“I wasn’t a Christian”

by Ted on May 6, 2005

I’d like to draw a little more attention to one of those squares.

(Executive Direcector of Reclaiming America Gary) Cass also presents another small-town activist, Kevin McCoy, with a Salt and Light Award for leading a successful campaign to shut down an anti-bullying program in West Virginia schools. McCoy, a soft-spoken, prematurely gray postal worker, fought to end the program because it taught tolerance for gay people — and thus, in his view, constituted a “thinly disguised effort to promote the homosexual agenda.” “What America needs,” Cass tells the faithful, “is more Kevin McCoys.”

Compare that to evangelical writer Tony Campolo:

Roger was gay; we all knew it, and we all made his life miserable. When we passed him in the hall, we called out his name in an effeminate manner. We made crude gestures, and we made Roger the brunt of cheap jokes. He never took showers with us after gym class, because je knew we’d whip him with our wet towels.

I wasn’t there the day some of the guys dragged Roger into the shower room and shoved him into the corner. Curled up on the floor, he cried and begged for mercy as five guys urinated all over him.

The reports said that Roger went to bed that night as usual, and that sometime around two in the morning, he got up, went down to the basement of his house, and hanged himself.

When I heard about Roger, I realized that I wasn’t a Christian. I was a theologically sound evangelical, believed in all of the points of the Apostles Creed, and had declared Jesus to be my Savior. But I know now that if the Holy Spirit had actually been in me, I would have stood up for Roger. When the guys came to make fun of him, I would have put one arm around Roger’s shoulder, waved the guys off with the other, and told him to leave him alone and not to mess with him because he was my friend.

But I was afraid to be Roger’s friend. I knew that if I stood up for a homosexual, people would say cruel things about me too. So I kept my distance. I had done better, who knows if Roger might be alive today.

I desperately hope that we have more Tony Campolos than Kevin McCoys. Specifically, I desperately hope that there’s more Campolo than McCoy in me.



dave 05.06.05 at 3:43 pm

Good stuff…Campolo is solid – not perfect, but solid. Like you, I hope that we have more Campolos, but it is hard for me to believe that we do, at least at this point.

Thanks for posting this…


y81 05.06.05 at 10:40 pm

This is a good quote you have found, from Campolo, but it won’t draw many comments from right or left, Christian or atheist, because all of us are abashed in presence of the Spirit. As for me, I am a worm, and no man . . . .


Adam Kotsko 05.06.05 at 11:02 pm

Campolo has been effectively blacklisted by the evangelical book industry, in large part because he was a spiritual advisor to Bill Clinton (i.e., Satan Himself). Last Christmas, I wanted to find one of his books to give to my mother for Christmas — I went to four different “Christian bookstores” and often found nothing, and certainly not the book I was looking for (his newest). The biggest selection of his books was found at Border’s.

That’s what I recommend to people looking for quality Christian literature: go to Border’s.


urizon 05.07.05 at 8:19 am



brian 05.07.05 at 11:24 am

Man, I just read that part two days ago…

I need to read the rest some time.


brian 05.07.05 at 12:51 pm

I’m not completely on board with Campolo, either, and honestly, I haven’t read much recently, but he is absolutely right, and more Christians need this same sort of self-examination.


dave 05.07.05 at 12:57 pm

Campolo has been effectively blacklisted by the evangelical book industry, in large part because he was a spiritual advisor to Bill Clinton

This is not quite true. Bill Hybels was also a spiritual advisor to Clinton, and it hasn’t hurt him.

I think that Campolo has been somewhat blacklisted more for what he writes than his relationship with Clinton. Even the above quote is pretty controversial in conservative Evangelical circles. He challenges things like the way Christians talk about and deal with homosexuality. He challenges capital punishment. He challenges the response to poverty. He has become somewhat blacklisted because he challenges the Republican ideology of the conservative Evangelicals.


McDuff 05.08.05 at 8:51 am

Tony Campolo is right there as being one of the most powerful and convincing Christian speakers. I hesitate, in fact refuse, to say that he “understands the spirit of Jesus” more than, say, Benny Hinn or Pat Robertson, but he talks more about those aspects of the Christian faith and its applications in our society that I can support and get behind than most other preachers. I don’t believe that there is a “right” interpretation of scripture, only fashions of philosophy, but I am nonetheless upset that the Campolo-esque philosophy of doing genuine good in the name of Jesus, even to those you would consider “sinners” and who God Himself is considering damning, is less fashionable than the Falwell-esque philosophy of doing God’s work of damnation for Him and leaving the charity to the angels.


R.Porrofatto 05.08.05 at 10:31 am

I hesitate, in fact refuse, to say that he “understands the spirit of Jesus” more than, say, Benny Hinn or Pat Robertson…

I have no such compunction:
In this excerpt of his writing, Tony Campolo demonstrates more understanding of the spirit of Jesus than has ever been exhibited by such hypocritical, exploitative pseudo-religious mercenaries as Benny Hinn and Pat Robertson.



Brian C.B. 05.08.05 at 6:33 pm

“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed [thee]? or thirsty, and gave [thee] drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took [thee] in? or naked, and clothed [thee]? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done [it] unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done [it] unto me.”


J. Michael Matkin 05.09.05 at 10:54 pm

Part of Tony’s blacklisting is because a) his wife Peggy believes and publicly advocates that the Church embrace and celebrate same-sex unions and b) while he disagrees with her he hasn’t shot her or divorced her or denounced her for taking such an unwelcome position. Some of our redder-necked brethren are pretty certain that this inability to control the weaker sex calls Tony’s own manhood into question. The pair spoke at the Shepherd Initiative sometime back; audio files can be found here. I don’t go Peggy’s route, myself, but I certainly admire the two of them as a couple and their ability to sleep in the same bed at the end of the day.


greensmile 05.10.05 at 3:23 pm

Its a shame that Campolo is shunned by evangelists and others who want a vigilante jesus. He clearly could bring more healing to the world than hate.

It is also a shame that a discussion of Campolo’s merits, i.e. a discussion that could rehabilitate him with some church goers [and bookshop owners] is not a debate to which non believers are invited. Ideas about how human beings should treat each other may arise within religious contexts but their effects spill out into society, from the schoolyards [bullying e.g.]to the Congress. We all become stake holders. I see your hope, Ted, that there are more Tonys than Kevins as representative (since it matches my view;) of the stake the rest of us hold in the debate on behaviors of acceptance. And I think the debate belongs in a bigger context, perhaps on the social roots of
good and evil

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