Beer and a Bible...who would have ever thought it would be possible right? Only in NYC can you go into a bar to get your worship and your prayer on. Being the curious cat I am, we just had to go at least check it out. Jay Bakker is the pastor of Revolution NYC, the infamous son of Jim and Tammy Fae Bakker.
Being from Texas, I am quite familiar with the fact his parents were the brains and creators behind the 700 Club, Trinity Broadcast Network and PTL ministries. I am also quiet ashamed to say their family businesses were stolen from them by greedy wolves in sheeps clothing.... over and over again. Well their son took the family fall to heart and went down a rocky road to Salvation. He saw how the Christian Community persecuted his family and he wanted no part of it... but what he and his mother did notice is how the LGBT community stood up for them in the midst of great turmoil. Truthfully, it was the least that could be done for a woman who opened her heart, her arms and her ministry for years to the gay community. Mrs. Bakker had also brought awareness to AIDS at a time when it was barely known. Unlike many other religious institutions, Tammy Bakker truly knew what it meant to walk the talk and love unconditionally. She passed this gift onto her son as he is continuing to help lead the Civil Rights movement for the LGBT community.
I shared with Jay how the first time I heard a Pastor use the word "Gay and Pedophile" in the same sentence, it made my skin crawl because I knew something was terribly wrong. From my own personal recollection, the first man who ever molested me as a child at the age of five, was a Minister of a Church. Not only was he a minister but he was married with a wife and children. In fact, all of them were straight, heterosexual men. The irony of the pastors statement for me was that my mother worked in a hair salon full of gay men and women. Not one of them ever touched me or handled me in an inappropriate manner. If anything, they were kind, supportive and protective of of my mother and myself.
As I grew up I noticed a common trend with Pastors in positions of power, whether in person or on television, using these type of 'pedophile' sermons and attempting to back them up with religious texts in order to throw around lies about the gay community. Sodom and Gomorrah is one of preachers favorite bullets to shoot out of their religious gun and I often wonder, is the passage really about hospitality or homosexuality? In my opinion, it is about the sin of sexual violence: taking another sexually by force against their will. Well no matter what religious bullets are fired at the gay community, I have to remember that the same type of "religious dogma" was once used in the south to discriminate against the black community in order to justify slavery and burn down their churches. I learned many years ago that just because the words come out of a supposed "holy man," does not always make them right or true. Discrimination is still discrimination no matter the "righteous" tradition. The good Lord gave us a mind with critical thinking skills for a reason; to question, to research, to discover the truth for ourselves.
Pedophilia in my opinion is not a "gay" or a "straight" disease, it is simply an individual who preys on the innocence of children. I think what the Religious Right fails horribly to realize is that a large percentage of the Gay Community are the Survivors of sexual and physical abuse. The last thing the LGBT community wants is for any child to fall into harms way. Many of us know from first hand experience that the damage a pedophile does to a child's spirit, body and mind can take a lifetime to heal. We want no part in recreating what pain has occured in many of our own lives. The LGBT Comunity is full of people who have if anything, experienced and healed from some of the most tramatic forms of abuse and betrayal by family, friends and even clergy. In the case of John J. Geoghan, "The documents -- depositions, letters and memorandums from 84 civil lawsuits against the priest and the archdiocese -- reveal in detail that the church knew of the priest's pedophilia, but moved him from one parish to another for 30 years." THIRTY Years? In fact, four percent of all priests who had served in the U.S. from 1950 to 2002 have faced some sort of sexual accusation. There is something terribly wrong with this picture.
When church leaders continue to preach about how they consider the LGBT Community the "moral enemy of mankind" my red flags go up because it is the religious institutions who fail to take responsibility for not enforcing criminal background checks on pedophiles who wear religious robes. With all the documented cases, this has to change. It is why you, the congregation must DEMAND criminal background checks on individuals that have access to your children; school teachers, daycare teachers, clergy. TK Kenyon, the Author of the book Rapid states, "The primary problem remains that the Catholic Church preferentially recruits men with the demographics and behavioral traits of pedophiles. Until that changes, no admonishment from the Pope will stop the sexual abuse of children."
I find such a statement scary. If you are a parent do not be mislead by the fingerpointing at the "gay community," the roots of the problem are much more serious. If you have an opportunity please listen to the 14 part lecture series on YouTube by Ted Gunderson, he is a retired FBI Special Agent with an extensive background in investigating national and international child sex crimes. In his lectures, he discusses the proof he found that the CIA is running a child sex ring through our public school system. What you discover will shock, horrify and enrage you, as it should every parent. Open your mind and listen for the sake and safety of your children.
In learning to heal and to reconcile my own sexuality and spirituality from the abuse I survived as a child, I had to make peace with my Creator in order to reclaim my faith. Trying to find your faith after it has been stolen from you as a child is no easy task, but it can be done. Although it may take time before you are able to find a church open and accepting of your lifestyle. During my search I really questioned my belief in God, or a Higher Power and genuinely struggled with understanding how Christians at my church could preach about "Love thy Neighbor," on one hand and then be so arrogant as to self proclaim "God's Judgement on the Gay Community," in the other. The beliefs contradicted each other completely and did not make my search for my faith any easier.
