I’d much rather spend my time here writing about people or things that I’m fond of, like Jane Fonda or Amy Grant or chocolate cake from Magnolia Bakery, but something in the news yesterday caught my eye, and I want to address it. On a recent episode of the 700 Club, a woman was dismayed that she drove a nursing home resident to church and that no one had told her that he had AIDS. Pat Robertson told her that among other things, in San Francisco, gay people wear rings that when one shakes hands with them, the ring cuts the person they are shaking hands with. I’ve included the link to Huffington Post here and in the video, I’m actually more disturbed by the way his co-host sits there listening and nodding with him. It’s one thing for a man who might possibly have dementia to pontificate about gay people or Alzheimer’s or feminism, but this woman, his longtime co-host Terry Meeuwsen has the chance to steer the show towards something compassionate and sane and she does not do it.
As long as I can remember, I have loved pageants. I’ve always loved pretty girls. When I came out to my parents, the first thing my Dad said to me was, “But you always liked girls so much.” Anyway, watching the Miss America pageant every year was something I always looked forward to. I even remember the year Terry Meeuwsen won Miss America. And as a child, my parents had a Terry Meeuwsen album that I loved to play a lot. I’d look at the back cover, where there was a picture of her wearing her crown and think, she’s so beautiful. I’ve included a link to her pageant winning performance of her singing the gospel song, He Touched Me. While I must say, I think it’s a showy performance, one does get the sense that this is a young girl who truly loved the Lord who wanted to use her voice to glorify Him. With her talent and beauty and charisma, it’s no surprise that she won the competition.
Obviously, I am a person interested in people’s journeys. How did this young woman turn into someone who reigns next to Pat Robertson everyday on the dubiously named Christian Broadcasting Network? I don’t think that Pat Robertson glorifies the Lord, by word or by deed. I don’t think it’s great, but I’m used to it when he says that gays have special rings to inflict AIDS, or men with Alzheimer’s-suffering wives should divorce them so they can move on, or that the Joplin tornado wouldn’t have happened if more people had prayed, or that there should be a vomit button on Facebook about gays, or that, well, the list goes on.
If you are a conservative Christian and you are reading this, you probably think that gay people don’t see you as a lesser Pat Robertson. But, the thing is, the AIDS ring story was reported on every gay news website that I know of. I read the comments on several of those sites and I think a lot of people see Pat Robertson as a spokesman for the conservative Christian community.
What I want to say is this, I think Christians need to stand up and say, “This is not who we are.” I think the entire world needs to hear it. Joel Osteen is probably one of the most revered evangelists in the entire world. I’m like Cher, there are some things he says that I do not agree with, but there are things that he says that inspire or convict or comfort me. I see him as a man who loves the Lord who is trying to glorify Him. But I did a search for Joel Osteen and Pat Robertson, hoping to find an article or an interview somewhere where he’s says, “Pat Robertson is not preaching the Gospel, this is not who we are.” I found nothing. (If you reading this and have a link proving otherwise to share, I would love to see or read it.)
So my message today is simple: it applies to Terry Meeuwsen and Joel Osteen, but also to people whose lives I’m truly invested in, my Christian friends. I just challenge you to say, “This is not who we are.” You might think your non-Christian friends, gay or otherwise, already know it, but what does it hurt to remind them again of your love?