My roommate was an on fire, spread the good news, talking in tongues Christian. He converted me and I was baptized by winter term. Man, did I grab the ecclesiastical bull by the horns. I was thanking God for every flower and blade of grass. Campus InterVarsity Bible study was conducted each week in my dorm room baby!
Enter the OCC (Oregon Christian Coalition). They sponsored the, now infamous, ballot measure five. The measure would have made it legal to fire someone who was suspected of being LGBT and it would have banned tax supported institutions from employing LGBT people as teachers, police officers, fire fighters, or any other type of public servant. Naturally, I began campaigning against the measure.
Then it happened. I was a new Christian, and I found myself being told, by Christians I looked up to, that if I wanted to be a good Christian I had to support the proposed law. I wrestled with my inner demons and better angels for weeks. Finally, decided I'd rather be a good person than a good Christian, and I was agnostic for twenty years.
It wasn't until I was exposed to the liberal UCC that I was comfortable being a Christian again. My friend, Margy, brought me to Hillsdale Community Church. Pastor Jennifer Garrison Brownell gave a sermon about Muslims not being "the enemy." She held an informal lunch for first time visitors after the service. During the meal of sandwiches and coffee, I learned their's is a liberal Christian church which accepts gays & minorities. I rejoined Christ's flock that day.
My story had a happy ending. Yet, I wonder how many people are put off of Christianity upon seeing bad examples being set. Do they see self appointed spokesman of Christ protesting at the funerals of gay service men and not want to be associated with Christian brand? Is the Christian label tarnished every time the Bible is quoted to argue against health care for the poor? When zealots staff "pregnancy crisis centers" posing as abortion clinics, in order to pressure women into a single course of action, does it send ethical seekers of truth running the other way?
It did me. I'll be honest, for a long time the words "Christian" and "bigot" were synonymous in my mind. If I hadn't been exposed to positive examples of the faith, I'd still be thinking that way. We can't can't make the bad examples of the faith shut up, nor should we try. All we can do is try to set a good example by being kind, generous, trust worthy, and loving. If we live our lives in the best ways we know how, perhaps we can polish the Christian label into the beacon of truth it should be.