Will Jesus Come Out To Play?

I’m a big fan of Jethro Tull, so I’ll just get this out of my system:

When I think of this song, I also think of one of the lasting images from last year’s Korea (now Seoul) Queer Culture Festival (our Pride Festival and Parade):

http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2017/07/177_233308.html

This guy named Robert Evans had the stereotypical ‘western Jesus look’ that he could carry off, so he came to the Festival in stereotypical ‘Jesus garb’. Just before the Pride Parade got going, he stood in front of a group of CCF (conservative Christian forces) protesters who were set up in front of the cluster of office buildings and hotels to the south of Seoul Square. An enterprising photographer took the picture, and Mr Evans & the protesters had their 15 minutes (actually, a few days) of fame.

I’m glad he was there. He provided a moment of combined levity with a serious underlying challenge to all the CCFs who have made it their business to make their presence known at all the QCF/Pride Festivals and parades occurring through the country. What’s more, he pulled off the Jesus look a lot better than me. Our church decided to have a ‘Rainbow Last Supper’ mode where festival goers could have their picture taken with me in a Jesus costume at hourly intervals.

I couldn’t convey the Jesus look like Robert Evans did. I just ended up looking like a red-headed Howard Stern in drag! I’m too embarrassed to publish the picture!

However, as I reflect on last year’s experience and prepare for this year’s proceedings, it’s worth asking, for those of us who think this is important: where was the presence of Jesus at Pride 2017? Where do we hope it will be this year?

I remember the booth next to us, run by the Korean-language affirming churches. There were always clergy on duty, offering personal blessings and prayer with those who wanted them. They were all wearing stoles, signs of the priestly/pastoral office, many of them made from rainbow-style tapestries. They invited people to touch the hem of their stoles as a sign of blessing. Many who came to them were in need of assurance that they are blessed. For most queer Christians in this country, they must live a daily struggle against family, faith communities, workplaces, landlords, and so-called friends who view their lives, if not their very existence, with anywhere from suspicion to outright condemnation. In order to ‘get by’ in their daily lives, some of them actually have to condone or actively participate in the condemnation, condemning themselves in the process.

There were tears shed by both those being blessed and those blessing. While we were trying to add a light moment, I guess trying to ‘rejoice with those who rejoice’, our neighbors were taking the time to ‘weep with those who weep’ (Romans 12:15). It became apparent to me that Pride in this country is still not only a time to celebrate and rejoice, but also a time to lament and give voice to pain. The presence that my ecumenical colleagues provided was much needed, and a very real reminder of the presence of Jesus.

So, where will Jesus be this year?

I don’t know if Robert Evans or another Jesus-type figure will emerge this year, but I will  welcome it. The presence of pastors who will give people the emotional space to shed their tears and speak their pain will be needed, too. As for us, I’m NOT going to try to look like Jesus again. I do hope, through, that we’ll get at least one people who will take us up on our offer to bless relationships at our booth.

To be honest, in the days and hours leading up to the Festival, I think about our presence in our booth and I get anxious and become plagued with doubt – Do people really care if ODMCC is there at all? Are we really effective in reaching out to people? Are we really meeting people where they are? Are people really going to notice us? This year, there’s a little bit of fear, too. It seems that protesters at the Daegu QCF this year disrupted the parade, and were happy to get into shouting matches with paraders. Are we going to have to worry about similar things in Seoul this year?

In the end, I need to remind myself that being present – just being present – is perhaps the greatest ministry we offer. Simply letting people know that those who are outside the Festival gates, preaching against us, are not the only ‘Christian’ expression. In all our actions – celebrating, blessing, comforting, or providing a symbolic challenge – we all do what we can to make the presence of the Jesus we know a real part of this Festival.

Happy Pride to all at Seoul Queer Culture Festival 2018!

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Going Where We May Not Want To Go (A Letter to My Congregation)

A NOTE TO THE READER, ESPECIALLY IF YOU’RE NOT A MEMBER OF OPEN DOORS MCC:

I usually don’t recycle sermons for this blog, but I thought I’d make an exception in this case. Many in my congregation have been away from church this past Sunday, and I thought I would adapt my sermon from last Sunday as a blog post here. It holds particular relevance for us who are awaiting the 2019 Seoul Queer Culture Festival, but if anyone else is reading this at a time when you’re not sure what you should be doing in a particular situation, especially where you may expect confrontation or somethings adversarial, you might find it hellpful. Happy Reading!

Dear fellow partners in ministry at Open Doors MCC,

As you know, I’ve posted concerning the death of Rachel Held Evans. This past week, we’ve also marked the death of Jean Vanier, founder of the L’Arche community in France, which became the L’Arche network of communities supporting those with developmental disabilities.  

He was the son of a decorated Canadian military officer from Quebec, Georges Vanier, who was appointed as only the second native-born and the first Quebecois governor general of Canada. Jean, his son, first sought purpose through military service in the Canadian Navy, and then through academia, when he earned a doctorate in philosophy and taught at St. Michael’s College of the University of Toronto.

In 1964, he made a radical decision – he left his teaching position in Canada, moved to a village in France caled Trosly-Breuil, bought a house, and invited two men with developmental disabilities who had been living in institutions to live with him. Other formerly institutionalized persons joined him, other persons came to serve as assistants to them, and it became known as LArche, ‘The Ark’. L’Arche homes and communities are now found throughout the world. He received many honors throughout his life, including the Order of Canada, the Legion of Honor of France, and in 2015, the Templeton Prize. Negative evaluations of his work are rare – in my research for this sermon, I found only one.

The interesting thing to me is that Jean Vanier and Rachel Held Evans, although from different countries, living and dying in different situations and circumstances, gained the same expressions of love and grief. I’ve been thinking about why this is the case. It has to do with more than their fame, or Jean Vanier’s universal admiration, or Rachel Held Evans’ widowed husband and orphaned children.

I’d like to suggest that in both cases, they offered the prospect of relationships with other people. Jean Vanier founded a profoundly successful movement to create communities for disabled persons because its basis was not charity or doing for others – it was about being in community with them, that in assisting them that one could learn from them and find a new way of looking at the world and themselves. In her own way, when Rachel Held Evans was in debate or discussion with those with whom she disagreed, she held out the invitation to relationship, not to confrontation. As her friends and co-founders of the Evolving Faith conference, Sarah Bessey and Jeff Chu, wrote so eloquently in their tribute to her in the Washington Post, she should not be remembered as a rebel or a renegade, someone who was ‘against’ something. She was ‘for’ so much – for people, for expressing oneself, for giving, for honesty. As one ‘Bible teacher’ put it, ‘in an era of gross hypocrisy, she was alarmingly honest.’ Maybe that was how she was able to go into places and situations that many of us would avoid.

