Self-identified “Christian agnostic” Frank Schaefer, the United Methodist pastor defrocked for officiating a same-sex wedding and reinstated on a technicality, remains in defiance of the UMC Book of Discipline. He blogged about his participation in Santa Barbara’s “first ever Pride inter-faith service.” He was part of the planning committee and drafted this “litany of confession” as an apology to the LGBTQ community:
“As a gathering of people of various faiths we acknowledge the wrongdoings of the past toward persons of the LGBTQ community.
We, as communities of Faith, have not always been welcoming and affirming of you.
We, as clergy have failed to listen and support you, we failed to acknowledge your human dignity and worth, have often treated you as second-class believers and have harmed you with words of exclusion and hatred defining you as ‘inherently disordered,’ as ‘contrary to God’s will,’ as ‘sinners,’ as ‘perverts,’ and as ‘abominations.’
We, as religious leaders, have denied you the rights of self-definition, integrity and humanity; we have not given you a voice. We have subjected you to abusive ‘religious counseling’ and harmful ‘conversion therapy.’
We, as religious institutions, have defrocked, excommunicated, and shunned you. We have turned your loved ones against you; we have forced you into the closet and made you internalize our lies.
We, as religious lobbyists, have supported measures that denied you the rights granted under the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution to equal protection under the law. We have supported measures to deny you entry into the institutions of your choice and prevent you from gaining your rightful place in our society.
This should have never happened, we were wrong in our beliefs, words and actions. We sincerely apologize to you and your loved ones.
We are committed to remember your struggles and sufferings at the hand of hetero-sexism and homophobia and our part in it.
We, as people of faith, will strive to welcome and embrace all people, promise to do all in our power to oppose those who to discriminate against anyone because of who they are or who they love, and together we hope that one day all people may find the courage and saftey to break free from the closets of the world.”
He also wrote a “litany of thanksgiving for the advancement of LGBTQ rights:
“We are grateful that many faith communities have come to believe the truth that all LGBTQ persons are of sacred worth with the God-given right to define themselves and to freely pursue happiness through love relationships and equal marriage rights.
We give thanks to God for the courage of LGBTQ persons everywhere to come out to families and faith communities, defying the risk of rejection, persecution, defrocking–even at the risk of losing their lives. Your acts of courage continue to change the world including our faith communities.
We are grateful for the acts of love and courage by family members, allies and ministers from within our faith communities, many of whom have also risked their lives, careers, their families and communities as they stood with and by LGBTQ persons.
We give thanks to God for scholars, church leaders, and educators who passionately defend the truth and make a case for love that includes all LGBTQ persons.
We are grateful for judges, lawyers, and representatives who justly rule and defend matters of human rights, restoring dignity to members of our LGBTQ community.
We give thanks to God for calling us to acts of love and compassion for one another witnessed through the testimony of mother earth, the voices of the wise, and the recorded words of prophets.
Let us in gratitude, continue to draw the circle ever wider, to extend love and compassion to every one.
Let us in gratitude continue to embrace all people, especially those whom society marginalizes.
Let us in gratitude continue to see the Creator in every person we meet, and stand up for their freedom and human dignity.”
The United Methodist Church “does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.” The Book of Discipline also “bans the ordination of ‘self-avowed practicing homosexuals,’ and it forbids the performance of same-gender unions in the denomination’s sanctuaries and by its clergy in any setting.” Frank Schaefer continues to stand in open defiance of his church’s teaching.
The struggle for the soul of the United Methodist Church will continue at the 2016 General Conference.