A ministry associated with the Presbyterian Church has introduced a program that celebrates the LGBT community during Pride Month.
"Queering the Bible" is a new series developed by a ministry linked to the Presbyterian Church (USA) or PCUSA. A PCUSA project called "Unbound: An Interactive Journal of Christian Social Justice" is launching the new series that features a 16-part study of the Gospel of Mark that will take place through July 22. The goal of the study was to view the Gospel as a way of how queer people experience God and Scripture, the project's editor Rev. Lee Catoe explained.
"Mark has some very interesting stories that speak about inclusion and what that means, that has stories where Jesus is encountering people who have different experiences, marginalized folk," Rev. Catoe explained to Presbyterian News Service. "So I just think it speaks to the queer experience, very much, right now."
'Queering the Bible' Project Aims to Welcome LGBT Individuals
Rev. Catoe shared that the inspiration for the "Queering the Bible" project was to go beyond the typical rainbow flags and materials shared during LGBT Pride Month and challenge the Presbyterian Church to "go deeper" in welcoming members of the LGBT community to the church. He added that the Gospel of Mark provided a great introduction to the series because of its length.
For example, in Mark 1, in which John the Baptist "prepares the way," his experience could be compared to those of LGBT individuals, Rev. Benjamin Perry's "Queering" study explained. Rev. Perry claimed that members of the LGBT community often lead lives like John the Baptist, "holding in our voices and bodies a love that transcends the ways culture tries to confine it - crying out in the wilderness about what will not only free us, but what will liberate all people," the Christian Post reported.
Rev. Catoe also underscored how the Bible has long been "interpreted in very unhealthy ways," specifically because of the theological groundwork of "straight white men." He pointed out how historically, Scripture has been interpreted by "straight white men" who were in charge of "creating theologies." The "Queering the Bible" project aims to give voice to members of the LGBT community who read the Bible and live out its lessons and look at Scripture through the LGBT lens.
Rev. Catoe added that the "Queering the Bible" project is about "going against all the heteronormative ways that Scripture has been interpreted and creating some new theologies that we can use."
Progressive Presbyterian Ministry Facing Criticism Over LGBT Project
The Presbyterian Church-linked Unbound is published by PCUSA's Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy and works with the Compassion, Peace & Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. Despite it being guided by the policies of the PCUSA, it said on their website that they are "open to sometimes-controversial new ideas, challenges, and matters of self-critique."
The "Queering the Bible" project was criticized by Institute on Religion & Democracy think tank president Mark Tooley, who argued that the endeavor is "[seeking] to appropriate and bend the Bible towards self-justification" and "replacing the Gospel of redemption with their own journey of self-actualization."