This ability to offer relationship instead of confrontation or judgment is what I see in two of the readings from last Sunday’s lectionary selections from the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel According to John.

We commonly know these readings as ‘the conversion of Saul/Paul’ (Acts 9:1-20) and ‘the restoration of Peter’ (John 21). Well, in the light of the loss of these people who were beacons of the light of faith, I view these stories differently. One made the point that Jesus wasn’t offering Peter forgiveness or a restored position of leadership. He started by offering a renewed relationship – a meal, breakfast, which the risen Jesus prepares, and offers without conditions. As that meal is shared, the relationship is renewed with a simple question: ‘Do you love me?’ That love will lead Simon Peter, Cephas, into some dangerous situations, but it will ultimately allow him to make real the new life that is found in following Jesus.

Likewise, Saul’s calling (not really his conversion) also leads the disciple Ananias to into a situation which he views as dangerous: ‘God, you’re asking me to go to one of our mortal enemies?’ Yet, it is by going to that situation and being willing to engage Saul not as adversary, but as a potential new sibling, that leads to new life for this man who was once a persecutor of the people of the Way.

So, in the light of the examples of Rachel Held Evans (especially) and Jean Vanier, and as you’ve read in my previous post, I’ve decided that my place at the Seoul Queer Culture Festival is not on the festival grounds, but among those whom we would consider our adversaries, and who would consider us ‘enemies of the cross’ – not to denounce or deny, or to meet a fist with a fist, but simply to have conversations, to ask, to understand what it is that drives them to take the stands they take, to take the actions they take, to say the things they say.

Now, that’s where I believe I need to be this year. I won’t tell you where you should be in SQCF this year, but whatever you decide, try to be in the places where you can make or renew relationships, perhaps by helping out at the booth of another group, or by walking in the parade, or by talking to people about this gathering place. Be salt, be light, be yeast – be the presence that brings a new flavor, or illumination, or a new place of growth in people’s lives. That’s how we will be the most effective at SQCF this year, by engaging in relationship with others. That’s how we will bring the light of our Good News into the world.

Waiting for Brigadoon?

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I must sincerely apologize. I misread the list of groups given booth space at the SQCF Pride Parade day. The Dding Dong LGBT Youth Crisis Center HAS been granted booth space, and I have amended my original post to reflect this. Again, my apologies for any misunderstanding caused, and best wishes to Dding Dong this year.

That being corrected, please read on:

I’ve been dealing with a significant disappointment in the last few weeks.

Open Doors MCC’s application for a booth at the Seoul Queer Culture Festival (SQCF) Pride Parade Day was unsuccessful, and for the first time in our history, we will not be officially present there.

I was angry enough to spit nails at first, I readily admit that. My congregation was not in favor of issuing a statement indicating disappointment, so I didn’t – that was probably a good decision, since I was too close to my anger and hurt to be constructive. Some friends have tried to convince me that it was not a rejection of us; others have said ‘Saying anything will just make things worse’. I also understand that the Organizing Committee for SQCF has been on the receiving end of some real vitriol from people representing groups who have been part of the Parade Day in the past and are not this year.

I will have no part whatsoever in threats of violence or directionless rage – it’s pointless and makes a mockery of any genuine feelings of disappointment. However, the fact remains that, for reasons I am not privy to, the SQCF Organizing Committee did not deem it appropriate to grant ODMCC booth space. Now that my original anger has mostly subsided, I believe I’m in a space where I can take a critical look at what the net effect of all this is. I don’t mean just criticize, although I will be making some pointed observations concerning what has happened. I mean to take an evaluative look at the situation as I see it, in terms of how it affects me, my community of faith, and the SGM (sexual and gender minorities) communities of Korea, particularly Seoul.

What you about to read may upset you. Some of you may question my right to express any view: ‘Who are you, cisgender, white, heterosexual, married, European heritage, man, to say anything about this? Go back to your corner of privilege!’

I can’t and I won’t. I have invested too much energy and time advocating for SGM persons, not only through my church work, but also by attending countless events for assorted groups held by SGM communities, both in Seoul and in other cities. If I’ve known about it and been able to go, I’ve tried to be there! Participants in our faith community, past and present, have expressed their appreciation to me that we have provided a safe place for them to have a spiritual life. I witnessed on behalf of an inclusive faith in the presence of a so-called ‘Christian’ political party, where I was shouted at and had fingers pushed in my chest. I went to the opening event of SQCF 2015, when there was a debate going on in the community as to whether people should come, and some leaders in the community were saying, ‘Don’t come’. I’ve held my spiritual ground while people have yelled at me (in English, so I would get the point) that I’m going to hell. I’ve marched in every Pride Parade at every Queer Festival I’ve been part of. I’ve been there in fair weather and foul.

Last year I led ceremonies of blessing of relationships when, as far as I know, no other affirming faith community was doing it. By the way, I profoundly disagree with the journalist who suggested to me that this action wasn’t that important because we didn’t call them ‘weddings.’ Poppycock, say I! Last year I held back an anti-Parade protester who was attempting to deface a parade truck while I screamed at police, ‘Get this guy off the parade route!’ To use Bruce Cockburn’s words, ‘I’ve proven who I am so many times the magnetic strip’s worn thin.[1]

Now, what do I see happening with the SQCF Parade Day this year? Well, whether they realize it or not, the Organizing Committee have made choices about what will be highlighted in the SGM community in Seoul. Many people simply aren’t aware of other events considered part of the SQCF. For many people, what they see on Pride Parade Day will be all they experience. What has been highlighted in the selection of booths is predominately Korean-speaking. In terms of direct advocacy groups, I’m glad to see legal, transgender, and parents of SGM persons (PFLAG Korea) included this year, including Dding Dong, the support center for SGM teens. There are some religious organizations, and some international human rights organizations, but they’re all being channeled through a Korean lens. ‘Well, use Korean!’ I’ve heard people say. I understand where they’re coming from. However, even if I were perfectly bilingual (which I’m not), English would still be my first language to talk to God in, to discuss matters of Spirit, and to talk about rights. English is also the ‘lingua franca’ between most of the expat/migrant groups here.

