The American Gestapo.
How the Southern Baptist church has members rat other members out.
By Rachel McCartney
In 2014, the Baptist general assembly issued a resolution dealing with transgender people. I was a member of a Southern Baptist church at the time. At the same time, I was also dealing with my own gender identity, but I hadn’t come out to anyone yet. I guess I was hoping that the church would be okay with it. Instead what I read was a document that used every conservative trope to make Trans people out to be the new Boogie Man of the church. What shocked me was the way the southern baptist convention spun the resolution.
They made it sound like they were trying to care for Trans people as best they knew how. Afterward, in Sunday school, we talked about the different resolutions. Here, the difference in what the mainstream was told, and what we were actually told as members of the church completely differ.
In the media, it was portrayed as a stopgap to figure out what’s going on, to Church members, it was made certain that there was no exploration into what it meant to be Trans. We were told as good, upstanding members that if someone from our church came to us, that we should tell them they’re wrong and talk to the pastor ASAP. If you’re thinking outing someone is completely wrong, then you’re right! It is completely wrong but the church doesn’t care.
The pastor would call the individual and they would have a private meeting. If the pastor can’t convince them that they’re mistaken about being Trans, gay, or whatever. the Pastor has no other recourse than to inform the Deacons that person is no longer a member in good standing. Not being a member in good standing means you don’t have voting rights and are removed from any committees you are on. Now, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if the deacons are told what is going on, the deacons will tell someone else.
I know from growing up in the church that it doesn’t take long for gossip to spread. Soon the whole church knows. Now what you have is a situation where a person has confided something in a person they believed was a friend. That person has gone and started a chain reaction that will out them to the church. When the whole church knows, the lay people in the church know that you shun anyone who comes out as Trans or gay. Then this person’s family is made to be pressured into distancing themselves from them.
For a lot of people, the church is the center of their life; it’s where their friends are, it’s where their significant other’s friends are, it’s where their kid’s friends are. It is the complete center, and for that to be ripped away from a person is devastating. Now that I sit here and write this, it sounds a lot like the actions of a cult. The church has taken everything away from this person or at least tried; that’s the point of this resolution. Setting it up this way was to scare current members who are LGBTQ into staying quiet for fear of losing everything. To quarantine and control the interactions of other members with people who do come out.
When I sat back and looked at this resolution and looked at how it operated in the church. it became very clear to me this resolution was not about love; it has everything to do with maintaining power. This resolution was put in place by a group of people that are terrified they will lose power because the LGBTQ doesn’t follow their rules. We don’t love the right way. We don’t identify the right way. We don’t vote the right way.
I was lucky I didn’t lose everything, my family stayed with me. Some are not as lucky. Some people can’t see themselves away from the church and stay in hiding. Some can’t deal with the loss and decide to end their life.
I’m not saying that all churches are bad. There are definitely some that are amazing while others have made their choice loud and clear. They have chosen power over people. Money over love. Stagnation over progress. I wish that I had a simple solution but I don’t. The road to bridge these gaps and heal these wounds is long and rocky.
The way things are going things will get worse before they get better. The Southern Baptist are not alone in their dealings with the LGBTQ. Other religious organizations have echoed their line, some quite recently. I also think it is important to see that, for the most part, the push to exclude LGBTQ people has been pushed by an extremist leadership that is hell-bent on making Christendom look and act like them. To put it in geek speak they want a ‘clone army.’
They way they get this to happen is through fear. They push ideas that the LGBTQ community wants to “groom” kids, that we are sexual predators that we want special rights no one else has; that we have some deep dark “agenda”. They spread this bag of lies anywhere that will give them a podium.
We have a duty to future generations to fight this hate and show it for what it is, the last power play of a dying ideology. I wish I could say ignore them and soon they will be gone but they won’t be. They will spread their ideas until their dying breath. trapping new generations into narrow thinking that limits themselves and everyone else. We have the hard task of speaking the truth with love. We have to counter the fear they spread with the truth. We have to show compassion to those who ask sincere questions. We have to take care of those that are ostracized from their churches. Our task, at this time in history, is not easy but it is how we win.