Everybody must get stoned

Posted on 04 Sep 2015 at 8:00am

Yet another right-wing preacher incites anti-gay violence with his interpretation of scripture

Screen shot 2015-09-03 at 5.01.37 PMMaybe you have heard of Ben Bailey, pastor of Central Church of Christ in McMinnville, Tenn. Apparently, Pastor Bailey has a direct connection to the “mindset of God,” and through this holy hotline has determined that gay people should be stoned to death.

To be precise Pastor Bailey recently said, in a video posted on YouTube, that “The scripture says … that [homosexuality] is vile, unnatural and deserving of a penalty. … It’s an abomination that under the Old Testament deserved stoning.”

Now, it would be un-Christian of me to answer his angry words with more anger. But as a Christian, I have to ask the pastor how he has redacted his scriptures. Apparently, he has taken a black pen and crossed out a whole lot of a book that he claims to take literally.

As “editor in chief” of a book he claims is God’s inerrant word, Pastor Bailey has taken on a great responsibility.

It is old news that the dozens of rules and regulations in scripture are rarely followed today. I could quote dozens of “laws” that Pastor Bailey most likely breaks every day –including that Sunday dinner at Red Lobster.

Anyone who takes scripture seriously, and not literally, understands it is filled with discrepancies and outmoded rules and regulations from centuries ago that make no sense today.

What Pastor Bailey glosses over is the theological importance of the books of what we call the Bible in favor of a “cherry picked” mythical code that aligns with his political and personal beliefs. But I digress.

Since the video started getting some attention, Pastor Bailey is saying that the quotes in his video were not what they seemed. He told a news outlet, “We do not believe in stoning homosexuals. The Bible doesn’t teach that; I don’t believe that and I didn’t teach that in the video.”

He follows that with a statement that he supposedly never said, “The Bible clearly teaches that homosexuals will not go to heaven.” This aligns with his “cherry picking” technique, because he clearly said both of those things.

His willingness to break that commandment about “not bearing false witness” apparently is not a problem for the good reverend. Apparently lying is just fine — until you get caught.

The good news is that Pastor Bailey’s hatred and lies were not well received by the public.

The fact remains, though, that his remarks are potentially incendiary and do promote violence against the LGBT community. And at a time when such hatred and violence already seem to be on the increase, it seems an “un-Christian” attitude to espouse.

This Tennessee preacher — who is, according to his church’s website, a Texas native, by the way — joins a chorus of voices that are only thinly veiling their violent rhetoric after the Supreme Court ruling this summer legalizing same-sex marriage. These folks are even claiming it is their right to spew as much hatred as they can in the name of religion.

And I agree.

If your religion is one of hatred and condemnation, it is your right to say so. But your rights end when it comes to putting that hatred and condemnation into violent action.

And when you are claiming that you know “God’s mindset,” you are treading a thin line between free speech and inciting violence.

I fully expect some ugly consequences from these kinds of diatribes, and I sincerely feel that this pastor and others like him need to be held accountable for any violence undertaken by their flocks. If one of them attacks LGBTQ people, the pastor is guilty of accessory to the crime in my book.

I doubt any prosecutor would agree, but it’s my right to say what I think.

Meanwhile, I have one more request for this preacher: Stop calling yourself Christian. You certainly do not speak any words that are attributed to Jesus, and to suggest that his ministry was non-inclusive and intolerant is beyond a misreading of the Gospels; it is heresy.

Perhaps, Pastor Bailey needs to remember that famous quote from John 8:7: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and board member for the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 4, 2015.        

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