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October 25, 2021

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Bigotry is Not “In His Name.”

~Jim Minnery of the Alaska Family Council

By Shannyn Moore

I don’t know how many hours I’ve spent in church, but it’s a lot. I guess it doesn’t matter since they’re not counted as frequent flier miles for admission into heaven. Some of my greatest life lessons were learned at the foot of a pulpit. Some I missed, and had to learn the hard way. One lesson was particularly memorable. It may have been the shock of delivery, but it stuck.

I’d always believed the commandment “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain” had something to do with cussing. The preacher corrected me. That commandment is about claiming that your work or words are perpetuated in the name of God when they aren’t.

Ten percent of the Ten Commandments was unraveling before me. Reconciling this new definition meant I would never claim that my actions were in the name of God. How could I know for sure? I never wanted to be in the position of claiming a divine endorsement for an ungodly act. It might just bring on damnation.

I grew up playing hymns on the piano for my church. It wasn’t denominational. Free-range, organic and more full of questions than answers, though the answer always seemed to be love first, ask questions later.

This is the background for my criticism of one of Alaska’s most vocal, semi-pro “Christians.” Yes, I put it in quotes. I believe, as Mark Driskoll says, “… If grace is water, the Church should be an ocean. It’s not a museum for good people, it’s a hospital for the broken.”

Jim Minnery, mouthpiece for the Alaska Family Council, signs his money-begging, choice-denying, gay-hating newsletters “In His Name.” Beyond the inaccurate drivel he spills, it’s the claim that he’s acting in the name of God that’s troubling.

His latest attack is on the One Anchorage effort to protect our gay and lesbian population from evictions or firings because of who they love. Apparently, a couple in Great Britain wasn’t considered fit, by a British court, to be foster parents because of their extreme stance against homosexuality. That became the centerpiece of one of Mr. Minnery’s newsletters. Apparently, he had to go thousands of miles, to a different country, to find a justification for voting against the upcoming GLBT equal rights ballot initiative in Anchorage’s April elections.(Mr. Minnery doesn’t mention how many gay and lesbian couples have been denied the right to adopt or foster-parent children thrown away by straight couples.) All those years ago, sitting in the pew, learning for the first time the meaning of taking the Lord’s name in vain, made a lasting impression on me. Hating, firing or evicting people simply for being different could never be done “in His name.” In fact, that kind of behavior couldn’t be more contrary to the message of Christianity.

If Mr. Minnery was supported by two crutches, one would be a certain type of church and the other the Republican Party. And yet the Republican icon, Ronald Reagan himself, once said:

“We in the United States, above all, must remember that lesson, for we were founded as a nation of openness to people of all beliefs. And so we must remain. Our very unity has been strengthened by our pluralism. We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are, and must remain, separate. All are free to believe or not believe, all are free to practice a faith or not, and those who believe are free, and should be free, to speak of and act on their belief.”

The “Family Council” isn’t advocating to provide school lunches to 51,000 hungry kids in Alaska, or medical care for children without insurance, “in His name” or otherwise. I’d like to think that isn’t because those who can’t afford food or a doctor probably won’t be sending money to Jim Minnery and the Alaska Family Council.

If you’re feeding, clothing, healing, housing, employing and loving without judging your neighbors, then you can say you’ve acted “in His name” or “in Humanity’s name.” If you promote bigotry and discrimination toward your neighbors, you can’t.

And if you do it anyway, you’d better look out for lightning bolts.

Comments

comments

Comments
22 Responses to “Bigotry is Not “In His Name.””
  1. Thanks, Shannyn, for explaining it so well. I just wish those who are so quick to judge others would listen, but I’m afraid they never will. I have said for a long time that many of those who refuse to help or even acknowledge those who aren’t just like they are must be reading a Bible that is very different than mine.

  2. beaglemom says:

    Last November the voters in our town (in MI) voted resoundingly for a referendum to support equality (gay rights in housing and employment in particular) here The matter had been passed unanimously by our City Commission and then someone appeared who got enough signatures to petition for a referendum that, of course, cost lots for the community. We all thought it was over with when equality won with 67% of the vote.

    Now they’re fighting back on two levels. At the state level, there’s a Republican move to prevent cities in the state from enacting measures that provide more rights that state laws. And at the local level they are fighting the anti-bullying language enacted by the School Board over a year ago.

    Unfortunately those who hate have tons of energy, and money, and the struggle for equality goes on.

