you win some
October 26, 2003 07:10 PM

We've established in the past that my parents like to get me to go to church with them and that I'm not a religious gal.

Well. What had been a mild annoyance at their conservative military pastor in the past came to something of a head a couple of months ago, last time I went to visit. Their old chaplain was back in town visiting and preaching, and about halfway through his sermon that Sunday, he started spewing some bile about all these problems with society, at some point going so far as to call homosexuality a "blight" or a "scourge" or something like that.

Out of courtesy to the family (and understanding this particular guy wouldn't be back, that it was up to his congregation to call him on it, etc.)), I made a point of not participating in the rest of the service and did not greet the guy on the way out the door, but did not march out mid-service or call him aside to discuss the issue.

It was incredibly frustrating feeling like I couldn't act on my principles and also get on okay with my family, but I erred on the side of family harmony in this case. Afterwards, I was very worked up about the whole thing - I mean, hell - the sorts of words he used I thought were relics of a conservative former decade - and rather impassionedly accused myself, my partner, and my parents of being implicitly discriminatory, basically just as big of assholes as he was. My parents came back that you never agreed 100% with anyone, and they came to church for community, not for the sermon.

And a few weeks ago, my mother told me they'd joined a new church. See, the new chaplain started spouting the same "gay = evil" line, and they couldn't ignore it anymore. Mom wrote an email to the chaplain explaining why they were upset by what he'd said, they went online to find out what Protestant sects were gay-friendly, and they came to the conclusion that they are, in fact, Methodists. So they've switched to a Methodist church, because they're alright with queer folk, and so are most other Methodists. Which is funny, because the time when we went to church regularly as a family was with a Methodist church, and I have to say the community was quite friendly and accepting. Perhaps mom and dad were Methodists all along.

The point behind all this story isn't that I had an argument with my family, but that we had a discussion about how upset I was that I hadn't felt able to do anything about a discriminatory act, and then my parents thought about what they could do the next time it happened. And I hope that chaplain will think about what he could do, too. You win some. Sometimes telling people what you think without yelling at them will make them realize you agree, and that something can be done.

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