Powerful institutions tend to operate in ambiguity, rather than in clarity. And churches are no exception. Many churches fail to disclose their actively enforced policies on their websites. Can a woman preach? Will you officiate a same-sex wedding? Hire a queer pastor? Answers to these questions often remain elusive. Ambiguity enables those with power to operate without accountability and cause real harm. Many people invest years of their lives into a church community, only to later discover the truth about the church’s policies, and end up feeling betrayed, deceived and “bait-and-switched.”
Some Questions and Answers (FAQs):
Why is Clarity so important?
Churches are unique organizations. In America, they enjoy tremendous public subsidies, as they are recognized by the IRS as tax-exempt religious organizations. In exchange for these subsidies, churches are presumably expected to play a vital role in serving their communities. But there is very little accountability or proactive attempts to demonstrate that churches earn this subsidy. In fact, many churches fail to uphold the basic standards of transparency that we, as a society, expect from most other types of organizations.
Conditions - Environment - Ambiguity - Misleading - Practices
These conditions have enabled an environment where ambiguity and misleading practices have become normalized. Many churches have avoided fully or clearly disclosing their policies out of a desire to be “seeker sensitive,” that is, wanting to attract “seekers” and convert them into loyal “customers.” This capitalist mindset is particularly dangerous in a spiritual context. It means that pastors will preach about “welcoming” and “loving” all people, no matter who they are, while quietly refusing to officiate weddings for LGBTQ+ people or skirt around questions of “why there are no female pastors.”
There are clear laws and regulations in the for-profit world that protect us from “false advertising” and “bait and switch” tactics. But while we, as a society, hold the “secular” marketplace accountable for...
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