Saturday, February 06, 2021

What Engagement Across Difference Is and Isn't

The first heads up I had that the Washington National Cathedral had invited noted evangelical Max Lucado to preach on Sunday, February 7 was the voicemail yesterday from a reporter asking me to comment. Since [a] it was my day off and [b] I didn't have any data I [c] didn't call him back. But that was yesterday and today is today ... and now I have a comment.

For starters my “day job” is Canon for Engagement Across Difference and THIS IS NOT THAT! This is handing over the bully pulpit of our National Cathedral to someone who supports sacramental apartheid for the LGBTQ baptized. 

If they had invited him to come participate in an exercise like the “From Many, One” one Bishop Brewer and I did last month THAT would be engaging across difference. This, however, is a totally unforced error by the WNC inflicting deeply hurtful collateral damage on LGBTQ people in general and Episcopalians who have worked long and hard to move their church closer to its 1976 promise of full and equal claim to its LGBTQ members in specific. 

It is confusing engagement across difference with amplifying the voice of a preacher of whom one colleague said “has a theology with a body count.” It is unexamined privilege writ large when straight people don’t even get what they don’t get about the toxic impact on queer people of someone like Lucado in the pulpit. It is a bad decision, a sad day and a huge disappointment.

Yes, there is a critical need in this nation to build bridges and work to deradicalize evangelicals who are adopting Christian Nationalism -- but you don’t do it by throwing LGBTQ people under the bus. Our National Cathedral should both know better and do better.

Here endeth my comment.