OUR MANIFESTO: THE TIME HAS COME

I Robin Lee Johnson and my boyfriend George Allen Circle have made a decision. We will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the Mormon Church or any Christian church with anyone. We will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility. We will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell us how homosexuality is “an abomination to God,” about how homosexuality is a “chosen lifestyle,” or about how through prayer and “spiritual counseling” homosexual persons can be “cured.” Those arguments are no longer worthy of our time or energy. We will no longer dignify by listening to the thoughts of those who advocate “reparative therapy,” as if homosexual persons are somehow broken and need to be repaired. We will no longer talk to those who believe that the unity of the church can or should be achieved by rejecting the presence of, or at least at the expense of, gay and lesbian people. We will no longer take the time to refute the unlearned and undocumentable claims of certain world religious leaders such as Boyd K. Packer who call homosexuality “deviant.” We will no longer listen to that pious sentimentality that these same and certain other Christian leaders continue to employ, which suggests some version of that strange and overtly dishonest phrase that “we love the sinner but hate the sin.” That statement is, we have concluded, nothing more than a self-serving lie designed to cover the fact that these people hate homosexual persons and fear homosexuality itself, but somehow know that hatred is incompatible with the Christ they claim to profess, so they adopt this face-saving and absolutely false statement. We will no longer temper our understanding of truth in order to pretend that we have even a tiny smidgen of respect for the appalling negativity that continues to emanate from religious circles where the church has for centuries conveniently perfumed its ongoing prejudices against blacks, Jews, women and homosexual persons with what it assumes is “high-sounding, pious rhetoric.” The day for that mentality has quite simply come to an end for us. We will personally neither tolerate it nor listen to it any longer. The world has moved on, leaving these elements of the Christian Church that cannot adjust to new knowledge or a new consciousness lost in a sea of their own irrelevance. They no longer talk to anyone but themselves. We will no longer seek to slow down the witness to inclusiveness by pretending that there is some middle ground between prejudice and oppression. There isn’t. Justice postponed is justice denied. That can be a resting place no longer for anyone. An old civil rights song proclaimed that the only choice awaiting those who cannot adjust to a new understanding was to “Roll on over or we’ll roll on over you!” Time waits for no one.  That includes the Mormon Church and Bishop Robert W.
We will particularly ignore those members of the Episcopal Church who seek to break away from this body to form a “new church,” claiming that this new and bigoted instrument alone now represents the Anglican Communion. Such a new ecclesiastical body is designed to allow these pathetic human beings, who are so deeply locked into a world that no longer exists, to form a community in which they can continue to hate gay people, distort gay people with their hopeless rhetoric and to be part of a religious fellowship in which they can continue to feel justified in their homophobic prejudices for the rest of their tortured lives. Church unity can never be a virtue that is preserved by allowing injustice, oppression and psychological tyranny to go unchallenged.  We certainly have had enough of tyranny of all kinds due to the fact that we have not been challenging injustice and oppression in the past.

In our personal life, we will not listen to televised debates conducted by “fair-minded” channels that seek to give “both sides” of this issue “equal time.” We are aware that these stations no longer give equal time to the advocates of treating women as if they are the property of men or to the advocates of reinstating either segregation or slavery, despite the fact that when these evil institutions were coming to an end the Bible was still being quoted frequently on each of these subjects. It is time for the media to announce that there are no longer two sides to the issue of full humanity for gay and lesbian people. There is no way that justice for homosexual people can be compromised any longer.

We will never act as if the Papal office is to be respected if the present occupant of that office is either not willing or not able to inform and educate himself on public issues on which he dares to speak with embarrassing ineptitude. We will not be respectful of the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who seems to believe that rude behavior, intolerance and even killing prejudice is somehow acceptable, so long as it comes from third-world religious leaders, who more than anything else reveal in themselves the price that colonial oppression has required of the minds and hearts of so many of our world’s population. We see no way that ignorance and truth can be placed side by side, nor do we believe that evil is somehow less evil if the Bible is quoted to justify it. We will dismiss as unworthy of any of our attention the wild, false and uninformed opinions of such would-be religious leaders as Pat Robertson (of the 700 Club), James Dobson (of “Focus On The Family”), Jerry Falwell (of Liberty University {Southern Baptist}), Jimmy Swaggart (Evangelist of The Family Worship Center) – who I quote here as saying: “If I meet a homosexual, I’ll just kill him and tell God he died.”, Albert Mohler (President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), and Robert Duncan. Our country and our churches have all already spent too much time, energy and money trying to accommodate these backward points of view when they are no longer even tolerable.  My boyfriend and I will certainly not tolerate these ignorant views any longer.

