The death of Harper Lee and the South Carolina primary point us to a singular message: It’s time for our bishops and church leaders to speak out for LGBTQ persons. Silence will lead to continued discrimination.
Harper Lee portrays Atticus Finch in two different ways in her books. The Atticus Finch in the newly published, “Go Set a Watchman” is silent and complicit in the face of the increasing racism around him. The Atticus Finch of “To Kill a Mockingbird” boldly stands up against racism telling Scout, “Before I can live with other folks, I have to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.” Which Atticus Finch will our church leaders choose to emulate as we approach General Conference?
The news of the South Carolina primary last weekend featured the governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley. Last summer Gov. Haley demonstrated the effect that a bold stand can make for legislative change. Following the Charleston murders, she broke her silence regarding the Confederate flag. She took the political risk and moral high road by boldly calling for the Confederate flag to be taken down. Just like our bishops, she had no authority to take action. But her voice encouraged the legislature to quickly vote to remove the Confederate flag from the State House.
I recognize the difficult dilemma that Bishops find themselves in these days. They are committed to their covenant with each other and their covenant to their denomination. Many are working behind the scenes and out of the public eye to help LGBTQ persons. I understand and appreciate all of that… But
As we approach General Conference, the public silence of our bishops and church leaders will lead directly to the General Conference choosing to make no change in our Book of Discipline this year. That will mean a continuation of the 44 year war against gays. That will mean the continuation of discrimination in the official policy of our church.
Sixteen years ago, 15 bishops decided to make a bold stand for LGBTQ persons. Isn’t it time for another bold stand – in the spirit of Atticus Finch and Nikki Haley? …in the Spirit of God?