As a young African American child growing up in Alabama in the 70s, we were taught that living in the United States of America was one of the greatest things that could be afforded to anyone. It was great because it was a "melting pot." It was great because of all the opportunities that were afforded to its citizens. It was great because of the diversity of people who were of all shapes, colors and cultures that worked together.
Well, as an adult, I have wondered for years why American schools promoted this information to young people, when a lot of what I have seen as an adult has been discrimination, lack of diversity, hate towards persons who walk in their authenticity, marginalization of persons of darker skin color, lack of support for those who are promoting change, crimes committed against those who are transgender, and age-old wage disparities between men and women. I ask, how is the United States a progressive country?
We have many progressive people, but there are many who are not progressive at all in this new millennium. It is time for America to make advances with its racial issues that still plague many parts of our country today. It is time for America to make strides with equality of pay between men and women, which still hinder the capacity to live the American dream today. It is time for America to make a change with its treatment of those who openly identify as same gender loving, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or refuse to adhere to the gender specific terms set by society. We must progress and move forward in our thinking and stop promoting hatred in this country.
As an African American pastor and bishop, I have observed the hurt and pain of many people over the years due to religiously minded individuals ("religious addicts" I like to call them). Religion is what caused Whites to feel they had a right to continue to enslave Blacks. Religion is what has caused men to feel they are superior to women. Religion is what is being used to hurt, wound, discourage, and kill those who are in the LGBT community. It is time for us to stop using the Bible, IN ERROR, to marginalize any group of people.
We have ALL been created in God's image, according to the Bible. Jesus, as the Bible reveals, never discussed or debated same gender love. He dealt with other matters that needed to be addressed. So if we are Christian o today, let us be RED LETTER Christians, and follow Christ's love, follow Christ's peace, and follow Christ's acceptance of all. Organizations like the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptist are demonstrating what RED LETTER Christians do. AWAB is following the model that Christ created and is showing love to all and being an olive branch to those who need to be lifted from their place of hurt and pain.
As one who has been created in the image and likeness of God, I ask everyone to simply follow Christ, and love one everyone as Christ first loved you.
Bishop Allyson Nelson Abrams is a board member of AWAB, pastor of Empowerment Liberation Cathedral (MD) and presiding bishop of Pneuma Christian Fellowship