When I was driving into Canada, I passed a giant white cross on the side of the road. It was likely erected by one of the local congregations, and soared some 50 or 60 feet into the sky. For those that built it, the cross is a symbol of their faith. For me, the cross evokes a lot of mixed feelings.
On the treadmill last night, I caught a few minutes of a CNN interview with an openly gay woman named Barbara Johnson. At her mother’s funeral, the priest denied Barbara Holy Communion. He said:
I can’t give you Communion because you live with a woman and in the eyes of the church, that is a sin.
To add insult to injury, he left the altar when Barbara delivered the eulogy – and refused to attend the burial. On one of the hardest days of her life, the priest’s actions added insult to injury.
I know that the cross stands for many beautiful and compassionate teachings. But as a gay man who went through both Catholic high school and university, I’ve seen so many individuals and organizations hide behind the cross as a justification for their hate. After a while, it takes its toll on you.
When I see a cross, the teachings of love and compassion are overshadowed by the stories of people like Barbara Johnson.