This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

The violence of shame

I call the members of the Mennonite Church USA Executive Board who counseled Villegas to resign to stand accountable before the church. Such action amounts to institutional violence and attempted public shaming of a faithful servant. It is unworthy of a pacifist people and delegitimizes the board’s leadership.

The expectation of uniform adherence to the Membership Guidelines among board members is apparently based on a self-righteous and perhaps idolatrous reading that weapon­izes the guidelines and breaks with the spirit that led the delegates in 2015 to affirm forbearance of our differences respecting sexual diversity more strongly than the guidelines themselves. Moreover, given the abandonment of the church by conferences and congregations unwilling to forbear, the degree of difference in these affirmations among those continuing in the church is likely to be even greater. So the board members’ counsel is even less likely to be relatively representative.

Shunning is one of the embarrassments of our history, the type of violence we have willingly engaged in, too proud of not engaging in war perhaps to notice that violence takes other forms. One of these, being made to feel unwelcome, has been inflicted on Villegas.

Bradley Siebert
Topeka, Kan.

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