Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dispatches from the Holy Wars

Point of Grace Church

KCCI-TV (Des Moines) has been reporting on a surprise that aspiring Waukee megachurch Point of Grace pulled Friday on 22 workers at the previously nonsectarian daycare and preschool, Happy Time, which had operated for some time in its building.

After announcing that there had been a “change in management” and that the program had been renamed Point of Grace Christian Academy, workers were told they would have to reapply for their jobs if they expected to stay and also take the Christian pledge. The fall session is scheduled to begin Sept. 6.

Among the new requirements: Preschool/daycare workers must be born-again Christians who are active members of an evangelical church.

The pledge requires workers to abstain on their own time from sex outside of marriage, homosexual conduct, the viewing of pornography, drinking alcohol, using profane language or any other behavior that would “question” their Christian testimony.

It’s not clear if 3- and 4-year-olds who haven’t yet toddled up front to answer altar call will be welcome, or exactly where on the Point of Grace campus future employees who violate the code will be stoned.

Senior Point of Grace Pastor Jeff Mullen is fairly well known among Iowa evangelicals. He was among the lead campaigners in last year’s successful drive to unseat three Supreme Court justices who participated in the unanimous decision affirming same-sex marriage. Point o f Grace also is a favorite of Michele Bachman, who preached there on July 4 and stopped by for services with husband, Marcus, on Aug. 7.

Mullen told KCCI that the new daycare/preschool rules were intended to help his congregation “point people to Jesus” and thanked The Register, which got around to reporting the story this morning, for all the free publicity.

Point of Grace is entirely within its rights to establish such rules and regulations, of course. But they do make a guy wonder a little about what the congregation would do if a sinner actually walked in the front door some Sunday morning and tried to take a seat among the saved. Sic a deacon on him and chase him down the street?


The story of Marcellus Andrews, the 19-year-old Waterloo man beaten to death early Friday (life support removed Sunday) after, witnesses reported, being taunted with gay slurs, has taken on a life of its own via social media and Web-based reporting.

Waterloo police say they are not investigating the death as a hate crime, citing previous “history” between Andrews and his assailants. Although that caveat is included in most Iowa reports, it has come unhitched for the most part elsewhere and so the death now is generally perceived and reported as a case of gay bashing, even at Huffington Post level.

Candlelight vigils for Andrews have been held, or are scheduled, in various cities and a “porch light” campaign launched.

Part of the difficulty is, no arrests have been made (although there apparently are suspects) and police have not clarified what “history” is. Does this mean Andrews, who had completed a cosmetology course, planned to study interior design, led his church drill team and liked to hang out with girls, was a member of a warring gang? Or does it mean he had been taunted before, but that his harassers just neglected to kill him previously?

It’s an interesting situation and a fairly good example of how instant communications, combined with poor public relations, can change the nature of “the news,” especially when the news is tragic.

It’s also another potential black eye for Waterloo, which has a history of troubled race relations.

Some are accusing LGBT activists of twisting the facts in pursuit of an agenda, and there’s most likely some truth in that. But the situation also reflects deeper levels of distrust. Those of us who are LGBT really do try to be nice much of the time, and appreciate support, but have learned the hard way not to trust straight folks. So a death linked to gay slurs will be perceived as an expression of hate and the conclusion, factual or otherwise, will be that heterosexuals in charge will deny it. The effect doubles when the dead guy is black.

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