Post submitted by Michael Toumayan, former HRC Senior Religion and Faith Program Manager
More than 150 conservative Evangelical Christian leaders, including prominent members of the Trump-Pence administration’s Evangelical Advisory Board, released a vicious, anti-LGBTQ manifesto Tuesday attacking LGBTQ people as immoral and sinful, asserting their opposition to marriage equality and denying the dignity of transgender people.
The ugly three-page document they called “The Nashville Statement,” was released as hundreds of thousands of people in Texas and beyond continued to grapple with the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, and while the attention of most of the nation’s religious leaders was focused on helping victims of the historic disaster.
That the so-called “Christian manifesto” was issued during a national crisis and in the wake of the Trump-Pence administration’s recent action seeking to ban transgender people from serving in the military enforces its message of intolerance.
Concocted in Nashville last week during the national conference of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the statement elicited widespread condemnation from scores of national religious and political leaders. In fact, the statement runs contrary to beliefs of a majority of Evangelical millennials and people of faith who support affirming LGBTQ people. The release also sparked swift outrage on social media.
"While the theology espoused in the Nashville Statement is not new, the recommitment to anti-LGBT theology continues these Evangelical leaders’ violence against LGBT people,” said Eliel Cruz, HRC Foundation’s Religion Council member and creator of FaithfullyLGBT. “Christians and non-Christians alike must unequivocally condemn this statement. We cannot stand for this demonization of LGBT people to go unchallenged.”
Nashville Mayor Megan Barry was among those expressing disgust over the statement, tweeting that the “so-called ‘Nashville statement’ is poorly named and does not represent the inclusive values of the city & people of Nashville.”
Among the document’s signatories are members of President Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board, including Tony Perkins, President of Family Research Council, a designated hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center; James Dobson, Founder of Focus on the Family; Ronnie Floyd, Senior Pastor of Cross Church; Richard Land, President of Southern Evangelical Seminary; James MacDonald, Founder and Senior Pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel; and James Robison, Founder & President of LIFE Outreach International.
“A predominantly white male coalition of Southern Baptists and Evangelicals have defined human sexuality in the binary that secures their power, with a selective tortured reading of the Bible texts on human sexuality from a time when a woman was her husband's property,” said Bishop Yvette Flunder, HRC Foundation’s Religion Council member and Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship.
“This is the same group that advocated for the ban on transgender people from the military.”
The New York Times has previously reported that Perkins, a signatory and president of the Family Research Council, had for months lobbied Donald Trump and Mike Pence to ban transgender people from the military.
“‘The Southern Baptist Convention is the same denomination that once used the Bible to condemn inter-racial relationships and to defend the “Godliness” of chattel slavery, and had to repent. They will need to repent again,” Bishop Flunder said.
In 1987, the same group denounced “secular” feminism and equality in marriages in a manifesto it called “The Danvers Statement.”