Dr. Obery Hendricks on Christians Against Christianity
Updated: Apr 6, 2022
We speak with Dr. Obery Hendricks, a Biblical scholar at Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary. His new book Christians Against Christianity discusses the moral roots of the Bible to illustrate the hypocrisy of evangelical right-wing rhetoric, including a chapter on the religious Right’s condemnation of homosexuality and how it runs antithetical to the foundational teachings of Christ.
A former Wall Street investment executive and college president, Dr. Hendricks is currently a Visiting Scholar in Religion and African Studies at Columbia University and Emeritus Professor of Biblical Interpretation at New York Theological Seminary. An Ordained Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Hendricks holds the Master of Divinity with academic honors from Princeton Theological Seminary, and both the M.A. and Ph.D. in Religions of Late Antiquity from Princeton University.
Yass, Jesus! is hosted by Danny Franzese and Azariah Southworth. Our producers are Ross Murray and Meredith Paulley. Sound, music, and post-production by Chris Heckman. Special thanks to Sophie Serrano and Sam Isfan.
Yass, Jesus! is brought to you by Audity. Audity execs are Ryann Lauckner, Steve Michaels, and Jessica Bustillos.
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Daniel: [00:00:00] Hello, Kings and Queens and in-betweens, sinners saints, and I don't know if I if I is or ain'ts. Welcome to another nitty gritty episode of Yass Jesus.. I'm Daniel Franzese, and I'm here as always with my bestie.
Azariah: Azariah Southworth.
Daniel: And don't worry because here at Yass Jesus, we believe...
Azariah: it's time for a riot.
Daniel: A riot?
Azariah: Yes, Danny, a riot, a righteous invasion of truth. And for those hardcore Carmen fangs, they're going to get this reference.
Daniel: Okay, well, that's good. We'll just sit down in the pew, pew pews and relax because if now it's time for a little moment of [radio beeping] Gay Christian News.
Azariah: Advent Lutheran church in New York city hung a pride flag outside their doors for the summer, and like happens too frequently, it has been stolen, or damaged. And now the church is doubling down in an Instagram post, the church's pledging to keep hanging a new flag up. And here's what they wrote on Instagram 'to our anonymous neighbor who [00:01:00] continues to tear down our pride flag. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to witness again and again, to how deeply God loves and values the queer community. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to practice persistence, being an immovable witness to love and welcome, putting up a new flag for everyone you tear down. Thank you for the opportunity to invite our neighbors near and far to financially support the LGBTQ plus pride fund, which you can find at adventnyc.org/pride-fund. Every time our pride flag disappears, we'll put up a new one. And you can help. For every $8 that's donated, it funds a new pride flag at advent. Anything beyond $8 will go to the Trinity shelter, which provides housing for LGBTQ plus youth in New York city and reconciling in Christ, which promotes lGBTQ plus inclusion nationally in the Lutheran [00:02:00] church. So every encounter with injustice is an opportunity to practice love.'
Daniel: Oh yes, it is. Now, see, that's the kind of call to action that I like to see. Every time you rip down a pride flag, you know, they're going to put another one. You know what I'm saying? Like at anytime that you can have an opportunity to make a stand for God, I think that that just is such a great opportunity. So it's like, you know, they always think they getting, you, but in actuality, they're bringing this community closer together and making them stronger and who knows all the good that'll do. So make sure to donate your $8, because like they said, it goes to Trinity shelter or reconciling in Christ and like, I mean, what wonderful causes, so they're definitely turning the lemons into lemonade here and I love that.
Azariah: Yeah, they're doing the gospel.
Daniel: Yes they are. And that's something to praise about. And that brings us to this portion of our show, which is the praise report or the prayer request. If you have a little something you want to hallelujah about, we'll do it with you. And if you have a little something that you want to just ask God for, we'll ask our listeners to add it to their prayer list and we'll add it to ours. This one's a praise report. This comes from Michael. [00:03:00] Michael says 'I'm a 53 year old man and a father of a gay child. And I'm also a listener to your podcast, which I love. Recently all the shitty needs in the country- election denial, voter suppression, January 6th, deniers, anti-gay, anti COVID, anti vote, frankincense, frankincense, frankincense. I have been stirred into action and I'm planning on walking across the state of Missouri, where I'm from, city to city in the shape of a cross. The walk will take about 30 days and each day I'll walk for a specific cause among which will be LGBTQ plus rights. I'm hoping to drum up support via all the social media and media that I can help to raise enough awareness of this walk to garner media coverage. There's other details on my walk that I'll share as I approach my walk date, which I will set once I have some cooperation in publicizing, my intentions. '
What can you do? You know, often I didn't understand the impact of doing like an aids walk or, or a cancer walk or walk like that. Cause it's like, it's one of those things where when you get so frustrated, you just got to do something that you just got to move your body about it. And I think that is [00:04:00] definitely a step. That is something that gets people to notice and garnish attention and, um, way the way to go, Michael to just do something, you know?
Azariah: Yeah. And also Michael, like those kids in those small towns that you're going to walk by, who are in the cars with their anti-gay parents who maybe see you wearing a pride flag or a pride t-shirt, you know, that while you're carrying a cross or whatever, you may be doing the representation that gives them to know that this is possible that God can love me just as I am, so that's being a witness in a place where there's maybe not that representation or a witness to a lot of people. I think that's exciting.
