Monday, November 2, 2015

Who says?

Maybe it's because I am currently reading a book ("The Class of '65," by Jim Auchmutey) about the high school in Americus, Georgia, a town that refused to integrate their schools until they were forced to do so ten years after Brown v. Board of Education was supposed to have granted equal education to all Americans, but it's irksome to keep seeing instances of how gay people are being abused and discriminated against in a nation that proudly calls itself The Land Of The Free.

I'm not gay or a minority of any other classification, but I don't like it when people are treated shabbily. And it's even worse when the people doing the mistreating are people who run school systems or churches.

Dylan Settles
The latest case in point came from Brookland, Arkansas, where a church told a young man who has been a member there at Woods Chapel General Baptist for six years that he is no longer welcome to attend.

"I'm a little hurt by it but I know how they feel," says Dylan Settles, who had not been attending church all that often lately.  So when he got a letter from Woods Chapel, he figured it was one of those "haven't seen you lately, please come worship with us on Sunday" sort of notes.

But no. The letter told him there had been a vote among the members of the church board, and they voted to take away his membership.

Because he is gay.

"I was like in awe ... I was in so much shock. I couldn't read like the rest of it,” Settles said.

He came out to his parents three months ago, and mentioned on Facebook that he had tried to find a wife or girlfriend but realized that was not his path.  He feels good about having received many messages from people inviting him to come to their church.

The letter from his church went on to say that he can come back if he is willing to repent for his lifestyle, but Settles says, "I don't feel comfortable sitting at pew or sitting beside my parents when all I'm going to see is people pointing their fingers at me because of the lifestyle I chose.”

Please join me in wondering when the people who sent him all that hate in the mail will repent for their lifestyles.  But again, just like Americus GA in the 1960s, there are people all over in 2015 who feel that they are in a position to determine who gets to go to school or pray or eat in a restaurant or marry or get hired or serve in public office or check into a hotel.

And they are wrong to think so.  The people who went to school with one young man from Americus, a young man who was scorned, shunned and abused in many ways because he supported the rights of all Americans to attend all American schools, later sent apologies and reunion invitations to him. That's how the book turned out.

Maybe the people at Woods Chapel could do their apologies and take it all back now, instead of waiting 40 years.

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