My Take: Overcoming the black church’s tradition of homophobia – CNN Belief Blog

He spoke of how the white man sought to humiliate strong black slaves through sexual submission and subversion. But once someone’s homosexuality becomes public, the denunciations begin.

The most troubling aspect of Tracy Morgan’s remarks is the bodily harm he said he’d inflict on his own child if he were to be seen acting in an effeminate manner.

By Bishop Carlton Pearson, Special to CNN

African-Americans have always viewed male homosexuality as more of a sign of weakness than evil. I’ve discovered that many who angrily denounce homosexuality have latent homosexual tendencies or fantasies themselves and fear them – or are actually quite conflicted about the issue.. We can mind many of the same things without necessarily having the same mind about everything.

I’m referring to Tracy Morgan’s reported an anti-gay rant at a recent show, during which he said”he’d stab his son to death if he said he was gay.” Morgan has apologized for the rant and this week phoned a major gay rights group, vowing to return to Tennessee to apologize to those who heard it.

I heard statements from my grandfather as far back as I could remember that homosexual practices were something the “white man” taught us and that it was a sign of weakness and weirdness in their culture. They were marginalized but not demonized. We suffered horribly because of it. When given the opportunity, adherents act out against them with the same violence they presume God would use. There was a time when the “white man” feared black people and were threatened by our presence. Similar traditions are known to other faith traditions, even if they’re not widely discussed.

The same slave owners evangelized the slaves into Christian moral codes and dogmas that insisted slaves renounce their native spiritual traditions.

Homosexuals and homosexuality are not going away. It was the white man’s perverted way of exerting power over us, my grandfather said.

They were considered to have a higher vibrational level that enabled them to be guardians of the gateways to the spirit world. The African-American church has traditionally used a kind of “don’t ask don’t tell” approach toward homosexuality. The sooner we recognize and accept that, the sooner the society will move forward.  I encourage the African-American community and church to reconsider ways to address the presence of gay people.

When something or someone is perceived as being despised by someone’s God, the worshippers of that God tend to despise and hate that person or thing as well. It’s a social malady that’s due largely to the influence of fear based-theologies, particularly fundamentalist Christianity, Islam and Judaism, all of which grow out of the Abrahamic tradition.

Such denunciations, exemplified in Morgan’s comments, can send young people into depression and even drive them to suicide.

In more than 30 years of pastoring and dealing with pastors, I have observed that often when a public figure, secular or religious, shouts out in anger about or against a particular subject, it’s usually a sign of the inner turmoil of the person crying out around that very issue. How quickly we forget. What we make the issue we make the idol.

In some West African traditions, particularly in the Dagara tribes of Burkina Faso, certain Shamanistic spiritual leaders - sometimes called witch doctors by Westerners - were known to be of homosexual or bisexual orientation.

Homophobia is hardly unique to the African-American community.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Bishop Carlton Pearson.

Editor’s Note: Carlton Pearson is spiritual leader and author of the The Gospel of inclusion.

Acts of violence against perceived unacceptable behavior, particularly if the behavior isn’t harmful to self and others, is a sign of the deterioration of conscience.

African-Americans in particular should be sensitive to the violent injustices humans can perpetrate on other humans because of fear, ignorance and hatred. That can happen through literal violence or in other ways – including the use of comedy.

Preachers, too, often issue vicious denunciations of homosexuality.

What we fear, including homosexuality, we tend to amplify and exaggerate. This stems back to slave times, when male and female slaves were randomly abused sexually, usually by men.

We don’t have to go along to get along

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