Daniel: So that takes us into a prayer request. Uh, Azzie, what's the prayer request this week?
Azariah: Yeah. The prayer requests this week comes from Richie. Richie says, 'Hey guys, I want to ask you to pray for a tricky situation. I have a strange relationship with my sister. She doesn't accept me being gay. And after a big blow up, we haven't really spoken in 10 years. I [00:05:00] recently learned through my mother that both she and her husband got COVID and I have very mixed feelings about that. On one hand, she and her husband were pretty anti-vax, so maybe this will shake some sense into them. I don't want to rejoice at their suffering, but I also feel like there's a sense of justice here. Maybe just pray for clarity and the right attitude in this moment, whatever the right attitude really is.' That's relatable, Richie.
Daniel: It's relatable. And it's interesting to feel that I hate equating any kind of virus to a sense of justice. I mean, that's something that was used against the queer community during the aids crisis. I mean, we hope that your family is well, but I understand the frustration of someone who just blatantly doesn't accept things. And it's just such a difficult thing. What you want to pray for here, the real prayer here I think is for healing. I think that's the thing to ask for here is to try to find a place of healing for them, and to try to keep your attitude in the spirit of Christ and try to keep your attitude in a positive spirit. It's very difficult. I know you've been through a lot [00:06:00] and there is a lot of mixed feelings, but try to maintain an example of love. I think the best thing an LGBTQ person could be in this world right now, especially at this time as an example of love, there is no denying what you are as a negative thing, if you were walking around as love
Azariah: yeah. You know, Richie, I am very much in the same situation. I have a sibling who is the pastor of the church that I grew up going to conversion therapy in. And she is also anti-vax and she also got COVID ended up in the ICU. So, I think what Danny's shared is, is on-point. Just continue to be the witness, continue to walk in love because you know, only they can make that choice for themselves and only God can, and the holy spirit can move upon their heart to, to make any sort of change that is needed. So just continue to be, the witness, continues to be the love.
Daniel: We'll be praying for you, Richie. Um, we're going to take a little break right now and we'll get back with the scripture of the day. So stay tuned.
And [00:07:00] now it's time for the scripture of the day [repeat 3x]. It's soul food. Azzie. What is it?
Azariah: Isaiah 10, one through three. 'Ah, you who make iniquitous decrees who write oppressive statues to turn aside the needy from justice and to Rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be your spoil and that you may take the orphans, your prey. What will you do on the day of punishment in the calamity that will come from far away? To whom will you flee for help? And where will you leave your wealth?'
Daniel: Oh, that's interesting. So, so what does the Bible say about love and justice?
Azariah: A whole lot, Danny, a whole lot. Love and justice are a pretty central theme.
Daniel: I mean, we spent time at Yass Jesus doing a lot of Bible wondering, we don't believe in Bible studying, we believe in [00:08:00] Bible wondering, especially looking at some of these stories that queer Christians can relate to.
Azariah: Yeah. And we often think of the Bible as something that we need to defend ourselves with, but we hope that you are hearing from our readings that scripture is something where we can find comfort affirmation and even a little motivation.
Daniel: Certainly the Bible was a source of inspiration and motivation for leaders of the civil rights movement. The movement was fueled by preaching, not just about what God was going to do in the afterlife, but here and now.
Azariah: Yes. And God's gospel is political, meaning it has real world implications for our lives here and now. The laws that govern our lives, the pay we receive and how we relate to each other.
Daniel: We are so fortunate today to be joined by Dr. Obrey Hendricks. Dr. Hendricks is a biblical scholar at Columbia university and union theological seminary Cornell west. That the great activist philosopher has called him one of the last few grand prophetic intellectuals.
Azariah: [00:09:00] Okay. I'm I'm so excited. Dr. Hendricks has come out with a new book. It's titled Christians against Christianity.
Daniel: I love that Christians against Christianity.
Azariah: So delicious. And the book is about the moral roots of the Bible and it uncovers the hypocrisy of evangelical right wing rhetoric.
Daniel: And we are so happy to have you here with us today. Please welcome Dr. Obrey Hendricks.
Dr. Hendricks: Thank you. Thank you. Very glad to be here.
Azariah: Yeah, we're happy to have you here and sit at your feet today and learn from you. Um, you've been a long time activist and a scholar, but you came from wall street. Is that right?
Dr. Hendricks: I really came from the black nationalist movement of thesixties and seventies and how I ended up walking Wall Street is a long story. Suffice to say my generation, we were raised to be, uh, credits to the race and then be a doctor or a lawyer or something. Well, I've thought would be easier to go wall street, [00:10:00] but yeah, that was my first career and then it was so traumatic then I found religion.
Azariah: Okay. Well, how, how did you make that leap from wall street executive to being a theologian and active.