This year, though, for English-speakers, who have been ardent and supportive allies of/accomplices with the SGM communities here, there are two groups which reflect them – a burlesque group and an English-speaking queer/trans group, led by a well-known activist who has done very important performance art and drag performances here. Now let me say clearly – burlesque, performance art, and drag are all important parts of a positive, sexuality-affirming, pro-SGM scene. But is it the whole scene? Call it ‘sour grapes’ if you wish, but as far as I’m concerned, what the Organizing Committee has constructed, intentionally or not, is incomplete.

A more interesting point about all this, though, was raised by a friend who expressed their shock over and disagreement with the Organizing Committee’s decision to not grant booth space to ODMCC. They raised the question, ‘What has the Parade Day become?’ This is from an SGM person who is a veteran attendee of several festivals, who has seen it grow to the levels it has reached of over 100,000 attendees.

Well what HAS it become? Let’s consider that. For safety reasons, the booths have to be in an enclosed space – fair enough, the security is needed. However, does this enclosed space create a situation where SGM people and those who support them wait for the one day of the year when they can be who they are? And do SGM persons end up thinking that’s the only day they have?

That’s why I use the legend of Brigadoon, the legend of a Scottish village which appears only once every 100 years, as a metaphor. I’ve been an ardent defender of the ‘safe space’ concept. I’ve said in the past: ‘Most people in the SGM communities of Korea spend the other 364 days of the year in fear – fear of being fired from their jobs, shunned by their families and friends, evicted from their homes, excommunicated from their faith communities, and kicked out of their schools. Thank goodness they have this one day to celebrate and be comfortable being who they are, as social, spiritual, political, and sexual beings.’ I still accept that as being a good thing. But if this becomes the only day of the year when that happens, does the Festival Ground become a type of unreal place where for a few hours people can dress up in costume, celebrate being themselves, meet up with similar people, and then go back to their hiding places for the rest of the year? If that is happening to any degree, the SQCF is in danger of becoming a queer version of Brigadoon. If that IS happening, we need to ask what the Parade Day should be accomplishing.

Well, what SHOULD it accomplish? I would hope it can be a place where that safe environment empowers people, so that they are able to ‘come out’, even if it is to one trusted person, and say, ‘Here I am. This is me.’ I would hope it’s a place where people are empowered by networking with others to act and pressure government and organizations to increase the safety and legal standing of SGM persons throughout this country. I would hope this happens in many places at the festival. I would also hope that this can be a place where we act in ways which challenge those who would marginalize the SGM community – that’s what I think we at ODMCC did last year with the blessing ceremonies we held. If these things aren’t happening, the Pride Parade Day of SQCF is in danger of fulfilling the dictionary definition of Brigadoon: ‘a place that is idyllic, unaffected by time, or remote from reality.[2]

I am also aware that the Organizing Committee has organized a ‘Pink Dot’ event for the night before, modeled after similar events in Singapore, offering groups that weren’t accepted at the main festival a chance to have a booth at a pre-event. I suppose there might be a purpose to this, but it should also be remembered that in Singapore, ‘Pink Dot’ is THE LGBT+ event of the year. In other places that have held ‘Pink Dots’, my research indicates they have been single events in larger festivals or ‘Pride Months’. To me, ‘Pink Dot Seoul’ was not presented this way. It appeared to be marketed like a ‘consolation prize’ or even an ‘afterthought’ – ‘well, we don’t think you fit in the main festival, but you can have a guaranteed spot in the “pre-event.”’ It reminds me of what Sir Bobby Robson used to call the UEFA Cup in European football, a competition for clubs that weren’t league champions – ‘the Losers’ Cup’.

People are free to disagree with me, and we can discuss/debate/dialogue concerning the issues which the organization of this year’s SQCF raises. Maybe improvements will be made for next year, or maybe we’ll have the same or worse problems this year. Nonetheless, I raise these questions so that people will think about them and talk about them. Yet, I’m still left with a question: what should I do this year?

If my ministry is not meant to be in the Festival Grounds this year, maybe a better place for me might be outside the gates, meeting with people, especially with those who would consider me an enemy, and inviting them to actually have a conversation about what concerns them and what concerns me. This has been on my mind a lot as I mourn the loss of Rachel Held Evans, the American Christian writer who was unafraid to engage the defenders – ‘the white dudes’, as she called them – of the traditional American evangelical scene she was raised in and eventually needed to leave behind (she was also pro-LGBT+).

Maybe my place is in that much riskier, perhaps more dangerous, place. Perhaps I and the people I hope to talk to won’t agree on much, and I might even need to find a police officer to ensure my safety. However, my response might be the response of the Buddhist monk in Seven Psychopaths when he is told, just as he is about to set himself on fire, ‘This won’t improve our situation.’ He answers, ‘It might.’

[1] From ‘Pacing the Cage’, on the album The Charity of Night (True North/Rounder, 1996).

[2] In the Merriam-Webster Dictionary [online]. Accessed 30 April 2019 at https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Brigadoon.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I must sincerely apologize. I misread the list of groups given booth space at the SQCF Pride Parade day. The Dding Dong LGBT Youth Crisis Center HAS been granted booth space, and I have amended my original post to reflect this. Again, my apologies for any misunderstanding caused, and best wishes to Dding Dong this year.

In Memoriam: Rachel Held Evans (June 8, 1981 – May 4, 2019)

rachel held evans

I’m heartbroken.

Rachel Held Evans could not survive the reaction she had to antibiotic treatment for influenza and died yesterday.

Her journey from unquestioning conservative faith to being a ‘done’ to a modern, questioning faith is an example to anyone that it IS possible to do the same. She proved that you don’t have to throw out the wineskins with the wine. She demonstrated it’s possible to have a new faith which doesn’t have all the answers but can still help give one’s life shape, purpose, and meaning. She did it with humor and wit, and without malice or hatred. Just in reading her, I could sense her big heart. And yes, she evolved to embracing an affirming stance for SGM persons.  I recommend any of her books to you as important reading if you’re wondering whether faith is possible in this time.

As far as I’m concerned, we have lost one of the great Teachers of the Church of the 21st century. A light has gone out, our world is a little dimmer for it, and it is our duty to shine more brightly to make up for it.

Loss, Part 2

‘A part of my soul has left me.’ – Pierre Trudeau, on learning of the death of friend Gerard Pelletier

This may sound rather melodramatic, but I have reason for starting with that quote.

