Maybe it’s a good thing the Georgia General Assembly only meets for about one-quarter of the year. Because when the legislative session is over, at least we know we can take a decent break from such political tomfoolery as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, whose poster children ended up being the self-righteous bakers and pizza makers of middle America.
People like that are grist for a political mill that knows it can serve up the bread-and-circus distraction of RFRA-type issues and ignite their base while ignoring society’s genuine ills. They play on the old chestnut that Christianity is under attack. Maybe they don’t have Google, but I struggle to understand how 83 percent of Americans can be under attack unless it’s coming from space. (And ironically, queer folks could enlighten the RFRA crowd on what it’s like to live in environments where Christianity is actually under attack.)
With the vast majority of Americans self-reporting as followers of Jesus, the only reason I can think that we haven’t made a real impact on our society in the ways that matter is that we’re still too busy throwing stones at Mary Magdalene. That’s sad. But it’s never too late to repent (i.e., change directions).
So here’s the igniting and ignoring I plan to do: I’m calling on everyone who can hear me to help us make a difference yet again on May 31st, when we’ll be distributing hygiene kits to people on the streets of Atlanta. I invite you to ignite your passion to make a difference and ignore the meaningless distractions thrown in our collective way; they’re the devil’s handiwork.
Yep, I said it: Those RFRA-type distractions from God’s true calling for us are absolutely the devil’s handiwork. They’re what prompt some people to offer a stone out of anger instead of a loaf of bread out of love. And the difference between the two acts is simply free will.
Knowing that, what can you ignite — and what will you ignore?
Founding and Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church and Editor-in-Chief of Whosoever, Rev. Paul M. Turner (he/him) grew up in suburban Chicago and was ordained by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches in 1989. He was called to Atlanta in 1994 to pastor All Saints MCC. Five years later he founded Gentle Spirit Christian Church. He lives in Decatur with his husband Bill, who he met in 1982 while living and working in Ohio and legally married in 2015.