Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Recommended Reading: Eboo Patel on United Methodists, LGBTQ Exclusion, and Diversity Progressives

Eboo Patel is the founder and president of the Interfaith Youth Core. He is deeply committed to diversity, especially though not exclusively religious diversity. He is also sympathetic to those from the global South, having been born in India himself. And while he is Muslim and not Methodist, he has close connections to United Methodists. (A college friend of mine, for instance, was for many years both a senior staff member at IFYC and attending a United Methodist church.)

This puts Patel in an interesting position to comment as a sympathetic outsider on the current state of The United Methodist Church, something he did for Inside Higher Ed in a piece called "United Methodists, LGBTQ Exclusion and Diversity Progressives." Patel does a good job of laying out the tensions for those "diversity progressives" who, like him, want to affirm LGBTQ inclusion while also taking seriously the voices of people of color, specifically Africans.

The piece as a whole is worth a read, but the ending is particularly on point and challenging:

"Finally, an interesting intellectual challenge for diversity progressives: explain the reason that the overwhelming number of African and Asian delegates voted against LGBTQ inclusion without resorting to racist and colonialist tropes, by which I mean things like, “They were duped into this by white people” (it denies people agency) or “Just wait fifty years and their views will be inclusive like ours are” (it assumes Western ways are the end of history and the zenith of civilization).

"For that, we diversity progressives might have to actually listen to the perspectives of people with whom we deeply disagree, and even find hurtful."

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