I experienced another ‘hail and farewell’ gathering for an expat friend of mine a little while back. I’ve been to many of these over the years, one of which was a moment of reconciliation and transformation for me (see The Stories of Women…), so much so that I call it ‘the time Easter came early for me’. This good-bye was certainly not as dramatic as that, but it has had an effect on me in that it represents an accumulation of the feelings of dis-ease that have been lurking under the surface of my psyche.

The person I said good-bye to was heading back to the US with her Korean husband and her two children. I sang with her in the local expat chorus and chamber choir. We still kept in touch after I finished my time with those choirs, and as we conversed about our lives, I found out that she has two uncles (I think) who are Lutheran pastors. I also found out that members of her family are gay. That made for an interesting faith dynamic for her, because she attended a new conservative evangelical church in Seoul. One time she told me she would have to take the pastor aside and ask him, ‘What is  your position on LGBT+ issues?’ I don’t know what or if it happened, but she kept going, so I’m assuming she was able to find some way to continue being part of that church.

The thing I’m most grateful for from her is when she learned about my MCC ordination in April last year. Out of the blue, she volunteered to sing a solo as a musical offering. This offering helped to make my ordination a very special event. I’ve never forgotten it.

It was wonderful to see her before she left, and I was able to wish her health and blessings. However, there seemed to be a cumulative melancholy/blue funk which I began to feel when I first found out she was leaving and hasn’t really left me since. There are other friends and colleagues who have left, and to whom I didn’t get to say good-bye. And since then, there are a couple more people who have left or are preparing to take the next step.

Now, people have left before, I’ve gone to their farewell parties, or at least had a chance to say good-bye to them. Why are these leave-takings getting to me like they haven’t before? It seems as though this farewell represents the beginning of the end of an era, an era in which I experienced Korea in a particular way. They also highlight the loss of contact with other friends, friends who, in some ways, became my family of choice in Korea. This includes the first Korean friend I made here. I got to know him before I met the woman who eventually became my wife. Through him, I met other people – my ‘musical friends’ (thanks for the reference, Bruce Cockburn) who provided a connection with many aspects of Korean musical culture – one of them went on to release albums and become a radio show host!

But for a while, it’s felt like there’s only me. Younger friends have grown up, had kids, become engrossed with elements of their home life, I’ve gotten more involved with Sunday and SGM stuff, and my oldest friend has had to pay a little  more attention to his health lately. Is this just a temporary funk, or does it signal that I need to make more significant changes to my life situation? I don’t know – I just sense that I need to sit with this solitude for a while and decide where the next direction for me is.

Loss, Part 1

Over the last couple of weeks, the SGM[1] community in Korea has been mourning the loss of an ally (I’ve come to dislike this word – but that’s another column!) who worked tirelessly on its behalf…

and I didn’t have good relationship with her.

She did a lot of good work, supported a lot of people, contributed to many causes, and worked really hard to make sure that people were not isolated or alone. In the university where she worked, she advocated tirelessly and endlessly for greater inclusion of sexual and gender minorities through its human rights committee; this extended to the professional organization for English teachers that she belonged to. She also suffered from depression, and in a period where the depths of despair appeared to be too much for her, she took her own life.

And I can hear you asking ‘What’s your problem?! This person sounds like a veritable saint! Why couldn’t you get along with her?’

Well, why don’t oil and water mix?

I wanted to have a good relationship. We corresponded on Facebook, I went to a couple of events at the university where she taught, I became part of a group for SGM teachers. However, when I made certain comments which lampooned the current American president, or used a term which referred to an aspect of fascist government I thought to be parallel to the actions of the current government, she reacted quite negatively.

I consider questions of ‘who was right/wrong’ to be unhelpful. I honestly can’t see how the comments I made were inappropriate, given the nature of the current American administration. I accept that she didn’t hear or view them in this way. However (and I know there are those who will disagree with me violently), I’ve concluded that what I experienced in these run-ins was someone taking herself too seriously. And in my experience, the worst thing you can do in many situations is take yourself too seriously!

It got to the point where I felt the need to keep this person at a distance, so I un-followed her on Facebook. I didn’t banish her completely from my social network circle, but I needed to keep her at arms’ length. I wasn’t alone. I have heard of at least one additional person who had a falling out with her. Regardless, what precious few of us knew was of her struggle with depression. And fewer of us knew the depths to which her last downward trajectory would go. I realize there is some debate around whether Winston Churchill suffered from mental illness[2], but there is little doubt that he would be wary of the visits of his downward mood swings which he termed ‘the black dog’, apparently so much so that he would be wary of where he stood on train platforms:

‘I don’t like standing near the edge of a platform when an express train is passing through. I like to stand back and, if possible, get a pillar between me and the train. I don’t like to stand by the side of a ship and look down into the water. A second’s action would end everything. A few drops of desperation.'[3]

This person’s death has hit a lot of people hard, especially one person who has had a terrible start to their year. They’ve endured loss and trauma (I mean, trauma) in the past twelve months. Coming out as non-binary has led to their being excluded and discriminated by many people, especially the SGM community in Seoul, that they hardly get involved anymore. They were looking forward to having a friend in whom to confide when they moved at the beginning of this year – and that friend is around no more.

These and other stories make it clear that there’s a good reason we don’t speak ill of the dearly departed. Whatever issues I may have had, and no matter how justified I may have been in keeping this person at a distance, that doesn’t matter. What’s more important is honoring the work she did and the lives she touched, as well as caring for those who are affected by her loss whenever and wherever I can.

More importantly, I can follow her example, an example I never really appreciated until now. It seems to me that her work for expat English teachers and for SGMs was endless and public. When it came to the debate around SGM issues in Korea, there was no mistaking which side she was on! It reminded me of a point made by Brittany Ware, the 2018 Ware Lecturer at the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly:

‘(An) ally tends to be a self- congratulating, temporary presence, that makes a sometimes effort for something they sometimes care about. Sometimes an ally shows up, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes an ally listens, sometimes they paternalize. Sometimes an ally takes action, sometimes an ally just talks about taking action. Accomplices, on the other hand, choose the risk even though they don’t have to. They’re willing to lay their bodies and reputations and security on the line because they know that’s the only way to properly leverage their privilege. Accomplices stick around. Accomplices are in it for the long haul…’[4]

I think it’s time for me to take a look at my own activism, or lack of it, and ask, ‘Have I been an accomplice? If supporting the SGM community were a crime, would there be enough evidence in my own life that my only option would be to say, “By God, I’m guilty!”?’

