A lifelong gay Christian Scientist explores his religion’s history and its largely uncharted, turbulent relationship with sexual minorities.
Mexico-based American journalist Stores (The Isthmus, 2009) looks at the controversial Church of Christ, Scientist, from the 1950s to the present day. Specifically, he tells of how the church, once devoted to outdated, exclusionary practices regarding gays, has come around to adopting a policy of leniency. Stores includes numerous profiles of intrepid, trailblazing gay activists who advocated changes within the church, such as defrocked Pentecostal Rev. Troy Perry Jr., who established the Metropolitan Community Church in the 1960s, and Chris Madsen, an outspoken lesbian cub reporter who was terminated from her position at the Christian Science Monitor in the 1980s due to her sexual orientation. Madsen’s story ignited a momentous scandal and lawsuit, which would rock the church’s steely foundation. Stores also presents profiles of several other people who wished to exclude sexual minorities from church membership, such as the staunchly anti-gay letter-writer Reginald Kerry and singer and LGBT rights opponent Anita Bryant. By offering such divergent viewpoints, Stores’ intelligent, thought-provoking narrative strives to “provide new frameworks in defining the place of sexual minorities in ecclesiastical institutions.” The author’s closing notes reflect the latest positive inroads, including pro–gay-equality activism by the author’s own son on the Christian Scientist Principia College campus. Ultimately, Stores’ narrative coalesces into a fair-minded look at the evolution of Christian Science’s stance on gay rights, the responses of its leadership and followers, and the hope for change.
A meticulously researched educational tool, particularly for readers with a casual interest in Christian Science and LGBT issues.