Responding to Anti-LGBT Rhetoric in N.C.By
North Carolina is in the news again, this time because of an anti-LGBT sermon preached by Pastor Charles Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, N.C. You can see footage of his sermon here.
Make no mistake: the violent theology animating Pastor Worley’s sermon is directly linked to the discriminatory animus at work in Amendment One or the North Carolina statutes that treat LGBT people as second-class citizens.
The violence of Pastor Worley’s message speaks to the evil at the heart of persecution, and it ensnares all of us, including him, including me. It is an evil that seeks to dehumanize people and that seeks to divide communities. It has long lurked in the shadows of religious and political discourse and, periodically, makes itself plainly visible and clearly heard.
What are we to do when such attacks occur? Each of us has an individual choice to make about how to respond.
I often need help cutting through the static of anger and sadness in moments like this. I need help getting to love and, in my own life, I turn to my faith for that help. My faith’s teachings on this point are clear and consistent: no matter how hard it is to do so, we are called to love those who oppose us. There are many reasons for this, not least of which is the fact that my existence is inextricably bound to my enemy’s, whether either one of us likes it or not.
The hard thing right now is to find a way to love Pastor Worley. To do so does not also imply condoning or supporting what he has said. But it does mean choosing to respond to spiritual violence with the only force that can overcome it: love. And it means seeing the violence of his words as an expression of how he too has been wounded by a persecuting system; his theology isn’t just plain wrong, it’s wounded.
But my faith also teaches me that the rhetoric of love is not enough. We must also act to directly resist unjust laws in public life and, as we take action, to express empathy and love towards all those we encounter. This is precisely why and how we take action with the WE DO Campaign and why this campaign will continue growing across the South until we achieve full equality under federal law.
Love has changed the world before and, we dare to believe, it can do so again.