On September 9-11, 2006, Christian leaders whose organizations touch the lives of 98 million Americans gathered in Dallas, Texas, for the Bishops and Elders Council to end the homophobia and heterosexism in churches and to reaffirm Jesus’ message of love, welcome, and acceptance of all people.
STATEMENT BY BISHOPS AND ELDERS COUNCIL
On September 11, 2001, some leading Christian extremists portrayed the tragedy of 9/11 as God’s judgment on America for the presence of gays and lesbians. The intervening years have witnessed an alarming escalation of religion-based, anti-gay attacks by both political leaders and religious groups.
Today, on the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we, as leaders representing organizations that touch the lives of 98 million Americans, are united in our rejection of all forms of fear-based religion, all political manipulation in the name of Jesus, and governmental hostility toward gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons, especially that hostility that uses Christianity as an excuse to divide society and demonize minorities.
Today, as Christian leaders who have gathered in Council in Dallas, Texas, we proclaim that discrimination, rejection, scapegoating, and oppression of gay people and their families are incompatible with the Christian ethic of love — and are not spiritual, democratic, patriotic, or fair.
Today, we announce that the anti-gay agenda against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender is effectively over. Thanks to a rapidly growing movement of churches and faith leaders in communities across the United States, thousands of churches now embrace Jesus’ message that “whosoever will may come,” and open their doors in welcome to same-gender-loving people of faith. Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians, along with their families and allies, now have the option of nurturing their spiritual lives in faith communities that celebrate and welcome all of God’s creation.
Motivated by our Christian faith and to further our nation’s founding goals of justice and equality for all, we call upon all people of goodwill to work actively for an end to discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons by:
– Realizing that the relationships of same-gender loving couples are equal in every way to heterosexual couples and are worthy of both the right to civil marriage and the rites of Christian marriage;
– Reaffirming the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender persons to full equality under the law, including adoption rights, employment and housing protections, and the right to openly serve in the U.S. military;
– Refusing to cooperate with or support political or religious leaders who caricature and condemn the lives of gays and lesbians;
– Refuting the ex-gay notion that sexual orientation and gender identity can and should be changed.
As unified followers of Christ, reclaiming our faith, we commit to speak boldly with our own communities and the larger culture from out of our experience as those who have been both oppressed and oppressor. We will communicate God’s incessant call for justice, wholeness and peace and work to equip ourselves and others to take concrete action to achieve God’s loving shalom.
The Bishops and Elders Council further commits to continued work on behalf of all people oppressed or marginalized by poverty, immigration policies, HIV/AIDS, addictions, classism, sexism, ageism, or violence.
Bishops and Elders Council, September 9 – 11, 2006 Dallas, Texas
- Dr. Michael J. Adee, More Light Presbyterians
- Bishop Craig Bergland, The Universal Anglican Church
- Reverend Jim Birkitt, Metropolitan Community Churches
- Reverend Shari Brink, Room For All of the Reformed Church in America
- Emily Eastwood, Lutherans Concerned/North America
- Todd Ferrell, The Evangelical Network
- Bishop Yvette Flunder, The Fellowship
- Reverend Ruth Garwood, United Church of Christ Coalition for LGBT Concerns
- Dr. John Harris, National Baptist Conference of Welcoming and Affirming Churches, USA
- Bishop Zachary Jones, Unity Fellowship Church
- Harry Knox, Religion and Faith Program of the Human Rights Campaign
- David Lohman, Institute for Welcoming Resources
- Reverend Dr. Cindi Love, Metropolitan Community Churches
- Reverend D?°maris Ortega, Pride in the Pulpit
- Reverend Kenneth Pennings, Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists
- Reverend Troy Plummer, Reconciling Ministries Network of the United Methodist Church
- Sylvia Rhue, National Black Justice Coalition
- Pernessa Seele, The Balm in Gilead
- Bishop John Selders, Inter-Denominational Conference of Liberation Congregations & Ministries
- Sam Sinnett, DignityUSA
- Reverend Janie Spahr, That All May Freely Serve
- Reverend Rebecca Voelkel, The Institute for Welcoming Resources
- Reverend Mel White, Soulforce
- Reverend Elder Nancy Wilson, Metropolitan Community Churches
- Carol Wise, Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBT Interests
- Archbishop Philip Zimmerman, Reformed Catholic Church