The Philadelphia Phillies are in the middle of the playoff race, and they found themselves in the midst of a cultural war Thursday night, according to a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

As the Phillies played the Washington Nationals (the teams split a doubleheader Thursday night.), a confrontation broke out in the upper deck of Citizens Bank Ballpark between Repent America, a fundamentalist Christian group, and fans, many of whom were in attendance as part of a gay pride group.

It’s the third season for Gay Day in Philly, featuring a national anthem performance by the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus and a first pitch from Cyd Ziegler of Outsports.com.

But as the Inquirer points out, it is also the third season Repent America’s Michael Marcavage has attended in protest of the event. Marcavage and another fan held a sign in the outfield that read, “Homosexuality Is a Sin, Christ Can Save You.”

Since I had never heard of “Repent America”, and I’m all about America needing to repent, I went to their web site. The lead article on their main page is their take on the same story. Tell me that doesn’t bring up some scary imagery if you’re gay in America:

REPENT AMERICA GOING TO BAT FOR JESUS AGAIN THIS YEAR

The church and the homosexual community find themselves on opposite sides of a cultural war and I don’t find states of declared war the best mindsets from which to engage people in dialogue. In fact, I’ve never found declaring war on people the best way to build bridges to them. I’ve already written about my struggle with the whole notion of whether or not the church is blowing its handling of the “homosexuality issue” or showing its collective behind. As part of my journey, I looked for “loopholes” in the Biblical arguments. This led some people to question my theology and brand me a liberal for even questioning the tenets. And I have to tell you, in these parts, you talk about a man’s theology and you might as well be talking about his momma. And franky, I wrote about how the Church often gets it wrong when it comes to handling the homosexuality issue. A friend of mine made this comment on his site that I think applies to this situation:

Without the continual expression of confession – both personally and corporately – the church loses its sensitivity to its ability to hurt others through its claim to moral superiority. Even worse, the church becomes more judgmental and intolerant of those who commit “unacceptable” sins (homosexuality, abortion, cussing, etc) while remaining blind to so-called “acceptable” sins (pride, selfishness, greed, gossip, gluttony, slander, malice, lust, envy, jealousy, bitterness, impatience, lovelessness, etc.).

Religious idolaters need to believe that the sins they commit are not as bad as the ones they avoid. Though they of course must acknowledge that they are not perfect, they need to be convinced that at least they are not like those people – the targeted group of sinners they tend to avoid.

In case you’re wondering why I’m re-visiting this topic, one, it’s because I believe that it’s a topic that bears re-visiting; and two, I went to the Indy Fringe Fest tonight. My report on that to come.

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