Domestic Religious Liberty


United Methodist Building

May 16, 2019

Pro-LGBT Clergy Rally at United Methodist Building for Equality Act

An interfaith coalition of groups sponsored a prayer vigil at the United Methodist Building in Washington, DC on May 14 in support of the Equality Act (H.R. 5), pending before the House of Representatives. The top legislative priority of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, it would add sexual orientation and gender identity to federal anti-discrimination categories, as well as expand the scope of civil rights law beyond commercial transactions to cover much of the private world as well.

Speakers from a variety of faith traditions expressed support for the act, emphasizing that acceptance of self-chosen sexuality and sexual expression is clear from the ethic of love found in many religious traditions, and the suffering of those who have experienced rejection or in one way or another been penalized for their sexuality.

The Rev. Michael Crumpler, now a Unitarian Universalist, spoke of the hostility of his Evangelical background to homosexuality, of rejection at his Evangelical school (which likely would not be able to discipline anyone for homosexual behavior, or probably any other form of sexual immorality, if the Equality Act is enacted), of his discovery that true faith is not “antithetical to love in all its forms,” and that in his gospel “people of all gender identities and gender expressions deserve federal protections against sex discrimination at schools, in community centers and in homeless shelters that take federal dollars.” The statement showed just how draconian the law is. It would render the terms “male” and “female” self-defined, and thus meaningless for legal purposes, require any private organization receiving federal money to accept homosexuality and transgenderism, make it difficult if not impossible for religious schools or other private religious organizations to maintain a standard of chastity if they receive any government funding or serve the public in any way, open public rest rooms to persons of both sexes, and require shelters for homeless or abused women to include men who believe that they are women.

Other drastic provisions would define “sex” discrimination to cover “pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition,” thus jeopardizing conscientious objection to abortion on the part of medical personnel, define any therapy to re-orient an individual to their natural sex as “discrimination,” expand the “establishments” covered by the law to include any “online retailer or service provider, salon, bank, gas station, food bank, service or care center, shelter, travel agency, or funeral parlor, or establishment that provides health care, accounting, or legal services.” The last category would presumably require legal service organizations which have defended religious freedom against SOGI requirements to defend clients they disagree with. Finally, the Equality Act would prohibit any appeal to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) for protection against the Equality Act’s provisions, which is currently still possible against SOGI claims in federal cases even where state and local SOGI laws apply. This is thus not really a federal version of state and local SOGI laws, but a radical re-ordering of society to require acceptance of homosexuality in both the public and private worlds.

The Rev. Peter S. Simmons-Scie, of Metropolitan AME Church in Washington, D.C, said that God “created each of us with individual distinctions, though we may have similar characteristics … no two individuals are completely alike. We all are authentic in our individuality” and that we should “honor and respect the diversity of humanity.” Apparently the Equality Act is required to ensure that we do.

This shows the essential deception behind the rhetoric. People are identified with their inclination and behavior, and there appear to be as many genders as there are human beings. While speakers at the vigil cast the issue as discrimination against homosexual or transgender identifying persons, which the public generally would oppose, the true issue is of course the righteousness of homosexual behavior and the requirement that everyone be complicit in it, even if complicity is understood to be sinful or evil.

It was claimed early in the vigil that the proposed law represents a compromise with religious liberty, in that churches are not specifically covered by its provisions. Yet the Rev. Angela Flanagan of Silver Spring United Methodist Church subsequently regretted this protection for churches and other houses of worship, as the Equality Act would not therefore apply in her case (which current rulings from the Supreme Court would make impossible anyway, although churches could possibly be required to retain non-clerical LGBT employees).

What the legislation really seeks is the abolition of any private world in which a standard of chastity can be maintained. This was clear from one of the stories of woe (which is hardly unique) in which a woman was expelled from her birth family when her lesbianism was revealed. As with the other stories that were told to support the LGBT agenda, people need to think about what is really being said. The law is being invoked to prohibit the rejection of homosexuality, because of the pain it causes homosexuals. By this logic, the family should have been penalized, just as bakers, florists, and photographers are today, for rejecting homosexuality. And presumably the family should have been required to keep her in the home, just as religious organizations will be required to retain LGBT persons if the law passes.