Dr. Hendricks: I realized That I was dying spiritually and I started self sabotage. I realized that business, I was able to do with my eyes closed, probably I can do it all.. So I left to become head of economic development of the town that I grew up in east orange, New Jersey. Well, let me step back. My father died when I was 33. And I was standing in the pulpit, speaking at his funeral and something struck me. And I realized that this church was my site of service and struggle, more a site of struggle in the sense of working in the church and through the church to make a difference in the world. So I thought I'd continue to assuage my ego because it was a big ego shot working on wall street, you know, being a young guy, you know, and I started in the seventies. there were Very few of us. [00:11:00] I have thought I'd go home to my hometown, east orange, and I could serve the community, I thought while still having my hand in finance and development and, you know, feeling like a big shot. But after a year, some things happened and I was struggling, you know, struggling with, I guess we call it, call it a calling. I don't want to act like it was a calling to the pulpit, but I wasn't alive. I went in the library one day and I saw a buddy of mine I used to know from the jazz scene. And, um, you had a pile of books on his desk of, um, Bible and theology. And I said, what are you doing, man? He said, I'm going to Princeton, theological seminary. And I'm just trying to, you know, read up. And I said, wow, you going? I don't know. Maybe I could go and prior to that, I didn't have any sense that I could go to any institution like that. And lo and behold, I was accepted about a month after the deadline by Michael Livingston who's now the interim pastor at Riverside church. And from there I was in [00:12:00] seminary, you know, kicking and fighting. I didn't really want to be there. I really didn't want to be in the pulpit ministry at all. Um, I still don't and would not want to, but I realized after a certain point where my professors, Clarice Marker you know, black woman at the time made me realize I'd get a scholarship. And she talked me eventually into doing a PhD which I fought against terribly because where I came from, people barely graduated from college, much less PhD. I just couldn't see that that was in my world, but she talked me into it and I realized that my side of service was as a biblical scholar to raise consciousness and disabuse people of all the terrible abuse and, and, uh, mistaken and, uh, and false and lying and weaponized biblical interpretations that stand in the way of, um, folk in the church, really, uh, making a real effective difference in this society for justice and love.
Daniel: I appreciate your, [00:13:00] your service in doing that, cause that is just, I mean, what a fight, you know, still going on. Were you involved in the civil rights movement?
Dr. Hendricks: That was after me. I was born in segregation, actually in farmville Virginia, where they close the schools rather than desegregate, but I grew up in Newark and east orange, New Jersey. So we're talking about after the civil rights act was passed, you know, late sixties, early seventies. I was in the black masters movement, you know, uh, the black cultural nationalists. So I joined the Mary Barocas organization. You know, we're the guys who wore African cooling all the time, including any winter and close the door and walk through the door and catch my hair in the door, it's that kind of thing. Um, it was an extraordinary, uh, formative experience because I was with so many young people who were really dedicated to making a difference to the point of being willing to, um, to risk serious bodily harm and even death. But we were that dedicated and which [00:14:00] helped me understand Jesus and his young disciples. You know, many folks forget, these were young guys, teenage guys and, and, uh, you know, helped me understand what real discipleship was and that has informed my scholarship.
Azariah: Was there, was there something that happened or a moment that you remember where you started putting the faith lens on top of your activism lens?
Dr. Hendricks: Well, you know, I was raised in the church even when I was away from the church. I was still in dialogue, but it was, you know, um, it was this disaffirming dialogue. I was still in dialogue with the church. And so I never really was a person without a spiritual grounding. But I think what, what really brought it together for me, it was when I was in seminary and I encountered, um, well, first of all, I was Elaine Paigel's first graduate student who wrote the Gnostic gospels and, you know, imagine what that was like. But also, um, I encountered the works of Richard Horsley, um, and Ched [00:15:00] Myers. And, uh, you know, they showed me, yeah, that this, this, this gospel is there's a real radicality to it that is unsung you know? And, uh, so I, I have to give them credit that really opened my eyes. And I, I read Howard Thurman's book Jesus and the disinherited.
I mean, he started the whole thing long before anybody else, but I encountered him after I encountered, uh, those folks. So that's what really did it for me. And then I read Allan Boesak and some of the south African theologians, and that really brought it together. Um, and aside Allan Boesak at a very thrilling moment, uh, uh, uh, a brother I know called me from his church one Sunday afternoon. He said I have somebody who wants to you to talk to that's a real fan of your work and it was Allan Boesak and you know, wow man, one of my heroes from seminary. Wow, man, I must be doing something, a little right.
Daniel: It's like a God wink moment, [00:16:00] you know, you know, you're on the right track. And we're building a Yass Jesus book club here, so we have a lot of reading to do. You're giving a really good list for our listeners as well. Um, but let's get into the context of your book. Okay. Christians against Christianity. Let's just bluntly lay it out, like where is America morally right now?
Dr. Hendricks: Right now it's um, it's frighteningly immoral and amoral, you know, there is no moral grounding because you know, we're speaking generally. But when we look at the political terrain is really no moral ground because on the right, they are totally ideological, totally about what serves their interests and they don't care about morality at all, it's obvious because they, any moral stance, it doesn't serve that purpose they will just jettison. And, um, you know, um, center to the left, they're not grounded in evil like the right wing is, and I've said it I'll use the e word. They're not grounded in evil, trying to hurt and harm people, uh, and oppress folks and make them feel like they're worthless. [00:17:00] They're not trying to do that, but at the same time, they're not standing a strong moral ground and not standing for justice. Um, they're just either just trying to survive or again, they're looking at not even for the interests for their own interests, they're just looking to counter the evil of the right. So you see my point? There's no real moral stand that anyone's taking. You know, we were hoping that that Biden would do that. He started out sounding like he was going to do that and he might at some point, but right now he's just another politician trying to survive. And, uh, you know, they're shucking this, this guys, you know, corn, they're, they're stripping his feathers every day. And, uh, um, it's sort of scary think where he might end up, you know, um, trying to get along.
