In this Episode:
And what’s fascinating is that when you read the Bible closely on its own volition: it will teach you a way of liberation. –Michael Vazquez
The devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy, and the devil knows how to mimic what we say is holy. And the only way we know that it’s holy is by the fruits that it bears and this fruit is causing things to die. –Carmarion Anderson-Harvey
God is both male and female and non-binary. And also God is above gender and in all gender.
And it is so mysterious and complicated. We could sit with that thought. If we really just sat and thought about that, that could be enough to lead us into joy and compassion and the splendor of mystery for the rest of our days. –Michael Vazquez
We are both sinner and saint at the same time. We cannot lift out any verse or chapter of scripture and say, “that’s what God meant,” because we use scripture to interpret scripture. That’s why you must know everything from the beginning to the end to figure out and realize Jesus had no original material.
Everything can be tracked back to Isaiah or one of the other prophets, or God speaking to Moses, which to me says that God has always been consistent. I always love the first line of the Shema “Shema, Israel.” Listen to Israel. The Lord, the Lord your God is one from the beginning to the end.
Christ was there at the creation. Christ is here. God is here. The Spirit is here to lead us, to guide us, inspire us, to help us ask the right questions, and keep asking questions. –Nicole Garcia
They don’t talk about what is God’s kingdom like? What does it smell like when you enter that place? What are the requirements of the citizens of the kingdom of God? And what we see in scripture, if you go deep into that scripture, is that it’s actually a circle. It is a place where we are all just human.
And God is God and we are not. And therefore we are all safe because God is in the midst of us. And there’s no weapons, there’s no AR-15s. There’s no dominating the other because God is God and we are not. –Lisa Sharon Harper
On this episode, we’re going to talk about transgender identity and its weaponization within the American political arena. We’ve invited three people whose voices, lives and faith can shed light on a topic that has been intentionally obfuscated in the melee of political warfare.
Nicole Garcia, a queer transgender Latina, is currently the Faith Work Director for the National LGBTQ Task Force.
Carmarion D. Anderson-Harvey is a trans-identified woman who is the Alabama State Director within Human Rights Campaign’s Project One America. Carmarion is also currently serving as the National Co-Minister and South Region Coordinator for Trans Saints ministry of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries.
Michael Vazquez, public theologian and policy wonk, is Founding Partner of The Maiden Group.
So, you can see we are set for the conversation we need to have on Freedom Road, for such a time as this.
We’d love to hear your thoughts. Tweet to Lisa @LisaSHarper or to Freedom Road @FREEDOMROADUS. We’re also on Substack! So be sure to subscribe to The Truth Is… and Freedom Road. And, keep sharing the podcast with your friends and networks and letting us know what you think!
Lisa Sharon Harper: [00:00:00] Coming to you from the city of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I’m Lisa Sharon Harper, president of Freedom Road, a consulting group dedicated to shrinking the narrative gap. Welcome to the Freedom Road Podcast. On Freedom Road, we bring together national faith leaders, advocates, and activists to have the kinds of conversations we normally have on the front lines.
And it’s just that this time we’ve got microphones in our faces, and you are listening in. And on this episode, we are gonna talk about transgender identity and its weaponization within the American political arena, I’ve invited three people whose voices lives and faith, I believe can shed light on a topic that has been intentionally obfuscated in the melee of political warfare.
Nicole Garcia is a queer, transgender Latina. Currently the Faith Work Director for the national [00:01:00] LGBTQ Task Force. Carmarion D. Anderson-Harvey is a trans-identified woman who is the Alabama State Director within human rights campaigns Project One America. Also currently serving as the National Co-Minister and South Regional Coordinator for Trans Saints Ministry of the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries. Michael Vasquez is a public theologian and policy wonk who is the founding partner of the Maiden Group. So you can see that we are set for the kind of conversation that we need to have on Freedom Road for such a time as right now.
Now we’d love to hear your thoughts, tweet or Insta to me at Lisa S. Harper or to Freedom Road. At Freedom Road us. And please keep sharing the podcast with your friends so that we can get this message out as far and wide as it needs to go. And let us know what you think. [00:02:00] So, you know, we love to hear the back and forth.
We love to hear your comments, so keep sending them. So, over the past year, the transgender community has become a primary target of legislation aimed at stripping all Americans of the right to have public conversations about or to learn about transgender people. It’s coming from the same places as the anti CRT talk and that legislation and has been legislatively weaponized in similar ways.
And I’ve been really struck in recent days by the obvious ways that trans women in particular have been targeted. Most of all, this feels like an inflection point for the LGBTQIA community, and for all of us, especially trans people. I say prayers for my own family member who is transgender, and for my other family [00:03:00] members who are members of the LGBTQIA community every single day.
Because not only is our community, um, the United States, our collective community being torn ascender by these, by this political warfare, but our divisions are becoming more violent and therefore more and more necessary for us to confront.
So I wanna begin where it all begins with our faith. Can you tell us your faith stories? What are the stories, what are the roads that you have walked in your road to become more connected to God and to God’s purposes on earth?[00:04:00]
Rev. Nicole Garcia: Well, this is, um, this is Nicole. Mm-hmm. And I, I was raised in a very Latinx, Roman Catholic family. And Mama and I were very close and we were the ones who always ended up going to church together. Um, one time I remember, um, she was always joking that I, uh, I’m in church so much that the priest will want me to sit by him.
And we went to mass one day and they needed a, a reader. So, um, pastor, uh, the father came over and asked me if I would do the readings. Well, in those days, the readers walked up with, uh, the, the book and actually sat next to, to the pa to the priest. And so, um, mama said, well, what did the priest want?
And I said, he wants me to sit with him, mama. And [00:05:00] she just laughs. I, I love church. I was a very good Catholic boy. Mm-hmm. But in my, uh, college years, I went into college at CU Boulder in the late 1970s, early eighties. And the Chicano studies programs were really taking shape and form. And that’s why I truly learned about colonialism.
The fact that I was Catholic. My family is Catholic. My ancestors were Catholic because we were forced to with the conquistadores came the priests. And they made us all Catholic. And the Catholic church let me down. And at the same time, I was praying to God so deeply to fix me because I didn’t know how to be like my male cousins.
So, um, I was constantly chastised for being in the wrong place, playing with the wrong people. I was always in the kitchen with grandma, my, my aunts and my mother, rather than being outside, throwing her around the [00:06:00] football with my male cousins. Mm-hmm. So in my early twenties, I just, God let me down, didn’t listen to my prayers.
The church let me down. I left the church. I ended up,
Lisa Sharon Harper: What were the prayers? What were the prayers that you prayed?
Rev. Nicole Garcia: Well, it, it just, the constant fix me, make me like my male cousins. I didn’t know how to perform my gender. And when I tried to be who I was supposed to be, I never knew how to do it right. Hmm.
So I ended up doing what a lot of trans people do, and I went into law enforcement, so many of my friends military.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Wait a minute, you just said you did with a lot of trans people, then you went into law enforcement, is that right? Yes. Wow. Okay.
Rev. Nicole Garcia:A lot of my friends who, who trans who, who, um, um, transition later in life.
