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home : letters : letters December 17, 2014

3/14/2014 10:08:00 AM
A story distorted

To the editor:

"God thinks like you" is an increasingly accurate description of local congregations - largely the result of religiously polarized politics producing polarized churches. Few churches are benefiting while many are suffering - an exception being Riverwood Church.

And even though many residents think the divisive battle over same-sex marriage didn't affect them, it still may. Maybe you weren't pressed because your friend or your child did not have their rights on the line, but local churches were pressed. Conservative churches circled the wagons and flaunted their choice. The few liberal-leaning churches were largely silent, as were the churches walking the fence. They seemed paralyzed by social conservatives turning to churches like Riverwood, while liberals and millennials (18 - 33 year-olds) increasingly walk away from religion altogether. Unlike the several conspicuous "Vote YES" congregations, there were no local churches proclaiming "Vote NO"  (against restricting same-sex marriage). This seems odd in a community with 18 churches... where half the citizens voted NO, and nationally where 69% of the millennials support same-sex marriage.

Although the local Catholic Church publicly led the battle, they have largely withdrawn. Father Stan issued a graceful plea for healing and harmony, a new Pope has changed focus, and now 50% of regularly attending parishioners support same-sex marriage.

But Riverwood has become a harbor for martyr-envy. Same-sex marriage is a pew-filling, God-send... a story distorted and deployed to complement a broader anti-government, anti-liberal, moral decayed, fear-filled narrative. Because even though 69% of millennials and 50% of regularly attending Catholics support same-sex marriage ... only 21% of white-evangelical-republican-protestants do. At Riverwood, there was not a healing, harmonious tone - there was a celebrated doubling-down. At Riverwood, political and spiritual warfare is the offering... delivered from the pulpit in a fevered, revival pitch, "If I stand up for Biblical principles, I'm a bigot! I'm a racist! Fill in the blank! These common sense principles that have stood the test of time, from the beginning of time... up to this age... all of a sudden now, I'm a racist?! I'm a homophobe?!"

Ken Kressin

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