Aware that the principal motive for opposing the LGBT agenda is religious, the speakers in colorful clerical vestments really preached a common gospel focused on human desire in this life. All speakers clearly assumed that the stories of suffering they offered establish injustice, and that this calls for government action to mandate acceptance of homosexual behavior and transgender claims in both the public and private worlds. They ignored what is the most basic fact of at least the Christian religion, and surely Judaism and Islam as well, namely that God is king, and our preeminent duty is to obey him above the mandates of state and society, family and friends. Thus Jesus declares that obedience to him is more important more important than anything else in life, and that the painful narrow gate is the road to eternal life, while Paul instructs that Christians are to be separate from sin, and at least in their own churches and organizations expel the sexually immoral. But complicity in sin, clearly forbidden by Scripture, will be required by the Equality Act of Christians in many business and professional situations. Nor will Christian organizations, except churches, and then possibly only for clerical positions, be legally able to hire and fire personnel according to their own religious standards.

As this writer has repeatedly emphasized, the “free exercise” of religion guaranteed by the Constitution must, by its very wording, cover more than mere religious belief, a claim supported by James Madison, principal author of the First Amendment guarantee. So the Constitution is not neutral about religion, but clearly favors religious practice over other considerations. What speakers at the vigil clearly seek is not equality, but privilege for homosexual behavior and transgender claims over all other considerations. Antidiscrimination law takes away any choice a public entity or private party might have if the choice is based on an adverse judgement against the protected category. And as this writer has also emphasized, for sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) legislation, unlike other civil rights legislation, no definite group of people is covered, but only sexual behaviors, sexual self-definitions, and (for the Equality Act) a prohibition against using nebulous “sex stereotypes.” SOGI legislation in effect privileges homosexual behavior and inclination, and transgender claims. Pacifist photographers can decline to photograph soldiers, vegetarian photographers can decline to photograph butcher shops, but the right of conscience is denied where homosexuality is concerned.

This legislation is also much more drastic than earlier civil rights legislation because it is no longer focused on commerce, as civil rights law previously has been. Earlier civil rights law applied to the sale of goods and services, housing, and employment — activities that involved the exchange of money. The Equality Act attempts to cover all of life, even free public services, threatens religious private schools, and voluntary associations (although it does not yet fully cover families and churches).

While it may not be likely that the law will pass with a Republican Senate and President, the passion of the American Left to require acceptance of the sexual revolution (which is really its top priority), the complicity of the corporate world, academy, and entertainment industry, and the indoctrination of young Americans in public schools and colleges, may eventually result in a national SOGI law such as the Equality Act. While speakers at Tuesday’s event were applauded as “courageous,” in truth it is opposition to homosexuality and transgenderism which requires courage in today’s society. One may have to face loss of job, family, friends, professional credentials, or even freedom (where state or local SOGI laws are held to be violated). But we must remember that in the logic of Christians’ place in this conflict, we cannot ever make the concessions wanted. If God is king, we must always obey him, trusting in his providence and final victory.

32 Responses to Pro-LGBT Clergy Rally at United Methodist Building for Equality Act

  1. Mike says:

    Sodom and Gomorrah have invaded the church.

  2. Andrew Hughes says:

    This whole agenda is an attack on the sovereignty of God not men. The faithful are just collateral damage. Give us strength Lord.

    • Pat says:

      Well spoken Andrew. You speak the truth. God is the one under attack. God says He will not be mocked. Time to openly stand up in our Methodist churches and say enough is enough. The scorn of man means nothing! The judgement of our Lord is everything. The Equality Act destroys religious freedom and speech in this country and the bill’s authors know this. The devil does not sleep and does all he can to destroy God’s creation: the human race.