Azariah: What do you think that could look like, uh, to have a moral grounding in response to the evil that permeates so much of the right [00:18:00] wing, what do you think is, is a proper, uh, initial, moral standing to have?
Dr. Hendricks: Yeah. Well, if we're talking about the faith committee, And, and, and, um, I include anyone who, um, who subscribes to the biblical witness or has respect for it. Um, we know that one of the two um, most important commandments in the gospel is to love your neighbor as yourself, as you know, that's very foundation and we have to start there and, you know, the implications, egalitarian implications are amiss. I mean, that essentially says in everything we do in all our policies and laws, we want it to impact our neighbors and give them the same rights and resources for themselves and their families as we want for ourselves. That's profound, um, egalitarian justice, which courts with the foundational justice, uh, of, uh, of the Hebrew Bible. The other thing [00:19:00] is Matthew 25, 31 through 46, you know, which ends, uh, as you have not done it to the least of these, um, you have not done it to me. I mean, because in that passage, what we see as the way that we are to be judged, um, is whether and how we help other people. Um, we're just giving credit to the extent that we try to help people who are hungry, who are, uh, who are bereft. There's people who are vulnerable in bad shape, but what it doesn't, we're not just biased who we sleep with, no. Um, um, we're not judged by what our religion is. We're judged by the spirituality of our actions alone. And I think that's so important because that leaves room for us to get together with so many folks, they don't have to believe what we believe in. They just have, have to have the same moral bearings that we have. So I think that's where we start. We go back [00:20:00] to the the moral and ethical, um, beginning, and then build upon that.
Azariah: Dr. Hendricks, what you're just saying makes, takes me back to the prayer requests that we have today with Richie who has a sister who's not just accepting of them being LGBTQ, but also anti-vax, you know, sounds like they're really entrenched in the right wing rhetoric. Um, would you agree that as, um, Uh, uh, oh, I, I just I'm drawing a blank on his name, but he wrote Jesus and the disinherited, Howard Thurman. Would you would you agree that it's, it's a genuine fellowship that will bring us back to the table where we can see each other and hear each other again?
Dr. Hendricks: Yes, yes. Excuse me. But it has to be, it has to be fellowship that acknowledges forthrightly and candidly, what is. Um, you know, [00:21:00] it can't be a lot of kumbaya smarmy stuff. We have to call evil by its name. We just have to, because there's... a lot of these folk don't know that what they're doing is evil. Yeah. And they don't know what they're doing. So first we have thing sit down and again, go and go to the texts, but it's about raising consciousness. It's about calling out, um, the evil that many people are purveying. Um, some know that they're doing it but I like to believe most don't. And then yes, extending a hand and saying look, I'm willing to talk the talk about this, but you have to realize you're harming people. You know, what you're doing is killing people now that has to stop, you know, and, and, and then, and then we can, we can talk about love. So, I'm you know, I... maybe because I have a Warrior's mentality [00:22:00] you know I'm not looking to fight all the time, but I was survivor's mentality, which means, um, I don't think that we should... I think we'd be tray art and hurt ourselves when we let folk off the hook too easily, you know? And so I wouldn't, I would do the things that I, I said.
Azariah: Well, you have a chapter in your book titled a new commandment that I give you, that you love one another. And it's an examination of evangelical condemnation. Words are hard con damnation of the LGBTQ community. And you spend that chapter examining what those claims are. So what, what did you find, um, in, in the process of writing that?
