The Charlotte Observer today published a front-pager on the new book edited by Mitchell Gold, featuring 40 stories of gay and lesbian people’s ordeals growing up gay in America and their experiences in the church.
“CRISIS: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social, and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing Up Gay in America,” to which I contributed a chapter (excerpted at The Charlotte Observer‘s website, mind you) “includes stories from actor Richard Chamberlain and U.S. Rep. Barney Frank as well as area contributors – Charlotte’s Matt Comer, editor of Q-Notes; Hickory’s Brent Childers, a straight evangelical Christian who has renounced his anti-gay views; and Myers Park Baptist Church Minister Stephen Shoemaker, whose church was booted from the Baptist State Convention for welcoming homosexuals.”
Writer and Reading Life Editor Pam Kelley spoke to the Rev. Mark Harris of Charlotte’s First Baptist Church regarding the book:
A new poll finds Americans split on homosexuality, with 48 percent believing it’s a sin, while 45 percent do not.
Charlotte’s First Baptist Church Minister Mark Harris, who believes it is a sin, doubts conservative Christians will buy Gold’s arguments.
While many contributors to Gold’s book describe knowing they were gay from a young age, Harris and others argue homosexuality is a choice, and the Bible says it’s an abomination before God.
“I just don’t buy that it’s a natural inclination,” he says.
Still, Harris says he’d welcome anyone featured in the book to worship at his church. “We love the person caught in the sin of homosexuality. It’s the sin we hate.”
Gold, however, remains optimistic.
“Where I live,” he says, “so many people say to me privately, ‘I don’t know what to believe.’ We think there’s a big crack in the wall.”
He plans to donate 1,000 books to churches to reach people with anti-gay views. “One thing I know: These are good people…. They don’t realize the harm they’re causing.”
Harris says he’d pass up any free books. “I would most likely not become a distributor of that philosophy.”
It saddens me that Pastor Harris is unwilling to listen to the voices of gay Christians who have been turned away from the church and left with life-long scars from the abuse they experienced there — people like me. I’m not too terribly surprised by his position though; after all, it is Harris who is closely affiliated with the radical Coalition of Conscience (which is, in turn, closely affiliated with the extremist street-preaching protest group Operation Save America — a group not too far off from being a bona fide hate group).
Harris thinks being gay is a choice. How does he know? Has he walked my path? Has he put on the shoes of the 39 other contibutors to the book?
Harris says he doesn’t want to “become a distributor of that philosophy.” What “philosophy” is he talking about? All I’m pushing, and all Mitchell Gold and the other contibutors are pushing, is understanding. Just listen to us. Hear our stories. Feel our pain. Take up your responsibility and obligation as a spiritual leader and hear the voices of God’s people.
Alas… Harris doesn’t want to hear any of us.
“Back into the closet,” he exclaims. “I don’t care about your pain.”
Well… I guess that’s better than preaching all queers should die.