Update: Rev. Frank Schaefer has won his appeal and is being reinstated by the Methodist Church in the United States. See New York Times report for more information.
Apostasy . . . There’s that word again. It might have cost a Sudanese woman, Meriam Ibrahim, her life were it not for the global outcry helping to free her this week from a death sentence for being a Christian rather than a Muslim.
It has cost various ministers their jobs in the last year or so, including Pastor Frank Schaefer, who was expelled from the Methodist Church because he officiated a same-sex marriage. (His case was appealed; see updated above.)
Most recently, the “A” word has been used in the case of Kate Kelly, “a Mormon women’s rights activist” who has been ex-communicated for, well, seeking more rights for women in the church, including ordination.
To misappropriate some of the words of a famous song by The Kinks, well I’m not dumb, but I don’t understand why she . . . and Frank and some of the others don’t just walk away from patriarchal religious organizations that are spurning them. They haven’t been thrown into jail to await whipping and hanging, like Meriam Ibrahim was. They were simply shown the door from their respective churches.
Indeed, the song “Born Free” comes to mind . . . as it does every time I release a ladybug or other trapped soul crawling on the windows inside my house.
Yes, I know Kate and Frank and others hope to modernize their religions, but some religious organizations don’t want to be modernized. And they see dissenters within their organizations as “the fifth column,” or “false teachers among you,” as Rev. Mark H. Creech explains in a recent Christian Post article.
Fair enough. Rev. Creech is entitled to his opinions, and it is questionable to what extent people should try to reform religious organizations.
Personally speaking, as a Theosophist, I have always seen the world’s myriad religions as part of a spiritual all-you-can-eat buffet, i.e. you take what you need and leave the rest. And just as we don’t always eat the same food, we do need to evolve in our spirituality. I see the dissatisfaction voiced by Kate, Frank and others as a sign of growth — and a sign that it is time for them to move on.
Yes, the parting of ways can be bittersweet; it hurts to leave. But the sweet part is they take with them the underlying principles — the same ones found in all religions — as they broaden their spiritual horizons.
There are many ways to be a conduit of brotherly/sisterly love, if one feels so inspired.
As for the word ‘Apostasy,’ I’m thinking of using it as the name of my new rock band . . . because, you know, we’re gonna break all the rules!
Smiles . . .
I am “apostate” for giving up Christianity 15 years ago, after 24 years (age 16-40). I have to say I consider it one of the best things I have ever done. Things are a little different between England and the Sudan. I didn’t get threatened with whipping or hanging. In fact I am still good friends with most folk I used to go to church with. They treat me with a modicum of good humour, particularly since I’ve not kept it secret that I’m a naturist, too. (Not that Christianity and naturism are incompatible, but most just see naturists as a source of amusement.) Many of them still tell me they are praying for me, which is very nice of them, but I am happy to say that – at this moment – they haven’t “a hope in Hell” of their prayers being answered. I am far too happy without that junk. Who knows what tomorrow brings? I might get deluded again.
I get the feeling that Moslems must feel somewhat insecure with regards to the validity of their religion if they feel the need to threaten folk with the death sentence for apostasy. There is also http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-27970565 where Malaysia has banned ‘Christians using the word “Allah” to refer to God’ because it ‘could confuse Muslims and lead some to convert to Christianity’.
People must have the freedom to follow a religion, or no religion, as they see fit. These “stone age” folk, as you so rightly call them, have no authority to force their opinions on others. That goes as much for folk being at liberty to choose their own sexuality as well as religion. We in “the West” value our personal freedom to choose whatever we want to however we see fit. We refuse to be dictated to by fanatics of any persuasion.
I’m a naturist, Black Gay Man who loves God and works actively in ministry. I’ve bumped heads with some churches because of my sexuality. However, I feel that love is love and God loves us regardless. Sometimes people want to use religion to oppress others which is clearly misuse of any belief or doctrine.
I was told that I was following Satan by being Gay, lord forbid if some people in the church new I was a nudist that would pin me to a cross. However, there is nothing wrong with being Gay or a nudist. People misuse religion as a mean to control others which is clearly wrong. I don’t bust people upside the head with religion and I don’t want anyone doing that to me. If the USA is the land of the free then why are they still bound in so many areas?