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):


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!


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.


  • 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’


‘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.

An Evolving Train Wreck and Debacle, Pt. 6 : Aren’t You Folks Telegraphing This Just A Bit?

As I noted before, things have proceeded with some speed in this evolving psychodrama, even to the point where I’ve decided that it’s time for me to take some action on this (you’ll see more below). However, I’ve skipped the events surrounding the 18th Korea Queer Culture Festival – which I will be writing on, I promise(!) – to get to the next important installment.

As you will read, the joint witch-hunti – er, excuse, joint heresy investigation committee (the first one does sound more appropriate, doesn’t it?) met to conduct their ‘investigat’tion’ (if you can call it that!). Strange, though – they saw fit to issue this report to a news service which was likely favorable to them (the Kookmin Daily, a conservative news service) but didn’t send it to others, like Newsnjoy, where most of my articles have come from, or to the Rev Borah Lim herself! What’s that all about?! Playing to the gallery? Preaching to the choir? Gathering the wagons? I guess you can figure that out!

Anyway, here’s my rough translation:

Pastor Borah Lim – A False Theology of Salvation

A heresy investigation committee of 8 major denominations meet on the 20th to determine the heresy of Pastor Lim

Posted 2017.07.21/Last amended 2017.07.27

On the 20th, the joint heresy investigation committee, made up of representatives of eight Korean church denominations, met at the headquarters of Korean Christian Methodist Church (Sejong University) in Jongno-gu, Seoul to examine the heresy of the Rev Lim Borah.

The chairmen are planning to report at the end of each denomination’s synod meeting in September as soon as the joint heresy investigation is over.

On this day, five Presbyterian Churches of Korea (GAPCK – Hap Dong, TongHap, Daesin, Kosin, Hapsin), as well as the Methodist Church of Korea, the Evangelical Holiness Church of Korea, and the Korea Baptist Convention, who make up the heresy investigation committee, pointed out that Pastor Lim is promoting a wrong theology and soteriology[1]. They also determined she makes anti-biblical claims which defend an incorrect family system, and is attacking orthodox churches and theology.

They said, “Pastor Lim asserts that homosexuality is biblical because God mistakenly puts a variety of sexual identities on humanity, and that the Bible does not forbid homosexuality.”

They added, ‘She argues that homosexuality is not the cause of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, since the prohibition is not against homosexuality but improper sex’; consequently, ‘she argues that claiming homosexuality is sinful is the product of a society centered on heterosexuality’.


On the 20th, the joint heresy investigation committee, made up of representatives of eight Korean church denominations, met at the headquarters of Korean Christian Methodist Church (Sejong University) in Jongno-gu, Seoul to examine the heresy of the Rev Lim Borah. (Photo from the Kookmin Daily)


The members of the heresy investigation committee analyzed the problems of soteriology and an incorrect family system, and took the position that they posed problems with the Pastor Lim’s criticism of orthodox churches and theology.

The members of the committee said ‘Pastor Lim insists on a pluralistic soteriology by distorting God’s word about sin and judgment’ and that ‘Justifying a same-sex marriage family system justifies the wrong family system, and this is a concern that it will develop into a logic that justifies not discriminating against polygamy or incest.’

They added ‘Pastor Lim criticizes the orthodox Christian stance against homosexuality as being based on a literal interpretation of the Bible and that its understanding of human rights is superficial, ignorant, and based on prejudice’; thus ‘She argues that the orthodox church is distorting the Gospel and should repent.’

The committee stated ‘Because of this heresy, Pastor Lim is encouraging homosexuality and is participating in queer festivals to pray for and bless homosexuals, rather than calling on them to repent and return.’

If the report of the joint heresy investigation committee is adopted, the Assemblies of God Korea (excluding the Full Gospel Church, Youido) will also confirm the heresy of the Rev Lim.

The Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea Association of Women Pastors (PROK-AWP), of which Pastor Lim is a member, issued a statement on the 3rd, saying, ‘Pastor Lim has been a pastor who has worked hard to build up the family, church, and society properly’, and urged a halt to the heresy investigation, ‘Do not automatically brand the expression of one’s freedom of conscience and one’s love for the weak as heresy.’

