The Northwest Gay Expulsion Impasse: Is A Break In Sight?
At its September business meeting, West Hills Friends (WHF) in Portland Oregon considered a statement accepting its expulsion from Northwest Yearly Meeting (NWYM) for having become a LGBT-welcoming congregation. If approved, the statement would be issued jointly with NWYM.
The decision to expel West Hills was made public by Northwest YM’s elders on July 24, 2015, at the conclusion of the YM’s annual sessions. (More details here.)
However, like a death sentence, pronouncing the expulsion did not
North Carolina’s odious “Bathroom Bill,” HB2 has been pushed out of the spotlight for the moment, while the crazy 2016 election plays itself out.
I can understand that. But HB2 will be back, and it’s still on my mind. In particular, I’ve been trying to figure out what’s at the root of the support for it. I have some idea of the politics, and the major personalities; but what’s the nub, the “bottom line”?
One of the finest, most eloquent ministers of this generation of liberal Quakers, William J. “Bill” Kreidler, of Beacon Hill Meeting in Boston, died on June 10, 2000. That was a time to mourn, and also a time to remember, and to pay tribute. And today, more than a decade-plus later, remembrance and tribute are what I want to do here.
Of Bill’s biography, I know only a few scattered facts: He was from a farm community in western New York, and grew up in the Dutch Reformed Church. He began college in Buffalo and finished in Boston, where he became a public school teacher. He was gay. He wrote books about conflict resolution in schools, and did consulting with school systems on violence prevention. Where and how he came to Friends I don’t know; but he was a founding member of Beacon Hill Meeting.
“Ain’t had a prayer since I don’t know when . . . .”
Imagine this scene (part of it really happened):
It’s August 6, and George W. Bush is at home in Houston, or maybe at the ranch. He’s finishing a watercolor, or (stay with me) reading a book, though certainly not that heavy new biography, “Bush,” by military/presidential historian Jean Edward Smith, which takes another big whack at his tattered reputation.
Maybe he’s even pondering the big presidential decision by Harry Truman made 71 years ago, because for many of the rest of us, August 6 is Hiroshima Day.
Whatever. Meanwhile across town, in a big Houston pavilion, more than 20,000 people are jammed and jamming, screaming their lungs out for — the Dixie Chicks, in a raucous, triumphant concert that sold out in minutes months ago. It’s the Chicks’ first appearance in Houston in fifteen years.
Okay — I really have no idea what GWB was doing that day. But the part about the Chicks is the truth.
The political purpose behind the notorious North Carolina “Bathroom Bill” or HB2, has never been hard to figure out: it is carefully aimed to stir up sexual anxiety among many in the state’s Republican base, and thus to maximize turnout in this fall’s election.
A similar ploy, to put a ban on same sex marriage (which was already illegal) into the state constitution was tried in 2012. Silly alarmist rhetoric was rolled out, about churches being invaded and ministers jailed, and the ban passed. Though soon struck down in court, the maneuver worked quite well politically: very conservative candidates swept the North Carolina legislature.
This year, a new panic was ginned up over mythical hordes of hulking male predators scheming to masquerade as transgender women so they could invade bathrooms and assault “little girls”. The idea is absurd (& such assaults are already illegal) but could well maximize conservative turnout again, and cement the right’s power base here.
For that matter, HB2’s bathroom provision was a very effective cover for the law’s other, more substantive provisions, which did very real harm, by stripping the state’s cities and citizens of several other rights, including some unrelated to gender, but very much to do with advantages to some greedy corporate interests. Continue reading Carolina Quakers (A Few, at Least) Speak On HB2→
Fierce controversies over the presence and affirmation of LGBT persons have dogged many Quaker Yearly Meetings in the past decades. In some groups, the debate has been resolved; but in others it continues to rage.
As discussed in an earlier post, the late Willie Frye, a longtime North Carolina Quaker pastor, was the target of intense criticism in the early 1990s by making supportive statements about homosexuals. Charges were made that he was teaching “false doctrine,” and advocating homosexuality. Efforts were made to drive him from the yearly meeting, out of his pastoral career, and to divide the yearly meeting itself.
In 1994, Willie presented a statement on his behalf. Since then it sat obscurely in his papers until a few days ago, when a relative retrieved it, and shared a copy with this blog.
We’ll take up the bulk of the presentation in a future post; it makes gripping reading. But in light of events earlier this week, in Orlando, the following section leaped out as timely, though it is 22 years old. Genuinely prophetic statements have such continuing relevance. Continue reading Orlando & Friends: A Quaker Prophet Speaks→
The Price of Prophecy: The Carolina Trial of Willie Frye
Willie Frye (1931-2013) began his pastoral career among North Carolina’s pastoral Quakers in the early 1950s. He came to this work from a background of strict fundamentalism. In most of this state and much of the rest of America, these were years of racial segregation, unquestioning support for American wars, and a goes-without-saying conviction that homosexuality was an unmentionable perversion and a crime.
But by 1960, sit-ins at Greensboro lunch counters set off an uprising to overturn the racial status quo that spread quickly from North Carolina across the region. Within a few more years, as U.S. troops poured into Vietnam, some Friends, including Willie, began to have doubts about that war and remembering something called the Peace Testimony.