LGBT Lessons for Right Wing Christians: How Hate Crime Laws Silenced the Church

LGBT Lessons for Right Wing Christians: How Hate Crime Laws Silenced the Church

November 21, 2009 Featured LGBT Lessons for Straight People 9

Gay EducationThe hardcore religious (they are anything but) right has become so paranoid that their twisted logic has led them to believe that they are the victims. Their solution?  The Manhattan Declaration, a statement of Christian convictions on the matters of life, family, and religious liberty. Let’s go through parts of it.

The preamble to the declaration reads, “While the whole scope of Christian moral concern, including a special concern for the poor and vulnerable, claims our attention, we are especially troubled that in our nation today the lives of the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly are severely threatened; that the institution of marriage, already buffeted by promiscuity, infidelity and divorce, is in jeopardy of being redefined to accommodate fashionable ideologies; that freedom of religion and the rights of conscience are gravely jeopardized by those who would use the instruments of coercion to compel persons of faith to compromise their deepest convictions.

That’s right folks. People who WANT to get married are destroying marriage. Just like people who hate the earth recycle.

On marriage, the declaration addresses the problems of out-of-wedlock births, cohabitation, and divorce. For the church’s failure to uphold ‘the dignity of marriage,’ it reads, ‘we repent.’ It goes on to lay out concerns with same-sex marriage. ‘[I]t is out of love (not ‘animus’) and prudent concern for the common good (not ‘prejudice’), that we pledge to labor ceaselessly to preserve the legal definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman and to rebuild the marriage culture.’

You admit to being a failure on heterosexual marriage. You are addressing this how? You welcome these individuals into your churches. You do not cast them out nor do you preach that what they have done is wrong. When was your last sermon on “Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery”? I seem to recall that is in the Ten Commandments. Being gay is not.

It is out of love that you are preventing loving couples from marrying one another? No it isn’t. It is out of bigotry, prejudice, discrimination, ignorance, intolerance and an unwillingness to be human. You are paranoid, brainwashed and threatened. You are incapable of examining your own feelings. Worse, you hide behind religion and words like love to make your stand against same sex marriage sound respectable.

Signatories recognize a growing list of threats to religious liberty: the weakening of conscience clauses protecting religious workers in the health industry, antidiscrimination statutes that could force religious nonprofits to facilitate adoptions to gay couples, and heightened hate crimes laws that could affect free speech.

Father Chad Hatfield, head of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, said he signed it because, ‘We know what it’s like to be intimidated into silence,’ referring to Eastern Orthodox persecution under communism.

That might just be the most insane, offensive sentence in the entire document. “We know what it’s like to be intimidated into silence. ” Just what exactly are you being silenced on? Your desire to help the poor? Your desire to prevent failed marriages? Really? Where? This declaration is about one thing only. Same sex marriage.

You know what it is like to be intimidated into silence? Really? When was the last time a clergyman was decapitated, dismembered and burned in the same way that Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado , a 19 year old gay man (or perhaps transgender person) from Puerto Rico, or Jason Mattison, a 15 year old teen from Baltimore,  who was raped, stabbed, beaten to death and stuffed into a closet from Baltimore? Both of these horrific, unspeakable crimes occurred this November.

Who silenced you to speak out against these hate crimes? The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Law? The answer is obvious. You did. You choose to remain silent. By choice. Get this message loud and clear. Silence equals agreement.

And now for my thoughts on your closing statement.

The declaration closes: ‘We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.’

You will render to Caesar what is Caesar’s? Good. Then do it.  Legal marriage has nothing to do with the church and you know it. Your church does not hand out marriage licenses. You do however impose the church’s religious beliefs on others, to the point where you  have convinced politicians that only your religion has religious freedom under the First Amendment. Get out of the way of the government. Get out of my church’s right to practice our faith, which supports same sex marriage.  Your right to practice your religion is intact. You don’t need to provide wedding services for gays and lesbians. You have your right to preach that homosexuality is wrong. America is about freedom. No one has taken away your right to practice your religious beliefs, as obscene as they are. Now stop trying to take away the rights of LGBT people. contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: Jude is a straight woman, a mom and has been married for 32 years to the same wonderful man. She believes in Buddhism and attends the United Church of Christ. She is a molecular biologist, her best friend is a lesbian, and she believes that every human deserves equal rights, respect and a life free from hate, fear and discrimination. The only thing she hates is pickles. Her science blog can be found at LGBT Latest Science.

