to the Christian message?

Yet I suspect the UCC ad had a more specific criticism in mind. I am unaware of any church in America that turns away blacks, or that has a policy against Arabs or handicapped persons. There are, however, a number of Christian churches that consider homosexual behavior to be sinful. By sneaking the gay couple in between the African-American woman and the Arab-American, the UCC disingenuously equates racial discrimination with moral principle.


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