Many of us have military or law enforcement backgrounds. Wow. And, and for me, I realized, I joined, um, the department in order to prove I was a man. And [00:07:00] that failed miserably. Yeah. I was able, I learned how to perform the gender, how to wear the uniform, but soon as it came off, I was done. It took so much energy to pretend to be someone else all day, that when I was finished, I was finished.
And I, I also got married, um, to a beautiful woman. Um, we were married in a Catholic church and tried to do everything we’re supposed to, but there was a point where she realized that she didn’t want to be married to an angry, bitter, um, man. And I blamed her for me being miserable. And so we got a divorce and after we were divorced, I had a realization that I had walked away from everything I was supposed to have. I had a good job. We were, I was well respected. She had a good job. We had a five bedroom house outside of downtown Denver. We had new cars. We had all the material things we’re [00:08:00] supposed to have. Why was I so miserable? Hmm. And that’s when I got into therapy and finally told a therapist that the dirty secret that I kept my whole life is I always love wearing women’s clothing.
And I ended up, you know, finding a support group and realizing I had a transition. I had always been Nicole. And when I had a reawakening and realization of my gender, I had a reawakening of my faith. And I found this Lutheran church in downtown Denver that I fell in love with. Um, the people were lovely.
They welcomed me in and I learned about Lutheran um, theology when I took the catechism classes, and it answered all my problem, all the issues I had with the Catholic church and I became Lutheran. So much so to the point that I am now an ordained Lutheran pastor. Um, so I know about that. So, um, and my [00:09:00] church, the ELCA, I don’t know how it happened, but they recognize my position at the task force as a call to ministry.
So, um, I’m Pastor Nicole working for the task force. It sometimes I’m like, how the heck did this happen?
Lisa Sharon Harper: You can cuss around here. It’s okay. On Freedom Road. We cuss so well. Thank you so much Reverend Garcia. I really appreciate that. Wow. What, uh, what, okay, so we’re gonna have to come back to a few questions that I have that come out of your story.
We’ll do that in the next segment. Who would like to go next?
Minister Carmarion Anderson-Harvey: Yeah. Um, you know, just to piggyback on, on Nicole and Nicole, that’s, that storytelling just remarkable is somewhat similar. Um, you know, I am from the, the deep south. Um, I’m a black woman of trans experience. Um, I was reared, um, in the Pentecostal Black Church experience.
Um, that’s basically Baptist and black Methodist on steroids. [00:10:00] Okay. Um, where everything is harsh, everything. Um, there has a structure. Um, and being a bishop’s kid, um, you know, and being a, uh, identical twin, Um, and trying to find myself, um, rather finding purpose. Um, I’ll say it that way. Mm-hmm. Um, you know, I love the church.
Um, and that’s probably why I still, um, promote, um, uh, maybe Neo Pentecostal where. I’m not gonna be, uh, a judge or a jury. Um, but I’m going to be, um, the representation of love for everyone. You know, my journey started very early. Um, I like to say that my mother reared me as a daughter. Um, I’m sure she, she went a hundred percent enjoy that of me saying that just because of her stance.
Um, and rest her soul, her and my father have already, um, have transitioned and resting right now [00:11:00] until rapture. At the same time. I remember, um, losing my virginity, being promiscuous at an early age. You know, being a bishop’s kid and being, um, a PK kid or preacher’s kid we’re very sheltered. Um, and so we find ways to sneak around.
Um, to try to learn, because we do not learn worldly things as it relates to dating or getting certain questions answered. We are instructed to go back to the Bible, which is generally the new King James Version. And at that time who understands they, them, and thy. And now we have a population of pronouns that I know is ordained in the Bible.
Mm-hmm. Um, so I advocate for our gender nonconforming individuals, um, who use those pronouns because they were directly written in, needless to say, uh, being promiscuous, um, allowed me to get some of my questions answer, or having a place of belonging. Um, sadly we preach sin, [00:12:00] fornication, and that’s exactly what I was doing.
And I learned early on, um, because I’m a smart alec, that I can go to the altar and still have fun on occasion. That was my definition of fornication. And what I learned through that was I was able to have a way to get questions answered, um, while unfortunately being taken advantage of, um, not that someone molested me, not that someone took advantage of my innocence.
It is, it, it was, it was, um, It certainly was something that I chose to do. So, um, it was a quite an understanding, but I still was not mature enough in the mind. Um, I remember at the age of 13 and 14 my mother coming to me asking me about my orientation. We were in a disagreement and she just yelled out, so what you gay?
Or something? And immediately I said Yes. And oftentimes those that are of the transgender [00:13:00] experience often, um, have to label themselves by orientation, just so the other parties outside looking in can know that there is a difference, um, and how to show up and give us that level of respect. I learned a year later that it was never about my orientation.
It was always about my gender expression. Um, and I went to counseling starting at 14, and by the time I was 16, I fully transitioned. Um, after the birth of my son, um, through those two years I tried to do what I could by being at the altar, by, um, preaching against and praying away. Um, this ideal of me being a woman and this imagine of me being a woman of trans experience who is holy, who can still wear dresses, and no pants, and who don’t have to wear makeup and who can grow her hair out and who can blend in, um, and wear her white on Women’s Day.
And, you know, that [00:14:00] transition at such a early age, I was really maturing the mind because my transition really didn’t have anything to do with an angry God that I thought that, um, God made a mistake or the creator, um, you know, is punishing me. I had to go to my parents and let them know that when I was going through theology school and my denomination, Um, as a youth minister, I learned how to respond to the question, what is your call to ministry?
Um, and everybody responses generally was basically the same or things that I seen growing up in the church. And I knew that was not my response and by the time I was able to answer it, it was, I am called to those other sheep that are not of this fold and to be called to them, I also must be them. Um, and and so that is where I coined my story of my transition or what I like to call [00:15:00] my purpose driven is, is that I am a woman of trans experience because it’s part of my ordained purpose. Um, it is part of ministry. Um, and, you know, it’s, it is part of allowing those outside looking in that God and our creator, um, the most divine is a diverse God, and we are not robots.
And God needs the diversity in the earth in order for us to go to those other sheep that are not of this folk because there will not be anyone that will be left without a witness. And I still believe in some of my tradition beliefs. Um, I did get kicked out of the church, uh, by the time I was 18, um, and I went to a different denomination.
Um, just because I had friends that went there and culturally, um, going to church on Sunday, Bible study, um, Tuesday or Wednesday of whatever your faith is, that is a culture and I wanted to make sure I stayed plugged in, but also be received in what God, [00:16:00] um, has ordained me here in the Earth. And I sat there for three years.
I called that my Nehemiah experience, I said, On the front pew, um, until God was able to identify where I needed to be. And, and in my early twenties I stumbled up with the reformation I’m still currently at where I serve as the national, um, co-minister for our transgender ministry in the States and as well globally.
And that’s 19 years now. And what I was able to learn by partnering with them was not only, um, to accept all of me, um, but also learn how to contextualize. So school also helped us, well, you know, we use this word liberation theology or affirming theology. Um, and I’m a transgender or trans theologist, um, where I wanna make sure that we are found in the pages, in especially in the Christian text, in those 66 books [00:17:00] and those books that we still do not want to claim that are missing.
