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Church Bulletin: Finding queer, radical love after leaving the evangelical church

Baby it’s cold outside, and if you’re going to cuddle extra close, make sure to use protection (and get consent). This week in the Sunday Bulletin we are talking about why you should look closer at the Respect for Marriage Act, a lesbian who left the church to find radical love, active shooter safety and some more news about how the Southern Baptist Convention is handling credible abuse accusations.

The day I wrote this story, I got the second round of the HPV vaccine. I’ve got a bit of a sore arm, but I’m glad I made the choice to protect myself from preventable disease. (Read more of my reporting on HPV at Reckon.news).

Enough about me—let’s get to some news you can use. If you’ve got a news tip or a burning story idea, send me an email at abeahm@reckonmedia.com.

The Respect for Marriage Act protects religious people’s right to discriminate?

You’ve probably seen headlines this week about the Respect for Marriage Act, which was passed by the Senate this week. The bill will protect the right of same-sex and interracial couples to get married. The bill also includes an amendment that “protects all religious liberty and conscience protections available under the Constitution or Federal law, including but not limited to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was created in 1993 to protect the rights of Native American employees who used drugs off the job as part of a religious ritual. The Trump administration used the act to keep providing tax dollars to a foster-care program that wouldn’t place kids with non-Christian families, according to reporting by The Young Turks.

A Texas company also recently used the act to refuse to pay for HIV-prevention drugs, saying paying for drugs to prevent HIV would “facilitate and encourage homosexual behavior, prostitution, sexual promiscuity, and intravenous drug use.”

It’s has been lauded as a means of protecting same-sex and interracial couples from the threat of another overturned Supreme Court ruling. Justice Clarence Thomas even alluded to going after marriage and contraception in his concurring opinion in the Dobbs ruling.

Meet the lesbian who left the evangelical church and found radical love

Jeanna Kadlec was a good Christian girl. She was an active member of her youth group, studied the Bible regularly, adhered to the tenants of purity culture, and she was a virgin on her wedding night.

But years into her marriage to a pastor, she realized she was not sexually attracted to her husband. She was a lesbian.

In her book “Heretic,” Kadlec chronicles her experience of getting divorced, leaving Christianity and finding a new, more queer, spiritual community.

Reckon: Who do you hope reads your book? Did you have a certain group of people in mind when you wrote it?

Kadlec: I wrote the book for my younger self, who desperately needed this book 10 years ago. Even what I consider to be the incredibly common story of a woman getting married to a man and then realizing she’s gay wasn’t really available like this 10 years ago.

I wrote this book for the younger me who was so depressed, felt so isolated, and so trapped. I didn’t know anyone like me, and I really needed that encouragement.

Reckon: It’s bizarre to look back at the fervor of the purity culture movement in the 2000s and see the range of everything that unfolded in both evangelical culture and larger culture.

Kadlec: Yeah, we were treated like little “soldiers for Christ.” It was framed as a culture war and a holy war, and evangelical leaders used language associated with victory in battle. Being an evangelical in the United States definitely comes with a war mindset.

Read more on reckon.news.

SBC pastor publicly accused of abuse can return to the pulpit, pastors say

Former president of the Southern Baptist Convention Johnny Hunt will be returning to the pulpit just seven months after he was publicly accused of sexually assaulting a woman.

Hunt was one of the pastors named in the Guidepost Solutions report on mishandling of sexual abuse within the SBC. The report alleged Hunt sexually assaulted another pastor’s wife in 2010.

He will be allowed back to the pulpit because he completed a “restoration process” with four other pastors, which included " The four pastors released a video last week about Hunt’s future in ministry.

“We believe the greatest days of ministry for Johnny Hunt are the days ahead,” said Rev. Steven Kyle, pastor of Hiland Park Baptist Church in Panama City, Florida, in the video released last week.

Advocates for SBC abuse survivors pointed out a section from the SBC’s 2021 resolution on sexual abuse, which says, “any person who has committed sexual abuse is permanently disqualified from holding the office of pastor.”

Hunt has already been scheduled as a featured speaker at a church conference in Florida this spring.

How to keep you and your friends safe in a mass shooting at a club

Last week’s shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs was one of 600 mass shootings in America this year and the second major mass shooting at a queer nightclub. We wanted to give y’all some resources to ensure the safety of you, your friends, co-workers and patrons in the nightlife scene.

Reckon gathered tips and strategy from government and grassroots organizations and made them easy for your to read, share and access in case of an emergency.

Step 1: De-escalate with words

Most people have verbally de-escalated violence at some point in the their lives. It’s a tool and skill everyone can use regularly and as a first line of defense when addressing an altercation, especially in public. Here are some tips from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the Black-led QTIPOC social change organization, Vision Change Win:

Be empathetic, non-judgmental and remain calm.

Use active listening. Look at the person who is upset and give them your full attention. Use your body and facial expressions to fully take in and listen to the person or people. Reflect back to the person what you’re hearing, i.e. “I hear that you feel ignored”, etc.

Create space between you and the agitated person, but don’t block the person from the exit. Sometimes blocking an exit can further escalate the situation.

Use nonthreatening words and empathy to address the person. Use phrases like “I understand how that is hard”, “I agree with you…”, “You’re right, that is a problem.”

Gather people. Get someone to help you in de-escalation efforts and don’t do it alone.

Read more on reckon.news.

Go vote, Georgia!

If you weren’t one of the record-breaking number of folks who have already cast their vote in the runoff election between Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker, Monday is your day to vote.

Read Reckon producer John Hammontree’s piece about evangelical views on the abortions Walker is accused of paying for, now would be a good time. You can read it here.

Potluck items:

  • Can we please stop with this cringey and sexist Christmas photo tradition? (The Unpublishable)
  • The case against medical abortion rejects science and embraces falsehoods (The Hill)
  • Census: Christians a minority in England; non-religious grow (AP)*

*we’re headed the same direction (Reckon.news)

Anna Beahm

Anna Beahm | abeahm@reckonmedia.com

I report on the intersection of religion and sexuality in America. Follow me on Twitter @_AnnaBeahm

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