How being a religious progressive is like being a good man (are you like that?)Over the past couple of weeks, I've been pondering how I can relate to the "not all men" issue from the place of my own experiences. In the course of these weeks, I've engaged in several conversations with men on that topic, one of which I felt went well and renewed my dedication to respectful discourse.
My experiences as a progressive Christian in a world where my religion is often painted as conservative and narrow minded serves well. It's difficult to see "all people like you" lambasted for the extreme actions of a crazy few. It's easy to want to protest "not all of us"...and I have, frequently, in the past. I'm sure I still do. But one thing I have learned by listening to marginalized people is that verbally protesting "But we're not all like that!" is at best, meaningless, and at worst, sounds like one is protesting too much. I have done my best to stop doing that. That's why I chose not to involve myself with the Not All Like That Christians Project , even though I support being open and affirming. Because I know how people react to the "not all like that" phrase, I instead choose to share positive stories of religious people working for full equality. When someone posts about the excesses of a "prosperity gospel" preacher, I remind myself not to say "Not all pastors are like that!"...I know it won't be long until I can share another story of Pope Francis humbly advocating for the poor. And I have made a vow to share the positive stories...of people, whether my co-coreligionists or not, who make a positive difference in this world.
The thing is, you can't change someone's perception of the group you belong to by protesting that you are good , that others in your group are good. You need to BE it. You need to show it. You need to share positivity in it's own space, and not shout it over the words of the marginalized.