Last May the religious world, at least in the US, was all a
flitter about the latest Pew poll about the drop in the number of those who
identify as Christians. One headline read: Christians Decline Sharply as Share
of Population; Unaffiliated and Other Faiths Continue to Grow. The percentage
of Christians did indeed drop from 78.4% to 70.6%. While that decrease is not
insignificant, America remains hugely Christian. Reading more deeply into the
findings, the results are not a surprise: continued decline of mainline
denominations, growth of the number of those who identify as having no
religious affiliation particularly among millennials, a significant increase in
the number responding as atheists or agnostics, and a fairly significant
increase in the number of those of other faiths, particularly Hindus and Muslims.
Can’t Go Home Again
said it and interpretations have been many and sometimes complex. Yet on July 23, I unpacked or stored my
belongings in the town of my raising.
Fordyce, a little county seat town in South Arkansas. Strange how easy it is to recall things that
have apparently slipped away. The high
school no longer sits on the corner of Moro and West 4. There are more churches but a lot fewer
people attend them. The population is
near the same as it was forty years ago but the community is much more diverse
and that is certainly a good thing.
Country and small churches were important to my family – as they were to me – on into manhood But when I finished my undergraduate work at Ouachita and moved to Houston, I found myself withdrawing at least intellectually from that which I was seeing and feeling in my native region. I was well aware of what existed in my home state. My last spanking from my father was for saying 'yes Sir' to an African-American man. While preaching at the Landmark Baptist Church in Bradley County, Kurt Howard stood in the middle of my sermon and called me a “nigger lover”.
When I was 12 I entered into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I already had feelings that I did not understand. At the age of 15 I felt the call of God through the Holy Spirit calling me to preach. I pastored in the Baptist church the next 20 years with much success. Finally I realized God was not going to change me and that my calling was to the gay and lesbian community. I am now in my 7th church bringing the message of a Christ who loved and died for all, an unconditional love.