This week saw hundreds of faith leaders from all 50 states participating in the Human Rights Campaign‘s Clergy Call for Justice and Equality 2011. The leaders, including the largest number of heads of Christian denominations to ever participate, gathered to support legislation to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, to ban employment discrimination against LGBT people, and protect students from discrimination and bullying.
Among those speaking at Tuesday, May 24th’s Press Conference was Bishop Minerva Carcaño, episcopal leader of the Desert Southwest Conference of the United Methodist Church. Her comments included:
“Hate and violence against persons, whether it is bullying in our schools, the taunting and violating of a person’s privacy to the point of humiliating that person and destroying his or her sense of self worth and belonging, to beatings and even murder on our streets or on the outskirts of our towns, all because of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, cannot be left unchallenged or unconquered. Such violence against our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender sisters and brothers is a violation of all that is good within us, and destroys the inherent human dignity of all of us.” [Bishop Carcaño's full statement HERE]
Joining Bishop Carcaño were Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop to be ordained in the Episcopal Church; Bishop Carlton Pearson, the Rev. Harry Knox (HRC’s Religion and Faith Program Director), and Bishop Yvette Flunder, who highlighted the faith leaders’ rationale proclaiming, “Too many are being murdered, too many are being bullied, too many have committed suicide!”
In what we’re going to be bold and claim as a shout-out to NLS/CFJ, Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow of the Presbyterian Church (USA) concluded his comments with, “People of faith, let us no longer be silent about the struggles of LGBTQ people! Let us no longer be silent! Now is the time to speak!” Amen, brother!
More on the event HERE.
In related news, a new HRC poll shows that a majority of Christians support LGBT Equality. Check out the poll results HERE.
Exodus International, a group which adheres to the discredited claim that reparative therapy can “cure” homosexuality, is holding an all day conference in Phoenix to encourage individuals and families dealing with homosexuality to seek a path of denial and repression. Even though their flawed ideals have been disproven medically and psychologically, Exodus continues to promulgate erroneous information.
The clergy and lay supporters of No Longer Silent: Clergy for Justice believe it is the mandate of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to witness against the kind of hate promoted at this conference.
Gather with us at 8:30am for prayer followed by a vigil as people enter the conference and throughout the day. We will stand as a testimony that God’s love excludes no one and that hateful religion has no place in the Valley of the Sun.
Join us Feb. 19th as we proclaim God’s love and promote the dignity and beauty of all God’s children. Head to our Facebook Event Page to let us know you’re attending.
WHEN: Saturday, February 19, 2011 8:30am – 5:00pm
WHERE: Church for the Nations 6225 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ
WHY: To send a clear and strong message that hate will be met with the relentless challenge of radically inclusive love. The people of Arizona know all too well the results of misspoken statements that can and do lead to violence. When some Christian leaders assert that Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual or Transgender people are not accepted by God, they leave the door open for people to do violence under the guise of doing God’s will. We cannot allow that to continue.
No Longer Silent Protest
Organized to highlight the false claims of Exodus International, namely, that Homosexuality is “incompatible with Christianity” and that one can undergo therapy to manage their sexuality and live as a heterosexual. (Below are pictures with notes from the various speaker’s comments) Click HERE for a pdf of the Media Alert/Press Release.
- Exodus International’s history includes:
Flawed Ideology & Failed Therapy
- Yes, churches have the right to propagate their particular beliefs UNTIL those beliefs begin to harm people
- This is not about saving souls – it’s about destroying souls – and that’s what we’re here to protest today
THE RELIGIOUS UNDERSTANDING OF THE DAY – Rev. Dr. Vernon Meyer
- Historical Context of changing Biblical Understandings over time
- Slavery, Role of Women in Society (it was once believed they had no soul, etc.), Interracial Marriage, etc. We now know that these are not only naive, but harmful.
- Same is true surrounding Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual and Transgender People
- The religious understanding of Exodus International is naive and harmful to children and families
- Today, there is great dispute among Christians about Homosexuality
- What cannot be disputed is the depths of the love of God even for God’s Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual and Transgender Children
- And as Vernon so eloquently explained, Christianity has learned to reform itself when new understandings emerge
- We call on our colleagues inside to let the Spirit reform their hearts
- The therapies they espouse have been refuted by scientific study
- Every major medical body in the US, including the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics
- state that the therapies espoused by Exodus do not work.
- Even more, these medical bodies believe that such therapies are harmful to the children and people exposed to them
Speaking from the perspective of a pastor who has seen the results:
- Incidence of Suicide increased in Teens
- Incidence of Addictions increases
- Hate motivated violence against LGBT people
- All of these fueled by the flawed ideology people are being “trained in” today
We call on our colleagues to dispense with using language that demonizes and vilifies God’s LGBT children.
In the love of Christ, we demand that they repent for the harm they are doing to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender children who hear their words as the words of Christ.
We are here today in the hope that, one day, no child will ever hear or believe that they are anything less than beloved of God, without regard to their orientation – something this “training” contradicts.
We believe Love will win out over all ideology that denigrates God’s children.
We pray that those in this training will have the eyes of their hearts opened and their minds enlightened by the Spirit of God that what they are doing is wrong.