Dr. Hendricks: Well, really, um, you know, in that chapter, I, um, I looked at the passages in the Bible, the handful of them that, that just happens to be that, um, we understand as [00:23:00] condemning homosexuality, same gender intimacy, uh, as a biblical sin, um, and therefore is evil. And I looked at them and I, you know, um realizing when you contextualize for instance, the ones that the few verses in, in the, in Deuteronomy and the leviticus that, you know, um, and when you put them in historical and cultural context, um, you know, you realize that that what's being, that what moses was giving with Moses was trying to give these folk was parameters so they would not do the same, uh, get involved with the same kind of ritual things that the Canaanites were doing. You know, it's like somebody a little sect coming from stinky foot Mississippi to New York city. You know, you're going to be consumed by the larger culture if you don't give them some, some [00:24:00] parameters. So, you know, he's saying, uh, if, if you work on the Sabbath you be killed and all that people forget about all that, all those kinds of things. Um, and you know, um, the first is we talked about a man should not lie with a man. Well, he's talking about the temple, um, uh, fertility sex cult, um, in which, um, men, uh, took on the persona of the female, the female deity uh, they dress like women they act like them. Some of them even, um, uh, have themselves castrated, so they take it to fill this role. Um, and so, so, so Moses was saying versus do those verses, you know, do not, do not be literally it says, do not be holy ones. In other words, do not do what they do in their temple. And then with, and then there with Paul there, and the few places that Paul speaks about same gender and intimacy, [00:25:00] um, um, you know, there are translation problems, translation issues, and all that. Some of it is not clear. The bottom line is that at best, what the Bible says about same gender, loving intimacy is ambiguous at best. You cannot predicate anybody's life chances on stuff that's just not clear. So I I've worked pretty hard. I'm pretty proud of that chapter because I've worked hard, you know to show... Uh, I mean, I, look, I tried to kill everything standing. I, you know, I, I tried to, I try to address every question. I'm sure I didn't, but it's it's, to me, it is so abhorrent that, um, that we would treat fellow human beings as abhorrent or less than, um, for whatever reason. And, and it just breaks my heart the way, uh, the way that [00:26:00] we treat the gay community. And I'm going to give you one quick example. There was a friend of mine, my wife's, um, uh, was a gay man and, uh, uh, they were very close. And so, um, uh, she wanted me to meet him and we met and afterwards he asked them, um, he said, well, was he put off because I'm gay? And that broken my heart. I mean, you have to live like that, wonder if somebody is going to, um, is going to reject... the thing of it is, I love the guy, wonderfully. Um, God rest his soul. He's since passed. He had that thing that stood in the way, you know, that's and that's not the way human beings should have to live.
Daniel: Yeah. I agree with you. And you talk about a lot more than just, um, LGBTQ stuff like that. I mean, you examine anti-blackness, [00:27:00] nativism, abortion, gun control and big business. I suspect so many of these things are related. Can you talk about what you're finding?
Dr. Hendricks: Well, what I'm finding is that right wing evangelicals have twisted everything up. And that's what I tried to showin the book. I tried to show with immigration how they ignore what the Bible says. You know, the Bible says umpteen times tells wait, that, uh, that you have to treat immigrants like everybody else, um, you know, and look out for immigrants. Even it says you must support immigrants to be able to support themselves. And that tithing, that part of tithing should be used to support immigrants. All the kinds of things they don't want to hear.
Daniel: It's clear that they don't want it here and they'll hang on the ambiguity.
Dr. Hendricks: And the NRA, you know, I've wanted to show out I mean, how, how, how sick and [00:28:00] anti-Christian, um, that position, their position is with supporting them talking about, um, a God-given right to have guns.
What I really found is that on so many on the primary issue, Um, in this society, they are either wrong, uh, absolutely wrong or they're confused, but they get damn near everything wrong on social issues. And that's what I wanted to show. Even with big business, how most folk don't know that right-wing evangelical positions are against working people. But the policies they support are against working folk. Billy Graham said, there'd be no snakes and no unions in heaven. That shows how and shows how these right-wingers think. And unions are the foremost thing we have to protect us from corporate depredation. So they're in, they are supporting whether they know it or not the [00:29:00] biggest capitalist, um, the most rapacious capitalists. And these are the kind of things I tried to bring to light.
Azariah: Hmm, this book seems like a condemnation of the way religion is being practiced these days. Uh, how, how would you suggest that we assert love and justice in a really faithful way even in our day to day lives?
Dr. Hendricks: Yeah, I think, um, think it really comes down to, um, you know, Cornell well west, there's a afraid to he used to use, I haven't heard music recently, but he talked about keeping track of each other's humanity, you know? Look at each other as, um, being, uh, created in the image of God or being created by God equally. Um, and, and also, um, step aside from some of the certainty that we have, [00:30:00] and also realize, especially for Christians, that Jesus didn't teach any theology, he didn't, he taught almost nothing about what to believe he taught how we should act, that we should love one another. And that must be leavened with justice or vice versa and justice, egalitarian justice, we know is love our neighbor as ourselves. I'm thinking that if we get everyday wake up and pray, Lord, would you please? I know I'm imperfect, but please help me to love my neighbor as myself. Um, I think that would make quite a difference, but only those who take Jesus message seriously will do that. And I suggest that most folk do not and on the right wing, they think they do, but they're fanatics. They don't take it seriously. They just take it in a fanatical self-serving way. And I get a lot of hate for saying that, but, uh, you know, I don't care. It's true.
Azariah: I love that you say we have to remember each other's humanity [00:31:00] that's and.... I think it can be hard to understand what that means, what the, how, the, how that can be practiced and what that exactly what that implies. I know for me, I've learned, earned what that means, um, what that means, working in a credit union during the day. And, you know, you come across different situations and different opportunities to kind of bring equity, um, to, to some people's lives um, when it comes to like absurd bank fees, you know, uh, and, uh, remembering like the tagline for our tagline, for the credit union I work for, and this is not a commercial, but the tagline is a human centered banking. And oftentimes I, I go back to that and I remember that when I come across some situations where I can have my biases arise and maybe, I don't want to reverse a fee because I'm like, well, you just had fees reversed a month ago, you know, for, you know this, [00:32:00] but, but understanding the situation, hearing the story, hearing the humanity in, in what is needed, um, in that moment. Um, but anyway, so that's what, what came up for me as you were speaking,
Dr. Hendricks: that's very important. I have to say, when you look at the Lord's prayer, Jesus says forgive our, our debts, um, uh, forgive our financial debts as we have forgiven the financial debts of others. I mean, that's how we build a new society, you know...
