Fellow blogger and contact with the ministry, Kent Frost, recently posted on Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper’s public apology for the government’s role in the residential school system. Portions of Harper’s apology can be read here.
Kent has given permission to reprint his post: The Apology, The Pain
“Last week in Canada we saw clearly the the emotion that comes when we make apologies for crimes against others in the name of religion.
“Today is a crucial part of our journey” was one of the comments that struck me. Many did not live long enough to hear the apology was another key comment.
I can relate to this as I struggled to listen to the news clips of the treatment of the native Indian children. There are so many more apologies required not just from the government but from the church.
On the issue of residential schools they have come a long way, now it is time to begin to reconcile with the Gay and Lesbian community worldwide. It is time for the church, all denominations to begin to dialogue and build their relationship with this abused group within society.
I spoke recently with a Pastor who agreed but was concerned the churches (mainly evangelical) would get sued and wondered aloud if that was fair. Was the hatred fair? Was the punishment and justification for poor behavior fair? Often people used the church’s hatred as their excuse for murder and other actions even if they, themselves, were not Christians.
Millions have died condemned by Pastors around the world for being homosexual and even worse for having HIV/AIDS. “God hates fags” became the mantra for a generation and that hatred remains a stronghold for the LGBT community to this day.
In Canada we heard a public apology for a wrong committed and as a result heard testimony from those who said, “finally the healing can begin”.
I myself can speak first-hand about the abuses of the church. I can attest to making substantial donations but being forced to do so in secret without tax receipt because of my lifestyle. “We will take your money and gifts but not you. You will be treated with little or no respect.” And that is just the beginning when it comes to the churches response to those who are different.
Recently I got an email from a Pastor’s wife whose son is gay. The pain they are going through knowing that instead of love and compassion from their congregation they can expect judgment and condemnation of their child who a moment before his disclosure was the apple of the congregations eye so to speak, all of it gone in a heartbeat.
“I am sorry” releases people from bondage and strongholds. I have the power of those words. I have seen sadly first-hand what the lack of an apology can do in maintaining those strongholds a person suffers under because they believe what was done or said to them was deserved.
I stand today with the government of Canada with a certain sense of shame as a Canadian and a Christian for what we have done to the original founding peoples of this land.”
I had also been pondering writing a post on Harper’s public apology – which I applaud – and the need for the church to be much more responsive in offering public repentance. I well remember many conversations with fellow Christ-followers asking, “How do we repent of un-Christlike attitudes and actions towards the GLBT persons in a way that can be heard?” (None of us held the authority or influence of a position like the Prime Minister.) Often our conversations concluded with the notion that our repentance was best walked out through humble, loving service in the context of relationship with our gay neighbours.
Given that this blog and our small group resource project are intended to be a catalyst for precisely that kind of relational engagement, you could say that this blog is an attempt at a living apology.