  3. Diane says:

    Thank you,Shannon, for a very thought provoking post. Would not this country and the world be better off if we all chose to help each other rather then judge, criticize, belittle, denounce and hate others?
    I left the catholic church almost a year ago. I could no longer reconcile my beliefs with those I was expected to have as a Catholic.
    I often wonder what God and Jesus Christ think when their names are used like that.And if these people would recognize Jesus if he were to return today and advocate for the poor and needy and the gays and lesbians, and the Muslims and Hindu? Do you think?
    And if God was teaching Tebow and his followers a lesson in humility on Sat. night?

  4. AK Raven says:

    I was taught that your actions on earth will be judged when our lives are over. The 3 guiding principles are faith hope and love. The greatest of these is love.

  5. John says:

    Whether Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, or any other religion, they all seem to have a common theme: treat others with respect regardless of their belief, lead by example, don’t judge lets ye be judged. And people like prevo and minnery violate these ideas all the time.

    • COalmost Native says:

      John is correct: all religions have a similar form of “The Golden Rule”, the phrasing may be different, but the meaning is the same.

      There is a verse in the New Testament where Jesus rebukes some of the “most faithful”: if you feed the hungry, clothe the poor, heal the sick and protect the downtrodden, you will see me in heaven- otherwise, I will cast you out. (my paraphrasing)

      I don’t think Jesus meant to do this only to those who believe as you do…

  6. Alaska Pi says:

    Shannyn and each and everyone here who embrace all of humanity in your faith-
    I salute you and I am in awe of your open eyes and hearts but that is not the way of many who like Mr Minnery who want very small tidy worlds and are willing to turn their backs on or harm vast swaths of humanity to pretend it is possible.

    The underpinnings of Mr Minnery’s latest argument is that religious freedoms are at risk if this initiative passes- that folks might be forced out of jobs ( and insists they have been elsewhere) for having to deal with LGBT people whom they disapprove of as sinners.

    There’s even a strange sentence in which he ignores each and every one of you by saying that those advocating for protections for the LGBT community, (protections as in extending basic rights seems to escape him) “leave little or no room for those who have religious convictions on those issues.”

    http://www.adn.com/2011/12/28/2236970/measure-would-harm-religious-freedom.html#storylink=cpy

    Keep speaking up, keep voting!
    He won’t hear you but plenty of others will.
    Go for it ANC!
    One Anc!

  7. leenie17 says:

    I left the Catholic church as a child (in spirit if not in body until I was old enough to refuse to attend Sunday mass). Even at the tender age of 8 or 9, I knew it was wrong to steal things from your classmate’s desk on Thursday afternoons because you knew those heathen public school kids were arriving for religious instruction and they would automatically be blamed for it. After all, if they were ‘real’ Catholics, they would be attending our school instead of the public school where there were Jews and who knows what else! Since my best friend who lived down the block was Jewish, I had a hard time reconciling what I was told all day and on Sunday morning with what I experienced at home.

    Fortunately, my parents were open-minded enough (and concerned about the quality of my education) and I was transferred to that scary public school for 7th grade, where I promptly made friends with some Jewish kids, two Chinese kids (one of whom later became my boyfriend) and even a few kids who were gay (oh, the horror!).

    Some of the devout Catholics I knew growing up were some of the most UN-Christian people I’ve ever met. Maybe I DID actually learn something after all – how to NOT behave towards other people!

  8. RL_AK says:

    It seems we are back to the times before Pope Leo X and Martin Luther. The rich can afford to pay to have sins forgiven, the rest of us get to go to hell. We need a new Martin. NOW!

  9. GoI3ig says:

    Minnery represents the worst of religion. Politics from the pulpit needs to stop. He is not alone. Many churches such as ABT have become giant tax exempt political machines. The story in the ADN today drives the point home. (scamming the city tax rolls with free houses)

    They will scam, manipulate, and bend the law to pass the tax burden to the non believers, and non republicans. What a rip off, pure and simple.

    Minnery “hides” behind religion to justify his homophobic agenda.

    • ks sunflower says:

      Good points. He seems to share the attitude of many of those in the GOP who live by Romney’s “as long as it is legal” standard. As one pundit said this past week, simply because something is legal (as in tax loopholes) doesn’t mean it is moral or should be done.” Imagine what people like Minnery could get away with if the GOP end regulation and loosen those loopholes up more. Now, that is my idea of a real-life horror story and one of my deepest fears: the unleashing of the amoral.