I pray that I may have the grace to live a life and exhibit a witness worthy of being an accomplice!

[1] As I’ve written before, the acronym SGMs (Sexual and Gender Minorities) seems much more manageable than the LGBBTTQQIAA, etc, etc acronym that seems to have no end!
[2] Compare, for example, Ghaemi,M (2015, 24 January) Winston Churchill and his ‘black dog’ of greatness, in The Conversation [online] (accessed 6 February 2019 at http://theconversation.com/winston-churchill-and-his-black-dog-of-greatness-36570) and Breckenridge, C (2012) The Myth of the “Black Dog”, Finest Hour: the Journal of Winston Churchill 155, pp. 28-31.
[3] Alluded to in Breckenridge (2012) and quoted from Churchill: Taken from the Diaries of Lord Moran, in Ghaemi (2015)
[4] Unitarian Universalist Association (2018-19), WARE LECTURE BY BRITTANY PACKNETT, GENERAL ASSEMBLY 2018, in Unitarian Universalist Association [online]. Accessed 28 August 2018 at https://www.uua.org/ga/past/2018/ware.

Thinking Globally, Acting Locally

‘How easily things can get broken…’

*from Mass (1971), Leonard Bernstein

I had planned to do a wonderful Pride Sunday meditation on David and Jonathan on June 24th, and why not? It was one of the options for reading in the lectionary for that Sunday – fancy that! But then…

‘…how easily things can get broken’.

I’d seen the headlines about children and parents being separated at the border; I’d seen the justification by American government officials, including usage of the Bible and ‘Biblical principles’; I’d seen all the outrage expressed by journalists. Then, on Wednesday morning, I saw this:

Then, on Thursday morning, I saw this (play from about 4:25 to 9:10)

After seeing that second one, I spent a half-hour in front of my notebook, sobbing.

Since then, I have posted on the Korea and Daejeon LGBT+ Facebook groups, indicating about how bothered I am about this, and openly questioning if the presence of the US Embassy at our local Pride festivals is really appropriate. In response, I have had some very tough conversations with some people. I have preached on this in my congregation, and one attendee asked, ‘Why are you interested in this, all of a sudden?’

That’s a fair question….

As part of a university course I taught recently, I taught intersectionality, the kind of critical analysis which looks at how injustice in the world can occur on many different levels. As a result of doing this, I think (at least I hope) I’ve become more sensitive to looking at how all the factors which make us us – political, sexual, gender, class, ethnicity, etc. – have to come into play when we’re considering the issues we consider to be important. I’m proud to be a pastor in a denomination (Metropolitan Community Churches) which tries to take intersectional analysis seriously. Even when we fall short of the mark, there are still those among us who keep pushing us to consider all the factors which lead to injustice, and who remind us that we don’t really address injustice until we face all those factors.

Now I’ve had my markers of privilege waved in front of me at times (heterosexual, white, male, among others), and it has sometimes felt as if those who were naming those markers have done so to silence me – as if to say, ‘Know your role, go in the corner, and be quiet’. Well, I don’t think the case of the current President of the United States is something to be quiet about. Donald John Trump is acting as if he is, to use the old Scottish term, ‘laird o’ the manor’. He has no trouble attacking the free press (does the term ‘fake news’ sound familiar?) and he has made economic threats against the citizens – the citizens – of an ally country (don’t believe me? watch this).  He is wreaking havoc in the United States with every order he issues – interesting how he has trouble passing legislation, isn’t it? He has spearheaded efforts to marginalize LGBT+ citizens in the US, and at times it is only the courts which have held him and his cabinet back. He is troubling his own house, not to mention the rest of the world, and seems to enjoy inheriting the wind. I, as a citizen of the world, reserve the right to criticize him when and as I please, including through the use of sarcasm.

I also think it’s still fair for the sexual and gender minorities of Korea and associated allies to ask, ‘Do we really want to have the presence of a diplomatic corps representing a country which appears to relish bringing harm to people of any identifiable minority group?’ I remember a newspaper opinion column during the time of apartheid about whether sanctions and boycotts are really effective. The columnist told a personal story of his visit to a store where he saw the manager treating his staff inappropriately. The gist of the columnist’s comments were this: ‘I know that my decision to not shop at that store again won’t make much difference to the store, its manager, or its revenues. That’s not the point. I don’t like the way that manager treated his staff, and I won’t give my money to a place where people are allowed to treat other people like that.’ I don’t see much difference between that situation and this.

In the midst of this, I made this situation the subject of a sermon I preached at my church. As always, I’m grateful for the ‘extra eyes’ provided by my congregation. They reminded me that, as awful as the situation is in the United States for migrants and refugee claimants, it’s not the only place where it is happening. In Europe, for example, we’ve seen the debacle of multiple ships being turned away by nations like Italy and Malta (as in this case and this case).

Moreover, we have the ever-increasing tension within the Republic of Korea, as we see the negative reaction from certain citizens to a group of refugees from the Yemeni civil war. Thankfully, theirs are not the only voices being raised. The entertainer Jung Woo-sung, goodwill ambassador on behalf of the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees, spoke in favor of welcoming these refugees at the Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity, even as he has been criticized for doing so. I was also heartened to read the clear instruction of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Jeju in his pastoral letter of July 1 (please note – the original text of the letter is in Korean). My own rough translation of the conclusion of his letter is as follows, but I believe his teaching is unambiguous:

‘The rejection and refusal of refugees is a crime which rejects the minimum standard of human decency and is unacceptable for Christians.’

The National Council of Churches in Korea have also spoken out in support of the refugees, and criticized those Christians who have been part of the anti-refugee wave.

 

I’m heartened by these responses. I truly believe that this is a defining moment for Korean society. I understand the many invasions, the colonization, and the oppression that Korea has been over the centuries. What I find unfortunate, though, is that the deep sadness and unresolved need for righting wrongs that lie deep in the Korean soul (often encapsulated in the term ‘han’ (한)) have not been transformed into a tool whereby Korea can empathize with the suffering of others. It has taken time for Koreans to develop a consciousness of the world around them, and many are still not in that mental place. Yet, this is a moment when Korea as a nation can enlarge its vision. In providing an official welcome to these refugees, Korea could demonstrate its place as a ‘global citizen’ type of nation. It could demonstrate that justice is not about ‘JUST US’.

