The violence of shame

Jun 20, 2016 by

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I call the members of the Mennonite Church USA Executive Board who counseled Villegas to resign to stand accountable before the church. Such action amounts to institutional violence and attempted public shaming of a faithful servant. It is unworthy of a pacifist people and delegitimizes the board’s leadership.

The expectation of uniform adherence to the Membership Guidelines among board members is apparently based on a self-righteous and perhaps idolatrous reading that weapon­izes the guidelines and breaks with the spirit that led the delegates in 2015 to affirm forbearance of our differences respecting sexual diversity more strongly than the guidelines themselves. Moreover, given the abandonment of the church by conferences and congregations unwilling to forbear, the degree of difference in these affirmations among those continuing in the church is likely to be even greater. So the board members’ counsel is even less likely to be relatively representative.

Shunning is one of the embarrassments of our history, the type of violence we have willingly engaged in, too proud of not engaging in war perhaps to notice that violence takes other forms. One of these, being made to feel unwelcome, has been inflicted on Villegas.

Bradley Siebert
Topeka, Kan.


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  • Chuck Friesen

    The 2015 support for the two resolutions was 58% and 71%. With the Lancaster (12747), North Central (341), and Franklin (1000) Conference losses of membership it was reported the membership is 78,892. Thus, the membership in Summer, 2015 was approximately 92,980 (78892 + the losses). Let’s assume the summer 2015 voting was proportionate to the MCUSA membership (I know delegates do the voting.) Let’s also assume those leaving MCUSA all voted for the Membership Guidelines and against the Forbearance resolution. I understand this is likely not to have been the case.

    This would yield new results of 50.5% support for the Membership Guidelines and 83.7% for the Forbearance resolution. I’m sure my assumptions are not exactly correct, but it would be safe to hypothesize the present support for the resolutions would range from 50.5% to 58% and between 71% and 83.7%, respectively.

    It is so sad the EB could not practice and model forbearance!

  • Rainer Moeller

    Shunning is another name for freedom of association. Nobody ought to be enforced to associate with another human – or be obliged to do so even against strong personal.feelings.

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