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9 Responses

  1. Greg says:

    That's a very good argument.

  2. Christopher says:

    Very well said Geekgirl!!!

  3. Becki Jayne says:

    Thanks for your article!

    I am reaching out to Jude Stevens with this comment.

    I am an out lesbian and the artist-in-residence at Virginia Highland Church in Atlanta, GA ( I also serve on the church's Marriage Equality Team co-chaired by opposite-gender partners (legally married) who are obviously allies. Our congregation is about 50% straight and 50% gay, lesbian. Our pastor Chris Glaser was one of the two grand marshals for Atlanta Pride ( and a well-known gay Christian author. Saw your comment on Facebook to "stop painting [all Christian] groups with one brush." Wanted to say thank you for that!

    Attended the Transgender Day of Remembrance last night and LGBT-affirming clergy were there both at the reception and vigil at the GA state capitol.

    There are plenty of welcoming, affirming congregations, Christian and non-Christian, even in the South.

    Please let me know when you start up the blog on churches and ministers who support LGBT folks and issues. I have a list of welcoming and affirming Christian churches in metro Atlanta and maybe can offer you help should you need it.

    Bless you!

    • Lauryn says:

      Becki Jayne, you are so lucky to be at Chris Glaser's church. Everyone should read his books, especially the reflections on Henry Nouwen. Perhaps more than any other writing his give you a sense of spirituality in the LGBT. You also have Erin Swenson there in GA, it really is a progressive state.

  4. Jake says:

    Hallelujah! (Said the athiest.) Thank you so much for this excellent piece. I would only add—to support your assertions of the right's bigotry—that the miserable anti-gay campaign in Maine claimed to be promoting "love" and "tolerance" while using homophobic scare tactics to appeal to voters' baser instincts. Among other things, they claimed that gay marriage would be taught in schools, for example, which I see as essential actually, but which was simply false.

    But the fight goes on. "Hey, Obama, we won't wait! Equal rights in every state!"

  5. Michael Brown says:

    Along with what Becki Jane said, I agree there are several welcoming churches. Being welcoming, however, doesn't always mean they understand the T. That's where WE come in with education and advocacy.

    There's a website called TransFaith Online at"TransFaith Online is dedicated to supporting transgender folks in our faith journeys, while providing useful resources to help people of faith become better educated trans-allies."

    I've been a member of this group since near the beginning, including participating in the Trans Religious Leaders Network and workshops at the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference last June. The resources on the site have proven valuable to me in my work in advocacy.

    On the website, it states:

    "Each year, the fourth Sunday in January is designated as "International Welcoming Church Sunday." This is a time when congregations in many different denominations all celebrate our commitment to diversity – and in particular to affirming God's love for persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities."

    The website offers a very helpful template of articles, videos and other resources for us, the trans community, to take to our local churches and educate them on being inclusive of the T.

    I know this is a bit off the subject of same-sex marriage, but wanted to throw it out here for those who want to be even more inclusive of the T in the LGBT spectrum – which ALSO includes our own issues with marriage, much the same, but decidedly even more complicated (legally) than a cisgender relationship.

    As long as the church and the state remain in cohorts, and separation doesn't occur, we will continue be fighting a lost cause.

    On a final note – Thomas Paine wrote:

    "All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit."

  6. Chad says:

    I really enjoyed reading this article. Growing up gay in a small town in the Midwest, this is nothing new to me. I'm glad to read someone call them out on it.

  7. Jude says:

    Thank you all for the nice comments and helpful information.

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