      • AKblue says:

        The expose in the ADN should be an opportunity to contact our state legislators and tell them that we do not want to pay taxes to make up for the 14 tax exempt homes Anchorage Baptist Temple illegally claims.

  10. JRC says:

    I’m a lapsed Catholic. For a long time. But I always appreciate people who take the time to redefine the philosophies for a modern–and I stress modern–sensibility. Because I can’t digest a dogma that doesn’t AT LEAST incorporate social justice.

    Thanks.

  11. mike from iowa says:

    This guy’s photo looks like a priest who just saw an ad that says,”Boys clothes half off”. I sure as hell wouldn’t turn my back to him.

    • ks sunflower says:

      Hey, Mike, how are you doing? I don’t get a chance to go the forums and many others may be like that as well. Have you had your surgery? Obviously, if so, you must be feeling better.

      I see your sense of humor is going strong. Thank goodness for that. You always make comments that make me smile even as they make me think. Blessing be, Mike from Iowa, you are one special mudpup!

  12. ks sunflower says:

    Amen, Shannon, amen. Great post.

  13. fishingmamma says:

    I don’t trust those eyes of his. Just too creepy.

  14. Ivan says:

    Christ was not a Christian. He did not require anyone to be a member of any religion.
    If you believe in Jesus as the savior than you must understand that he died because of his belief that membership is not a requirement for salvation (He was a threat to the established religions) and he was resurrected to prove that point so that all would understand the importance of his teaching. He preached that you are “saved” by you actions towards your fellow man. He died for his principles and did not condemn anyone who believed contrary.

    If you treat others as if they were Jesus himself will you be acting as he instructed. To be a Christian is to live as Jesus instructed not to just believe or have faith.
    Today’s Christian religions (especially Americas holier than thou self righteous evangelicals ) are ignorant of this one message that Jesus taught, as well as most of the other things Jesus preached.
    Contrary to modern Christians actions Jesus did not say go forth and try to control the lives of those who you believe are not living as you see fit. He said lead by example, love thy enemy, to name just two.

    All a politician has to do ( regardless of whether he or she considers themselves a Christian or is just using religion to get elected,) is to shout “Praise Jesus” and the “faithful” will line up and vote for them no questions asked.

    I believe that a person will be accountable according to the construct that they believe and or preach. If this is the case than today’s Christians will have a lot to explain when they stand before Jesus and have to justify the use of his name in their actions that are the antithesis of his teachings.

    P.S. Also, Jesus did not say that capitalism is divinely inspired. but that is for another blog post.

    • ks sunflower says:

      Ivan, neither my husband nor I are affiliated with formal Christianity because of many of the things you discussed. Ritualized Christianity seems to have forgotten the essence of the message which, for us, is much the same as the Dalai Lama instructs us to remember: kindness to all, even ourselves.

      Kindness may encompass tolerance, forgiveness, and active assistance but it does not include judgement of one another against a list of perceived “rights” vs. “wrongs.” We may judge, but should we if we practice kindness? The political far-right seems hell-bent upon judging and punishing everyone not exactly like them. That surely cannot be in the spirit of the Christ they pray to on bended knee.

      End of rant except to say that we agree with your comments. Today’s formalized, ritualized, overly codified Christianity seems a far cry from some its first and simplest messages: to love one another, to accept one another, and to do unto others as you would have them do onto you.

      Or did most of us misread the message, did we not learn – are we really to hate and ostracize each other? Goodness, if so, we want none of that. It’s why we stay away from congregations that preach against “the other,” and exclude everyone not a Christian. We humbly disassociate ourselves from them, preferring a simpler, if solitary path. We would rather be grateful for life, for the blessing around us, for the rich tapestry that is humankind, and learn from those who make choices that harm themselves and others so we can avoid following in their dreary and dangerous path. We are not better than they, but we do live a simpler, more pleasant life for we do not have to carry with us a burden of hate, insecurity, and a desire for vengeance against imaginary enemies or transgressors. Our path avoids those who carry that burden whenever possible.

      Thank you, Ivan, for expressing yourself so well.

  15. Gem says:

    “I’d always believed the commandment “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain” had something to do with cussing. The preacher corrected me. That commandment is about claiming that your work or words are perpetuated in the name of God when they aren’t.”

    Thank you, Sister Shannyn. I had no clue!

    Off topic, but what’s with the funny in the Evangelical movement? The men don’t have to look attractive since they don’t have sex unless it’s for procreation, anyway, and they don’t have too look good to their wives?

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