Azariah: The third way, right?
Dr. Hendricks: Yes. Yes, sir. Yes, absolutely.
Azariah: Yeah. There's, there's a great book called Jesus and the third way, um, for... add that to your Yass Jesus reading book club.
Daniel: Oh, we are just two white gay guys running a queer christian podcast. Are there ways that we can keep this spirit of some of these pioneers of justice and make it even more intersectional?
Dr. Hendricks: We can do what?
Daniel: Like, um, [00:33:00] bring, uh, I think bring more of a intersectionality to our, our, our mission, like something, ways to...
Azariah: because sometimes it feels like we're, I don't know, like we are just two white guys doing a queer Christian podcast, and sometimes it feels like, can it just be queer and Christian? Is that, is that what you're saying? How can we diversify that?
Daniel: Yes, exactly. Gotta get out into more of the, the different missions that are out there that help with this issue of right wing conservative Christians, basically fanaticalizing the bible instead of using the Bible instead of using it for like how could we help diversify that message?
Yeah. Well, you know, if one thing is, um, maybe to, uh, Uh, open your show to open your show to, uh, the non Christians or secondly, because I know there are some real freedom [00:34:00] fighters who are on the same, um, ethical or moral grounds. Um, and, um, uh, they're just not people of biblical belief, but they believe in justice and, uh, and love for the community, like, like everyone else. And some of them have, you know, some of the strongest witness, uh, witnesses, you know, um, and, um, you know, I, there are some of the, the womanist is scholars who are pretty well.... they're taking a pretty intersectional uh, approach, you know. They have... they're right on, on so many of the issues and have a powerful, powerful witness. Um, so that, that might be a way to go. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I can say I had a conversation... Angela Davis is an atheist and you know, she's been for, for, for decades, but, you know, conversation I've had with her- were on the same [00:35:00] ethical foundation, moral foundation and even more so for her on her part. I mean, I'm, I'm learning from her, how to be more, to be more human, be honest with you. Um, this extraordinary human being and, you know, she's she read my, she read this book, you know? Um, um, you know, I mean, she, I talked to her, she said, yeah, well, I'm, I'm on chapter so-and-so and so-and-so, I mean, you know. So, let me just say so many of the folk who are for me, some of the greatest, most deeply spiritual, freedom fighting, loving folk are not equal a biblical faith. Now they are influenced, you know, whether they realize or not, you know, their sense of justice comes from the, you know, the biblical prophets. Just like philosopher John Rawls said he wasn't that he wasn't a person of [00:36:00] biblical faith at all, but he spent his whole career, you know, um, trying to come up with a justice system that would, that would help everybody, include everybody, right? I mean, you know, he might as well have been working from, you know, Matthew 25. So I like to see us work hand in hand more with other folks, you know, who want to build a new and just world.
Azariah: I think that's so, that's so great. When you were talking, I was thinking of Tic Nah Han, um, as someone who really embodies a lot of what we call Christian values, um, but really are just godly spirit led values, you know? Um, but Dr. Hendricks, some of our listeners have had a really hard relationship with the church and with scripture and for LGBTQ people, they only have, you know, they have only experienced trauma. Uh, do you have any advice for them on how to, to, for those who want to maybe return to scripture return to, um, faith, um, [00:37:00] how they can read scripture?
Dr. Hendricks: Yeah. Well, one thing is keep in mind that Jesus taught- he was primarily a teacher of ethics of how to live and how to treat other people. And, um, uh, he was not theologan. So, you know, um, I don't want to insult my theologian friends, but I don't read books of theology. Um, I mean, uh, I mean, I mean, books that are theological books, there is theology, you know, interspersed in all kinds of stuff, right? But I don't want it and I, and I think that we should avoid things that give us pain. I think that the LGBTQ plus folk, um, um, read the Bible for themselves and for some scholars, um, progressive scholars, I try to be one and there and there are others of course and, uh ignore those other folk. And what you might do is not go to church, at all. [00:38:00] Or um, what's that the metropolitan community church?
Yeah, I've had some wonderful students that I respect immensely were ministers in that. Um, I, you know, first I'd say avoid that church, it's not worth it man... Yeah, really? It's just, it's so aggravating and study for yourself. Have your own study groups.
Daniel: Yes, that's what we tried to do here. And, you know, we also know about churchclarity.org, where we tell people they can find that accepting place to be able to go, you know, um, which that, that, that at least lets you know, if a church, uh, is ambiguous about whether they're, uh, LGBTQ supporting or if they're definitely on board, you know, at least they have an idea of a safe space to do. Dr. Obrey Hendricks, You have so much wisdom to share. We want to thank you so much for the contributions that you've already brought to this social justice movement. And we want to thank you for your faithful allyship to the LGBTQ [00:39:00] community. It means so much to us. We hope that we can continue to support one another.
Dr. Hendricks: Oh, no question, brother. We don't have a choice if we're going to be human.
Azariah: There we go. That is it. That is it. You heard Dr. Hendricks.
