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The Ugliness Beneath

Religion that reveals the ugliness beneath By Rev. Gil Caldwell

February 9, 2015

“Sometimes (religion) is a truth serum, stripping the varnish of etiquette to reveal the ugliness beneath”

A review of a Children’s Book in the Sunday, February 8, New York Times Book Review section is of “The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage” by Selina Alko. These words of the reviewer Katheryn Russell Brown I believe, have some relevance for our current debate and divide in The United Methodist Church re same sex marriage.

“‘The Case for Loving’ tells the story of Mildred and Richard Loving, who fell in love young and hard. She was black and he was white, and in 1958 it was illegal for them to wed in Virginia. They were able to marry in Washington, D.C., but after returning home they were arrested and charged with ‘unlawful cohabitation’. The judge gave them a choice: jail or banishment from Virginia. They moved to Washington, but later took their fight to the Supreme Court and won.

The Lovings did not consider themselves pioneers or crusaders for interracial marriage. In A 1966 Life magazine interview, Richard said, ‘We are not doing it just because somebody had to do it and we wanted to be the ones. We are doing it for us.'”

A children’s book in 2015 describes for its young readers, the love, the commitment and the courage of Mildred and Richard Loving, the interracial couple who challenged bans on interracial marriage before the U.S. Supreme Court and won. They married in 1958.

How strange it is that 57 years later as 36 states and the District of Columbia have made legal same sex marriage, The United Methodist Church still has in its Book of Discipline language and legislation, that declares marriage equality for same sex couples is at variance with the rules and legislation of The United Methodist Church.

Could the prospect of a book for Children written and published in the future that describes the resistance of United Methodist General Conference after General Conference to marriage equality for same sex couples, open the hearts, minds and faith-based love of delegates to the 2016 General Conference?

So that they that said “yes” rather than “no” to same sex couples who, like the Lovings, want to marry, not as pioneers or crusaders, but as persons who want to affirm and confirm their love in a United Methodist Church. Many of us are praying and hoping this will take place.

In another relevant article, Frank Bruni wrote an article on January 8th Sunday Review Section titled, “Do Gays Unsettle You?”

He writes:

“When we’re (the man I love) walking down the street after a long dinner or a sad movie and he slips his hand in mine, I tense. I look around nervously. Is anyone staring? Glaring? I feel exposed, endangered, and I’m right to, even here in New York, even near my apartment on Manhattan’s especially liberal Upper West Side. Just two years ago and two blocks from my home, an inebriated young woman who spotted us shouted, ‘So you’re gay. These two are gay!’ She went on and on like that, for what seemed an eternity.

It was the booze talking, sure. But sometimes alcohol is a truth serum, stripping the varnish of etiquette to reveal the ugliness beneath.”

I, in my title for this blog have substituted the word religion for the word alcohol. I have written about the courage of the Lovings, a black woman and a white man who challenged before the U.S. Supreme Court, bans against interracial marriage and they won, having those bans invalidated.

Presently, United Methodist Church language and legislation is anti-marriage for same sex partners.

Is this language in the name of religion, “a truth serum stripping away the varnish of etiquette to reveal the ugliness beneath?”

The Lovings once experienced what Fran Bruni experienced. As their black hand and white hands held each other, there were those who glared at them with disapproval. But that is something that happened in the past.

May The UMC in its 2016 General Conference rescind our current language and legislation re same sex marriage that for so many years has revealed “the ugliness beneath.”


The Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwellis a retired United Methodist Minister who lives in Asbury Park, N.J. He was active in the Massachusetts unit of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and participated in the civil-rights movement throughout the nation. In 2000, he, with others, organized the RMN Extension ministry United Methodists of Color for a Fully Inclusive Church (UMOC), an organization committed to the full inclusion of LGBT people in every aspect of church and society. His recent book, Something Within: Works by Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell is available from Church Within A Church

Posted by:, February 9, 2015

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