Concerns are arising among Christians and online commentators after a homosexual activist recently told a national publication that churches “must be made ‘to take homosexuality off the sin list.'”
Mitchell Gold is the founder of Faith in America, an organization that aims to “end the harm to LGBT youth and families from misguided religious teaching.” He served on the board of directors for the Human Rights Campaign for seven years, and was named on of the “Top 50 Most Powerful Gay People in America” in 2007 by Out Magazine.
In an article written by Frank Buni of the New York Times, Gold is quoted as stating that he believes churches ought to be forced to stop considering homosexual behavior as being sinful.
“Gold told me that church leaders must be made ‘to take homosexuality off the sin list,’ he wrote.
“His command is worthy—and warranted,” Buni commented. “All of us, no matter our religious traditions, should know better than to tell gay people that they’re an offense.”
The Times article centered on Indiana’s Religious Freedom Act and Buni’s assertion that Christian Americans should “jettison” their mindsets about homosexual behavior. He contended that the interpretation of biblical text about homosexuality is “subjective” and “debatable” and said that Christians disregard the “biases and blind spots of [the Bible’s] authors, cultures and eras.”
“So our debate about religious freedom should include a conversation about freeing religions and religious people from prejudices that they needn’t cling to and can indeed jettison, much as they’ve jettisoned other aspects of their faith’s history, rightly bowing to the enlightenments of modernity,” Buni wrote. “Religion is going to be the final holdout and most stubborn refuge for homophobia.”
But some have expressed dismay at Buni’s writing, as well as Gold’s suggestion that churches should be forced to “take homosexuality off the sin list.”
“Not ‘must be persuaded,’ but ‘must be made.’ Compelled. Forced. And not forced to change our behavior, but forced to change what we believe. Because you must approve,” wrote Rod Dreher of the American Conservative. “Can you imagine the outcry if the Times published a column saying that Jews or Muslims must be ‘made’ to quit believing a tenet of their religion? If socialists must be ‘made’ to disavow any of their political convictions? But not when the target is conservative Christians…”
“So now government should be dictating belief to churches and enforcing theological orthodoxy?” asked Thomas Williams PH.D. “Now politicians and courts will be telling Christians what they are allowed to consider as sinful? Isn’t this what America was founded to escape from?”
“People are already talking about forcing churches to perform same-sex weddings, whether they like it or not, or get out of the marriage business,” he continued. “[A]ttempts to force [Christians] to abandon their ethical standards and their principles reveal not open-mindedness or fairness, but intolerance, chauvinism and hate. These are the attitudes that have no place in America.”
Kevin Leininger of the News Sentinel made similar comments, stating that forcing Christians to change their beliefs runs afoul of the U.S. Constitution.
“Just as with debate over man-made global warming, the theology of homosexuality is no longer open for discussion, and anyone who suggests otherwise must be forcibly silenced, presumably by the government. How that could be consistent with the First Amendment, Bruni did not say,” he wrote.
“[Gold’s] call for censorship of the church—of God himself—is noteworthy not only for its brazenness but because it was so predictable,” Leininger continued. “As I have mentioned before, it can be considered a hate crime to accurately quote Scripture in some countries, and that free speech-chilling sentiment, clearly, exists here as well and will only grow bolder if it is not resisted.”
But he noted that Scripture puts all men on an equal playing field—and that all are under sin without the transforming power of Jesus Christ.
“When [Gold] talks about taking homosexuality off the sin list, he fails to understand (or at least acknowledge) that the Bible puts everybody on the sin list,” he said. “That’s why we need a Savior in the first place.”