Dr. Hendricks: Thank you so much for what you are, what you all are doing. It's um, you know, I know it uplifts and empowers some folks and comforts those who really need it, need the inspiration. And yeah, I'm a fellow traveler. I'm a fellow soldier, we're shoulder to shoulder. And, uh, I am I'm, I'm dedicated to the deepest fiber of my being, um, to, uh, to walk with my gay brothers and sisters who are catching hell out here, you know, that's just, it burns me up, brother. I mean, you know, it's just, it doesn't make any sense. Anyway.
Daniel: Well, we, we appreciate, um, all you've done as a social justice warrior and as a sibling to us. And thank you so much, um, on a seeker and being on a program. [00:40:00]
Dr. Hendricks: God bless you.
Azariah: I love your spirit and you heard what dr. Hendricks said, forget church, find community instead. Well, everyone makes sure you check out Christians against Christianity. That is Dr. Hendricks book. This is a book that will give you focus on where we are as a country and a world and help you think about what your role is to stand up for righteousness and justice.
Daniel: Thank you so much for joining us, sir. I mean, what a pleasure, honestly.
Dr. Hendricks: My pleasure. My pleasure brother. It went too fast. And keep me in mind, always ready.
Daniel: We will for sure. Um, I have no doubt we'll have you back. I appreciate you so much. Thank you.
Dr. Hendricks: All the best to you guys for what you're doing, I think it's wonderful.
Daniel: Well, it's, you know, it's surprisingly reaching a lot of wonderful places and we've gotten letters from like the Philippines and Tokyo and Paris. And I mean all over that people have just been like, wow, we've been needing this message. So, I mean, even helping one is an incredible thing, but we get messages every [00:41:00] week and it's just like, we know we're doing the right thing. We can't stop. But like, it's one of the burdens that god gives you a mission.
Dr. Hendricks: I do have a question. Where does Yass come from?
Daniel: Um, okay. Yass really was born out of Lady Gaga's fanbase, like when Gaga would come out of an airport or something, they'd be like, yass, we love your outfit. Yass! Like it became this thing where it was like so funny that it became part of the queer vernacular to just kind of be like 'yass,' it came from like the acts. That's really where it came from. So we just, since it's a comedy program, we kind of thought, Yass Jesus... Part of it actually comes from a point that I've made before that have had the conversations that led to creating Yass Jesus where Azariah and I actually went to the finale of RuPaul's drag race together, and it was, everyone was dressed to the [00:42:00] nines. It was the whole LGBTQ community. They were all praising these drag Queens like they were the disciples of Christ, Christ himself. And we were enjoying yourselves. I was like, this feels so the closest thing to church that I felt in so long. And I just wish that, you know, You know, um, they tricked the gay community. They told us that we couldn't have god, they tricked us. They told us he could have god then all that energy that goes towards praise and worship, went to fashion and pop stars and all this other bullshit. And we were just kind of like, no, like you got to remember, like, why is it, why is it weird to raise your hand in praise in church, but then you could faint for Beyonce? Make it it make sense, Lord. [00:43:00] we definitely don't worship the white Jesus from Texas. We're here to sort of open up people's eyes and honestly like the miracle and the works and how wonderful this is to just have God in your life. Like, and, and, you know, my mom always says like, when she's talking, like she comes to me to conventions and things like that. And when she talks to like a young gay kid, she always says, what's your favorite bag? And they're like my Louis Vuitton. And they're like, okay, and what's your puppy's name? Oh, princess or whatever. She's like, would you let them take your puppy away? No. Would you let them take your bag? No. Then why do you let them take your God? Your most valuable thing in your life.
Dr. Hendricks: Wow.
Daniel: You know, and that's where Yass Jesus comes from. It's like we are reclaiming our pride. We are reclaiming our faith . You can't tell us we can't have our God and we can have it any way we want. We can be multifaceted. We could be sexual, spiritual beings. We could be, you know, um, all these other things. But if everything is like coming from a place of good [00:44:00] intention and consent, then I don't think that God's going to have a problem with what anyone else is doing.
Dr. Hendricks: Well, you can say, uh, you know, I'm just following the example of, uh, David and Jonathan. I'm just being..
Daniel: Yes. We have a great episode. I have a great steamy episode about Jonathan that is so, I mean, there's definitely like a wonderful, uh, I thing for us too, but it's just, um, Really just letting people know that there are messages here that are perspectives, um, that are queer for people.
Azariah: And I think also for, I can, for me speaking for me, like being able to have a resource out there that you can, that people can find that were so hurt by, by scripture that was wrongfully used and abused to... you know, growing up LGBTQ and hearing that scripture used against them and then being able to find a resource where, oh my God, my story was there all along, in the story of David and Jonathan, in the story of Joseph, you know, like, and so re-exploring [00:45:00] these Bible stories to reclaim that.