Reporter: Baek Sang-hyun

The original article can be found at http://news.kmib.co.kr/article/view.asp?arcid=0011630280&code=61221111&sid1=mis

A Final Request:

I hope that you share my sense of disgust at the actions instigated by the General Assembly of Presbyterian Churches in Korea (GAPCK). This denomination has decided, on their own volition, to subject a minister of another denomination, over whom they have no disciplinary or pastoral authority, to an investigation for doctrinal error, over an issue on which many Christians disagree, but which is not a central doctrine of the Christian faith.

However, the GAPCK has convinced the Presbyterian Church of Korea (PCK – the TongHap Church) to be part of this endeavor. This denomination is part of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC). In Article IV of the WCRC Constitution (Values), it clearly states:

The World Communion of Reformed Churches in its order and actions is called to respect, defend, and advance the dignity of every person. In Jesus Christ all human differences must lose their power to divide. No one shall be disadvantaged for, among other reasons, race, ethnicity, or gender, and no individual or church may claim or exercise dominance over another. (my emphasis)

As I read it (at least), the GAPCK, through instigating these actions, is encouraging churches to exercise dominion over other churches. Therefore, it is appropriate and necessary that international pressure be brought to bear on the GAPCK.

With this in mind, I have posted a petition on the petition website, change.org. It has already gained many signatures, for which I’m grateful. However, if you have not seen it yet, I would ask you to take a look and consider signing it. You can find it at:


Thank you.

[1] Soteriology is one’s theology of salvation – how one is ‘saved’, so to speak.

An Evolving Train Wreck and Debacle, Pt. 5.: The Strength of Women

My publishing of these article translations is picking up apace, mainly because there have been recent developments on the ground which deserve your attention, Gentle Reader. Nonetheless, I do believe it’s also important to put this process in the order of its chronological development. Therefore, the latest instalment.


I made a mistake when I originally put this translation out into the online world, so I express my gratitude to the person who corrected me on this, and gratitude for the chance to publish this correction. This statement of support came from the Association of Women Pastors within the Presbyterian Church of Korea. As often happens, it’s the women who ‘cut to the chase’ and name the real issues which need addressing in many of these more conservative churches.


What was it I heard Peter Seeger say in an interview for Democracy Now? ‘It’s women, working together with children, who will bring change’. Yep. Please read on:


The Investigation of the Rev Lim Bora Should Stop Immediately

National Women Pastors’ Association makes statement of declaration

Lee Eun-hye, Reporter, NewsnJoy, 2017.07.04

The Presbyterian Church of Korea Association of Women Pastors (Kim Song Hee, chair), issued a statement on July 3 calling for the investigation of heresy aimed at the Rev Imbora, a pastor of the same denomination, to be stopped.

On June 16,the General Assembly of Presbyterian Churches in Korea (GPACK, Kim Sun-kyu, Moderator), said they would investigate the Rev Lim Bora for heresy because she advocates homosexual human rights and is preparing to publish the Queer Bible Commentary. Other Korean churches also agreed with the GAPCK. On June 27, they said they would join the investigation of the Rev Lim Bora for heresy.

The statement of the PROK-AWP was addressed to the chairperson of the committee who opened the heresy investigation. It said that before ordering the investigation of ministers from other denominations for ‘heresy’, the other churches should concentrate first on investigating sex crimes within their own ranks. The statement read, ‘They do not recognize the ordination of women but continue anachronistic sexist discrimination, so it is recommended that the ministers of these joint denominations first look at the beams in their own eyes before looking for the specks of dust in other people’s eyes.’

Here is the full statement:

We Urge You to Stop the Investigation of the Rev Lim Bora for Heresy Immediately!

‘…(may Christ) dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17-19)

Recently, the General Assembly of Korean Presbyterian Churches (GAPCK) sent a letter to a pastor of our denomination, the Rev Lim Bora, entitled ‘Request for information on heretical thought research’. We must deeply lament that you are investigating the Rev Lim Bora for heresy based on the issues of protection of sexual minority human rights and a translation of the Queer Bible Commentary by a committee of the Presbyterian Church. In the past, we remember that when medieval churches were shaken by famine, pests, etc., many women were forced to confess to being witches and burned for sacrifice. Stop this modern witch hunt.

We cannot help asking what kind of qualifications the GAPCK has to carry out this investigation and whether it is a proper focus of its ministry. Theological interpretation and ethical value judgments require dialogue and discussion. You should not drive a unilateral witch hunt. In 1952, the church condemned the Rev Kim Jae-joon for heresy, but in 2016, the TongHap church withdrew its judgment  and asked for reconciliation in brotherhood. Yet, at this time. At the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, the GAPCK is in a position to declare a pastor a heretic. If there is a problem with her, it is clear that it is our duty to investigate in our denomination, and not to be investigated by other denominations.

