Flip Wilson, a popular television comedian from the '70s, created a worldly preacher called Rev. LeRoy, pastor of the "Church of What's Happening Now." Any resemblance to any actual church was not at all coincidental. Rev. Leroy once told the congregation that he was "going to Las Vegas because there's sin there and I'm going to put a stop to it. If I can't stop it, at least I'm going to slow it down."
Several churches in Washington have adopted the theology of what's happening now. At the Washington National Cathedral, the Very Rev. Gary Hall announced last Sunday that he had discovered a sin unknown to hundreds of churchmen before him. "We must now have the courage to ... call homophobia and heterosexism what they are," he said. "They are sins. Homophobia is a sin. Heterosexism is a sin. Shaming people for whom they love is a sin."
Mr. Hall, dean of Washington's most prominent Episcopal church, criticized the role that some churches have played in oppressing young lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgendered youth. "It is not only just OK to be gay, straight, bisexual or transgendered," he said. "It is good to be that way, because that is the way God has made you."
He spoke in commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard, a young homosexual man killed near Laramie, Wyo., in October 1998. The slaying became a rallying cry for hate-crime laws. A new book by Stephen Jimenez, a committed homosexual, called "The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard," suggests that the murder of Matt was a myth built on a lie. Mr. Jimenez writes that young Mr. Shepard was a meth dealer and user well known as a dealer, that he and one of his killers, Aaron McKinney, a bisexual hustler, were intimately acquainted. It was not a hate crime, but a drug deal gone bad.
Mr. Jimenez's insights into Shepard aren't likely to be written into a revised script for the stage play "The Laramie Project," a theatrical paean to the Shepard myth currently performed at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington. The church agreed to host "The Laramie Project" when the federal government shutdown closed Ford's Theatre, its original venue.
The Foundry United Methodist Church near Dupont Circle will provide a forum for Dan Savage, a militant homosexual activist and tormentor of the religious. Mr. Savage is advertised as the advice columnist for "the public's dirty fantasies, obscure sex questions and all things taboo" and for "everything from parenting trans children to legitimizing poly relationships."
Some pastors, usually of churches with a surplus of empty pews, have forgotten their mission, and are hastening the decline of the culture. This is the very real shame.