Written by Gregg Brekke
An alliance of high-level mainline Christian leaders and faith groups that fully include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, released a statement today calling on "the Church Universal to join us in working to end the violence and hatred against our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters."
In the wake of a rash of suicides after anti-gay bullying and violent attacks on gay people in New York, top faith leaders signed a pledge "to be LGBT and straight people of faith standing together for the shared values of decency and civility, compassion and care in all interactions."
National faith leaders signing the Clergy Against Bullying statement include the Rev. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, the Rev. Geoffrey Black, general minister and president of the United Church of Christ, Elder Cynthia J. Bolbach, moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Rev. Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, Bishop Yvette Flunder, presiding bishop of The Fellowship and the Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches.
The Rev. Michael Kinnamon said, "The member churches of the National Council of Churches are moved by scripture to affirm every person as a valued child of God and to support protection from bullying and discrimination. Just as we spoke out on behalf of Muslims who were under threat, so we now stand as Clergy Against Bullying of our neighbors, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. Given the recent outburst of anti-gay rhetoric and action, the Church must not be silent."
Head of The Episcopal Church, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said, "The Episcopal Church abhors the persecution of any group of human beings and seeks the just and dignified treatment of all."
"Bullying for any reason is contradictory to authentic religion," said Dr. C. Welton Gaddy. "Religion inspires respect, empathy, compassion and humility-values that prompt healing and condemn hurting."
"We are asking all faith colleagues, LGBT and straight alike, to go online and sign the Clergy Against Bullying statement and to work toward safe space for all God's children in our churches," said the Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson. "Too often, young people who are gay, transgender or questioning fear judgmental church people. This statement by Clergy Against Bullying will help us all tell the story of the One who came not to judge or condemn but to love us. Today we are saying to every child who is different in any way: 'You are safe in the arms of God; you are safe with our congregations.' "
Bishop Yvette Flunder, who is also senior pastor at City of Refuge UCC, said, "When our young people hear messages of condemnation from church leaders, they are left alone to wonder if God loves them, if their families will reject them and if their peers will attack them with taunts and bullying. Today, Clergy Against Bullying are choosing to speak words of humility, love and acceptance."
Harry Knox of the Human Rights Campaign said, "We rejoice that we are joining our voices with Muslims for Progressive Values and the more than 300 Jewish organizational leaders coordinated by Keshet. You will be inspired to do more when you read the powerful Keshet and Muslim statements."
For a full statement of Clergy Against Bullying and to sign on, go to the web site. All clergy and people of good faith are welcome to sign. Clergy Against Bullying will be building online resources to help congregations create safe spaces and support for all of God's children, including the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children.