Image: Jeremy Cowart
This week, the United Methodist Church is holding important meetings in Portland, Oregon to discuss policy change. The reform talks come after 111 members of the ministry announced they were homosexual last week in a letter defying the UMC's prohibition of openly gay individuals being allowed to serve in the church.
Reconciling Ministries Network, a pro-LGBT organization within the UMC responsible for the letter, organized a concert in protest of the anti-gay policies that included performances from folk rock pair Indigo Girls. Rolling Stonesat down with one member of the band, Emily Saliers, and her father, Don, a theologist and member of the UNC, to talk about some of the issues the church is facing right now. Below, our top takeaways from their chat:
Not all religious doctrine is anti-queer.
Saliers has long been trying to bring attention to the positive, loving side of his faith. "Everybody knows what the oppressive part of the church is, but not as many people are as aware of the fundamentally life-affirming and augmenting experience of the progressive church. That's the part of the church that I grew up with and loved. I want to [show] people that this part of the church exists as well. There's not just one kind of Christian or its works - the Bible, or whatever sacred works. That's part of the exploration of this for me."
Music can be a powerful means of social change.
Don explains, "It seems to me that any significant social movement in the history of human kind, it relies on music, it relies on song. The civil-rights movement: 'Keep Your Eyes on the Prize,' 'We Shall Overcome.' South Africa and the anti-apartheid movement. Any deep social movement has music at its heart because music is a unifier and a motivator."
Organized faith doesn't have to be for everyone, nor should it be.
While Saliers and her father are attempting to reform church practices and legislature from within, they realize that for some organized religion is just not an option. Saliers says, "I have complete understanding for anybody who has experienced oppression within the church. You hear the things like 'You're going to burn in hell,' and it discounts your humanity. I understand that, so I think it's an individual choice."
The South is often unfairly portrayed in mass media.
Sailesr says: "The South gets a bad rap for being conservative, but there are conservatives all over who would pass discriminatory laws in a heartbeat if they could. I always bristle a bit when I see it as an attack on the South, because the South I know is also the South of Martin Luther King Jr and Jimmy Carter, one of my personal heroes, and Congressman John Lewis."
Complacency toward Trump is extremely dangerous.
With Donald Trump as the presumptive Republican nominee, political awareness and participation has never been more important. Sialers: "We cannot get used to Donald Trump. We can't get used to him little by little and say, 'This is normal.' To have the President of the United States to spew bigoted language and be sexist, and at times to be hateful in his spirit and a bully: We cannot get used to that."