  3. Katherine Fehl says:

    No room in this for “centrists” or “tolerance.” It eliminates those stances by forcing the issue. Has there ever really been a true centrist position?

    • Tom says:

      Either you karate do “yes”, or karate do “no”. You karate do “guess so”? Squish – just like grape.

  4. Willian says:

    When the “Christian left” go in business with the secular left, they are aiding and abetting their own demise. Or, haven’t they noticed that secular efforts like this are just part of a larger movement to eradicate Christianity from American life?

  5. Bradley Pope says:

    I see zero evidence the traditionalists have a modicum of influence in the umc. I know they carried the vote but from where I sit I see the umc mostly supporting heresy in return for cultural approval & occasionally apologizing for its vote but assuring everyone it won’t change anything.

  6. Bill says:

    ummm….Are those the only people who showed up to the rally?

  7. Diane says:

    “There appears to be re as many genders as there are humans”. Really? Thanks for your words “this shows the essential deception behind the rhetoric.”

  8. John Smith says:

    Just staking their claim to the assets ahead of the split. How much is that site worth (the building itself, not much), tens of millions?

  9. Lee D. Cary says:

    “Organized by the Faith in Equality Coalition, the event brought together representatives from the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, the Unitarian Universalist Association, the LGBTQ Jewish organization Keshet, the Religious Institute, Advocates for Youth, the National LGBTQ Task Force, the Center for American Progress, Faith in Public Life, and clergy from various denominations, including the Metropolitan AME Church of Washington, D.C. and the United Methodist Church.”

  10. Diane says:

    Not too many years ago, people used religion to discriminate couples engaged in another behavior: mixed race relationships and marriages. Choosing to marry someone of another race is a behavior. Parents – particularly white parents – through their kids out of their homes if they found they were dating someone of a different race. My (white) cousin’s parents forced her to have an abortion in the 1960s when she became pregnant by her black boyfriend. I know (white) parents who sent their kids to private Christian schools where they’d be with all white classmates and teachers, hoping their sons and daughters would make the choice to marry someone of the same race. Marrying someone of another race was radical – and there were a lot of churches that refused to go along.

    • Dykes Lynn Pruitt says:

      Diane, I am just a lay person, but I believe that the difference is that traditional Christian teaching, and indeed, the entire Bible, never forbade interracial marriage, whereas they do indeed have strong words regarding the proper use of sex. Just as segregationists misused the Bible to support their position, “progressive Christians” misuse it to support theirs.

    • Donald says:

      Diane – When you don’t know the difference between “threw” – “to toss” and “through” – “to completely penetrate” I no longer doubt your capacity for rapid advocacy rather than fact-based reality.

    • Steve says:

      Only marriage I ever knew of that a church refused to perform was in the 70s, for a young white heterosexual couple in their late teens or early twenties where the young woman was pregnant. The church’s reasoning was that marriage shouldn’t be looked upon as a way to make a child legitimate. The girl’s mom’s quite understandable reaction was that she wasn’t aware of any other way to make a child legitimate. Guess the denomination. Episcopalian. Of course.

  11. Lynn says:

    Thank you Rick for an excellent and informing article. It is a sad day when so many false church leaders so flagrantly spew vileness, and openly support immoral sexual behavior, right in the face of God. It remains very telling that they use no scriptural foundation for their affirming stand on homosexual behavior. They just whine about feelings beings hurt and people feeling bad. Wait till judgment day, then they will all truly now what feeling bad is like for eternity, if they don’t know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. Jesus Christ, the way, the truth, and the life. No one will come before God, except through our one and only Lord and Savior, Jesus. I pray that their eyes will be opened and their souls saved before judgment day.

  12. Chet says:

    Two prophecies are on display here – Roman 1:27 and Revelation 2-3 involving the churches of Pergamos, Thyatira, and the other churches and, according to John Wesley, to al churches on into the future.

  13. true says:

    40 people and everyone is all up in arms. Y’all need to see a psychiatrist.

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