Gay, Black and Churchgoing: Don't Ask, Don't Tell?

One writer says she's proud of a pastor friend for his evolution toward a "DADT" approach on the issue. Is that really progress?

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"Don't ask, don't tell" traditionally refers to the former U.S. policy on gay men and women serving in the military. That's been repealed in favor of a more accepting approach, after much pressure by equal-rights advocates. But in a recent New York Times piece, an unofficial "Don't ask, don't tell" policy on the part of a black minister in his late 50s seems to be characterized as a step in the right direction, even when it's adopted only to retain membership.

Here's an excerpt from the piece, in which a young churchgoer reflects on her conversation about the issue with a Pentecostal minister:

As I sat across from him at the kitchen table, drinking mint tea, I turned on my recorder and took a breath. Has the Christian church adopted a don't ask, don't tell policy? I asked.

"I would have to say yes," he answered, shifting in his seat a little nervously, it seemed to me. He noted that many black churches like his own had made concessions to accommodate the growing acceptance of same-sex lifestyles. "There is a compromise because there is such a prevalent hard-core view on what's considered right and wrong. People are feeling that in order to even retain a certain amount of membership, you can't be very dogmatic about any of their sins."

Said another way: If a minister is too rigidly homophobic, it could scare away members, which would decrease contributions and might ultimately be the end of a family-owned church ...

... I also appreciate the Pentecostal pastor I know for his honesty and willingness to struggle -- and his openness about it all. I may not share his views on this, but I embrace his love for religion and for Sunday mornings spent at church.

Read more at the New York Times.

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