I hope the sexual and gender minority communities will be part of this moment, too. One of the veteran leaders of the LGBT+ plus movement in Korea told me something very interesting. The first time the Rainbow Flag flew in Korea was not at a pro-LGBT rally – it at a demonstration about workers’ rights. The Rainbow Flag also flew high and proud at the candlelight vigils calling for the impeachment of former president Park Geun-hye. There’s a precedent here. That tells me that at a very basic level, the LGBT+ communities of Korea know that their freedom is also bound with other issues of justice. I’d say this is another time when the LGBT+ communities should declare which side they’re on.

So, the US Embassy is scheduled to be at the Seoul Queer Culture Festival, although I must give credit to the organizing committee for acknowledging my concerns, as will the diplomatic missions of the European Union, Australia, and other countries whose records on issues of justice may leave a bit to be desired. What to do, then? Well, I know that when I’m at the Embassy booths this year, I’ll be looking to ask some questions from staff who are there: ‘It’s good that you’re here, but…’ I also hope that some of those who go to the festival will also ask a few questions while they’re getting some free gifts. I’ll also look to see what I can do for the aliens who reside in my midst, and encouraging the LGBT+ communities of Seoul to join me.

Thinking globally, acting locally – it’s the least I can do.

When It All Gets A Bit Too Real!

I’ve been away for a long time – my apologies.

My secular work schedule has been all-consuming and by the time Friday evening rolls around, the only stuff I have time for is getting ready for the next Sunday’s service. Let’s not even talk about energy!

I realize I’m indulging in self-pity, but it’s my state of mind (‘Woe is me!’ Woe is-‘ OK, I’ll try to keep that in check for the time being).

Perhaps because mt secular work and my religious work take place in different cities (easily commutable via the bullet train), it’s easy for me to compartmentalize them. In Daejeon, I’m the mild-mannered (unless my students really piss me off) assistant professor of English at a local university. On the weekends, I can make the transition to ‘Rainbow Pastor’, a progressive Christian leader of a church which affirms sexual and gender minority  persons as children of God, acceptable to the Divine, and worthy of full participation in the life of the church. And up to now, I’ve done very well keeping those two areas of life very separate. Yes, I help out with the monthly Pride Party in Daejeon, and I’ve supported special drag events here when they’ve happened and I’ve been able to be around, but for the most part, I’ve kept my religious life and my teaching life at a very clear distance from each other.

It feels like that distance is about to shrink, though…

The university I work at prides itself on having a fairly diverse international student body, and it has a business school which attracts students from across the world. As I type, I hear English, Russian, Uzbek, and Chinese all around, in addition to Korean. The proportion of teaching staff from outside Korea (even putting aside the English-language teaching staff) rivals any of the top-tier universities in Seoul. A considerable amount of teaching is done in English – of content courses, not just language courses. This university wants to be in a league with any of the top-ranked universities in Korea, and in Asia.

With that, though, there are tensions…

The first sign that there were tensions which would be relevant to me appeared in a letter that was sent to all teaching staff by the president of the university. In it, he said he needed to address sexual harassment as a serious issue. Well, you might be thinking, that’s a serious, but not necessarily new thing – events often occur at universities everywhere which administration officials have to address. Well, it wasn’t so much that, as the list of possible situations he chose to address.

He wrote of it happening between different genders or same-gender persons.

He wrote of the need to protect those in gender transition.

He wrote about this in Daejeon, a city not well known for being able to protect sexual and gender minorities all that well. Hell, the city council was unable to ensure that its anti-discrimination ordinance would stay on the books. They, like lots of places, succumbed to the pressure of the CCFs (conservative Christian forces) and fell in line.

For a university president in a city outside Seoul to name these areas as issues which need to be considered was a brave thing to do.

It’s something they’ll need to consider pushing. The university where I work is mid-table among Korean university rankings, but they want to keep moving up and challenge the SKY universities (Seoul National, Korea, Yonsei) for attention. So, what’s been happening with them? Well, Korea U has it own anti-discrimination ordinance. Seoul National’s student union elected a lesbian as student two years ago. Yonsei’s female student union (they have separate unions for men and women) elected a lesbian as their president last year. And KAIST, the uni in Daejeon which actually makes it into the world’s best lists of international ranking agencies? They are now working on LGBT+ inclusion as part of their human rights program. If the place where I work wants to play with the ‘big kids’, they’re going to have to move in this direction, whether they like it or not.

And it’s a live issue. People tell me things, about sexual assaults which have occurred, about threats being uttered against a gay couple. This is not something which can be swept under the carpet – I’ve been in places where people in charge have tried to hush tragedy and scandal. It. Just. Doesn’t. Work.

Well, I’ve nailed my colors to the mast, written ‘Hear!Hear!’ in response to the president’s message, and let the Assistant Director of Human Remain- er. Resources, that I was only too willing to lead efforts to help advocate for LGBT+ people. Now nothing has come of that, yet, but I’ve had some interest from locals here in Daejeon about the possibility of setting up a faith community / discussion group here. It’s time for the midsection of the nation to catch up with what’s happening in Seoul, especially if  they want to be in the same league. Let’s see what they do with this opportunity. If I have to step up and be counted in all this, so be it. It’s time to get real…

No Sure Try, This!

Shortly after the Australian government decided that the issue of marriage equality would be put to a non-binding postal plebiscite, the Global Moderator (Interim) of Metropolitan Community Churches, the Rev Elder Rachelle Brown, posted on Facebook that this was a ‘step forward’.

Well, yes, I can see that. I also know that polling in Australia indicates a majority of the population are in favor of marriage equality, considerably so. The latest poll to come in[1] indicates that 70% of those planning to vote in the plebiscite intend to vote ‘Yes’ in answer to the question ‘Should same-sex couples be allowed to marry?’ Apparently, this is a relief for the ‘Yes’ campaign after seeing and earlier poll indicating that support for ‘Yes’ was beginning to slip.

The scare was in, though, and even these numbers, in my opinion, are no cause for complacency or for the ‘Yes’ side to think they have this ‘in the bag’. I’ve seen enough political campaigns in my life to see that one event, one quote, one perceived slip can change the momentum considerably.

And make no mistake – this question of human rights has been transformed into a political campaign. That in itself is troubling enough. It creates the misguided idea that ‘rights’ are something which are granted by the majority population to minorities. I get enough of that flawed thinking here in the country where I live, South Korea, where the remnants of neo-Confucian philosophy are still strong enough that the patronage of seniors to juniors, the dominance of men over women, and the expectation of reciprocity between friends are very real forces. This mindset is inevitably linked to the appalling rates of violence in male-female relationships[2], and the strong collusion between politicians and business empires, as well as politicians and their associates, which led to the impeachment of the president of this country earlier this year.

