To be "be in" you must conform to strict standards and a less then generous moral code; to be on of those who are out, you need to only challenge the hegemony of presumed orthodoxy and the inquisition will find you before you have had a chance to say amen.
But does the church have to act as if it holds the secret to all life that must be zealously protected? Do we really need to go after those who disagree with us with real swords, or the swords of our tongues - or keyboards.
In this new world of inquisitional shunning, feminist Christians refuse to use the word "feminist," and favor words such a "equality" and "egalitarian" to void censure - as if feminism didn't seek equality.
And why do Christians talk about the value of human life, and refuse to consider the value of humans who don't conform to their standards - unless they aren't quite human to them?
Words mean something. They convey truths about us and our surroundings. A faith that needs to shielded and protected isn't faith; it's an opinion, and opinions cannot be proven, wherefore they need to be protected at any and all cost. But do we want to protect an opinion? Is that what we live and die for?
We all know that the original inquisition was a bloody affair. Thousands of innocent people were burned at the stake, the property of countless people was confiscated, and the rest were terrorized into an obedient silence.
But what is of interest is that the inquisition would use what we consider today "selective reading" of the Bible.
This is, of course, somewhat questionable theology, as Mosaic Law regarding, say, dietary restrictions were completely ignored by the Church from the 1st century on, yet suddenly (in the 13th century), Mosaic Law seemed to be a perfectly reasonable justification for burning thousands of people at the stake! (Read the whole article here)
Those who believe in equality reject such a simplistic method of reading the Bible - and rightly so. The Bible must be read as a whole, not as a field from which we can pick the flower that pleases us the most.
Yet, there is one crucial difference between the modern church, and the old inquisition - the priests actually had to examine the evidence (although they had already set their minds on what they thought was the truth) for the word "inquisition" comes from the Latin inquirere, which became later the Latin inquisitio, "to inquire, to examine."
We tend to just block all avenues of conversation. But we do still expect those who disagree to remain silent, and we use shunning as our method to enforce the silence.
We tell people to go elsewhere with their questions, for we have the truth and we won't be challenged.
But as some parts of the church become the bloodless extension of the inquisition, we must ask ourselves the question that haunts us from history books: why did the earliest Christians rather meet lions than betray their faith? Why can't their faith be ours? Why have we become the persecutors?
As the modern inquisition rages on, none of us will hear anyone use the word, for if feminism is already bad enough, what feelings do you think the word inquisition will generate in people? We all want to look good on the outside while we aren't necessarily good on the inside.
Yet, words have power, and power has words.
Even if we won't say them, they are still with us.
And so the inquisition continues to decide who's in and who's not, even as we deny its very existence.