I thank Marcia Bloemers for her response in “Christians aren’t playing ‘victim’” (Sentinel, June 16). She was not alone in interpreting my words as a personal attack on Seaborn. That was not my intention. I quoted his words as one example, uttered in a public forum, as I might have quoted a book that has influenced the culture of our community.
My purpose was instead to establish two weak claims. The first is that Christians are not generally victims of LGBT people. Yet Seaborn has proclaimed at numerous churches that LGBT people have an “agenda” that will land Christians in jail. This rhetoric accomplishes nothing more than polarization, and inflames attendees already disposed toward hate speech and violence. It serves no one. Instead, regardless of moral opinions, Christians should be taught to advocate for the safety and dignity of victimized LGBT.
The second point is that Christians must not remain silent. LGBT outcry following Orlando is one begging you to hear our plight — a plight that began long before last weekend. Has your church condemned the massacre? Acknowledged the event as an LGBT hate crime? Told a demeaning joke about Saugatuck lately? Contributed to a West Michigan that makes life either miserable or pleasant for us? Some introspection would go a long way.
Bloemers and others also fail to grasp that we have been actively excluded from ministries. Certainly, all people get mistreated — but black people, same-sex couples holding hands, transgendered individuals and many others walk around with targets on their backs. The treatment is disproportionate. Ignorance of this reality is part of what it means to be privileged, and failure on the part of privileged individuals to advocate for the oppressed is a great crime of silence. Holding hands with a same-sex friend downtown might bring some awareness.
Finally, there is the complaint that my letter (“Christians can stop playing cultural victim,” Sentinel June 14) was divisive. Jesus’ own message was apparently so offensive that it put him on a cross, so I myself make no apologies for stating some difficult truths. I believe a conversation has started that holds potential for bringing change. If my letter may be considered a less egregious offense than the murder of 50 people last weekend, let us hope that pulpits across West Michigan shall address current events this coming Sunday by condemning violence, advocating for LGBT rights and considering how they might help to ensure our safety — not painting us as oppressors.
Chase W. Nelson
Originally published in The Holland Sentinel.