Last month, I posted about a controversy involved Matthew Vines, a gay Christian who has a new book out about how homosexuality and his faith are indeed compatible. It’s called God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships:
The problem was that his Christian publishers were being criticized by conservatives who deemed the book heretical. Vines’ book is being released by Convergent Books, which is actually part of a larger group called WaterBrook Multnomah. Convergent focuses on books for the progressive Christian community while some of WM’s other imprints put out books for the rest of the Christian spectrum. (Disclosure: My book I Sold My Soul on eBay was released by WaterBrook Press. It unfortunately didn’t cause this much controversy.)
To his credit, the head of WaterBrook Multnomah, Stephen W. Cobb, didn’t back down. He defended the decision for Convergent to release the book.
That brings us to what happened this past week. National Religious Broadcasters, a major international network of Christian communicators, forced WaterBrook Multnomah to resign from the organization:
“I asked them to reconsider and end the practice of having Christian workers from their publishing house work on Convergent projects,” [NRB president and CEO Jerry] Johnson wrote. “They declined to do so at this time and asked how we would respond. I told them that if they wanted to remain NRB associate members, I would have to refer the matter to our Ethics Committee for review, or they could agree to resign their membership. They agreed to resign immediately.”
NRB board members like Pastor Robert Jeffress are weighing in with the usual homophobic drivel:
“I have great respect for Steve Cobb and consider him a personal friend,” [Jeffress] said. “However, I do think it is a mistake for any Christian publisher to legitimize a point of view that is a clear perversion of Scripture.”
Of course, Scripture can be interpreted to support whatever you want it to support. That’s kind of the point. Any many Christians have found a way to make homosexuality and their faith compatible. Vines isn’t the first, though he may be the most visible right now.
What’s happening here is that NRB is holding up one version of Christianity as the gold standard even when Christians are in the midst of a debate on whether homosexuality should be accepted and supported or shunned and cured. Instead of welcoming those different views — younger Christians are increasingly supporting gay marriage — NRB has made the decision that if you don’t agree with them on this one controversial issue, they don’t want you in the club.
Right Wing Watch reminds us of the hypocrisy at work here:
When we wrote a post last week highlighting the anti-gay, anti-choice, and anti-Islam activism of David and Jason Benham, it felt like the entire Religious Right movement began screaming that we were jackbooted Nazi fascist thugs who were out to silence and destroy anyone with whom we disagreed after HGTV announced that it was not going to move forward with the Benham brothers’ reality show.
The basic gist of criticism was that liberals and gay activists have no tolerance for those with whom they disagree and will stop at nothing to silence those who hold opposing views.
Just something to keep in mind the next time the Religious Right screams that liberals have no tolerance for people that hold differing views and will stop at nothing to punish and silence them.
I don’t know why any decent young Christian would want to call herself an evangelical when this is what modern-day evangelicalism looks like.