Straight, Evangelical Christian, Kathy Baldock, has a message for other Christians about LGBT people they need to hear.
“My name is Kathy Baldock and I have come here to put a face to the person you bullied and tormented and to give you the opportunity to take responsibility for your actions.” Baldock drove from her home in Reno, NV to deliver that message to a pastor in Texas. He made two mistakes: 1, he created videos attacking Baldock’s pro-LGBT stance without any logical reasons and 2, he didn’t apologize when she asked him to. She happened to be in Texas for a conference anyway and this man’s senior pastor also wouldn’t respond to her requests for an apology. She’s not one to give up.
Baldock’s ballsy approach to life is only equaled by her compassion toward the LGBT community and her love for Jesus. But it wasn’t always that way. She notes in her book, “I’m one of those nice people; I’m not mean-spirited. I wouldn’t intentionally harm another person, but my beliefs were the truth because they were based on verses directly from the Bible. I had a death-grip on the viewpoint that you can’t be a practicing gay person and a Christian.”
Her worldview began to unravel when her husband of 20 years decided he didn’t want to be married anymore. Baldock’s seemingly successful Christian family was crumbling in front of everyone. “To process my sorrow in healthy ways and to keep my mind and body productive,” she said, “I took up two new activities: studying Italian and hiking in the nearby mountains.” It was that second one, hiking, that was about to change everything.
On the trail, she frequently ran into a woman named Netto. “I soon suspected Netto might be a lesbian,” Baldock said. “At any other time in my Christian walk it would have been easy for me to tell her what she needed to do.” However, now with Baldock’s own life falling apart, she didn’t feel she could tell anyone anything. “Netto was spared my Christian attempt to rid her of sin and get her right with God,” Baldock said.
Over the next several years, through Netto, Baldock began making more friends in the gay community. Finally, confronted with those who identified as gay and Christian, Baldock decided to attend a Gay Christian Network Conference. “I was bewildered,” she said. “Undeniably, the Holy Spirit, who had been moving in my life for decades, was in the room and in the lives of these gay worshippers. As confused as I was, it felt as if we were in a holy place. The sacredness of the moment was completely overwhelming; I was deeply moved. I took off my shoes, slumped to the floor, and cried.”
Baldock, 58, an engineer by trade, inquisitive by nature, and tenacious by birth, began to research her questions. What she found was a complex link between how women have been viewed over the centuries; changing religious views; the invention of evangelicalism; the influence of religious infusion into American politics in the 1970s; and the evolving view of sexuality, which only began in the late 1800s.
Not content with simple “Wikipedia” answers, Baldock went straight to the sources, contacting the history makers themselves whenever possible. “Beyond just wanting to know ‘how’ the lenses formed,” she said, “my personal faith drove me deeper. I wanted to find a way to help repair the damage and even rescue the Bible out of the midst of the rubble heap of discord.”
Baldock said her book, Walking the Bridgeless Canyon, “examines the lenses through which we, in particular, Christians, have come to view the LGBT community.” The contentious relationship the Church has with the LGBT community hasn’t been going on as long as one would think.
Baldock discovered that the term sodomite originated around the 12th centuries and applied to both men and women who engaged in non-procreative sex. Sex acts between men and boys, once seen as a normal part of culture, came to be seen as a perversion. It wasn’t until the late 19th century, with advancements in medicine and science, which challenged religious thinking, that people began to notice that some individuals were attracted to age-appropriate same sexes. Until then, there had been no distinction in sexual orientations.
Baldock points out that there were no fiery sermons about homosexuality coming from the pulpits in the early ‘70s. The first recorded sermon came from W.A. Criswell, considered the father of modern fundamentalism, who preached a sermon on homosexuality on September 21, 1980.
Criswell, and other fundamentalists, had been wooed to the polls through the carefully constructed efforts of a young Republican political strategist named Paul Weyrich. It was the 1960s when Weyrich began to conceptualize ways to bring in the largest untapped voting block in America: unregistered conservative fundamentalist Christians. A majority of these fundamentalists had not been involved with politics and lived in relative isolation as far back as the mid-1920’s.
Not everyone was happy with the idea, according to Baldock. In fact, she quotes Barry Goldwater, in a 1981 speech to the U.S. Senate warning against Weyrich’s approach:
“On religious issues there can be little or no compromise. There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs…The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent.”
Nevertheless, Weyrich sought out a moral issue about which these voters would care. He knew his fundamentalist and Reconstructionist base were motivated by fear and belief in the mandate from a holy and vengeful God to save America from moral decay and deconstruction. Homosexuality fit the bill.
Baldock carefully and meticulously leads her readers through historical events leading up to where we are today in the battle between the religious and political right, and the LGBT fight for equality. Her eye-opening book brings together the disparate pieces of past and recent history into a holistic picture of current attitudes and events. She lovingly, but firmly, challenges the attitudes and beliefs of Christians caught in the cultural crosshairs of misinformation.
In fact, Baldock was so moved by her convictions about the mistreatment of the LGBT community, that she released a straight apology video, now viewed nearly 8,000 times on YouTube, and from which many young people recognize her when she walks in pride parades. Baldock can be spotted wearing her “Hurt by church? Get a #str8apology here” t-shirt.
While Baldock’s ministry is based on personal engagement and conversation, she has little tolerance for Bible-thumping churchgoers who lack reason. If you claim to be a Christian and your plan of attack, like the Texas pastor, is an anonymous hit-
and-run approach, don’t be surprised when she shows up on your doorstep asking for an apology. After all, it’s not about her, it’s about repairing the breach that divides Christians and the gay community. That’s her passion and she’s more than happy to tell you herself.