Throughout my life I witnessed various religious demonstrations where people actually held up signs and chanted "Your Going to Hell for Being Gay," "You Deserve to Die." Which does nothing but create larger spiritual wounds for myself and the LGBT Community. Throughout the religious abuse and confronting discrimination, it took me years to make peace with myself and my faith in a Higher Power. I had to siphon through layers of bigotry, and religious persecution to find love buried beneath the roots of hatred in order to see...."I too am a Child of God, worthy of Love."
What I realized in the process of my discovery is that People of Faith cannot continue to hurl "Gay Sin Stones" and ignore the fact the National Swingers Association boasts over 16 million members in the United States alone. Nor can they continue to ignore the "Married Matchmaking Websites" and thousands of Adulterous Personal Ads placed on Craigslist everyday. They cannot continue to ignore the thousands of American men who travel overseas to molest children in foreign countries or the corruption and Pedophilia within their own Religious Institutions. Throwing stones at the Gay Community will do nothing to solve the problems of Institutionalized Deception. Religious Institutions and Religious Leaders have promoted the LGBT Community as the "Downfall of America" for years. However, the Gay Community is not the "Scapegoat" for the Downfall of America, it is Religious Hypocrisy and a blatant lack of Spiritual Integrity.
Everyone knows what I am talking about; getting drunk on Saturday night with the stranger in the bar or the neighbors wife, only to pretend nothing happened on Sunday morning in Church...Singing hymns while knowing you were cheating on your spouse during the week with the person you met on Craigslist, when they thought you were away on business... Hanging around Sunday School children when you know you are a pedophile wearing the robes of religion and need to quit so you can get professional counseling.... Knowing your gay in your heart but sneaking around behind your spouses back to the gay bars instead of ending your marriage with integrity...Carrying around Drugs and a flask of Alcohol to sip on when your family thinks you are doing well in AA... Stealing from your boss who trusts you to do a good job... etc. Basically, in some major way being completely out of alignment with your Values and Integrity but justifying your self righteous behavior with religion and condeming the "Sin" of the Gay Community in the process. You know Exactly Who You Are, and in the words of Tammy Fay Bakker, "You Better Get It Right With God."
Maybe when people begin to be really honest with themselves and make peace by focusing on their Own Issues, it will clear the path to Personal Integrity. And perhaps once people have their own spiritual and personal integrity intact, they will be able to come to a loving place and drop the stones they were intending to throw at the Glass House of the Gay Community.
Marble Collegiate Church and people like Jay Bakker bring with them the light of hope for a new, contemporary style ministry. After Mrs. Bakker's mothers passing, Jay had a conviction of the spirit, went into recovery for his alcoholism and found the courage to pick up the torch of his family legacy that he had left behind. Jay looks just like his father in the face, very sweet, but he is tattooed up like the skater boy at the local ramp. His style is mellow, but the message of Revolution NYC is to carry the light of unconditional love and to continue fighting for Civil Rights for the LGBT community. If Jay is anything like his mother, he just might be able to start a Religious Revolution by embracing with Love, all the social outcasts and underdogs most churches condemn....just like Jesus use to do.
Please support the following projects, they are countering the effects of Homophobia, Promoting Equality and bringing spiritual Hope to the LGBT Community:
- Soulforce created the Equality Ride: a tour bus filled with Equality Riders and GLBT youth which stage non-vilolent demonstrations on Universities and Colleges across America for 51 days. The bus stops at Universities and Colleges in the United States which have policies banning gay students from attending the school or engaging in homosexual activity, lest they be expelled. The Equality Ride fights prejudice and discrimination hiding in plain site, masquerading as godliness and righteous tradition. Both of their films, For The Bible Tells Me So and Equality U, give a very touching and intimate view of the fight for Civil Rights within the Gay Community.
Soulforce in partnership with Marble Collegiate Church-LGBT Gift's group and Jay Baker's, Revolution NYC church have teamed up to host:
- Seven STRAIGHT Nights for Equal Rights:
On Wednesday, October 16th 4:30-6PM Performance art meets activism in an event that provides an opportunity for straight Americans nationwide to stand up for their LGBT friends in Madison Square Park.
Later that evening at 6:15 @ Marble Church, Rev David Lewicki leads a service on the importance of, and ways for, straight folks to take a stand against discrimination towards the LGBT community.
On Thurday,@ 2pm you can also take a stand in a similar demonstration in Brooklyn.
- The 'Coming Out' Project: is a in-the-works suicide prevention documentary currently seeking LGBT individuals and Straight Allies willing to share their 'Coming Out' story to bring hope to youth struggling with their sexuality and thoughts of suicide. The Department of Health study indicates that gay youth are up to six times more likely to attempt suicide than straight teens, and gay teenagers account for up to 30 percent of all teenage suicides in the nation. If you have a unique story and are interested in participating in a project which brings hope, please visit the website for more information.
- Sign the petition, Freedom from Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation: Take a stand against GLBT Hate Crimes, which make up 20% of violent crime in the United States. The petition is to provide protection for the LGBT community from hate crimes by adding an Amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include "No Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation."
Sources: Papers in a Pedophile Case Show Church Effort to Avoid A Scandal by Pam Belluck. Why the Catholic Church Recruits Pedophiles to Be Priests by TK Kenyon. Catholic Sex Abuse Cases-Wikipedia. Menstuff, Teen Suicide.