I’ve been a follower of politics from a very young age, so I can remember a number of events from campaigns in my native Canada which have reversed the trends in political campaigns:

  • The leader of the Progressive-Conservative Party of Canada, Robert Stanfield, threw around a football during an airplane refueling stop. It was the picture of the pass he dropped that made the front pages on Canadian newspapers the next morning. That picture didn’t help his election campaign, and his second-party leader status was weakened[3].
  • In 1980, the province of Québec held its first sovereignty referendum. The ‘No’ campaign, standing against sovereignty, was running a boring campaign, and some polls suggested the ‘Yes’ side could win. Then, Lise Payette, a minister in the Parti Québecois, compared women who supported a Québec fully inside Canada to Yvette, a cartoon character of the past who represented the stereotypical demure, deferent, obedient girl. Many women in Québec protested against this, and the ‘Yes’ side went to a resounding defeat[4].
  • In 1992, the government of Canada negotiated with the provinces to amend the Constitution so that Quebec would be included (its government had not agreed to the repatriated Constitution in 1982). The resulting ‘Charlottetown Accord’ was put to a referendum in the autumn. At the beginning of the campaign, the Acord was popular in English Canada, with a statistical dead-heat in Québec. However, steady opposition from separatist leaders in Québec and the Reform Party in Western Canada, not to mention the desire of many Canadian voters to stick to the then-unpopular Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, led to its defeat.
  • In 1995, there was another referendum in Quebec. After a lackluster beginning for the pro-sovereignty camp, a change of leadership, as well as an apparent complacency on the part of federalists, led to a ‘No’ result with a difference of only one percent.

Those are only my own recollections of a few events from my own country. I’m sure you can think of many from your own. The point is that any one event can lead to a sudden shift in momentum in any political campaign – and now Australia is in the middle of one.

There have already been events which could have been that ‘tipping point’, and it’s accurate to say that no side is completely innocent:

  • One poster that has been distributed by ‘No’ campaigners has made a series of wildly inaccurate claims that the majority of children who have same-sex parents suffer abuse[5];
  • A group of campaigners for the ‘No’ side were confronted by counter-protestors at the University of Sydney, and things apparently became very tense[6];
  • A comedian openly mused about what it would be like to ‘hate-f**k’[7] opponents of marriage equality as a form of revenge[8].

None of these are forms of discourse I’d consider particularly helpful in this debate.

things:

  • People are allowed to disagree with the concept of same-sex marriage. Australia, like any other nation which allows freedom of expression, allows people to disagree on different issues. It seems to me that the appropriate response is to challenge the positions of these people, especially on religious grounds: ‘Why should your interpretation of your religion be given the privilege of denying civil rights to members of this society?’
  • Assume nothing. As noted above, momentum can shift at any time. The ‘Yes’ campaign needs to be calm and dispassionate (not un-passionate), yet relentless in its work to make sure the majority of Australians are convinced of the rightness of their cause, and that they send in their mail-in ballots.

To coin a term using rugby terminology, it’s no sure try, this. A constant, sustained effort will be needed to ensure this plebiscite is successful in guaranteeing marriage equality. But as I wrote earlier, why is this being decided through popular vote, anyway? Aren’t rights rights?!

[1] Reported in Brook, B (2017, 12 September) New same-sex marriage poll a relief for yes campaign. In news.com.au [online]. Retrieved 16 September 2017 from http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/gay-marriage/new-samesex-marriage-poll-a-relief-for-yes-campaign/news-story/20e7f8adf655f7346420080dd6ac609d.

[2] Kim, D S (2017, 17 August) 8 in 10 Korean men admit abuse of girlfriend. In Korea Herald [online]. Retrieved 20 August 2017 from http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20170817000805.

[3] (2004 2 June/2017). An unforgettable fumble for Robert Stanfield. In CBC Digital Archives [online]. Retrieved 16 September 2017 from http://www.cbc.ca/archives/entry/an-unforgettable-fumble-for-robert-stanfield.

[4] (2013) 1980 Referendum. In Canada History [online]. Retrieved 16 September 2017 from http://www.cbc.ca/archives/entry/an-unforgettable-fumble-for-robert-stanfield.

[5] Sparkes, D (2017, 29 August (updated)). Same-sex marriage advocates say anti-LGBTI poster inaccurate, distressing. In ABC News [online]. Retrieved 1 September 2017 from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-21/advocates-slam-anti-lgbti-poster-on-melbourne-street/8828566.

[6] Heated scenes at the University of Sydney over same-sex marriage (2017, September 14). In news.com.au [online]. Retrieved 15 September 2017 from http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/gay-marriage/heated-scenes-at-the-university-of-sydney-over-samesex-marriage/news-story/310c30b97385e4a582c0443318e19c9c.

[7] If you’re unaware of what that is, it’s having sex without someone you dislike, often containing roughness, name-calling, and immediately kicking them out of your bed afterwards.

[8] Coalition MPs lash out at ‘vile’ tweet by same-sex marriage advocate (2017, 11 September). In news.com.au [online]. Retrieved 18 September 2017 from http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/gay-marriage/coalition-mps-lash-out-at-vile-tweet-by-samesex-marriage-advocate/news-story/9aa68a1b5dd19bd9e29015bae099d80c.

Doubling Down!

How interesting.

I didn’t realize that the term ‘double down’ has its origins in card gambling, specifically blackjack. If you ‘double down’ in a game of blackjack, you decide to double your bet after looking at your cards; however, you have to agree to take one more card. Considering the rapidity with which cards are dealt at a blackjack table, one has to make the decision to double down pretty quickly. I remember Bill Cosby’s complaint about playing blackjack in Las Vegas – ‘you don’t have time to wish on your cards!’

‘5, 8, that’s 13 – ok, 7 or 8, 7 or 8’

’10!’

‘What do you mean 10?! You take that card back!’

Knowing that, though, makes it much easier to comprehend the more modern definition we associate with it – strengthening or re-iterating one’s belief in or commitment to something, especially something that may be dubious or suspect.

If you’ve been following my rough translations of the news articles documenting the harassment of the Rev Lim Borah by eight church denominations in South Korea[1], you’ll know that the committee charged with carrying out the harassment produced its report saying that the Rev Lim is guilty of heresy and of attacking orthodox churches & theology.

