Schaefer’s story of being tried and defrocked by the United Methodist Church for having performed his gay son’s marriage received wide coverage. Stories of conflict are never as simple as they’re conveyed, and this is true here. Schaefer’s church in Pennsylvania was growing.
In my Century lectionary column for this week, I wrote about Zephaniah 1 and 1 Thessalonians 5, with their shared theme of the “day of the Lord.” Zephaniah’s account is particularly fearsome, and it serves as important background for the medieval liturgical text “Dies Irae.”
I chose to focus on these passages because they are hard to hear. Initially they seem so alien, and yet on second reflection, their scenes of destruction are so terribly familiar.
When Muslims in Kennesaw, Georgia, applied to open a mosque in a strip mall, the city council voted 4-1 against it. Protesters, many of them from out of town, said the Muslims would try to impose Shari‘a law, and some claimed the mosque would serve as an outpost for the radical Islamic State. The Muslims said they had been living peaceably in the community for years and have condemned extremist Muslims. The attorney representing the Muslim group noted that a similar building request had recently been approved for a Pentecostal group. Threat of a lawsuit turned the Kennesaw city council around: the council members who voted against the mosque withdrew their votes (PBS Newshour, December 20).