First, solve sexual violence and sexual harassment problems in your denomination.

Recently, the chair of the joint investigating committee closed the investigation of a former pastor who has been convicted in court for sexual harassment. Was that it? You have misinterpreted the words ‘women should keep quiet in the church’ and continue sexually discriminatory and anachronistic statements such as ‘pad-wearing women cannot stand in the pulpit’, and you do not accept the ordination of women. Stop trying to clean up the crimes of your own pastors, stop discriminating against women, and stop condemning suffering neighbors.

Before the heresy investigation, the GAPCK should deeply recognize the love of Jesus Christ and look to see if there is a limit to the love of Christ. Jesus loved the Pharisees in spite of the suffering wrought by their despair and discrimination, and even took the cross for all sinners. We are Christians who strive to preach the love of God according to Jesus Christ. Churches and pastors should strive to love all.

Should we reject those who are bound to the Lord’s love and come to Church? Should we be ignorant of our neighbors and their families who are suffering from social despair and discrimination, and instead be pointing at and condemning sinners? Can minorities and their families not be Christians and share the fellowship of the church community? We confess that it is the call of the pastor to live as a good Samaritan who reaches out to their suffering neighbors.

The Rev Lm Bora is a woman pastor who has worked hard to build up the family, the church, and society properly. Being with suffering neighbors and the marginalized is a difficult thing to suffer, but she is devoted to this in accordance with her faith and conscience. We have trusted and supported her love for God and her love for the weak through knowing her faithful pastoral ministry and life.

To the GAPCK, we say, do not unilaterally push the freedom of faith, conscience, and love for the weak into the realm of heresy. We urge once more to cease immediately the investigation for heresy of our co-worker, Bora.


The Presbyterian Church of Korea Association of Women Pastors


The original can be found at http://www.newsnjoy.or.kr/news/articleView.html?idxno=211937

An Evolving Train Wreck and Debacle, Pt. 4, or: Just What the @#$%&! Is This All About?!

I realize that some may be surprised if not offended by my use of a expletive, even a censored one, in my blog post. It’s not my intention to offend, I assure you.

Yet, this whole ‘investigation’ has been a rather offensive enterprise. As you will read in my rough English translation of this article, there did not seem to be unanimity among leaders of the eight denominations involved in this investigation as to what it was all about.

In the days ahead, I intend to continue publishing these rough translations a little more frequently, because things have picked up apace surrounding this issue, and the original investigating body, the GAPCK (or as I affectionately call them, ‘the JESUS Presbyterians!’), have taken even more extreme stands, and are seeking to bring in bigger groups.

So, without further ado, here you go:

‘We have not come to the conclusion of the heresy “investigation” concerning the Rev Lim Bora’

What is the idea of these 8 denominations?

Reporter Lee Yong-pil (posted 2017.06.30 16:34)

newsnjoy 20170630 1

A major denomination decided to investigate the Rev. Lim Bora (left) for heresy. Although it was reported that Lim’s homosexual advocacy was a problem, the results of the interviews were different. (Choi Seung-hyun, NewsnJoy)

‘It does not matter if you are homosexual or not. However, this person is a member of the Presbyterian Church of Korea (PROK). God has said that not only is homosexuality a sin, but also to defend homosexuals and to take actions like translating the Queer Bible Commentary (QBC). This is serious. It must be clearly identified whether the Rev Lim Bora is a heretic or not.’ – The Rev Kim Jeong-nam, Moderator, General Assembly of Presbyterian Churches in Korea (GPACK)

If a pastor works for minority rights, they may well be branded a heretic. Eight Christian denominations (the HapDong, DongHap, Kosin, Hapsin, and Daesin Presbyterian churches, the Methodist Church of Korea, the Evangelical Holiness Church of Korea, and the Korean Baptist Church of Korea), have jointly gathered information. It is not yet a full-fledged investigation, but if you listen to the Rev Kim Jeong-nam, moderator of the GAPCK, Rev. Im Bora is already a ‘heretic’.

The investigation of the Rev Lim’s purported heresy has been conducted by the Rev Kim Seong-kyu, chair of Korea’s largest denomination. The Rev Jin Yong-sik, chair of the joint Tribunal, has said, ‘”It is a doctrinal and biblical problem that the pastor is carries out a support movement for homosexuals and is translating the Queer Bible Commentary.’ The leaders of the other denominations also imply that Minister Lee’s homosexual advocacy is to be taken seriously.

