Shortly after Pope Francis visited the United States, the news-o-sphere exploded when lawyers for Kim Davis, the county clerk who gained national attention for her opposition to same-gender marriage, announced the Pope had met secretly with Davis and commended her for her courage. Initially, the Vatican refused to comment on the meeting, and in subsequent days they made statements saying Davis was part of a larger group and did not receive a private audience.
We may never know what really happened that day, because there appear to have been no cameras, sound recordings, or videos, and its now a matter of “he said, she said.” However, for millions of LGBT people in the world, the meeting confirmed they already believed — all Christians, be they conservative protestants or environmentalist Catholics, are anti-gay. Christians, so the common wisdom goes, can disagree on many things, but they will always come together on their hatred of LGBT people.
Now, I can hear you spluttering already: I’m not anti-gay! My church is welcoming of everyone! I belong to the UCC, because I love how affirming they are of LGBT people!
I’m sure that’s true. What I’m highlighting is how Pope Francis and Kim Davis helped fuel the common misperception that all Christians are anti-gay — even you.
And that’s why we have to say it. It’s not enough to say, “We welcome everyone,” because LGBT people will assume that doesn’t mean them. We’ve been burned too many times by people who appeared liberal on issues like homelessness and the environment, but remain firmly opposed to same-gender relationships. We’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop, and when we hear that the Pope met with Kim Davis, we think, “Of course. That makes sense to me.”
So, does your church celebrate everyone? And when you say that, do you mean people in gay relationships and people whose gender is queer? If so, then you better say it directly, because their are a lot of LGBT people who assume you don’t mean them when you say, “all are welcome.”