Back in the day when I was an Episcopalian-bor-and-bred I had a gay priest who hated Bible-believing Christians. His hatred was visceral and his unequal treatment of his parishioners based on their beliefs was all too obvious. He was like night and day. He'd get bright red and he'd get very distant whenever a Bible-believing Christian approached him whether in or outside the churchyard. It was as if he was always ready to be hurt by them.
Well, I understood exactly how he felt. I've had my share of Christian cruelty. I remember the Assembly of God minister, Pastor Glickert, the white minister in a 99.9999% white congregation who decided to drag me up to the front of the conversation to talk about me living with my soon-to-be husband. (Other young folks had boyfriends too and were into extramarital sex but they were white young folks and their parents were in the congregation. I suspected he did this in order to make himself appear to the white congregation as hard on sin....and I, being alone, was a great tool for that purpose.)
I remember the white minister's wife who stood beside me at coffee hour telling me she didn't like seeing my white husband and me together because she didn't like seeing her race muddied.
I remember the Christian reviewers who toured Wind Follower who wildly emailed each other offlist about the sex and violence in my book. And I remember the Christian fiction group, Xianscribblers, which all ganged up on me and once again were emailing each other offlist about me. (That trouble started because I didn't like the idea of invading Iraq and because I said people should not judge homosexuals because some --by no means all-- of my homosexual friends had had sexual abuse as children.) Of course something always happens with all that gossiping and I always end up being told...Christians are good at herd-mind cruelty but never good at hiding their gosiping.
So as I think back upon that former minister of mine -- who is quite the Christian gay theologian revolutionary-- I tell myself, "I don't want to develop a kneejerk disdain toward Christians. I don't want to write stories where Christians are harpies who pride themselves on how kind and good and mature they are...when they are really nothing more than cruel beings. Those are the stories non-Christians and Christian-haters write."
Yet, the depiction of Christians is often true. At least American Christians. And let's face it: much of the most blatant racism comes from Christians in the Bible Belt. The Bible tells us: a true witness delivers souls. But can I write the passionate accurate story without being mean-spirited and kneejerk about it?
God alone knows.
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