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On Faith: It's time to think outside the box

February 17, 2012|By The Rev. Sarah Halverson

I tend to appeal to non-religious people.

I often hear comments like, "I've never met a pastor like you" or "I didn't know a church like yours existed!"

Honestly, I do not think that either I or Fairview is all that unique when it comes to pastors or churches. But I do think that non-religious people have this general notion that religious people fit into a certain box.

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To fit in that box one must be perceived as a non-thinker, someone who believes the Bible literally, and even thinks that it was written by the hand of God himself. I say himself, not because I believe that God is a man, but because the people that fit in that box do.

I suppose also that to fit in the box one must believe that gays are going to hell, along with Muslims, Wiccans, and other non-believers who have failed to be saved. There seem to be no brains in those boxes, and questions aren't allowed there either.

The reality is that few religious people actually fit into boxes like that, but I never fail to surprise people when I bust the cardboard walls out, and they discover that Christians are not the squares they expected.

I've never hid the fact that I'm an activist for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights: I rejoice (loudly) over the recent court ruling that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

Our church is proudly Open, Welcoming and Affirming, and while we are few and far between, we're not the only ones out there that believe that gays and lesbians are children of God, and their marriages are blessed by our Creator.

Many know that we've invited Muslims into our sanctuary, and on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we invited Imam Sayed Moustafa Al-Qazwini to preach in our pulpit! We don't think gays or Muslims are going to hell — I don't even believe in hell.

And in case non-religious folks think that every Christian is a Creationist, we'd like to invite you to Fairview Community Church at 10 a.m. on Sunday to observe "Evolution Sunday." We will refuse to check our brains at the door and celebrate our thinking faith, while at the same time acknowledging scientific advancement. The church is at 2525 Fairview Road, Costa Mesa.

I often wonder if more people could imagine themselves as church-goers if they understood that we do not all fit in those claustrophobic boxes. I think it's time that we religious folk "come out" of the box and not only confessed our thinking faith, but denounce the stereotypes people inadvertently have about us.

THE REV. SARAH HALVERSON is pastor of Fairview Community Church in Costa Mesa.

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