And so I will say this journey, um, has been challenging a little bit, but it’s been rewarding. I have been the first of many because I did transition, June will be 27 years. Mm-hmm. Um, and. I’m not easily offended. Yes, it’s 27 years. Not easily offended because when you are, when you have tapped into purpose, you get a chance to show up in a different way that’s beyond just being bold.
So I get to show up to be who I am and allow people to be educated by my mere presence and to answer their questions and as well offer them consideration. I’m not one of the ones that out people, I don’t know what, you know, unless I build a relationship and have dialogue with you. Um, and I would just say that, you know, um, you know, for the listeners, you know, this don’t just have to be about purpose within your gender expression. It is purpose anywhere. Mm-hmm. You know, I am purposed by working [00:18:00] right now, currently in this season for the Human Rights Campaign. Mm-hmm. I am purpose, you know, to have been a mother and now a grandmother of three, you know, on purpose, you know, to have a hyphenated name and, um, know what it feels like to authentically be married, um, you know, regardless of where we are in our place now.
So I think that it is healthy and it is important to, in my words, in order for me to testify my gospel, um, which is my truth and my transition
Lisa Sharon Harper: That is, fabulous! Wow. Like, seriously, I feel like I literally just went to church. I could, I could actually probably do like one of those tambourine dances right now.
And for real. I, I wonder, I wonder, I have so many questions that have also risen from your testimony as well, Carmarion, and I’m, now I wanna ask Miguel, who I, I kind of joke, I say Miguel, his father’s name is Miguel. Um, he goes by Michael. And so Michael, I’m sorry Michael. Um, you know, I wanna ask because you are not [00:19:00] trans, um, you’re not transgender.
You are LGBTQ community, but let us know what is your faith journey here?
Michael Vazquez: Absolutely. Uh, hi everyone. Uh, I’m a cisgender queer man. Um, I use the queer importantly because I think the queer experience in the queer worldview is what has freed me. Uh, what has given me renewed context for who I am as both spirit and body in one in this world. Mm-hmm. Um, when, uh, a few years ago when I met one of my, uh, spiritual directors, who remains one of my spiritual directors to this day, uh, first time we met, she looked at me and, and asked who, who are all the women?
And [00:20:00] just paused. And it was funny because it, it, it was not an absurd question to me cuz I knew exactly what she was asking. Right? Um, I did not survive without the presence of a long lineage of women. In my life since childhood to that moment in, in early 2018. I had been in therapy at that point for some time processing some deep, uh, deep trauma from my upbringing, um, but also from my time in evangelicalism. And something, a recurring theme in my time in therapy was my inability to envision life after 30. My therapist, uh, would often ask like, why are you in such a rush? Ooh. Where, why are you trying to move so quickly?
Why are you putting so much pressure? [00:21:00] And I’m like, well, I only have so much time. I believe I wouldn’t make it to 30. I didn’t believe I would live, uh, past 30. Um, I grew up in a difficult, traumatized, violent home that was Catholic, uh, culturally, and my only reprieve from the pain and turmoil and violence that I dealt with on a daily basis in that household was our summers in Puerto Rico, where my dad’s family’s from.
We would go back and we would stay with my grandma’s, uh, sister, uh, and niece who were strong Bapticostal women. We were in church. Yeah. Uh, two or three times a week. Well, the rest of my cousins in Puerto Rico were on the beach and sunbathing and like swimming and having a great time. We were in church.
There [00:22:00] was prayers and bible reading every night before bed. Hmm. And these were some of the, to this day, some of the most conservative people that I know. Mm-hmm. I knew some of the most profoundly loving people I’d ever encountered in my life. Without them. I do not know if I would’ve had joy as a child.
Now my older brother remember hating going and to stay with them and would much rather stay with our other cousins cuz it was fun. And there were video games and there was like no church and all of this. But in this household where queer people were not affirmed, there was no acceptance. There was no wiggle room for conversation there, I still experienced more love than I’d ever experienced in my upbringing.
When I came out, uh, at the age of 10, the first people, my dad and my grandma called, were these two women who prayed to exercise the gay [00:23:00] demon out of me. And this was, I think, the first true betrayal that I ever experienced because I expected pain from other people in my life, even at that age.
Um, But from these women, I did not expect that. And yet I could never get past. Right. I could go down the list right when I was 17, and then Captain Altwan Great from South Carolina scooped me up and brought me to church and helped me get into college. And random woman I met on the street who saw me leaving youth group trying to find my way and she knew something was a little different about this kid, but love abounded. And the thing that drew me into Evangelicalism, aside from this deep tradition of like black and Latinx church, like this was my world, right? So I already had a foundation. The thing that brought me in was that Evangelicals offered community, [00:24:00] and
Lisa Sharon Harper: That’s right.
Michael Vazquez: Family and love, love, love and support. Like we have a, we have a place for you here because Jesus has a place for you here. But the cost of that… The supposed cost of discipleship that evangelicals preach. The cost of that was nearly five years of conversion therapy. Nearly five years of hypervigilance and surveillance of my every move.
And what I will honestly say today, non-facetiously was a cult, is what I lived through. This abuse of scripture, this abuse of the name of God was a cult. Sure. Plenty of well-intentioned people. Plenty of well-intentioned people. Doesn’t take away the fact that what I endured and what many others have endured.
Especially LGBTQ people, especially trans [00:25:00] folk, was torture and abuse. But the thing that remains the gift from that moment that is, in part, right? Whereas that experience was part of the reason why I didn’t think I’d make it to 30 because it was horrifying and harrowing. It is also, it also gave me the tools to survive who pass 30 now.
Because evangelicals love to tell you that you should wake up early in the morning and do what? Read the Bible.
Lisa Sharon Harper: That’s right.
Michael Vazquez: Before you go to bed, you should read the Bible. The, the word of God should be in every part of your life written on your mind and on your heart. And so, well, I did. And what’s fascinating is that when you read the Bible closely on its own volition, it will teach you a way of liberation.
So even when Dana, my spiritual director asked me, who are all the women? It was this with all these women throughout my lineage, throughout my life who [00:26:00] had like supported and shown up. But then it was all the women in the story of God. But particularly Mary who says, That the mighty will be torn down. The rich will be sent away empty, and the hungry will be filled with good things. And for the first time, right. I realized, somewhere around right. The birth of the Movement for Black Lives and the start of the Black Lives Matter movement. And response to the state sanctioned murder of Mike Brown.
This crackdown on LGBTQ, people that started after the Supreme Court’s decision and the Obergefell case making marriage equality law of the land. This crackdown, this is around the same time I’m rereading scripture, rereading Luke and Matthew and Revelation, the prophets and realizing, wait a minute, you who would bind me in chains and my [00:27:00] community in chains are using the very text of liberation foolishly against us, and that will not stand because yes, if we just read the book, we can be set free. And so it was through that, through that, that I came into grassroots organizing. It’s through reading about how um, Jesus had no problem self-identifying with various genders and none at all.
Declaring that God was above and transcends gender because God is in all things. Both night and day, but dusk and dawn and everything else in between. That is how I found freedom and committed myself into this work of sharing that liberation.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Hallelujah.
These are our stories. You are listening to the Freedom Road Podcast, where we bring you stories from the front lines [00:28:00] of the struggle for justice.
