Difficult questions must be asked | Our View

Feb 16, 2017

As regular Edmonds Beacon readers know, we ran a story in the Feb. 9 edition about thieves repeatedly stealing LGBT rainbow pride flags planted in front of Edmonds Lutheran Church.

Whenever the church posts the flag, it receives anonymous hate calls or signs condemning the church’s stand. Four times, the flag has been stolen.

The Rev. Tim Oleson explained that the church would continue to welcome members of the LGBT community, as well as those who apparently disagree with that open-door policy.

The Beacon also posted its weekly poll question online, asking, “Do you support churches welcoming the gay community?” It also posted the question on the Beacon’s Facebook page.

That question prompted an avalanche of comments, many from readers who apparently didn’t see the story and didn’t understand the context, others who were offended that we would even ask the question, and still others who argued it was a valid question that needed to be asked.

We removed the question from our website after the vote reached 174-4 in favor; obviously social media played a part in skewing what by no means was a scientific poll.

The decision to remove the poll prompted still more comments, some from people claiming victory because they assumed the Beacon supported bigotry and was unhappy with the results, others who suggested we were cowed by the outpouring of anger, and still others who argued against taking down the poll because it showed that freedom of speech can be threatened by the angry mob.

Despite the many assumptions – and everyone knows what they say about assuming – we agree with those who argued it was a valid question. Obviously, there are people who have strong feelings against gays. Some of them make anonymous hate calls and steal flags.

We don’t agree that asking the question somehow will help force the LGBT community back into the shadows; that’s not going to happen, nor should it.

But pretending we’re all on the same page, and ignoring uncomfortable issues, is not a path to understanding. Not too long ago, a majority of people opposed legalizing gay marriage; today, a majority support it (although a majority of Republicans still oppose it).

Some who were offended suggested we substitute the word “gay” with “blacks” or “Muslims,” and then wondered if we would ask such a question. Our answer is, yes, absolutely. As long as there is prejudice and misunderstanding and ignorance, we believe it is important to shed light and search for answers.

Progress doesn’t happen when we refrain from asking difficult questions or having difficult conversations.

 

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