Ever since then, the conservative Presbyterian church in Korea which started all this nonsense (The GAPCK, or as I affectionately call them, the ‘Jesus Presbyterians!’) have decided to allow a proposal for an amendment to their Constitution which allows local church pastors to deny baptism to sexual minorities and to evict church members who are identified as sexual minorities from their congregations. Now, I don’t know how a pastor would be able to discern the sexual orientation or gender identity of a babe-in-arms being brought for baptism by its parents, but I suppose Chongshin University Seminary (the flagship university for the ‘Jesus Presbyterians(!)’) would probably be able to include the appropriate training for this!

Of course, many of you are familiar with the ‘doubling down’ done by the 45th President of the United States, who couldn’t just condemn the violence in Charlottesville, but had to go ‘off script’ and add in that the violence happened ‘on many sides’. This was followed three days later by his defense of the white supremacist marchers, saying there were ‘many fine people’ among them, and creating false equivalencies between the fascists and what has become known as the ‘antifa’ (by the way, if you think that a ‘radical left’ has become a violent equivalent of the ‘alt-right’ which must be discredited, read this[2]).

To add to this, I just read this morning ‘the Nashville Statement’, a statement which came out of a conference sponsored by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. It claims to the a definitive ‘Christian’ statement on sexuality which states what it claims are the appropriate ‘Biblical’ stances on sexuality, gender identity, sexual orientation, and relationships. Article Ten is of unique interest to me as an LGBT+ ally:

Article 10

WE AFFIRM that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness.

WE DENY that the approval of homosexual immorality or transgenderism is a matter of moral indifference about which otherwise faithful Christians should agree to disagree.[3]

Well, I do declare! Even holding an opinion is a reason to be condemned as being ‘anti-Christian’. I feel a heresy trial coming on (Bring it! I dare ya! Bring it!)!

Now, what causes people to take these types of actions, to make these types of statements? I’ve concluded that most people do not take any type of action, or make any kind of statement, unless they believe that they have the protection – of law, force, opinion, or whatever – to do so.

Donald Trump has the force of his financial empire and his ego. He also has the authority of being the head of state of the US, an authority gained by eking out an electoral college victory in a presidential election he lost by over 3 million votes. I believe that authority has fed his ego, and that he lives with megalomania, if not some other more drastic mental illness. There is no doubt that his policies, statements, and actions, have given ‘cover’ to all those who may have harbored racist or fascist sentiments but have hesitated from expressing them for fear of retribution. I shudder to think that it’s only the law that is keeping the U.S. away from allowing lynching to be an acceptable social practice![4]

However, be it here in Korea or in the U.S., I get the sense that these are both ‘double downs’ from old guards that think – or worse, know – that their time in a dominant position in society are growing short. You look at any public poll these days, and the 45th President has approval numbers which are nothing short of dismal for a president at this early stage of their term.

As for the GAPCK[5], they’ve just commissioned a public survey which has indicated that around three-quarters of Koreans may view Protestantism in a negative light.[6] Moreover, on a hot-button issue of homosexuality, over half of respondents indicated they were either sympathetic to or not concerned about the issue.[7] We can add to that the most recent results of a poll conducted by Gallup Korea, which indicated that, while there is still considerable opposition among older Koreans to same-sex marriage, 90% of those surveyed agreed that sexual minorities should enjoy equality in employment opportunities, and 81% believed a person should not be dismissed from their position due to sexual orientation.[8] It’s very clear that the beliefs they treasure are beginning to not be reflected in the opinions of the Korean body politic.

But what is their reaction? If the results of the conference they held to address the issues surrounding this survey are any indication, they simply can’t deal with it. The ‘expert speaker’ brought into the conference at least tried to broach subjects like the challenges of artificial intelligence to questions of identity, and humility in evangelism – but the bigwig pastors they brought in to speak could not even address that! All they could offer was ideas about new church development (smaller churches, this time), attacking ‘neo-Marxism/materialist socialism’ (whatever that is!) and ‘the homosexual issue’, and engaging in Bible tests, prayer meetings, and revival rallies – ‘spiritual reproduction’, it was called.[9] They simply ‘doubled down’ and called for more of that ‘old-time religion’.

I smell fear. Among both white racists in the US scared of losing their privilege, and religious conservatives sensing that their traditional answers to the questions of life, the universe, and everything (including sexuality) are not satisfying people anymore, they’re simply asserting their old ideas with more fervor and sometimes more ferocity. They are peddlers of old wine, trying to force it into new wineskins. It’s only going to end up blowing up in their faces – that’s if the 45th President doesn’t try to start a war with North Korea and end up getting us all blown up!

 

[1] No, I’m not going to dignify it anymore by referring to their name for this, a ‘heresy investigation’. It’s harassment, plain and simple. Don’t understand why? Please read my blog posts entitled ‘An Evolving Train Wreck and Debacle’.

[2] Rimel, L (2017, Aug 23). My “Nonviolent” Stance Was Met With Heavily Armed Men. In Radical Discipleship: A Joint Project of Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries and Word & World [online]. Accessed 24 August 2017 at https://radicaldiscipleship.net/2017/08/23/my-nonviolent-stance-was-met-with-heavily-armed-men/.

[3] CBMW/The Ethics and Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Nashville Statement [online]. Accessed 30 August 2017 at https://cbmw.org/nashville-statement.

[4] Refer to Cornell College (2017) ‘Dr. Martin Luther King Visit to Cornell College: An Address by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Cornell College, Mount Vernon, Iowa, October 15, 1962’ [online]. Accessed 20 August 2017 at

[5] I gotta give that other moniker a break, as much as I like it!

[6] Choi, S H (2017, Aug 17) ’75.3% of Koreans mistrust Protestantism, confidence should be restored through “finances”’ (Korean original: 국민 75.3% 개신교 불신, 신뢰 회복 방안은 ‘돈’). Newsnjoy [online’. Accessed 19 August 2017 at http://www.newsnjoy.or.kr/news/articleView.html?idxno=212600.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ock, H J (2017, Jun 8) 6 in 10 Koreans oppose same-sex marriage. Korea Herald [online]

[9] Choi, S H (2017 Aug 8) The Thoughts of Pastors So Kwang-seok  and Oh Jung Hyun on the “4th Industrial Revolution” (Korean original: ‘4차 산업혁명’ 시대, 소강석·오정현 목사 생각은). Newsnjoy [online]. Accessed 20 August 2017 at http://www.newsnjoy.or.kr/news/articleView.html?idxno=212630.