I wanna put a question that I’m sure our listeners, many of our listeners have. You know, it’s, it’s not at the front of their mind. It might be at the back of their mind, but it’s one that I think is being raised, especially by the conversations around, um, transgender identity, um, particularly in this weaponized context. And I know that it’s one that I’m sure, um, our guests, um, uh, Nicole and Carmarion in particular have heard in the course of your time in the church.
But it’s that thing of, are you saying God made a mistake, right? So how, how do you answer, how do you speak to people who come at you with God doesn’t make mistakes?[00:29:00]
Minister Carmarion Anderson-Harvey: I have coined this saying that God does not make a mistake, but God will do it again. Um, and it comes from a sermon. Um, That I contextualized from the New Testament found in Mark about the blind man who was taken from Jesus out of the city, from the very people that kept him blind.
And when Jesus touched him, um, the, and asked the blind man, what do you see? He said, I see men like trees. And Jesus basically, well, that’s not good enough because I want the full transformation. Um, and Jesus touched, um, the blind man eyes again. And the blind man said, what? Or Jesus asked the blind man, what do you see?
And he said that I see, uh, men who look like men. I see trees that look like trees. I can basically see now. And Jesus gave some instructions by [00:30:00] saying, now that you can see, don’t go back to the very place that kept you blind. Mm-hmm. In other words, I use and contextualize that to better understand that um, God will always do it again and we can no longer continue using scriptures to weaponize even what we don’t understand. Um, we can’t do that. We can find in Genesis, you know, they use that scripture a lot that, you know, God or our creator made Adam and Eve and not Adam and Steve. And it’s just like, okay, that just is so contridictory.
Lisa Sharon Harper: It’s not even true. Right.
Minister Carmarion Anderson-Harvey: Which is not true, but if it is, but it does have some truth to it.
Our creator made everyone. Yes. So there could be a Steve out there. Um, but, you know, another, you know, area that many people have wrote about, I’ve preached about, um, I’m sure Nicole is even, um, contextualized and Michael, um, through his academic background and those, all those papers and wonderful things that, you know, that gets published.
But you know, When we talk about God [00:31:00] making a mistake, did God make a mistake putting Adam and Eve… And I’m just contextualizing from a Christian standpoint in a garden where they were just naked and they were free and they were comfortable until there was some type of deception. And then they go into hiding.
And you know, the question is, is that basically who told you you were naked? Um, and that’s where we’re living. We’re living where we are being forced to not have the full transformation of seeing who we are. And then we also are being forced where people are telling us that we are naked when we are actually free.
Um, and so I don’t believe God makes a mistake. I believe God will do it again. And it’s all purpose driven. Um, and I believe that, um, that we must keep up with time in the season, um, for us to be relevant of the gospel of our testimony because otherwise we will stay stuck 2000 years ago and we don’t want to go back there.
We don’t wanna stone individuals. We don’t wanna sit [00:32:00] here and one wear one fabric. You know, I’m from the deep south. I want to eat all my grease and butter at the same time and Deuteronomy would not allow me to do that. And so we can’t pick and choose and we can’t say that our creator, um, has made a mistake.
Because if you subscribe to that, then you must look in the mirror and find out what mistakes the creator made in you.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Drop the mic.
Rev. Nicole Garcia: So much of the time when we look at scripture, God tells us what we should be doing, and then we say, yes. Oh, how? And then there’s something shiny.
We run off and all of a sudden the world isn’t how we want the world to be. Therefore, God made a mistake. God didn’t fulfill my wishes. Well, guess what? We’re not God. Mm-hmm. And that’s really, you know, Jesus were telling us, love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul, which means there is a God.
You are [00:33:00] not God. The day that I figured out I don’t know everything. Yes, it was a very dark day. We also realized I have to rely on God like most deeply, um, church ongoing Catholic boys. I wanted to be a priest when I was 18, but mama and grandma said no. I had to um, I had to get married and have kids.
But in reality, I look back and said, the Lord said not yet. Hmm. I had to live through the life of being, uh, live through pretending to be a man for 42 years of my life until I was ready to transition and then go through transition and have that experience of seeing life on both sides of the streets, so to speak.
Yeah. Um, and um, then I was ready to go to seminary. Then I was ready to, to be ordained because I had a deeper [00:34:00] understanding of life. I can’t imagine what kind of priest I would’ve been if I started studying when I was 18. I had no clue about life. Mm-hmm. And now I believe I’m a much better pastor. More compassionate, more caring, able to reach out and put myself in other people’s shoes and sit there and try and imagine where they’re at.
Rather than putting my perception of who, where they should be.
Lisa Sharon Harper: You know, it’s funny because I think, I mean, I, I’m a public theologian as well, and a narrative theologian, and I go back to the scripture, um, and I ask the question because often to people, people will point to Genesis and they’ll say, that’s the problem. Genesis is the problem. But it, it actually wasn’t the problem for me. It was, it was actually the door that opened that helped me to see, just like each of you has named, um, that the scripture itself, it speaks differently than to the ways that we have been saying it speaks. Right? Like, so for [00:35:00] example, and I would love to get your, your input on this.
Um, when I was studying Genesis, one of the things that blew my mind was to learn that, Adam, the reason why I said it’s not Adam and Steve, Adam and Eve or anything like that, it’s because his name isn’t even Adam. And the scripture. It’s actually human. Adam means a’dam, human one made from Earth and, and, and the first gendered, actual gendered language that appears in that text is not a’dam, which is a gender neutral term, but rather ish and isha.
So you have ish and isha. They are the first gendered dimension and it’s, that’s where you have the division, right? That comes. But if you really look at it, look, if we’re gonna be fundamentalist about it, let’s be fundamental about this text and ask, what does the text tell us about the original human being?
The original human being was non-binary. The original human being was [00:36:00] transgender, you might say non-binary.
Minister Carmarion Anderson-Harvey: You know, I, so there are some things that I subscribe to and what you’re sharing, you know, I have contextualized where, um, if Adam can, um, basically bore, um, his quote unquote own, help meet. Um, and say that your bone and my bone flesh in my flesh, but you’re not gonna have the same name as me as man, but I will call you woman.
You know, I try to explain that Genesis at the beginning of that chapter is talking about God’s oneness. God, our creator, the most divineness spirit. There is no gender attached to how we worship and who we worship. We put these labels, he, um, and so forth, you know, in certain passages and when we’re praying.
But really, you know, the divine has no gender. That’s if you are a believe in oneness or trinity. That is the same essence of how we [00:37:00] were created. And I look at how, you know, one human was made and how it was taken out, divided, and then another being was made. But we also forget that the, when they were both made, it wasn’t that they were separate because God still constituted or the divine that they must come back as one.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Yes. So good!
Minister Carmarion Anderson-Harvey: And really, our oneness, here in the earth. And so if our divine is spirit, multifaceted, whatever you need that spirit to be, then therefore that is us here on earth. That’s the reason why we are the God-bearing image. We are human by nature
Lisa Sharon Harper: Together.
Minister Carmarion Anderson-Harvey: But we, correct, but we are spirit and divine here in the earth to make men.