How accurate are the Rev Jin’s claims? Newsnjoy contacted the leaders of each denomination on June 30th. The opinions of all denominational leaders except of the Methodist Council were heard. Aside from the opinion the it is necessary to investigate the Rev Lim, there was no unanimity among these leaders.

‘If she were not a pastor she would not have been investigated; if only one denomination had investigated, it would have been attacked’

newsnjoy 20170630 2

‘The main leader of the denomination has entered the heresy investigation of the Rev Lim Bora. This is because the Rev Lim has participated in homosexual advocacy and translated the Queer Bible Commentary’ (pictures are not related to article contents) (Choi Yu-ri, Newsnjoy)

The Rev Kim Jeong-man, moderator of the Presbyterian Church (Daesin) strongly condemned the Rev Lim Bora. He said, ‘A pastor who advocates homosexuality does not believe in God. (The leaders of the eight denominations involved) decided to deal with it.’ He also explained the reason for co-ordinating the heresy investigation. He added, ‘Although she belongs to another denomination, we take the matter of protecting members of the Korean church seriously. If only one denomination investigates, it can be attacked. If the eight denominations stand side by side, they will also accept the decision.’

If the Rev Kim had been an ordinary citizen, he added, there would have been no need for investigation. However, he said ‘A pastor, as servant of God and preacher, should speak God’s word correctly. Defending homosexuality is problematic. A conclusion has not yet been reached, but it can be seen through here words and actions that she is a heretic.’

The opinion was also expressed that it is impossible to compromise on the issue of homosexuality without creating other problems.  Yoo Young-kwon, moderator of the Hap-sin Presbyterian Church, said, ‘Homosexuality is not a matter of personal taste. To God it is the most terrible crime. In this matter, the Korean church should never relent.’

On the issue of why the eight denominations are working together, the Rev Yoo said, ‘If only one denomination investigates, it can be pushed to one side. When several denominations investigate together, it is possible to reduce bias and to make an objective evaluation.’ Unlike the Rev Kim Jeong-man, however, he said, ‘I do not know what the results will be.’

The Rev Yoo added, ‘I personally think that Christianity can be more compassionate and loving toward homosexuals than any other group. We need to find ways to help with homosexuality, not through agreement and consensus, but through human dignity.’

Not all the leaders’ ideas were the same. There were leaders who had not been able to sort out their positions yet. The Rev Seo Seong-gyu, leader of the Presbyterian Church (TongHap) briefly commented, ‘I have not considered this specific matter yet. It remains to be seen.’ The Rev Yoon Hyung-joon, leader of the Presbyterian Church (Kosin) responded, ‘I did not attend the meeting on the 27th. I will answer after I have thought and studied the matter, but I have no comment now.’ The leader of the Baptist church, the Rev Han Myung-kook, also said, ‘I do not know because I did not attend the meeting on that day.’

There are also some voices concerned about these eight denominations. ‘Homosexuality is a different issue from heresy’, said the Rev Kim Cheol-won, past leader of the Evangelical Holiness church, who finished his term in May of this year.

Opinions vary, but the eight denominations will continue in their investigation of the Rev Lim Bora. The Rev Kim Jeong-man said he will proceed with the hearing in July.

Although the Joint Committee of the GAPCK instigated the controversy of the investigation concerning the Rev Lim Bora, the general secretary of the denomination did not seem to be aware of this. Kim Sung-kyu, chairperson of the Joint Committee, who attended the meeting on June 29th, said, ‘I do not know about this issue because I have not received reports from the Ethics Committee.’

In answer to the criticism that the chair of the Ethics Committee is in charge of judging this case, he briefly said, ‘Individual ethics investigations and investigations of heresy over homosexuality are different matters.’ When asked whether there was a conflict with the denominations over the investigation of heresy, he replied, ‘Homosexuality should not be a source of friction between denominations.’

newsnjoy 20170630 3

The Rev Kim Jae-kyu, General Secretary of the GAPCK, was not aware of the investigation. (Lee Yong-pil, Newsnjoy)

Translated from the original at: http://www.newsnjoy.or.kr/news/articleView.html?idxno=211873

An Evolving Train Wreck and Debacle, Pt.3: Battle Lines Drawn

I realize you might think it inappropriate to use conflict- and war-driven imagery for the latest installment in this series, but I tell ya, it sure feels like war sometimes…

Fortunately, this article for which I’m providing a rough English translation described the first sign of public support showing for the Rev Dr Lim Bora in the wake of the decision by the GPACK to ‘investigate her’ for ‘heresy’. It came from a group of ministers of Korean heritage working in my original spiritual home, the United Church of Canada. Funnily enough, at the time when the United Church of Canada originally admitted that it was possible for gay and lesbian person to make it through the process to ordination, a Korea-Canadian (the Rev Sang-chul Lee) was Moderator at the time – interesting coincidence, that!