Then, only then, will God’s love truly win out.
Living the Connection: Jesus excluded no one from the circle
by Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño, Resident Bishop of the Phoenix area of the United Methodist Church
A couple of weeks ago I received an early morning email of concern from an ecumenical leader. He directed me to a YouTube site in which three of our United Methodist clergy persons were making statements against the local diocese of the Roman Catholic Church. They were part of a group that was taking on the Catholics for having made a public declaration against women in ministry and persons of a homosexual orientation. While I wish they had consulted me before doing this, I understood their concerns. Our churches, Catholic and Methodist, all too often come down on the side of condemnation and rejection of others rather than on the side of grace and Christian love.
Then I was privileged to go to a United Methodist church to help celebrate its one hundredth anniversary. It was a church I had served as pastor many years ago. I rejoiced in the vitality of their ministry. It was wonderful to reconnect with persons I loved but had not seen in many years. In the middle of reminiscing with them someone sadly said to me, “We lost Bobby.” I did not know what she meant. Had he died? No he had not died, but the previous year he had quit coming to church. “What happened?” I asked. They looked at each other and finally said, “On the last Sunday he was here our pastor preached a condemning sermon against homosexuals. It was a harsh sermon. We haven’t seen Bobby since then.” Bobby had been a faithful member of that church for almost 60 years.
More recently I was at a church meeting. The agenda was one that demonstrated the full commitment of those around the table to be loving and compassionate towards those who are most vulnerable among us — those in prison, women and children living in poverty, and those affected by violence. It was one of those meetings that makes all the hard work of ministry worthwhile. But then it all came tumbling down. During a meal break one of the persons at the meeting began to describe the experience of receiving hospitality on a trip he had taken and made reference to being the recipient of hospitality from a beautiful young woman. The group began to good naturedly rib him about his experience with the young woman, to which he responded, “Well, I certainly didn’t want it to be some Homo!”
I have been giving much thought to these occurrences remembering many others like them. The lens through which I see them today is, however, much more critical. The lens is that of the teen suicides of a number of young persons who suffered harassment, bullying, and a gross invasion of privacy because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It is clear that the bullying and harassment led them to their deaths. Five of these teen suicides have received much national publicity, but studies that our very own denomination has reported on show that teen suicides in this country are up, and that this is especially true for gay, lesbian, and bisexual teenagers.
As the mother of a teenager, but also as one who knows that God calls us to care for all children, I am deeply concerned. As a bishop of the church I am forced to again look at the statements of the church and consider whether what we say has contributed to this deadly situation. What must our young people hear when we say that homosexuality “is incompatible with Christian teaching (2008 Book of Discipline of The UMC, Paragraph 161H)”? Does this contribute to some of our young people treating their homosexual peers as less than themselves? Do these young people believe they have permission even from the church to mistreat those who are of a different sexual orientation? What violence do we promote in our churches and in society when we devalue our homosexual brothers and sisters?
I pray that we will all consider this situation and seek every way to rectify any wrong that we may be contributing to. Love and compassion in the spirit of Jesus who excluded no one from the circle of God’s grace must be how we live as persons of Christian faith. I pray that one day our exclusion of persons of homosexual orientation will end in The United Methodist Church. I earnestly hope that our exclusion of our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender brothers and sisters will one day be seen as the wrong that it is. While we work and wait for that day, let us not sin against those whom God loves.
-Peace, Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño
This entry was posted on the Desert Southwest Conference website on Wednesday, November 03, 2010 at 11:56 AM. See the column in context by clicking HERE.
KSAZ TV – Fox 10:
Liberal Clergy Group Protests Manhattan Declaration
KPNX TV – 12 News:
Clergy protest Catholics stance on gays
The Arizona Republic:
Phoenix clergy protest Catholics stance on gays
The Arizona Republic:
Liberal clergy plan gay-rights protest in Phoenix
The East Valley Tribune:
Catholics host ‘Manhattan Declaration’ seminar, but ‘No Longer Silent’ protests Saturday
The Manhattan Declaration declares war on LGBT and Women’s rights
Join us as we stand up to “The Manhattan Declaration Comes to the Desert”
WHAT: A Rally to Oppose the Manhattan Declaration
WHEN: Saturday, 16 October 2010, 8:15a.m.
WHERE: St. Mary’s Basilica, 231 N. 3rd St., Phoenix, AZ 85004
WHY: If you do not stand against hateful speech and rhetoric it is the same as condoning it. Our children, all children, deserve better!
Roman Catholic Bishop Olmsted has slated October 15th as a Clergy Day of Legislative Training with the crafters and supporters of The Manhattan Declaration, and October 16th as a day to recruit the laity of the Diocese into action on the three principle elements of the MD: Suppression of LGBT rights, suppression of Women’s rights, and encouraging people to disobey laws about equality.
Here is your chance to say that such spiritually violent and hateful rhetoric does not belong in our Desert!
Join us as we rally at 8:15 with local and national speakers, hear from Catholics and others affected by the MD, and then remain as a witness to those transitioning from Mass to this conference with such a harmful political agenda.
A sign making party will be held on Friday, 15 Oct 2010, 6:00-9:00pm, Church of the Beatitudes, 555 W. Glendale Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85021.