Inclusive humans, King James Version, make other humans recognize the divine that’s here in the earth. And so you are absolutely right, Genesis can really teach us a [00:38:00] whole lot. As it relates, um, to, you know, to our divine and to humans. And, and, and then the other most important thing, I think if you go way back before even humans was made, when the creator said, let us make water.
Water was made, let us make plants. Plants was must make birds of the air. It was made. And then by the time it was decided to make humans, now let us that word us. Who are you speaking to?
Lisa Sharon Harper: Yes. Hello!
Minister Carmarion Anderson-Harvey: And cause I’m a Trinitarian, I believe that there is a feminine essence of the spirit, which to me and the New Testament is the Holy Ghost.
It’s the Holy Spirit. And when you’re able to tap in your oneness, you give birth to what you are wanting to create. And in this sense, we were created because there was a desire for us to continue to birth out the oneness, the divine hearing the earth, and be God image bearers.
Lisa Sharon Harper: I, you know, I totally resonate with that.
And I think, I mean, I would love to hear Nicole, [00:39:00] Michael, your take on this as well, because when I, one of the things that honestly, I mean, Carmarion, when I look at the text, I’m actually blown away by the fact that, look, if we’re gonna be real, like if we’re gonna be really fundamental about the text, God is non-binary because God actually is both woman and man.
It says both men and women are made in the image of God. What? Like, we really don’t know what to do with that. So what do they, what do we do? I mean, I actually, I have to say, I, I was speaking with, um, some, uh, mostly Southern Baptists, believe it or not, pastors, former Southern Baptist pastors. Actually, there might even be some, um, current ones as well, and Vineyard pastors a few years back.
Yes, the eyebrows are, raising yes. And I was, I was at a, at a conference that brought these folks together who are really asking the questions. And I said, isn’t it interesting that, you know, we talk about, we talk about having family values, we talk [00:40:00] about, um, loving our whole family and yet the family of God, as in Father, son and Holy Spirit, we’ve actually, we’ve cut women even out of the family of God.
That the spirit of God, even the word spirit is a feminine word, and ruak is a feminine word, and yet we have de-genderized God when actually in the, in that, in that iteration, the Holy Spirit, when in the text itself, the text tells us in black and white in actual language, God is both male and female.
So I mean that, what does that do? What should that do to our faith when we see that?
Michael Vazquez: I mean, I think we have lost. In general, our capacity for awe.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Yes. Yes.
Michael Vazquez: Because our, the Christian tradition has always said that all of creation mm-hmm. All of creation is a window into its [00:41:00] creator that all of creation reflects God.
And so if I attempt to look, I look out my window right now, just like done over there. Right. The people walking on the street, people walking in their dogs, the trees, the plants, the bugs, all of the things that we engage with, the way that the ocean roars or the wind blows are somehow reflections of the creator.
Wow. Wow. And so I cannot attempt to put God in a box. I cannot say that. Well, God is clearly, This buff old white man on a chair somewhere issuing decrees because it somehow benefits a political agenda because the reality is we don’t know. And scripture testifies. Why? Why would an angel appear to Mary and say, do not be afraid.
Or to the prophets appearing before the throne of God, do not be afraid. [00:42:00] Because this is terrifying, but you are safe. Because the reality is that God is beyond our capacity to comprehend. So I, it’s, yes, God is both male and female and non-binary. And also God is above gender and in all gender.
And it is so mysterious and complicated. And that should just alone, we could sit with that thought. If we really just sat and thought about that, that could be enough to lead us into joy and compassion and the splendor of mystery for the rest of our days. Yeah. But. The, the attempt to categorize… systematize theology, and divinity has restricted us, but I, I’m more of a end of the book than the beginning of the book. But Revelation 22:16, uh, Jesus says, I am the root and the offspring of David and, and the Bright Morning Star. And those are two references to two [00:43:00] distinct communities. The Jewish community that traces its roots back to King David.
And the Greco Roman community, specifically the Roman community that traces its heritage to Venus, the goddess Venus was known as the Bright Morning Star. Cause quite literally, she’s the brightest star in the sky, depending on the astrological movements. Brightest star in the sky. And they believe that Venus was the only goddess in the Roman pantheon that could end war.
So at the end of the book of Revelation, in a war, in a, in a book full of war and conflict and pain and disease, Jesus is saying, I summon both of your ancestors and I’m okay saying that I am your ancestor and your ancestor and your descendant as well, and I will free you from your own empire, from your own waring.
That God has no fear of identifying with the diversity of [00:44:00] our human imagination and mystery, but we are afraid. So unless we put God in a box,
Lisa Sharon Harper: You know, this actually reminds me, Nicole, of what you were talking about, that we have to remind ourselves we are not God. God is God and we are not. That actually was a saying of mine when I first started to understand that I didn’t know at all.
You know how, like, how 16 year olds generally speaking think they know every little literal thing on the earth. And I think that to some degree, maybe Evangelical America is kind of caught as, you know, in the, in its teenage years and being 16. Um, because I think that what we have really tried to do is to, is to wipe away the mystery, um, of God and try to literally put God in a box, make God understandable.
That’s one of the things I have to say I appreciate about the Roman Catholic Church is that there’s still some level of mystery that is present. But Nicole, I wonder, how do you see this?
Rev. Nicole Garcia: Well,[00:45:00] I have to push back a little bit with the Roman Catholic Church tends to have a lot of dogma. Um, oh, it’s like they’re, they like to take mystery out of everything, so they have to have explanations for everything.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Oh, wow. Okay.
Rev. Nicole Garcia: Whereas Lutherans, we live in the tension of mystery. That’s true. Um, that’s what I love about being Lutheran because we live in this paradox.
We are both sinner and saint, uh, at the same time. Um, we cannot lift out any verse or chapter of scripture and say, that’s what God meant, because we use scripture to interpret scripture. That’s why you must know everything from the beginning to the end to figure out and realize Jesus had no original material.
Everything can be tracked back to, um, Isaiah or one of the other prophets, or, um, you know, God speaking to Moses, which to me says that God has always been consistent. [00:46:00] Which I, I always love the first line of the Shema “Shema, Israel.” Listen to Israel. The Lord, the Lord your God is, um, God is one from the beginning to the end.
Christ was there at the creation. Christ is here. God is here. The Spirit is here. Um, to lead us, to guide us, inspire us to help us ask the right questions and keep asking questions.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Walking Freedom Road from coast to coast and around the globe. This is the Freedom Road podcast
So I wanna dive into the politics if you don’t mind. That was a fabulous conversation, by the way, on the theology. Um, and, and even, you know, how do you respond? Our original question there was how do you respond to people who say God doesn’t make mistakes? Um, I I have been more and more convinced theologically that the scripture, um, is absolutely non-binary, um, in its understanding of creation and God and all the rest. And so, um, and it’s absolutely a Western construct. Binary thinking is a Western construct. And guess what? The text is not Western. So there you go. So, but now I wanna, I wanna ask the [00:48:00] question. How has this binary western thinking been weaponized in the political realm?
Michael Vazquez: I’ll just dive in. I know we have some, everyone here, the brilliant group of, uh, political organizers. Uh, I think back to my time during, as an evangelical minister, like I mentioned earlier, um, my exit from Evangelicalism lined up with, uh, the Supreme Court’s decision in the Obergefell case that made marriage equality law of the land.
