Monday, April 28, 2008

James Lawson Gets It

Remember Pastor Hayes Wicker, who gave us this nonsense last week (in relation to gay marriage):

This is a tremendous social crisis, greater even than the issue of slavery.

Now we hear about James Lawson. Via America's best columnist, Leonard Pitts, we learn of a Reverend who is on the right side of the homosexuality issue:

And then there's Rev. Lawson, who is scheduled to speak this weekend at the 10th anniversary conference of Soulforce, a group that fights church-based homophobia. Few things could be more out of step.

Lawson, you may know, is an icon of the civil rights movement; it was he who invited Martin Luther King Jr. to Memphis to support the striking sanitation workers. He sees his longtime involvement with Soulforce as part of the same struggle. ''The human rights issue is not a single issue,'' he told me recently. ``It is about all human kind. And all human kind has been endowed with certain inalienable rights.''

My interview with Lawson was set before Wicker's remark, but I leapt at the chance to ask him about it. ''Obviously,'' said Lawson, ``he does not know anything about the 250 years of slavery or the 143 years since slavery as the nation has largely failed to deal with the issue of slavery and its consequences. . . . And he knows even less about the gospel of Jesus. . . . Jesus broke all the social etiquette in terms of relating to people and bringing people into relationship with himself. He acknowledged no barriers or human divisions . . . no category of sinners from who he would isolate himself.''

Sadly, Wicker's brand of intolerance cloaked in faith has lately made inroads in black America. King's daughter, Bernice, has marched against gay rights. Others have peevishly rejected the idea that there are parallels between the black struggle and the gay one.

Lawson finds the antipathy appalling. ``To unite with white Christian fundamentalism like Pat Robertson is an absolute disgrace. For black people to pretend that kind of Christian fundamentalism, which justified slavery and justifies racism, is a colleague in anything is to be blind to the realities that we're facing. We who have suffered and do suffer should be the most sensitive to the suffering of others. We don't want this undeserved suffering put on us, and we should therefore, clearly, not participate in putting such suffering on others. We ought to know better.''

More of this, please.

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