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Inclusive Methodist Church Barred from Easter Parade Because of “Offensive” Message

Methodist Laywomen Suzie Bell says barring her church from the Easter Parade was an act of anti-LGBT discrimination.

Methodist Laywomen Suzie Bell says barring her church from the Easter Parade was an act of anti-LGBT discrimination.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas – Controversy over the acceptance of LGBT people in Arkansas is splitting the Christian community in Eureka Springs. Organizers of the local “Celebrate Jesus” Easter parade, who initially permitted First United Methodist Church to participate in this year’s event, barred the church a week prior to Easter. Why? Because, reports Ozarksfirst.com, the Methodist Church was to carry a banner that read, “Jesus Loves All” — a message deemed “offensive” by parade officials.

Church member Suzie Bell told Ozarksfirst reporters that her church’s exclusion was because of their reconciling stance towards LGBT people. “They wanted to know what our banner was going to say, and it said “Jesus loves all. They had decided that they did not want us in the parade, and that we weren’t welcome,” Bell said. “[The negative decision] was based purely on our love and acceptance of the LGBT community.”

The “Celebrate Jesus” parade has been a community staple for three years now, according to local news outlet in Rogers, KNWA. When reporters questioned parade organizer Laura Nichols about why the Methodist Church was barred from the parade, she refused to speak with them, but issued a lengthy statement instead. The statement reads, in part:

“This day isn’t a day of pointing fingers or playing the blame game. This parade is to honor our Lord and Savior and for praising God for sending His only Son who willingly went to the cross, died and rose on the third day that when we repent of our sins and accept Him… Regardless of what has been stated in the papers. We do not have anything against the Methodist Church. After all my uncle was a Methodist minister. Nor do we have anything against the homosexual community.”  

Methodist Church member Bell isn’t buying it, and is troubled by the organizers’ lack of explanation. In rebuttal to Nichols’s statement, Bell said, “I’m sad, I’m sad that this is something that would divide Christians, It doesn’t seem right.” The United Methodist Church had recently become a Reconciling Congregation, meaning that the congregation publicly welcomes LGBT people and celebrates their sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions.

The sign the Methodist Church prepared to carry in the parade, that Jesus loves and accepts all people, was apparently a step too far in Arkansas where controversy has raged over a thinly-veiled discriminatory “Religious Objections” law passed by the GOP dominated legislature which Governor Asa Hutchinson turned back to lawmakers at the last minute because of a storm of criticism over the law’s discriminatory intent. The Governor pressured the legislature to tweak the law just enough that the could sign it, and avoid the missteps recently disabling the Indiana RFRA. Critics of the “Arkansas Fix” say that the new language doesn’t ensure that LGBT residents of the state will be protected from religious-based bigotry.

When “Jesus Loves All” becomes “offensive” to other Christians because of their politicized right wing desire to stymie any dissent on the matter of LGBT people in their community, it isn’t the United Methodist Church who has gone a step too far. As the Arkansas Blog opines in relation to the decision to tell the reconciling Methodists they are no longer wanted in the parade, “Saying ‘Jesus Loves All’ does point a finger in the current debate. Sad to say. I think if He’d visit lepers and eat with publicans and other sinners, he might even drop a cake off at the house of a couple of lesbians. He’d certainly walk in a parade with them.” 

April 6, 2015 - Posted by | Arkansas, First United Methodist Church Eureka Springs, GLBTQ, Governor Asa Hutchinson, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), religious intolerance | , , , , , , ,

4 Comments

  1. Reblogged this on Fairy JerBear's Queer World News, Views & More From The City Different – Santa Fe, NM and commented:

    When did “Jesus Loves All” become offensive to many Christians in Eurek Springs Arkansas?

    Comment by jerbearinsantafe | April 6, 2015

  2. When will this ever end? So incredibly ignorant and sad and ———– unnecessary and unChristian.

    Happy Easter.

    Rita Cotterly

    Comment by Rita Cotterly | April 6, 2015

  3. Lisa,

    I’m passing this along to you and requesting that you have a sign made “Jesus Loves All” that I carry in the LGBT parade in FW. Thank you so much. Maybe others will like to carry such a sign.

    It never ends.

    Rita

    Comment by Rita Cotterly | April 6, 2015

  4. There’s been another suicide. :-(…

    http://www.ontopmag.com/article.aspx?id=20709&MediaType=1&Category=26

    RIP, Taylor.

    Comment by tgflux | April 12, 2015


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