And what organizers and activists knew at the time was, uh, SCOTUS decision would, uh, would bring a backlash, right. From [00:49:00] far right. Uh, conservative Christians from the religious right in general. Uh, and it did right. The 2016 state legislative season saw a crackdown on LGBTQ people across the country.
Mm-hmm. And since then, right, there’s been an escalating. Uh, levels of violence, specifically targeting transgender women and, and trans women of color? Uh, there’s been…
Lisa Sharon Harper: Wait, Michael, can I just, can I just note, and I think it’s worth flagging Yeah. That, that 2016 legislative season, it took me a little bit to catch up to you cuz you said that, and I was like, okay, 2016, so in election year, yeah. So it wasn’t even Trump’s presidency.
Michael Vazquez: Right. So Trump is running and as you, as you recall, Lisa, as we all remember right, evangelicals were wishy-washy at the first but very [00:50:00] quickly pitched their entire lives and devotion to Donald Trump.
Lisa Sharon Harper: It’s true.
Michael Vazquez: So from 16, 17, 18 till today, legislative crackdowns on the rights. To of trans folks to use bathrooms, uh, on trans-affirming, uh, healthcare, both for, uh, age appropriate healthcare for trans youth and for adults. We’ve seen a whole slew of, you know, attacks on trans participation in sports for kids.
And you ask these governors and these legislators, and they cannot give you one example, one example of a trans student in their state somehow boxing out a cis woman, a cis girl from playing badminton, or fill in the blank. Hmm. But the, the backdrop of this is instead of evangelicals, who claim to have a long-standing tradition of deep, uh, [00:51:00] theological and biblical, specifically biblical examination and discourse, people who claim to love apologetics and let’s discuss, right? Let’s be like, uh, Paul, uh, at the Areopagus in Athens and let’s, you know, talk with the people. They cracked down so hard that it was impossible for there to be room for the people of God showing up to church on any given Sunday or any other day of the week. Um, to ask the complicated questions of what does God really say about gay people or queerness or trans folks?
But they say, we will force a dogma and there’s no other issue that the Evangelical Church has taken up such a strict position on where there is no room to discuss. What might the Bible say about this complicated question that we have very few answers for.. But when it comes to bodily autonomy, of the bodily autonomy of queer folks and trans folks, there was no room. Hmm. [00:52:00]
Lisa Sharon Harper: When I, when I was, um, in that, in that time period, I think that might even been when we, when we met each other, was in 2016, um, I was, I did an article, uh, researching just how were decisions made in a college ministry that I was a part of years before, um, when they did their, their crackdown.
And then years later I was, uh, literally one, three-page paper away from ordination in my, in my denomination. And that denomination was heavily influenced by this college ministry. And that year they did the same thing. They had this hard right turn. And hard, I mean, hard turn on the, on this question of queerness and LBTQ and everything, people started getting purged.
There was a big purge, very much like, um, the college ministry, uh, that I used to work at. And the thing that really blew my mind [00:53:00] was how they were saying they were going into the scripture, but they really weren’t. They really weren’t. They were naming a couple of scriptures, but they weren’t doing deep theological study.
They just were not. And, um, so in that way it was disingenuous. And then that’s just not Christian, right? So truth telling Jesus says, I am the truth. So when you obfuscate this truth or cover over the truth, you’re actually covering over Jesus, Jesus self. Right. So I’m wondering, you know, Nicole and Carmarion, how did you experience this time?
Like how, what was your experience of this, this era? And has been since then?
Rev. Nicole Garcia: Well, well, back in that time period I was mm-hmm. Um, especially even in 2000, 2009 through 2014, I was sitting on the board of Reconciling Works. Um, then it was called [00:54:00] Lutheran’s, concern North America. And we were deeply involved in the ELCA, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, how they were discussing human sexuality.
And, um, in my denomination in 2009, we allowed gay and lesbian pastors and same gender committed relationships to remain as pastors and to be called. And then right after that, we dove deeply into the, into the marriage equality, um, work. And, um, we were, we were tasked to dive deeply into scripture to try and find where there is actually a sacrament of marriage that is spelled out in scripture.
And there is none.
Lisa Sharon Harper: That was what I found when I did my research too, and it blew my mind.
Rev. Nicole Garcia: There’s, there’s talk of polygamy. Um, you know, our, our, no, Abraham had two wives. Um, Abraham Abram changed, um, God changed Abram’s name [00:55:00] to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah. So God is really good at renaming people, renaming things.
Mm-hmm. But there’s nothing around, um, around a, a marriage. So in the Lutheran church, there is no sacrament of marriage cuz it’s not biblically based. It’s not scripturally based. Yeah. So when people say we have to track back to the Bible, it’s like you have to actually read the books?
Lisa Sharon Harper: Yes. Read the actual Bible.
Rev. Nicole Garcia: Know scripture. I, I initially started diving deeply, um, into scripture because I wanted to challenge people on the seven clobber passages. Um, you know, those passages that are lifted out and used against, um, mostly the LGB uh, community. And now they found a couple for the trans community, but they ignore all the other queer characters in scripture.
There are a lot of queer characters in scripture, uh, that we can lift out and lift up. So, but they will, they will, they will adamantly [00:56:00] oppose any other reading, um, or there will oppose any reading through a queer lens. It has to be through the gender binary.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Hmm. Thank you. Yeah. Carmarion?
Minister Carmarion Anderson-Harvey: I was gonna, you jogged something and, um, just to insert, um mm-hmm.
When, what Nicole is saying, you know, technically if we, um, subscribe to the Mosaic Law, Regardless, you know, we some say mosaic long marriage. It’s really just a practice that each time we go behind closed doors, the Old Testament says in the tent, then you become one your yolked together, and you have a responsibility to take care of the seed that you placed into.
You understand? Mm-hmm. Um, so, you know, but you know, to answer your question, I have found that the best way that I can answer what we’re seeing from a legislative standpoint these last few years, especially since 2016, you know, um, as a Christian theologian, I, I try to look at [00:57:00] scriptures to try to help contextualize, you know, um, possibly what we are seeing.
There’s a scripture that says to have the form of godliness and denying the power thereof. Mm-hmm. And I’m using that scripture because there are a lot of… and, and because I wanna be respectful to your show, I don’t wanna release names cuz this is not a political, uh, but this is more for education. But there are a lot of groups, um, that are traveling.
Lisa Sharon Harper: No, it’s okay to name them here. I mean, if you need to. Folks need to know.
Minister Carmarion Anderson-Harvey: You got one group. You got one group that’s Eagle Form Heritage Foundation, and you have these Christian groups that are coming together in the name of. Christianity in the name of family, in the name of, you know, Jehovah Jireh, you know, and, and all of that.
But there is no power. And what’s happening is, mm-hmm. They are taking these tours to build relationship with these conservatives [00:58:00] in order for them to gain power. Okay. Now I feel like I wanna preach a sermon. If you have the form of godliness, but denying the power thereof then you have no power. You can’t create what God has already placed in the earth.
And we know that the power of love and acceptance and being inclusive. Is that power. And so that is our opposition to these ones. They’re saying they’re doing it in the name of, you know, yes, we know who, you know, we know I’m gonna take this outta contextual, but you know, we know who Peter and John and Mark is, but we don’t know who you are because your work is not really speaking for you because you’re having to create the division.