Anyway, I hope you read on and – well, not enjoy, but have some sense of satisfaction from being informed.

Joint statement, ministers of the United Church of Canada: ‘Stop the heresy investigation’

Criticism of the heresy investigation of the Rev Lim Bora: ‘Arrogant witch-hunting behavior’

Reporter Lee Yong-pil (posted 2017.06.26 17:44)

UCC ministers issue statement denouncing joint denominational action (Seon Hyun/NewsnJoy)

Ministers of the United Church of Canada strongly criticized the ethics committee of the General Assembly of Presbyterian Churches in Korea (chair, the Rev Jin Yong-sik) for its investigation of the Rev Lim Bora (Sumdol Hyanglin Presbyterian Church) for heresy.

In a joint statement, 16 United Church of Canada ministers stated ‘It is arrogant witch-hunting behavior to investigate the Rev Lim’ and urged that the investigation cease immediately. In their June 25th statement, ‘The Christian position on sexual minorities should be established through theological reflection on the deeply spiritual Gospel of life and love, as well as through consistent, valid interpretation of the Bible and modern medical, psychological, and sociological knowledge of human sexuality. It cannot be forced through accusations of heresy.’

Through this opportunity, they hope that the Korean church and seminaries will investigate the issue of sexual minorities in more depth. The ministers stated, ‘We will work with the Rev Lim Bora, who works on behalf of minorities who suffer from discrimination and abuse.’


A statement from 16 ministers in the United Church of Canada who are worried about the heresy investigation of the General Assembly of Presbyterian Churches in Korea (GAPCK) in connection with Rev. Lim Bora (Presbyterian Church of Korea – PROK)

We are ministers of different Christian backgrounds who are ministering in Korean-heritage congregations in the United Church of Canada. As a result of a long debate and theological reflection that began in the 1970s, the 32nd General Council of the United Church of Canada, held in 1988, passed a resolution that any Christian – regardless of sexual orientation – was able to become a member, as well as a minster, of the church.

Although the denominational interest in and acceptance of sexual minorities has faced controversy and resistance within and outside the denomination, it has become a major missionary asset of the United Church of Canada. In face of the reality that many people are desperate and try to commit suicide because of the discrimination against and abhorrence of sexual minority which still exists even in Canadian society, where same-sex marriage is legalized, and because of the internal conflict through is inflicted on people by this, we have concluded that, although we have a variety of Biblical interpretations, positions, and approaches, we are open-minded to learn from, communicate with, and pray for those who need pastoral care.

Having witnessed the actions of the General Assembly of Korean Presbyterian Churches in Korea (GAPCK), in response to the work of the Rev. Lim Bora (PROK) to publish a translation in Korean of the Queer Bible Commentary, to investigate her for heresy, which was already published in English, we cannot help but express great concern over this arrogant witch-hunting behavior, which goes well beyond a difference in theological views. The Christian position on sexual minorities is built on a theological interpretation of deep meditation on the gospel of life and love, as well as a consistent and valid interpretation of the Bible and modern medical, psychological, and sociological knowledge of human sexuality; it cannot be forced by one-sided accusations of heresy and intimidation.

Therefore, we demand that this so-called ‘heresy investigation investigation’ of the interdenominational joint heresy committee for the Rev Lim Bora be stopped immediately. We hope that this will be an opportunity to encourage further reflection and mature debate in each denomination and seminary in Korea.

Finally, we pledge to work with all sexual minorities who suffer hatred and discrimination, and the Rev Lim Bora, whose work has a prophetic shout in the wilderness that witnesses to the love and grace of God toward all, to invite reflection and change in the church, and to pray for glad tidings of comfort and hope for sexual minorities.

Dated: 25 June 2017


Original article in Korean can be found at: http://www.newsnjoy.or.kr/news/articleView.html?idxno=211795