A religious inquisition can have more than one form. In Goa, India,
where I was vacationing just two weeks ago, I saw, in the state
museum of Goa, the “inquisition table” used by the Roman Catholic
Church in Old Goa where a tribunal of some sort sat and handed
down its brutal physical torments upon its victims during its reign of
religious terror a few centuries ago. The long arm of the dreadful
religious Inquisition in Europe had reached all the way to India. I
stood somewhat in shock and horror as I looked upon the table and
chairs that represented the church’s official right of persecution, just
to realize that even here, in India, the Inquisition took hold of its
subjects.

I’ve just now witnessed something of the same this evening in
Kathmandu, Nepal: The long arm of evangelical spiritual abuse
reaching all the way to Kathmandu. The persecution was not
physical, but emotional. The victim, a church-going Nepali Christian
actively seeking to understand the plight of the sexually marginalized
in Nepal, and showing his support in having open dialogue between
gay Christians and church leaders, received a phone call from a
clergyman who identified himself as the pastor of the largest church
in Kathmandu. From his undefined “table and chairs” he handed
down his official decree without trial or recourse for the individual on
trial: If the victim would not cease to show his support of free
dialogue between gay Christians and church leaders in a public
setting, the pastor would speak to the victim’s pastor in such a way
that the victim felt excommunication was intended.

The victim was distressed, anxious and was notably shaken. Church
life is the center of this individual’s life. In fact, the pastor who made
the threat had inquired from the beginning, prior to his speaking with
the victim, to learn if the person in question was an active Christian
who was regularly involved with the life of his church. Once the
accusing pastor had determined that the victim would indeed suffer if
removed from the family life of his church, he handed down his
apparent decision: complete ostracism.

The victim called it a threat. The pastor denied that he was making a
threat and argued, instead, that it is his calling and commission to
save the flock from wolves. Sociologists tell us that ostracism is one
of the most effective ways of emotionally distressing an individual,
and when carried out to its fullest has harmful results leading to
depression, inactivity, and even suicide. When a society or a
community ostracizes an individual from its circle, the harm can be
extensive.

In America, where evangelicals have been dealing with this “issue” of
homosexuality since the late 1960’s, there has been, more recently,
increments of talking-and-listening among evangelicals themselves
as well as evangelicals dialoging with gay Christians. It hasn’t always
been that way, and the in-roads to open discussions within American
evangelicalism is not that extensive. But, yes, evangelicals outside of
Kathmandu are, to a small degree, talking in settings that this
leading pastor of the Kathmandu Valley deems inappropriate enough
to covertly speak with the victim one-on-one over the phone and to
seriously raise the question of church discipline, even to the point of
complete ostracism, so the victim felt.

I ask, is this Christianity, to judge another Christian as disqualified
from fellowship with his or her church on the basis of his or her
support of understanding and knowing gay Christians through open,
public dialogue. In America, as a gay Christian, I have been
personally involved with Soulforce in its active, public dialogues with
evangelicals. While I cannot speak to the culture of Nepal for I am
not qualified, I can, to a certain degree, speak to the experience of
evangelicals worldwide. And so I ask, can an evangelical Christian be
a good Christian even though he or she may be in total, complete
support of gay Christians? We have those kind of evangelicals in
America, who are evangelical and who have concluded that it is ok to
be gay and Christian. Straight evangelicals in support of gay
evangelicals do exist. Maybe this is one area where evangelicals will
have to agree to disagree for the time being and treat each other
civilly while doing so. And, at the very least, let’s set aside the “table
and chairs” of the Goa Inquisition, the long arm of the West bearing
down again on the East with its religious intolerance.

While I’ve obviously taken issue with the pastor in question who
spoke the way he did to the Nepali Christian, I do, at the same time,
respect his right to lead his flock and to influence fellow
clergypersons as he deems he must do. Church discipline, as
defined by any denomination, is the prerogative of that institution. At
the same time, the outside world has every right, and perhaps every
responsibility, to say at times, that whatever the institution –
government, religious or private, that that institution has perhaps
acted in a way that is abusive towards one’s fellow being. When it
comes to religion, it is hard to blow the whistle because religion has,
by its very nature, an almost right-of-way to say and do whatever it
deems is the will of God (and in doing so often offends the Creator
as much as the creature). In this case, I feel the Golden Rule needed
to come into play more than the pastor’s views on homosexuality
when speaking to the victim. The victim claims he was threatened
instead of pastored, counseled, and shepherded. Religion can be
heavy-handed, especially when it comes from the top down.

And just now (by speaking of heavy-handedness and top-to-down
authority), I ’ve been carried back, from Nepal, to the “chairs and
table” of the Goa Inquisition. And that’s not where I wish to be.
______________________________________

On  this  
page  


Steve and Jose
NEPAL 2011
August 17 - Sept. 2, 2011
Steve & Jose: Asia 2011: INDIA - SINGAPORE - NEPAL
Ostracism in Nepal – The Long Arm of
Evangelical Spiritual Persecution Reaches
Kathmandu
Ostracism in Nepal – The Long Arm of Evangelical Spiritual
Persecution Reaches Kathmandu

By Rev. Steve Parelli
Thamel, Kathamandu, Nepal
2:35 am, August 24, 2011
This writing was originally published on Other
Sheep Blog (on August 23 as per EST; on
August 24 as per Nepal time
)
This web page was created in and published from the Bronx,
New York, on September 5 and 6, 2011.

Visits to this web page since September 6, 2011:
Counter
Above photo:
Goa Inquisition
table, Goa state
museum,
Goa, India.
In this  photo:
Description of the Goa Inquisition; writing displayed on the Goa Inquisition  table, Goa state museum,
Goa, India.

Steve & Jose's Other Sheep
Asia 2011 Ministry
with
India, Singapore and Nepal

Table of Index

India (Index Page)
July 2 - August 12, 2011

Daily Logs:

Major Events:
  • Young Lay Leaders Conference
  • Day 2 - Jose presents
    psychological dynamics of
    church bias towards
    sexual minorities
  • Day 3 - Future projects
    considered

Narratives:

Singapore (Index Page)
August 13 -16, 2011

Daily Log:

Major Events:
  • Steve & Jose present "Is There
    Such a Thing as 'Ex-gay'?"
  • Steve & Jose present a
    Powerpoint on their India 2011
    ministry

Narrative:

Analysis:

Interview:

Rev. Oyoung:

Nepal (Index Page)
August 17 - September 1, 2011

Daily Logs:

Major Events:
  • "Putting a Face on
    Homosexuality" - Meeting with
    area pastors

Narratives:

Nepal Evaluation Report:

Recources:
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