And I dare you use it in the name of faith and religion. I say to say all that is, is that, um, being in the deep southern state, being in the Bible state, um, we are certainly being [00:59:00] harshly impacted by these bills because we live and breathe, um, um, uh, Christianity rhetoric in in our lives. It’s culturally for us, um, to ignore something, but put a scripture that will substitute our faith.
Lisa Sharon Harper: Oh, I see, I see what you’re saying.
Minister Carmarion Anderson-Harvey: You know what I’m saying?
Lisa Sharon Harper: So it’s like, yeah, it’s, it’s like basically like putting on the mask of, of faithfulness. Without the substance.
Minister Carmarion Anderson-Harvey: Absolutely. And so what we have seen, and I want for your listeners, so they’ll just be, you know, really aware that these attacks that just happened this year or last year, they have been going on for the last few years.
A lot of these, um, discriminatory legislation, um, are really copyright the conservative and these groups in the name of Christ have gotten together. And, and let me just insert this: when you know that you’re in position of losing [01:00:00] power, you become vulnerable to go out and then victimize those that are marginalized, who truly are the victims here.
I’m gonna let that resonate. And so when we look at what’s going on across the nation, uh, and I wanna just throw some of these out of some of these discriminatory bills that we keep popping up. And Michael alluded to, um, the affirming care, uh, for youth and possibly adults, you know, prohibiting, you know, um, respecting someone’s pronouns.
You know, in school we got, you know, anti-drag performance, uh, which is someone’s livelihood, which is a profession which also allows us to learn about diversity in the earth and not box our youth. So when they do graduate in the earth, they are not caught off guard. Um, and don’t know how to operate in the earth.
You know, we got the sports band, we got bathroom bill. We got don’t say gay. [01:01:00] We got, um, access to, to certain medication that will prevent us that are most marginalized to sexual transmitting infections. Um, so we can continue to live and thrive. You know, we got funding being taken away. There is just so much that we have that we’re fighting and it’s coordinating and it’s definitely not in the name of love, family, and inclusion.
It is an attack. The devil comes to steal, killed and destroy, and the devil knows how to mimic what we say is holy. And the only way we know that it’s holy is by the fruits that it bears and this fruit is causing things to die. Jesus cursed a fig tree because of it wouldn’t produce what it needed to continue life.
And this is the era that [01:02:00] we are in. And I wanna contextualize that spiritually because I need people to understand love and kindness. Have I drawn there? I don’t care what your denomination, what your morals are. Jesus said that I come that you may have life and life more abundantly and whatever you need in order to have that life, I command you to live in that.
And at times what that means is in our truth. And no one can take that from us. And we have to start pushing back on these, um, imitators who are saying they’re doing it in the name of Christ because we don’t know that Christ because a lot of us are worshiping the Bible, but we’re not opening up the Bible.
We’re using the Bible to weaponize a old song, and I’m gonna yell my time, but old song in my black church experience, um, that I used to cringe hearing was The Bible is right and somebody’s wrong. [01:03:00] I used to cringe. Now what I’ll say is there are some instructions in the Bible if we would just open up, study to show our self approved so we can use that to attack the very people that they are saying that they are the hands and feet of Christ, but their works is dead.
Michael Vazquez: Yeah. I think, I mean, first of all, Carmarion always, always and forever, but I, I, I think it, it bears noting, right? Like, and drawing, drawing out of what Carmarion is saying is the evangelical church, conservative Catholics, and broadly speaking, the religious right, has chosen empire in its pursuit of dominion, right?
No one knows this better than you. I think Lisa, you wrote the book, right? Um, about the opening salvo, [01:04:00] sorry, in Genesis, right? What it means to be good stewards of a good creation, and yet what? The religious right has determined that means is to have dominion over the land by oppressing it with empire.
Lisa Sharon Harper: That’s right. To dominate it.
Michael Vazquez: Now we know we to dominate it. We know the trajectory of white supremacy. We know the, the long tired story that has led us to this point, but this moment, right, this assault on trans folks, this assault on drag queens, on the LGBTQ community as a whole is just the next iteration and this long, tired story of dominionism.
How one community wants to have power over the rest of us and thinks instead of saying like, alright, you’re going to live in your peace and your joy and I’m gonna live in my peace and my joy over here. No, no, no, no, no. I need to also have a say in how you live your life. I must have command over that cuz I wanna [01:05:00] hoard power, I wanna hoard wealth.
And the only way to do those things is through legislation like this that controls bodies, that limits expression and freedom and liberation. You can’t have a democracy if evangelicalism is going to thrive in all of its power. Democracy will not be the means of getting there. Letting trans people be at peace is not how you get a powerful evangelical church that dominates everything.
You have to shut down all of these things that to them are anathema to them, are um, are far from their version of God and their version of the story of God. You have to shut all of these things down because control is the only means of securing their power, their domination, and their empire.
Lisa Sharon Harper: And I think that doesn’t that come from… Honestly, I mean, it really comes from, and I remember being taught these things back in the [01:06:00] eighties when I first, you know, came to the Lord, went down that aisle Sunday evening, crema church meeting, 1983. Right. And, and then was even brought up in Bible studies in that college ministry. I mean, I think there’s an understanding that’s unspoken.
That what God is trying to do is to take over the earth. God is trying to establish and what, you know, and we, they don’t really, yeah. They talk about God’s kingdom. Bring the kingdom, God’s kingdom come to earth. Right? And establish, but what they don’t talk about is what does the kingdom require of us?
They don’t talk about what is God’s kingdom like? What does it smell like when you enter that place? Like what are the requirements of the citizens, of the kingdom of God? And what we see in scripture, if you go deep into that scripture, is that it’s actually, um, a circle. It is a, is a place where we are all just human.
And God is God and we are not. And therefore we are all safe because God is in the [01:07:00] midst of us. And there is no weapons, there’s no, there’s, there’s no like AR-15s in the next, um, hello. There’s no dominating the other because God is God and we are not. I see you nodding, Nicole.
Rev. Nicole Garcia: Yeah. And you know, coming from the Roman Catholic Church, I, I believe that the church has always controlled people.
And it is a religion of death. That we must do everything we possibly can to make ourselves worthy of God. Otherwise, you’ll go to hell when you die. And it’s a hard sell. So they tossed in this concept called purgatory, which came from, you know, some pope’s behind. And, um, because you had to have options, because if you don’t have options, it’s hard to control people.
And it has been, Catholic church has been control, control and manipulation of scripture, of dogma. You know, the Pope has [01:08:00] the final say as to what scripture actually means. Right. I became a Lutheran because I went up to my first Lutheran pastor and asked a question, and he wrote down a few pieces, um, wrote down some, uh, scripture verse says, read these, come back and talk.
I’m like, what? You’re supposed to tell me what to think? And he said, no, you’re Lutheran. You have to think now. You have to read, you have to discuss, you have to dive deeply into it and find how the Holy Spirit is trying to talk to you. That’s scary to people who want to control and manipulate, giving us the opportunity to actually read scripture, giving the opportunity to actually talk about scripture, dive deeply into it, letting the Holy Spirit, um, take control is scary for people who want to retain control.
