Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Gay Baptist Preacher Calls on Churches to Repent of Anti-Gay Attitudes

Rev. Dr. Stephen Sprinkle speaking to a rally at the University of Toledo (Toledo Blade Photo).

Toledo, Ohio – An ordained gay Baptist minister has called upon churches to change their anti-gay attitudes and language.  Dallas Baptist preacher and theologian, Dr. Stephen Sprinkle, speaking to a packed house at the University of Toledo last month, said that the notion Christianity and the Bible are considered irreconcilably anti-gay by many in contemporary churches is simply wrong. Citing Dr. Peter Gomes, the late chaplain of Harvard, Sprinkle said that the biblical teachings on hospitality to those who have been deliberately excluded by society, “the poor, the discriminated against, people of color, women, homosexuals, and all persons beyond the conventional definition of Western civilization,” is far more significant than the few misinterpreted Bible texts used to condemn LGBTQ people.  Sprinkle went on to note that Christianity arose in the cosmopolitan world of the Greeks and the Romans, who in the main were tolerant of same-gender-loving people for much of the classical age.  When taken as a whole, the early churches exhibited very little concern about what we today call “homosexuality.”  “Homosexuality,” Sprinkle said, “is not mentioned in the Top Ten [Commandments], and is not in the message of any of the Prophets.”

The Republic reports that Sprinkle was invited to speak at a rally sponsored by Equality Toledo in response to the so-called “billboard wars” over LGBTQ acceptance in the Toledo church community.  A progressive United Methodist congregation put up a large billboard on a well-traveled street in April proclaiming that “Gays Are a Gift From God.”  An evangelical mega church responded by buying up space on nine huge billboards around the city rebutting the Methodist claim with the slogan “Gays Are NOT a Gift From God.”  Sprinkle, a professor at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, and Theologian in Residence at Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ, the largest LGBTQ predominant congregation in the world located in Dallas, is a widely-sought speaker and teacher.  His most recent book, Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memories of LGBTQ Hate Crimes Victims (Resource Publications, 2011), is an anthology of stories of people murdered for their sexual orientation and gender identity, most of whom were killed by people who claimed justification from the Bible and church teachings. He is the founder of the Unfinished Lives Project, and the web master of http://unfinishedlivesblog.com, a blog seeking to remember the victims of hate crimes violence in the United States.

November 28, 2011 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Being Gay is a Gift From God Campaign, Brite Divinity School, Cathedral of Hope, Central United Methodist Church Toledo, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Homosexuality and the Bible, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Ohio, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gay Baptist Preacher Calls on Churches to Repent of Anti-Gay Attitudes

Buckeye United Methodists Embrace Gays and Lesbians, Buck Homophobic Church Practices

Central's Bold Electronic Billboard (photo courtesy of the Toledo Blade)

Toledo, Ohio – “…We Believe Being Gay is a Gift From God.”  So reads the electronic billboard posted by Central United Methodist Church of Toledo.  According to Box Turtle Bulletin, Central lit up the massive billboard on April 25, and hopes to collect enough money to keep it displaying its message of inclusion to the city for next month, as well.  The sign is stirring up a range of responses throughout Toledo, from delight to outright hostility.  Ohioans have expressed concern that the billboard will be vandalized by anti-gay partisans who disapprove of a Christian church proclaiming that LGBTQ people are fully loved and accepted by God and the church.  Central UMC, a member of the United Methodist Reconciling Ministries Network, is not about to back down on something they see as fundamental to the faith of Christians.  The campaign is, in the words of the church’s web site, “a prophetic call to the Church to get out of the business of marginalizing gay and lesbian persons from the Church, and to welcome them as full members.”  Being Gay is a Gift From God, they say, is a simple declaration “intended to be a gift to those who have experienced hurt and discrimination because of their real or perceived sexual orientation.  The Church seeks nothing less than the healing of the world, and Central UMC wants to offer words and acts of healing to those hurt and marginalized.”  Illuminating the sign at the corner of two busy metropolitan streets, Sylvania Avenue and Monroe Street, was the official launch of Central’s effort to change the conversation concerning gays and lesbians in faith communities.  In addition to the electronic sign, the church has developed a whole line of  products to support their campaign, available for purchased online, such as bumper stickers, campaign buttons, ball caps, coffee mugs, and full color posters.  A speakers bureau is listed on the web site, with encouragement to contact the church to secure speakers for events and interest groups. For the next month,classes are planned on the so-called “clobber passages,” texts from the Bible adversaries have used to marginalize and browbeat LGBTQ people. The congregation, pastored currently by the Rev. Bill Barnard, a 20-year resident of Toledo, was founded in 1896, and has been a champion for LGBTQ human rights since the late 1970s.  Central is a racially-diverse, multi-orientational church with a significant outreach on the issue of economic justice.  Worship space and offices of the congregation are housed in the facilities of Collingwood Presbyterian Church in a newly remodeled and updated building. Their mission statement reads, in part, “We seek to reflect the diversity of God’s creation, which means that we invite all persons – regardless of their age, race, disability, marital status, or sexual orientation – to participate fully in the spiritual journey of Christ’s faith community.”  What a refreshingly odd thing it is when a Christian church actually emulates Jesus Christ!  The Unfinished Lives Project Team congratulates Central UMC.

May 7, 2011 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Being Gay is a Gift From God Campaign, Bisexual persons, Central United Methodist Church Toledo, gay men, gay teens, gender identity/expression, Gender Variant Youth, GLBTQ, Heterosexism and homophobia, Homosexuality and the Bible, Latino and Latina Americans, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, Ohio, Public Theology, Queer, Reconciling Ministries Network, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, United Methodist Church | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

   

%d bloggers like this: