The Problem With The Chick-Fil-A Debate

My latest article for the Orange Leader regarding the on going Chick-Fil-A Debate


It has been all over the news; talking heads from both sides of the aisle have taken to airwaves to voice their opinion  Argument have started between friends, feelings have been hurt, names have been called.   Hundreds, if not thousands of Facebook posts and Tweets have flown through the internet regarding a particular chicken sandwich company– Chick-Fil-A.

Recently, as you may recall, the owner of the national restaurant chain stated on a Atlanta radio show that his company was “guilty as charged” amid reports that he did not support same-sex marriage.  He further explained that he is running his company on Biblical principles and that society has no business trying to refine “traditional” marriage.

Reports have come out that support this; Chick-Fil-A has given millions to organizations who actively oppose same-sex marriages.  With all of these things combined, a firestorm broke out.  Some people are now boycotting the restaurant because they do not want their money to go to causes that discriminate against a certain group of people. Others however  are actually eating there more believing that the more they eat there, the larger the profit, which then in turn will cause Chic-Fil-A to give more money to anti same-sex marriage organizations.

Jim Henson has pulled their toys from kid’s meals at the restaurant. The mayors of Boston and Chicago have spoken publicly about this issue.  Former Governor Mike Huckabee has even started a “National Chick-Fil-A Day” to support Chick-Fil-A’s right to run their company how they want.  All of this is a gigantic mess.

The problem with the Chick-Fil-A debate is that it is just that, a debate.  People once again are choosing sides and are drawing metaphoric lines in the sand and people are hurling their “points of view” back and forth and back and forth.  No one is actually speaking to one another.  The anonymity of the internet and social media is one of the greatest tools that people have in this or any debate.  Someone can post something online with no regard to another person.  It is much easier to speak your mind when there is a monitor between you and the one you are speaking about.  Since no one is speaking to one another how then will a decent, intelligent conversation ever be had regarding the multitude of issues in this particular story?  The answer- it will not happen.

The hot button issue obviously here is same sex marriage.  This is something that people have been debating for years and still each side is getting angrier and angrier.  Where are the civic leaders calling for a forum?  Where are the church leaders calling for a discussion on this topic?  The answer lies deep within our own hearts, minds and souls.  The answer is most people do not want to hear the other side.  This side believes they are correct while this side believes they are correct.

Some churches recently have taken up the task of having faithful discussion about homosexuality and same sex marriage.  I applaud them for at least having the discussion.  Many more churches and Christians need to have this same discussion.  Too often when people tell me their view about this issue the answer generally is “well I am against it because it is wrong.”  No explanation, no interjection of scripture, no nothing.  It is just “their personal belief.”  Well it is time to have the conversation. I call on all Christians from all walks of life and backgrounds to have faithful conversations about this issue that is dividing the church.

By faithful I mean being open minded, wanting to be challenged, wanting to learn more, wanting to grow.  Not just espousing what you have been taught or what you think the Bible is directing Christians to do and become.  Christians today need to stop telling people what the Bible “says” and focus more on what Bible is calling the followers of Christ to become; let’s stop as Brian McLaren says going to the Bible to support want we already know about God.

The reason why people are not doing this is because to have this conversation means that one has to be vulnerable and accept the fact that what you might have been taught or always believed could be incorrect.  Charles Schultz, the creator of Peanuts Comics, once drew a comic that speaks to this notion.  Snoopy informs Charlie Brown that he is writing a book of theology; Charlie Brown asks Snoopy what the book will be titled and Snoopy replies, “Has It Ever Occurred to You That You Might Wrong?”  For many people this thought of being “wrong” has never crossed their mind.

In this Chick-Fil-A debate the key here is discussion.  Not rhetoric, not partisan politics, not conservative Christians against liberal Christians.  It is time that the church stops placing people on the periphery, speaking about them like they are outcast in society or that they have a mental illness.  Let’s talk about it.  Let’s actually have a discussion on why homosexuality is or is not a big deal in the church today.  Let’s talk about a loving God creating people and then turning around and hating them.  Let’s throw away the things that we were taught as children and come to an understanding of the love of God in a new and exciting way.

So let’s put down the chicken sandwich, stop the protesting and debating and come together.  You might be surprised what will happen.

And You Wonder Why People Aren’t Christians: Part VI

In the wake of the tragedy of Aurora, Colorado, I give you another reason why people aren’t Christians.

I could spend all day everyday on why Westboro Baptist Church makes it hard for the rest of Christianity. The members and leader of Westboro Baptist have made waves for protesting homosexuals, preaching that homosexuality is a sin and because of this sin God is punishing the United States by allowing terrible acts to occur and not protecting US soldiers in the country’s current conflicts overseas. Because of this belief, this group has also begun a tradition of picketing at solider funerals which has caused national outrage.

Well the people from Westboro are at it again.

According to their fearless leader, Fred Phelps, the membership of Westboro are going to Colorado to protest during a vigil for the those killed at the “Dark Knight Rises” premiere. See the tweet below and read the story here

One of the many problems I have with Westboro Baptist Church is that in my humble theological opinion they are completely distorting the gospel message. Their message is one that is egocentric and one where to have a relationship with God one must also be completely afraid of messing up. This is not the relationship that God is calling humanity to be in. This theological construct makes God look worse than a bully god, rather this particular understanding of God is one where God is a supreme overlord of hate and destruction. No grace, no love, no care, no forgiveness, no acceptance of others. To the members of Westboro Baptist, God is a God who likes things separated into either this or that, your either in or out and surprisingly they believe they are on the “right” side of God, that they believe the correct theological understanding and they have it all figured out.

In this particular situation, how does protesting a vigil aimed at bringing a community together and remember the loss of innocent life bring people to God? Answer in a nutshell, it doesn’t it. Do they truly believe that the family of the 12 people murdered want to hear that God in punishing America because of their ‘wicked ways’ and this same God chose their loved ones out of the 300 million people in the United States to suffer this punishment? Where do they get off thinking that they have the audacity to speak this vile non-sense to the people of Aurora, Colorado? And who would ever want to worship this particular God? And isn’t convenient that they just happen to believe the perfect belief system that God is calling humanity to follow?

Westboro Baptist has been one of the several black eyes that has plagued the world of Christianity. Their message is one filled with righteous indignation. I guess their Bible left out the whole “speck in your neighbor’s eye and log in your own” message of Jesus and the one about the unity and ministry of all believers. While they are busy wasting money promoting the anti-gospel, imagine what good they could have done if they had saved their money (which by the way was donated to the church) and used it for a cause like stopping poverty, violence, rape. Why not give the money to organization that provide clean water for millions of people who do not have access to it? Is their God a God who is solely concerned with homosexuality and “wickedness” that the rest of the gospel message doesn’t matter? I find this hard to believe.

Followers of Christ from all walks of life are called to bring the gospel message of love, joy, peace, grace and reconciliation to the world. It through this love of Christ and devotion to God that one makes the choice to live a different life. It is not “live a different life so God will accept you”, rather it is accepting God will cause a life change. It will because of the overwhelming presence of God and the awareness of the Spirit that will cause the change. Changing for the sake of pleasing a mean, bully, hate-filled God doesn’t help anyone.

The people of Aurora, Colorado need comfort in a time of complete uncertainty and loss. It is not a time to put salt in already gaping wound.

I hope that the people of Aurora will do what the people of College Station, Texas did and make a wall of people around the protestors so that family members and loved ones can mourn, remember and grieve in peace.

And Mr. Phelps or any member of Westboro Baptist Church if you are reading this, go back to your Bible and count the number of times Christ calls us to love one another despite our differences. You might be surprised… Christ tends to focus on it a lot.

My thoughts and prayers are with all of the people of Aurora as well as those who are going to protest.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

What Is Sacred To You?

Here is my latest article for the Orange County Record.


One of the aims of religion is to determine what is sacred or holy verses what is secular or profane.  Debates have been held to try to navigate this delicate delineation.  In Christianity the understanding of holy is pretty complex.  It is generally understood that the source of holiness in itself is God, but outside of that it is a bit difficult to pin down.

Some people believe that God is calling Christianity to a particular way of life: abstaining from certain actions, alcohol, foul language and pre-marital sex.  However others believe that if the followers of Christ should hold true to the commands of Jesus himself.  Others hold to the teachings of the writers of the letters and epistles more than anything else.  And still others believe in a combination of all three.  As you can see the sacred is not something that one can put in a check list and hope to attain easily.

For every person that proclaims to be a follower of Christ, there are that many understandings of God and expressions of what it means to serve Christ faithfully today.  On top of that, the notion of what is sacred varies from person to person as well.

This however this is not a bad thing when it comes to Christianity.  Too often the church is seen as a place that dictates laws or recites laws that they believe are from God.

The church is not a place that makes rules or establishes what it means to be holy, rather the church is a place where people can come and share their experiences and their expressions of faith.  By changing the mind set about what church is, people might have a better understanding of what Christianity is really about, trying to live as faithfully as possible to the teachings of God and Christ.

The problem that the church has found itself in is that it is trying too much to remove itself and fellow followers of Christ from the secular society, to try to make a holy community.  The problem with is that if we cannot agree on one proper interpretation of scripture then how can we begin to broach the question of what is sacred?

Each person has their own understanding of what is sacred.  I recently attended a seminar in which the keynote speaker stated that every person has their own personal canon when it comes to faith expression.  By canon I do not mean a weapon but an authoritative guide of what is holy.  For Christians the canon which guides their life is the Bible.  But even with that said, the Bible is different between Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant denominations. The word canon comes from a word that means “measuring stick,” so when we claim that the Bible is a canon, then we are stating that we use it to measure our lives and actions against it.

Many things can be sacred to people: scriptures like Psalm 23, 1 Corinthians 13, 1 John 4.  Things like music, art and dancing can bring us to a place of connection with the Divine; they can renew our faith and soul.  All of these things transport us to a deeper relationship with God and you may never have to set foot into a ‘church’ to find it.  During our life when the hard times set in we will all return to that place of comfort and rest; we will go to our sacred canon.  We will return to that place to seek out God once more.

Most people’s canons will grow and change over time and that is just fine.  Our relationship and understanding of God can never be static.  As we mature and have differing life experiences our view of God will change; this does not mean that the central driving message of God’s love for all and the acceptance of all people changes, rather the way that we understand God moving and working in the world does.

What is sacred to you may not be sacred to me.  What connects you to the divine may not connect me.  But by having conversation with the central understanding that we are all serving and worshiping the same God, then we might actually learn from one another.  I might not be a practicing member of an Orthodox church but I can learn from their liturgy, I might not be a practicing member of a Catholic church, but I can learn from their devotion to prayer and confession.

In the week ahead come try to find those places what connect you to the divine.  Do not try to find them in a list of rules or commands, rather in nature or art or in the so called secular world around you.  If we claim that God is everywhere then why are we only looking for God in a set of rules?  God is found a stream in the forest and in a painting by Van Gough.

Where will you see God and experience the sacred?  You might be surprised where you have overlooked God.

Sermon- Man Vs. Wild

Today I preached a sermon entitled “Man Vs. Wild” based on Matthew 4:1-11.

Sermon Link

In Christ,

 

Rev. Evan

America’s Only Hope?

My latest article for the Orange County Record


As the election season is about kick into high gear, the number of political attack ads will increase exponentially the closer we draw to November.  The claims will begin small by showing voting records and then will grow into personal attacks.  There is 141 days until the general election and it is only going to get worse.

One of the claims that political figures like to postulate is that they are the only hope for the future of America, their ideals and the country.  Each side of the isle will believe that they are the sure fire answer for America.  The other day I saw a bumper sticker and a yard sign that caught my attention.  It wasn’t for a certain political candidate or party, rather it read “Prayer: America’s Only Hope- 2 Chronicles 7:14.”

I looked up the scripture and it reads, “if my people who belong to me will humbly pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land,” (CEB 2011). This scripture is taken from a declaration from God to King Solomon.

There are some problems, however, with using this scripture for the sole advancement of the United States.  First, this scripture is taken out of context; this verse is taken from the middle of a sentence that God spoke of Solomon.  The complete sentence is “When I close the sky so that there is no rain or I order the locusts to consume the land or I send a plague against my people, if my people who belong to me will humbly pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” (CEB 2011).  The author of 2 Chronicles is showing us that to the Israelite people there is a connection between what God is doing and what God can do.  The hinging factor in all of this is the willingness of the Israelite people.

Secondly, what “wicked ways” is this scripture calling humanity to turn away from?  Is there a list somewhere that I am not aware of?  Some would argue that it should be the scriptural laws contained within the Bible, but then which ones do we follow?  Does this mean that every God fearing Christian should be held to the 600+ laws contained in the Old Testament?  Or are these “wicked things” just a smattering of what certain religious communities and leaders believe is the true will of God?  Given the sheer number of Christian denominations and expressions how could one list ever be completely agreed upon?

With this said, this scripture cannot be applied to today and the current American economic or political landscape.  If we are to take the theology of this segment of scripture then we are stating that God is a vengeful, bully God.  We are staying that God is a God who will only do things for humanity if humanity acts a certain way.  Proponents of this theology believe that the problems faced in society and the world can all be solved if the world would just repent and turn back to God, then and only then would God be nice enough to grant the world peace and harmony.  Is God really that mad about so called “wicked things” that the one recourse God has is to send plagues and do nothing?  Is God punishing America for Harry Potter or Magic Mike?   I have a hard time believing this is the case. This is not the God that I know, love and serve.  Where’s the unconditional love that is espoused in churches and what about that amazing grace we proclaim?  Is that out the window because of the “decline of American values?”

God is not a God who sits on a throne and waits for people to mess up so that God may send a lightning bolt to the evil doer.  I am not saying that prayer is not a useful tool to connect with the Divine and to enter into a relationship with God, but thinking that just because you lied or stole a piece of gum when you were a child means that the suffering you are going through is your fault is far off the mark.

In a world where we like facts, to know why something is the way it is, we have a hard time understanding the movement of God in the world.  Why is there so much poverty in such a prosperous land?  Why are there so many cases of disease?  Why are children going to be hungry at night?  All of these questions and many more can keep us up at night but the fact of the matter is, the answer is not that they forgot to repent for some “wicked thing.”  As followers of Christ we called to bring wholeness to the broken, completeness to the incomplete.  This is not done by placing a bumper sticker on our cars or a putting a sign in our yard.  It is done by serving faithfully and boldly in a world that is desperate need of a ray of hope, care and love.

I am not saying that prayer is not needed in the world today, but claiming that God will restore the world when all of humanity thinks one particular way about God is a bit much.  It puts a lot of pressure on the followers of Christ and on God.  Let’s just work for the betterment of the world and stop blaming one another.

And One More Time… Camp: Part III

Here we are again… I am going to my third camp of the summer but at this one I will not be speaking at it.  I am looking forward to this particular camp because it will be held at the camp I grew up going to as a youth, Disciples Crossing in Athens, Texas.

This camp is the Leadership Seminar for youth servant leaders from around the states of Texas and New Mexico.

When I attended this seminary back in High School it was great to meet people from all over the state and hear how they were running their camps and how they were being a part of the body of Christ.  I hope to have the same expereince as an adult leader.

Be sure to check out my twitter page (click here) for updates along the way!

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

And You Wonder Why People Aren’t Christians: Part V

It has been a while since I have had to write in this series… but alas, Christians are giving Christians a bad name… again.

I want to thank my friend Amy for sending me this story, you can read it here.

Today we venture to the state of Alabama, known for its tolerance and racial equality… right?  Think again….

A Christian ministry based in Alabama held a ministry conference.  There was however one stipulation, it was for white people only… that’s correct, a white only Christian conference.

After doing a bit more research and watching some news videos (one posted below) I was shocked (sarcasm) to find out that the conference had KKK ties.

I respect every human beings right to believe what they want but the KKK is one that I have problems wrapping my brain around.  The notion that one particular race is the superior one and that it was ordained from God is logic that escapes me.

For starters, Jesus Christ himself wasn’t white. (I dont care what Hollywood or pop culture tells you… examples here, here and here and even the most popular one here). You would think that if God was going to make the white race the superior one, that God would indwell in a white man.  Secondly, if God is pro-white as these people claim, then why did God create other races to the begin with?  So they could be picked on, ostracized, killed, and tortured because they have pigment in this skin?  Wouldn’t it have just been easier for God not to create the other races and have a pure, white race to inhabit the earth?

Also, where in scripture is this supported?  I can not remember Jesus ever saying “and white people shall inherit the earth…”  In the video below the news reporter tries to ask this question.  The reporter brings up the fact that in Galatians 3 it states that  there is “neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  There are numerous passages in the Bible that speak of the reconciliation of Christ and the unity of all believers.  Sure Christ was seen a counter cultural radical to some, but not a white supremacist.  He didn’t even preach that God was 100% pro-Jewish people either; remember the woman at the well and the parable of the Good Samaritan?  There are other instances where Christ was showing that the God of all the world is wanting to connect with all people of the earth.

The leader of the conference told the reporter that he was taking scripture out of context and was abusing the Bible… isnt that like the pot calling the kettle black? (no pun intended…)  I mean come on… really?  Is this even an argument?  The Bible has been used for and against pretty much every issue under the sun.  However, the notion that in the text there is a decree or teaching that to be a true faithful of God is to have a certain color skin, goes against the foundation of the gospel message itself.  This distorts a text that people have turned to for centuries to connect with the faithful of old, to understand (or try) the movement of God in the world and learn what is means to be a follower of Christ in the world today.

At the conclusion of this event, the white members where going to hold a “sacred cross burning.”   Umm…. OK….

Seriously?  Do they think that if they put the word ‘sacred’ that everyone will be ok with this?  Like sacred murder is ok because it is sacred?  Sacred grilled cheeses taste better because they are sacred?  This is a blatant attempt to justify a practice that has stood as the symbol of hate, racism and bigotry.

All of this is not what Christianity stands for.  Yes, there was a time when the church was on the wrong side of history and supported segregation and even slavery.  But as the church has grown and changed, so have our understandings of God and how God interacts in the world.  For the mast majority of Christians, the idea of burning a cross or segregating people based on skin color is appalling.  Some would argue that the church has not left its segregation roots; many churches today are still prodominately one race or another.  While this is true, it is not mandated by law and there are plently of integrated churches holding worship services together.  Because of this, it shows me that the church has a little more work to do in the area of race relations.  (The Disciples of Christ in 2001 cast a vision of being a “Pro-Reconcillation/Anti-Racism Church, read more about it here.)

The cause of Christ is one that aims to restore all people to wholeness and completeness, to show them a way to connect to the Divine.  Christ welcomed all and so should the church and all of those who claim to be Christ’s followers.

I dont care what color you skin, hair, nails, or clothes happens to be all should be welcomed to experience God.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan



Milestone: 3000

You have done it again!  On July 5, the blog had its 3000th page view!

It only took 26 days to go from 2000 page views to 3000!

I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

Please keep reading and commenting and sharing!

You make this blog what it is!

Here’s to the next 1000!

In Christ, 

Rev. Evan

“What Does Your Church Believe?”: Part IV- Baptism

This is the fourth installment of my “What Does Your Church Believe?” series.  So far I have looked at the importance of open communion to DOC theology (post link), the notion of freedom of belief (post link) and the belief in the oneness of the church (post link).  Today we will look at Disciples of Christ’s belief in baptism by immersion.  This does not mean however that if someone has been baptized as a infant that their baptism is invalid.  The Disciples of Christ recognized and affirm all baptisms.

Baptism for many is a seen as an act that symbolizes one’s commitment to the teachings of Christ and by making a physical, public act; they are stepping out in faith to make an outward sign of what a deep spiritual commitment.  In the Disciples of Christ Church our practice is to do this when a person believes that she/he is ready to join God on the journey of faith– there is no specific age requirement.

