For those of you that are faithful readers, you know that I don't get angry arbitrarily. When I go into a rage, I like to think that it's, in the very least, somewhat justified.
When I was browsing Facebook last night, a story popped up that made my blood boil than Donald Trump at Alec Baldwin's Christmas Party. A priest at St. Mary of the Assumption in Decatur, Indiana has forbidden a young man from singing at his grandma's funeral because, after looking at the young man's Facebook page, he felt that his "gay lifestyle" would reflect poorly on the church.
According to Out.com, Connor Hakes, the young man in question, received a letter from the priest and immediately posted it to social media with the following message:
The priest's comments stem from a picture of Hakes at a gay pride event and that was seen as supporting what the church deems an "illicit" lifestyle. The priest tossed him a bone and offered that he could sing "outside of the Mass and outside of the Church, perhaps at the Funeral Home or Parish Hall during the viewing, at the cemetery after the committal and/or even at the luncheon."
Hakes was justifiably distraught and hoped that by sharing the situation with the world, it might shed light on this dark situation.
Regardless of your views, lifestyle, or choices, nobody, even the church, should bar you from honoring a loved one at their final farewell. It is your right as their relative to do what you can to honor their memory using the talents that God himself gave you.
I sing at many funerals in many churches and nowhere in my contract does it say that my lifestyle must be divulged so I can be deemed appropriate to sing at the service. When it comes to the dead, it doesn't matter if you're a vegetarian or like to munch carpet or praise a gerbil as your god - it is your right to see your grandma out into the hereafter!
The fact that this church deems who can honor their relatives based on their lifestyle is abhorrent. The churches I choose to sing at are all fair, compassionate, and rational entities. Anyone, regardless of weight, color, prior life, or problems can enter and be accepted. This priest has shunned one of the few bible verses I quote regularly and is one of the pillars of Christian ideals: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
If this was a background check for possibly entering the church, I could see the plausibility, but even then the leader of the church would at least have the cajones to talk to them in person and discuss the matter, instead of sending a cold, impersonal letter barring them from walking through the door. That action is not welcoming the sinner a friend, another tenet of the church.
I respect the fact that a church has to act on its ideals and they look down on homosexuality. I don't agree with it, but I at least see where they are coming from. But, to bar this man from singing at his grandma's funeral is overreaching the boundaries of what the church is allowed to dictate.
I don't quite know where to go from here, as I'm so stunned that my brain has lost all feeling. If a church asked me to expose my entire past before they let me in the door, I wouldn't even be allowed in the vestibule. But, thankfully, the parishes I frequent are kind, safe spaces that allow all walks of life to thrive and live in a community of love.
This church is not upholding the values they should be, but prefer to make a spectacle of themselves for the sake of shock value. If you read a compendium of The Bible's most inspiring passages, you would find that this action contradicts all of them. When you nitpick the small crap, you lose sight of the ultimate goal of the church: to inspire love between humans who want to praise whatever deity they see fit.
This church and this priest have lost their way and I hope beyond hope that they reassess their actions before they lost their way entirely.
I once played Zaccheus, the small man who climbs a tree to see Jesus speak, in a Lutheran School pageant when I was 11. Zaccheus was a pint-sized tax collector who spit on the name of God daily, and yet Jesus felt it necessary to address him and draw him nearer to him. He accepted him, not because he felt sorry for him, but because Zaccheus had made the effort to want to learn more. That story, obviously, had a profound effect on me and instantly came to mind when I heard this awful story.
Whether you're gay or straight, small or tall, black or white, you should be welcome in any place that claims to be a home of God's love.
Remember, darlings, that how we treat those we disagree with personifies the true nature of our soul.
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