Daniel: Even the story of Paul telling the unit that the Lord would have no problem with him being baptized. What a nice message for somebody who might be intersex or, you know, just have any different kind of genitalia. Like I think that these perspectives are not shown. And just there there's no, there's no, there's not a light on them. And I think we were even talking about Joseph and Joseph wearing ketonet passim instead of it being a Technicolor coat. A ketonet passim is a princess dress and Joseph might have been a gender queer person of color. And like, even just not to tell that perspective is doing a disservice to the Bible and saying, Hey, some people might think that it's like, And that's sort of where we come from. You know, we couldn't find it anywhere, both Azariah and I went to conversion therapy. And it's not lost on me that the same Bible that I carried to conversion therapy is the Bible that I'm reading about David and Jonathan too to people in the same physical text. It's all about the lens. And I think that these, you know, um, the problem that I [00:46:00] think that we have with a lot of the conservative Christian, right that we've been talking about and that your book speaks upon is that a lot of them don't read the Bible. A lot of them are, have it filtered through some sort of spiritual leader that probably doesn't even read it himself half the time. It was following some lesson plan from the greater authority. And I think that, um, uh, there are messages anywhere and, you know, as long as we have a broadcast, we will reach out and try to find people who need to hear it.
Dr. Hendricks: Well, God bless you brother, I'll tell you, you're doing a great, great work. And thank you for, uh, for, uh, raising that point about Joseph.
Daniel: Yeah, it's really interesting because at 46 AD I believe , either 86 or 46, but it was, um, where the translation is that says it's a ketonet passim. And it's only mentioned one other time in the story of Tamar where she's put into that on her wedding day. So, it's actually interesting. And in the book, in the book [00:47:00] of Enot which I haven't read, but it's also told that Joseph was hairless and sensitive and, you know, a possibly genderqueer. You know, and just, and just like, which makes so much more sense because it's always told us that even in the musical, that everyone is so jealous of that coat that they want it, but then it gets ripped up and has blood poured all over it. If they wanted it, they would have someone would have left with the coat. It's just not, it just seems something something's wrong there in the telling.
Dr. Hendricks: I hear that. Yeah, brother. Okay. Okay, great. Thank you. That's some stuff for me. Yeah. Yeah.
Daniel: We will pick out about three or four episodes of that I think would do the same thing for you.
Dr. Hendricks: You're echoing.
Daniel: Oh, sorry. Is this better? We'll pick out three or four episodes that we think would maybe crack your head open and then we'll send them to you.
Dr. Hendricks: Do that please. Well, I got to run guys.[00:48:00] This was fun.
Daniel: God bless you, honestly and for all you do.
Dr. Hendricks: Thank you.
Daniel: Thank you so much, so much Dr. Hendricks. The tithe love offering act of good this week, you heard those books that Dr. Hendrick listed start your reading list. Start with Christians against Christianity, but then move on to James cones, Walter wink, and so many other books by folks who love God and call for justice in this world. You may have followers, but if your followers are not actively engaging with each other, learning from each other and the vibing regularly, then you don't have a community. So please reach out to us. We want to know who you are. We want to feel your presence. Um, now please let's, uh, lower our heads for prayer, unless you're driving. Don't do that.
God we just want to thank you again for bringing us together here at Yass Jesus for bringing us together with all these wonderful people. We want to thank you so much for Dr. Hendricks joining us. Um, we want to pray that the Christian [00:49:00] Church and all of us who call ourselves Christian can stand up for God's love and justice.
We want to pray to speak up for those who are oppressed, marginalized, targeted, harass, arrested. Let us proclaim your gospel so that it is comfort to those who need a word of comfort. And agitation to those who needs to be stirred and called out. We'd like to pray for vandals who continue to tear down symbols of welcome and inclusion.
We have to pray Lord that you change their heart. And you guide us to respond to love and justice each, each and every time.
Azariah: And for Michael and his walk around Missouri, it's a true crosswalk to lift up justice for all, including LGBTQ people. So we pray that you are with him as he he's walking. And for Richie, his sister, her husband, and their whole family. We pray for healing. We pray for genuine fellowship. We pray for love and justice in their relationships, and we pray for [00:50:00] health and healing in that family.
Daniel: Thank you and amen. Thank you all for listening to another episode of Yass Jesus you can find us on social media @yassjesuspod or on our website at yassjesuspod.com.
If you like the show, please consider becoming a monthly sponsor. You can find the link to do so in the show notes. And if you haven't yet leave us a review five stars, my friend, share with a friend and doing so please, it just helps us reach new people and keep the show running.
Azariah: You can now leave an audio prayer request or a praise report on our website yassjesuspod.com. We would love to share your voice and your prayers on the shows. So drop us a line or send us a recording on yassjesuspod.com. Send us your praise reports, your prayer requests, your episode ideas, your guest ideas, or even just a love and justice is coming your way. We'd love to hear from you.
Daniel: This is hosted by me, Danny Franzese and...
Azariah: Azariah Southworth. Music, sound, editing and all things [00:51:00] audio are done by Chris Heckman. Our show is produced by the freaking deacon Ross Murray and Meredith Paulley. Special thanks to Sophie Serrano and Sam Isfan.
Daniel: Yass Jesus, this is brought to you by Audity. Audity execs are Ryann Lauckner, Jessica Bustillos, and Steve Michaels.
Azariah: And honey, no matter where you're at in this world, no matter what you believe, God will always love you just as you are.
Daniel: And we'll keep screaming and streaming for ya. Keep praising the Lord, y'all.