21 February 2012

Zombie meme: The church of false apology

Forgiveness? Photo via Practikel.com.
So, lately there's been a story percolating through the gay and gay-friendly blogosphere, about a church that went to Chicago Pride to apologize:

I spent the day at Chicago’s Pride Parade. Some friends and I, with The Marin Foundation, wore shirts with “I’m Sorry” written on it. We had signs that said, “I’m sorry that Christians judge you,” “I’m sorry the way churches have treated you,” “I used to be a bible-banging homophobe, sorry.” We wanted to be an alternative Christian voice from the protestors that were there speaking hate into megaphones.

There's even this photo of a guy in short shorts, so overcome with emotion at this "alternative Christian voice" that he stepped out of the parade for a hug. It sounds beautiful—as they say, almost too good to be true.

Regrettably, that's because it is too good to be true.

The story's not new—I first ran across it, complete with that photo, back in 2010, when Dan Savage posted about it. Dan said it made him "tear up" ... and then he learned that things were not as they seemed. The group mentioned in the story, the Marin Foundation, has a history of taking this apologetic stance—but they're not apologizing for saying that being gay is sinful. They're just sorry that other fundamentalists have been a bit rude about the whole going-to-Hell-for-loving-who-you-love thing. The fellow behind the foundation, Andrew Marin, has a history of self-promoting bullshit going back at least to 2006, and he's right at home with the fundamentalist bigots when it suits him to be.

It doesn't matter how polite you are when you say it—the position that same-sex relationships are inherently sinful, that gays and lesbians are somehow undermine the "sanctity" of other people's relationships by loving the people we do, is inherently and inexcusably hateful. It's the root of the more overt bullying and hatred that the Marin Foundation is ostensibly repenting for. There are lots of Christians who have truly repented and repudiate fundamentalist homophobia, and all of them acknowledge this link: Fred Clark and John Shore are two sterling examples; or see the religious groups who are rallying against Minnesota's proposed constitutional ban on marriage equality.

I can certainly understand why the Marin Foundation story keeps popping up; it's a poignant one, and it's one we'd like to see happen for real. And stories like it are happening for real, all the time and all over the country. But Marin's flashy, two-faced stunt at Chicago Pride distracts from quieter stories of real repentance, love, and acceptance. ◼

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