They want to be able to control how we think, how we move, how we spend our money, how we move through this world, because it gives them more power over everything. It all comes down to power, greed, and [01:09:00] control.
Lisa Sharon Harper: That’s, that’s a really good point. Um, Reverend Nicole is, I think that when, when I look at the landscape and the political landscape right now and the bands and the don’t say Gay, I mean, you, you had a really great list, Carmarion of, of all of the different legislation that is really piling on to the trans community and really the LGBTQ community right now.
Um, I’m, I’m aware you named the Heritage Foundation earlier. And the Heritage Foundation was founded by a man named Paul Wyrick in 1973. And it was not in response to Roe v. Wade, it was in response to the Civil Rights Movement. Um, it was, it was actually, I write about this in several of my books, but it was, it was, um, in response, Paul Wyrick was trying to figure out how to galvanize a conservative movement, not a Christian movement, a conservative movement.
And he found willing partners in the [01:10:00] evangelical space who were trying to conserve white dominant space in the south. And so they both partnered and they tried, they tried to, um, to protect Bob Jones University from having its tax exempt status revoked, um, because they were not allowing black people to be on the campus.
And when they did, they said, whoa, but you can be on the campus, but you can’t date. And then they were like, okay, um, you can be on the campus, but you gotta be married. Um, you can be on the campus. But, and then they finally just had their tax revoked status revoked. And it was in 1983 that Paul Wyrick, they all lost that.
They lost that battle. And Paul Wyrick and, um, others like Jim Bakker and others, um, Buchanan, Pat Buchanan and others, they looked up and they said, we’ve lost this battle, but we actually have begun to build this movement. And that’s when the marriage of Evangelicalism and, um, the conservative movement became a thing.
And the Heritage Foundation has [01:11:00] been at the center of it ever since. So it’s striking to me that you named that I, and I know there are many more, but that’s kind of, and in many ways kind of, uh, a hub space where a lot of this legislation is pouring out of and the funds, the funds to actually fund those movements.
Am I right?
Minister Carmarion Anderson-Harvey: And that’s where I was gonna go. And that’s where your funding stream, you know, um, you know, I don’t. I don’t wanna say anything inappropriate, but you know, there’s many of folks that, that are, that are being the puppeting in paid under the table. Mm-hmm. Uh, you know, they don’t take in consideration or their empathy is not present, knowing that this can also affect just their immediate family.
Um, but when, you know, money speaks, money talks, um, and you know, also messagings that’s convinced that this will, um, you know, it’s almost like here is a apple, eat it because you will surely be able to see, if you put this bill forward, [01:12:00] you will surely get the accolades that you, that you’ve been looking for.
You will surely win your next race. It’s manipulation, you know, in the name of, you know, I, when, when, when Nicole was talking, um, I was reminded, there’s a word called, uh, pente costi. Which is the Greek word for Pentecost. And, and I’m always reminded of the book of Acts, not by denomination, but by the unity that produces the power.
And when you’re talking about kingdom here on earth, you know, will we really see that? I, I’m, I’m under the impression until we come together in the many forms in the media language, in the many way we show up, that is exactly in the book of Acts when you look down and they’re scratching their head and said they’re all speaking their own language, but everybody understands them because Pentecost allow your empathy to show up, to be able to create a movement of [01:13:00] unity where we all benefit.
I want that to resonate. Mm-hmm. So, uh, so that Greek word, pente costi, um, there is a cost. To us coming together to get the unity. And it’s going to allow us to find, to really stop on, stop focusing on our differences and focus on the similarities that will then give us the tools to, to dismantle what we have perceived are the differences and we won’t see bills that makes no sense.
That is not even an issue. And we will start building the United States and the, or the states rather, where we can be a beacon for other countries because we need more bills that’s going to dismantle racism. We’re we need more bills that’s going to allow our black and brown kids, um, um, from dying. Okay.
Um, our [01:14:00] education system so it can increase. So by the time they graduate from, High school, they have a mindset of already have received a bachelor’s degree. There is so much we could be concentrating on with our dollars, but we choose to be stuck in the Old Testament of worshiping our artificial God because they say that that’s the power.
And I challenge in my leadership, if you will just allow me pour some water next to the trenches of your God and let me pray,promise you it will burn up because I understand pente costi because there is a cost and the cost is being able to accept the differences and being able to still show up in your truth.
To me, that will be the kingdom that I will wanna see here in the Earth.
Lisa Sharon Harper: So I want to, I want, I want, we have to wrap it up, but I’m, but we’re gonna have more opportunity to talk in our. [01:15:00] In our next segment, which is gonna be for the patrons, for Patreon folks, and also for Substack folks. So, but in this, in this wrap up, as I, as I share my thoughts on this entire amazing conversation, I have to, um, invoke my friend, um, the Reverend Dr.
Roberto Che Spinosa, who is a dear friend who was on this, um, podcast about a year or two ago, um, with Shane Claborne and just said some amazingly powerful things in the midst of that conversation, one of which was this question of inclusivity, right? This is what, um, Reverend Espinoza always talks about, and, and I think it, it blows outta the water, um, our notion of who owns the faith, who owns this faith, anyway?
I love, Carmarion, that you just brought up Acts two, um, and that amazing moment where the spirit of God fell to earth. And the tongues of fire [01:16:00] on the heads of the people, and they start talking in the languages of each other. It wasn’t even like tongues of angels. It was actually talking each other’s languages.
And when I studied that, I did a deep dive into that. One of the, the thing that blew my mind, again, the scripture’s always bla blowing, blowing my mind, but the thing that blew my mind was to realize that all of these languages that they were talking were all colonized languages. They were all the languages of colonized people.
Going back to your comment, Reverend Nicole earlier, that really what we’re talking about is decolonization and the, the stripping down of imperialism and that the, to understand to, to really take in for a minute, the very first act of the Holy Spirit when the spirit came to earth, was to loose the tongues of the colonized and to help us come together in unity in this amazingly powerful way that it [01:17:00] wasn’t even just that, you know, we could understand each other’s languages, we were speaking each other’s languages and understanding.
So what could that look like today? What could a fall of the Holy Spirit look like today? On colonized bodies, colonized souls, colonized faith that does not allow for non-western ways of thinking of body, soul, and faith,
The conversations leaders have on the road to justice. This is The Freedom Road podcast.
Thank you for joining us today. The Freedom Road Podcast is recorded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and wherever our guests lay their heads at night. [01:18:00] This episode was engineered and edited by Corey Nathan of Scan Media and Freedom Road Podcast is executive produced by Freedom Road, LLC.
We consult, coach, train, and design experiences that bring common understanding, common commitment, and lead to common action. And you can find out more about our work at our website, freedomroad.us. So stay in know, by signing up for our updates, which are now coming to you through Substack Yes, my friends, Substack. So we have freedom road.substack.com.
So please find us on Substack and sign up for the updates. We promise we will not pledge your inbox, and we also invite you to listen again next month or next week. Just catch up, right, and join the conversation on Freedom Road. And for those of you on Patreon and Substack you get a special little tidbit. We’re gonna continue the conversation for a few minutes on Freedom Road, and you get to listen in there.