The Disciples of Christ believe that “Baptism, as a gift of grace, received by faith, expresses its meaning in a variety of images: new birth; a washing with water; a cleansing from sin; a sign of God’s forgiving grace; the power of new life now and the pledge of life in the age to come. The meaning of baptism is grounded in God’s redemptive action in Christ, it incorporates the believer in the community in the body of Christ, and it anticipates life in the coming age when the powers of the old world will be overcome, and the purposes of God will triumph.” (via disciples.org)

The practice of immersion is one that is full of symbolism.  The general belief is threefold.  First, when one enters the waters of Baptism they are coming as they are, ready to receive the cleansing and grace found in God.  Next, when they are immersed they are symbolically dying to their old ways and past sins and when they arise out of the water they are rising with Christ to be God’s servant in the world.

Baptism is a beautiful act that the church does.  It is full of symbolism and faith.  For centuries the faithful of God have traveled to churches, rivers and fonts to enter into the covenant with God and to start their life as a follower of Christ.

Some believe that one must be baptized to be “saved” or inherit the goodness of God.  The Disciples of Christ do not believe that baptism is absolutely necessary, rather an outward sign of an inward reflection.  Many theological and church debates have happened over the concept of baptism. Whether sprinkled as a child or immersed as an adult, all signify the faithfulness of followers of Christ throughout the centuries.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Let’s Stop Lying to Young People

My latest article for the Orange County Record


The Church for decades, maybe centuries, has been caught in a terrible lie.  For some people it is a lie that is has been so engrained as truth, they believe it as such.  This particular lie is one that when confronted or analyzed, many church goers would vehemently deny.  So what is this lie?  Answer- Children and Young People matter to the church.

I know that is a stout claim but is one that is not without merit.  For too long the church has been a place where those in charge or those who assumed the power set the rules, set the order of worship and set the way that a particular congregation is supposed serve and worship God.  Often this is done by people who have been in the church for sometime (generally all or most of their life) and they feel the need to continue on this tradition that they are used to.

Sadly in many congregations around the country the number of young adults and teenagers attending church services are dropping rapidly.  Sure you can blame parents or video games or being over extended with extracurricular activities, but that is a cop-out.  The real answer which may be hard to hear for some is that the church is unwelcoming to them.

If a child was raised in the church they know the stories of Jesus; they know how he touched people’s lives and how Christ came to show the love of God in the world.  They were taught at young age that God had gifted them with special abilities and talents and passions to be used for the work of the Kingdom.  And as children grow into teenagers, teenagers into young adults, the reality becomes more evident.  To be a participating member of most congregations, you have to be at least 45 years old, have been a member most of your life and you have “waited your turn.”  This is the perception of the church- people ‘punching’ their ticket and waiting until they have ‘paid their dues’ to be a full participating, active member of the church.

Young people are not leaving the church because they have objection with the teachings of Christ, rather they are leaving because they have no place in the church.   Sure churches do a great job with their nursery program, Worship and Wonder program and even youth and college programs, but after that the church has not done too well.  The church has bought into the lie that the late Whitney Houston promoted, that the “children are our future.”  This, my friends, is a bold face lie.

Children, middle schoolers, high schoolers, young adults are not the future of the church, they are the “right now.”

This segment of the population needs to know that their ideas, theologies, concerns, worship styles and missional thoughts are valid.  Too often churches try to squeeze all of this into one Sunday generally know as “Youth Sunday.”  On this particular Sunday the youth are able to read scripture, sing praise songs and even preach.  After that one particular Sunday service it is back to the same routine.  Some churches have a “children’s moment” but even then that has turned into a Sunday morning version of ‘Kid’s Say The Darnest Things’ or a well intentioned person is trying to cram too much theology in a simple metaphor.

In some congregations the children are separated from the rest of the congregation to have their own service of worship.  Many children enjoy and learn from this experience but once you hit age of 10 or so, it’s in the sanctuary with your parents.

There is a huge disconnect.

Matthew 19:14 reads, “Allow the children to come to me,” Jesus said. “Don’t forbid them, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people like these children. ” (Common English Bible)

For the church to be relevant in society it must meet the needs of those around them.  Churches are losing the young adult population as well as the Baby Boomers, why?  They are tired of waiting to make an impact on the church and the world today.  But for this to happen, people in power and church structures are going to have to change.  It will take time and effort and faith; for the church’s sake I hope we are able to answer that call.

Let’s stop telling the lie.