Would the Real “Progressive” Christian Stand Up?

After reading a post by religion writer, Becky Garrison, I decided it’s time I chime in on the subject of “Progressive Christianity.” This is going to be short and probably not-so-sweet commentary because there’s something rising up inside of me that has to do with newness and perhaps new wine in old wineskins, to draw from the Bible (gasp!)

I propose, right from the start, that what we are attempting to do by marrying two ideas such as “progressive” and “Christian” is already an unequally-yolked union destined for divorce court. Perhaps we are guilty of trying to mix oil and water and calling it wine!

I know, my Christian readers furrow their brows and my atheist readers cheers. I’m openly torn on the subject. I mean, isn’t progressive Christian an oxymoron? (Who you calling a moron?) But then again, wasn’t Jesus a progressive force to be reckoned with, challenging the religious leaders, political leaders and anyone who came in his path to think outside of the “status quo?” Wasn’t Jesus one of the most progressive people of his time and of any age?

As always, my jury is still out, especially because it is comprised of a group of peers who do identify as progressive Christians and that identity seems to be serving them quite well.

But as I read the post that describes how once again Sojourner’s Magazine a “progressive Christian” organization (ahem, business) falls short of being progressive in their treatment of LGBTQ concerns, we have several options. We can do as Ms. Garrison suggests and develop new labels for groups like this. Perhaps “traditionalist progressives” is a working option or maybe we need to go back to the drawing board…

And make a distinction not between progressive and conservative but authentic versus inauthentic.

I hate labels as next as the next Homospiritual Lesbian Hippie Wanna-Be but if we do require labels in order to maintain a conversation, know where someone is coming from and identify obstacles to understanding, let’s go with authentic vs. inauthentic.

Christianity that excludes, promotes division and moves us towards external conflict rather is inauthentic.

Christianity that includes, promotes understanding and draws us towards internal revelation, consciousness and action is authentic.

Let’s try those on for a bit and see how it goes.

I may not be able to prove it’s what Jesus would do, what Paul would say or what the Pope may approve of but it’s what Gail is going to try…

Authentic Christianity.

Maybe the people at Sojourner’s are more comfortable with the “journey” they are on but I wager that not only will business be affected by their policies, flip-flopping and inauthentic expression of Christianity, the people there will begin to listen to the stories of their friends and family members and refuse to work for an organization that doesn’t welcome all, no exceptions.

That’s my creative activism today: I’m sitting with the workers at Sojourners… all of them. We are having a sit-in and we are going on strike because FAMILY matters and inclusion is the only model of family worth emulating.


To read Becky Garrison’s article, go here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-faith/post/what-to-call-progressive-christian-who-struggle-with-lgbt-equality/2011/08/19/gIQA6J9VQJ_blog.html

6 thoughts on “Would the Real “Progressive” Christian Stand Up?

  1. I can barely speak as a Christian. I have not deliberately studied nor practiced Christianity much at all in my life. I was simply brought up in a “Christian” home surrounded by a community of kind people who mostly defined themselves as Christian in the same loose way that I did. We were simply “two or more” who sometimes gathered in His name mostly to share each other’s company and eat a donut or two. I would not have described our mainly liberal denomination as progressive, but it wasn’t stodgy either.

    Today’s Christianity seems bent on defining its differences more than exploiting its similarities and doing the real work it was intended to do. Even your post does this. Anytime two or more gather to do anything more than share donuts and try to figure out the best way to divvy up the offering to whoever needs it most, corruption enters in. Progressives see themselves as somehow holier than the Fundamentalists who KNOW they’re holier and the whole situation becomes entirely UN-holy. Progressives are equally guilty of trying to influence politics, though they hypocritically blame the Conservatives for being the ones to do so.

    Maybe Sojourners has a point. Maybe NEITHER side should even be in the discussion. If you’re a Christian (follower of Jesus), be a Christian. If you’re not, don’t. But stop using up the resources of the church that really need to be given to the poor by trying to find justice and equality inside its doors. We ALL need to separate Church and State.


    • Ellen, I’m thankful that your experience allows you to share a pure image of what Christianity “could” (should?) look like and it’s an ideal that I think a lot of people are striving towards. I think for me, I want to see that idealism played out in a way that would give Christianity a “good name” rather than having it be associated with close-mindedness, bigotry and hate. In fact, I dream of a world where anyone who was inclusive, walked humbly, loved mercy and did justly would be a person called “Christian.” I don’t mean that everyone should be a Christian… I just mean that ALL COULD BE if Christian were simply about being a person who emulated the principles of Jesus. But then again, I know that feeds into the labels issue and that is not fun. It’s important to me that people who do not love others unconditionally no longer be associated with Christianity… I know that’s not something that can change overnight and certainly not something I can just sit here and blog away, but that is the intention. It’s a personal journey really because basically I want to say, “Hi, my name is Gail and I’m a Christian” without wanting to vomit a little in my mouth as I choke on what those words COULD mean to someone else instead of what they DO mean to me. Frankly, it’s almost as bad as coming out… oh hell, this is just gonna lead to another freakin’ post. Yay! ;0) Thanks for engaging in this!


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