baratron: (endurance)
[personal profile] baratron
Well, I am an idiot. On Friday I went into a complete panic because the official invite for the party with Grant's cow-orkers got sent around, and it was very actively Christian. I generally have no problem with Christians who I meet through queer or poly circles, or who are members of the same political party as me, since I know they are likely to share my liberal values. However, given the state of American politics and the people currently running the country who call themselves "Christian" but share none of the values of tolerance and love expressed by Jesus Christ, I have something of a phobia of American Christians.

Grant says that I am being judgemental and jumping to conclusions, but it is a real problem when people who are in favour of love, equality, and social justice use the same name for their religion as people who are in favour of hatred and rich-white-cis-heteros being superior to everyone else. Of course, neither of them are willing to change to a different name, with the argument from liberal Christians being that they need to reclaim the name of Christ from the hatemongers. I can understand their point of view, but it makes it really difficult to know whether a person who calls themselves Christian is the "good" kind of Christian or the "bad" kind.

So I panicked and wrote the nicest email I could, saying "Thank you for your very friendly email and kind invitation. I do appreciate all of the effort you would be making to help me feel comfortable in your home. Unfortunately I did not realise that your Easter dinner was intended to be a religious celebration. (Easter is a four-day weekend in the UK and it is common to have "Easter" parties which are not Christian-themed.) Therefore, as a member of another religious group, I do not feel it would be appropriate for me to attend." And saying that I would be delighted to meet them on another occasion. And then felt sick for a few more hours.

The hosts emailed back and said that they understood my reasons for not going, and I thought that would be the end of it. But Grant reports that it wasn't actually a Christian gathering at all. For example, one of the other partygoers was actively Jewish. They said a short grace before dinner and discussed the Easter and/or Passover traditions of various denominations, which was for education and interest rather than any proselytism. Then they played perfectly normal party games with no religious theming whatsoever. And Grant was late home because he was having fun and lost track of the time. And I was feeling quite jealous and upset to be excluded, even if the reason for being excluded was my own decision not to go.

I just don't understand why they didn't tell me that it wasn't going to be an exclusively Christian gathering or a religious celebration. I am very confused and feeling culture-shocked, and Grant isn't able to interpret for me, since he is (a) immersed in American Christian culture and (b) autistic.

I was, however, successful in finding a non-hateful church. Last time I was over we went to the First Universalist Church of Rochester, which is Unitarian Universalist and basically exactly what I need out of a religious group. However, I figured that with Easter being a Christian celebration, I should make the effort to find a Christian church for Grant to go to. I searched online for LGBT-friendly churches and came up with a shortlist of three, and then together we picked Community Christian Church.

I can report that the Community Christian Church (not to be confused with the Christian Community Church) is thoroughly queer-friendly, welcoming people who were far more visibly LGBT than me. There were two lesbian couples, a swishy gay man, and at least one trans woman in the congregation on Sunday that I saw. Probably more, but the people I mentioned were either sitting close to me or were taking part in worship through being in the choir, collecting the offerings, or doing a reading. I couldn't stop crying throughout the service because I felt so welcomed and included. I don't think I've felt that included in a Christian church since my early teens.

I still wouldn't use the word "Christian" for myself because I don't believe that Jesus was the literal son of God. I can believe that he was a spiritual son of God, a good and loving person who tried to teach others how to live their lives in a more caring way, but that's against the ideas of the Christian faith. I definitely don't believe in the Resurrection in the way that it is described in the Bible. But I can go to that church and feel loved and accepted, and I do hope Grant continues to go there after I've gone home.
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