We make these statements because it is time to move on. The battle is over. The victory has been won. There is no reasonable doubt as to what the final outcome of this struggle will be. Homosexual people will be accepted as equal, full human beings, who have a legitimate claim on every right that both church and society have to offer any of us. Homosexual marriages will become legal soon, recognized by every state and pronounced holy by the church. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” will be dismantled as the policy of our armed forces (thank you President Barac Obama). We will and we must learn that equality of citizenship is not something that should ever be submitted to a referendum. Equality under and before the law is a solemn promise conveyed to all our citizens in the Constitution itself. Can any of us imagine having a public referendum (the submission of a proposed public measure or actual statute to a popular majority vote) on whether slavery should continue, whether segregation should be dismantled, whether voting privileges should be offered to women? The time has come for politicians to stop hiding behind unjust laws that they themselves helped to enact, and to abandon that convenient shield of demanding a vote on the rights of full citizenship because they do not understand the difference between a constitutional democracy, which this nation has, and a “mobocracy,” which this nation rejected when it adopted its constitution. We do not put the civil rights of a minority to the vote of a plebiscite (a vote of an entire country for or against a proposal).

We will also no longer act as if we need a majority vote of some ecclesiastical body in order to bless, ordain, recognize and celebrate the lives and gifts of gay and lesbian people in the life of the church. No one should ever again be forced to submit the privilege of citizenship in this nation or membership in the Christian Church to the will of a majority vote or more especially the will of a few or even one man (i.e. my Bishop Robert “Bobby” W. excommunicated me from the Church with two counselors, almost single handedly because they are hateful, prejudiced and homophobic).   I have never had any prejudice against anyone except for “common sense prejudice,” for example, not letting a 3 year old kid drive my car for obvious reasons that anyone can understand.

The battle in both our culture and our church to rid our souls of this dying prejudice is finished. A new consciousness has arisen. A decision has quite clearly been made. Inequality for gay and lesbian people is no longer a debatable issue in either church or state. Therefore, my fiancé and I will from this moment on refuse to dignify the continued public expression of ignorant prejudice by engaging it. We do not tolerate racism or sexism any longer. From this moment on, we will no longer tolerate our culture’s various forms of homophobia. We do not care who it is who articulates these attitudes or who tries to make them sound holy with religious jargon or even by using scripture.  It is time to stop “beating a dead horse” and move on.

We have seen this debate for years, but things do get settled and this issue is now settled for us. We do not debate any longer with members of the “Flat Earth Society” either. We do not debate with people who think we should treat epilepsy by casting demons out of the epileptic person; we do not waste time engaging those medical opinions that suggest that bleeding the patient might release the infection. We do not converse with people who think that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans as punishment for the sin of being the birthplace of Ellen DeGeneres or that the terrorists hit the United Sates on 9/11 because we tolerated homosexual people, abortions, feminism or the American Civil Liberties Union (protects civil rights of individuals). We are tired of being embarrassed by so much of our church’s participation in causes that are quite unworthy of the Christ we serve or the God whose mystery and wonder we appreciate more each day. Indeed we feel the Christian Church should not only apologize, but do public penance for the way we have treated people of color, women, adherents of other religions and those we designated heretics, as well as gay and lesbian people.
Life moves on. As the poet James Russell Lowell once put it more than a century ago: “New occasions teach new duties, Time makes ancient good uncouth” (strange, obsolete). We are ready now to claim the victory. We will from now on assume it and live into it. We are unwilling to argue about it or to discuss it as if there are two equally valid, competing positions any longer. The day for that mentality has simply gone forever.

This is our manifesto and our creed. We proclaim it today. We invite others to join us in this public declaration. We believe that such a public outpouring will help cleanse both the church and this nation of its own distorting past. It will restore integrity and honor to both church and state. It will signal that a new day has dawned and we are ready not just to embrace it, but also to rejoice in it and to celebrate it.

By: Robin Lee Johnson adapted from the work of John Shelby Spong for Robin and George “Cody” Allen Circle.  Thank you John for your inspiring words and allowing me to adapt and personalize this Manifesto to myself and my husband to be; I consider you John, my friend.

Published by

Robin Johnson

I am Gay and Ex-Mormon, 51 years old, White and Indian, and I have blue eyes, brown hair and I am 6 feet tall and I am Loving, kind and compassionate. I am interested in helping other same-sex-attracted Mormons and Ex-Mormons deal with this issue and to be a support to them, and lend advice to anyone that seeks after it. I also wish to create a greater understanding of these issues for straights and gays, Mormon or not, so that we all may show greater Love to one another and be willing to bear one another's burdens that they may be light. My goal is to stop the bullying and hatred on one side of these issues and the suicide and self-loathing of individuals on the other side of these issues. Hopefully this will cause there to be more Peace, Love and reconciliation between gays and non-gays and also between Mormons, Ex-Mormons and Non-Mormons alike.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *