There is a philosophical ideology that has recently re-emerged in our church. Those who support this believe that explicit statements of inclusion end up becoming implicit statements of exclusion. For example, if you say you are inclusive of transgender people, then you are excluding transphobic people; if you are inclusive of homosexual people, then you are exclusive of homophobic people; if you are inclusive of people of color, then you are exclusive of racist people. You could say that they are “inclusive absolutists”.
The people who hold this philosophical position don’t see that this is an abstract and theoretical position, and it only has minimal application in the real world. In practice, if you tolerate intolerance, you will end up eliminating tolerance within your community. For example, if you let someone openly say that queer folks are abominations in your congregation, do you think you’ll have queer folks and their allies in your congregation much longer? Of course not, because those people won’t want to be in community with people who are actively hostile towards them and their friends. This leads to non-inclusive beliefs eventually being normalized and implemented as policies or even doctrine in the community. Unfortunately, racist, homophobic, and transphobic people, especially in religious circles, tend to be quite tolerated or even given a platform to spread their bigotry.
As a result, those of us who are hated and rejected have worked hard to build our own communities where we feel loved and welcomed. In Community of Christ some of the most active and well-respected congregations are spearheaded by members of these marginalized groups. Ironically, however, now there are those who are transphobic, homophobic, or racist, or those who are sympathetic to them, who are upset that their bigoted ideologies are not welcome in these communities.
The people who subscribe to this philosophy confuse the theoretical for the practical. They confuse those who are inclusive of traditionally marginalized folks with those who are exclusive of those same marginalized folks. Those of us who strive to live in practical communities can see the absurdity in this.
In light of these dynamics, it’s crucial for us to ensure our lived communities remain spaces of genuine inclusivity. Let’s recognize that embracing inclusivity doesn’t equate to tolerating intolerance. Rather, it’s a call to stand up against prejudice and actively cultivate an environment where even the marginalized feel valued and respected.