I’ve been getting Selma Massey’s hate mail.
Ever since Focus on the Family decided to run a piece on their Website about Dr. Massey’s new TV show in Detroit, serendipitously called “Whosoever,” I’ve been deluged. The letters are not original, mind you, merely amusing in their theological shallowness and lacking in Christian charity. Run of the mill hate mail, in other words.
“So, what did you do with the hate mail?” Dr. Massey asked me during a recent phone interview.
“I deleted them,” I admitted.
“Great!” she laughed. “I don’t even want to read them.”
And why should she? The words of condemnation are nothing that Massey and any other gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender Christian hasn’t heard a million times before. That history of condemnation is what brought Massey to put herself in front of a camera and deliver good news to GLBT believers.
“We’re tired of the mainstream right wingers using weapons of mass destruction against us saying we are demons going to hell and that we’re an abomination and that we’re condemned,” Massey said. “The Bible says there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Once we say we are believers we are justified, made righteous, and have the ability to stand in front of God without any guilt, shame or feelings of inferiority. We are joint heirs with Christ. We are no longer under the law. We are under grace.”
That’s the message Massey sends over six weeks of shows funded by The American Friends Service Committee’s Faith Action Network, a multi-faith project working to increase public understanding of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues.
“For too long, far right, conservative churches have been the only ones being heard on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues,” said Michael Gibson-Faith, Director of The American Friends Service Committee LGBT Issues Program. “Now is the time for progressive churches and people of faith to say, ‘It’s okay to be gay!’ You’re welcome in our faith communities without condition.”
Several episodes of “Whosoever” focus on the Christian scriptures and homosexuality, and explain how the Bible is misused to condemn LGBT people.
“We’ve done the research. We’ve read the Bible very carefully,” Massey said. “I’m telling people to dust off their Bibles, read it for yourself, develop your personal relationship with the Lord and let’s enjoy this freedom that we have.”
“Whosoever” is all about exercising that freedom in Christ. For too long, Massey said, GLBT people have been held in bondage by anti-gay Christians who preach condemnation. Massey hopes that “Whosoever” will help release people from these negative messages and assure them of God’s love for them just as they are.
“I say Pharaoh let my people go,” she said. “Pharaoh is depression. Pharaoh is those pastors that hate us preach condemnation. I say let my people go.”
If the barrage of hate mail is any indication, Pharaoh’s heart is still hardened, but Massey says not all reactions have been negative. She’s gotten plenty of supportive emails and phone calls. One of her biggest cheerleaders is her Mom who was not supportive when her daughter first came out years ago. But now, Massey says her mother tells her “this is the time. People need to be educated.”
Massey, who has also published a book called “Dr. Selma Help!” is seeking more funding to produce future programs and hopes the six episodes can be syndicated across the country. In the meantime, some programs can be viewed directly from her Web site. Videotapes of all the shows are also available.
In the meantime, Massey accepts the role of trailblazer in the world of GLBT spirituality, and is hopeful that homophobic churches will soon come around.
“I keep hoping to see it in our lifetime,” she said, “but at least we’re here opening the doors for the ones who come behind us. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I wish somebody had been there for us.”
The founder and Editor Emeritus of Whosoever, Rev. Candace Chellew earned her Masters of Theological studies at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., and trained as a spiritual director through the Omega Point program of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. Her first book, “Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians”, was published by Jossey-Bass in 2008. She currently serves as the Spiritual Director of Jubilee! Circle in Columbia, S.C.