Recently, the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), a nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization released the results of a poll it conducted regarding religious liberty issues. The group found that 64% of respondents did not support religiously based refusals to serve gays and lesbians.
The elderly and pious Protestant sisters Martine and Philippa lived in a small village on the remote western coast of Jutland in 19th-century Denmark. Their father was a pastor who founded there a Lutheran congregation he wanted to be as rigorous, disciplined, and essential as the first Reformation communities. For this reason, he named his daughters in honor of the Reformers Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon. With their father now dead and the austere congregation drawing no new converts, the aging sisters preside over a dwindling congregation of white-haired believers.
The First Amendment of the United States guarantees that the government shall not establish a religion. Nor would it interfere with the free exercise of religion. There is a nice bright line between church and state that we who are believers appreciate and respect. That is why we do not ever talk about things that are political. And considering how Adventism was founded in America, it is no wonder that our church has historically avoided involvement in politics.
I routinely will myself toward optimism. It is easy to be pessimistic, not just lately but chronically. Recently, however, as an ethicist, I find it difficult to speak with any hope of being persuasive. For instance, in a Spectrum Sabbath School post in December , I was buzzing along writing about "character" in relation to the story of Job. “Lying,” I wrote, “was something that everyone knew was wrong and that eventually liars are marginalized in human society.” I stopped myself mid-sentence.
Gregor Samsa, a salesman, is the main protagonist of this story. After a troubled night of disruptive dreams, he suddenly wakes up to the sound of rain hitting the window, only to discover that at some time during the night he had been transformed into a large vermin. He is quite calm about his new body and spends some time in bed reflecting on his life and on his relationships.
Hey now! Before you Adventists out there consign me to the fiery flames let me explain. When I say “dislike Adventism,” I am talking mostly about culture, not doctrine. Although Adventism has the truth (in my belief) on many doctrinal matters, the Adventist culture leads people to do things that I think harm the denomination. I’ll go into a few of those here. Of course, this post should be read in the context of my last month's column.
I had my first article published in an Adventist magazine when I was still in college. It was not very good, but I will always be grateful to the editor of Insight magazine for accepting it. It did not unleash a flood of writing for me right away—that took many years and a few more kind editors—but it immediately struck me as way of communicating that I found peculiarly compatible with my personality.