Post submitted by: Elizabeth Bibi and Madeleine Roberts
HRC Foundation announced that HRC President Alphonso David will kick off a cross-country interfaith religion and faith tour, “Coming Home to Faith: A Search for Common Ground,” to explore and strengthen the relationship between LGBTQ and faith communities across the United States. The tour officially launched today with a visit to the Historic African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas in Philadelphia, Pa.
“The cornerstones of religion and faith and the LGBTQ movement are the same: inclusion and justice. LGBTQ people are in every faith tradition, and LGBTQ people and people of faith have more similarities than they do differences,” said HRC President Alphonso David. “I am excited to visit diverse houses of worship to strengthen HRC’s relationships with faith communities. Today’s visit to the Historic African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas in Philadelphia, the first African Episcopal church in the United States with a strong legacy of humanitarianism and community outreach, is the perfect way to begin this series of conversations to advance dialogue and initiatives around LGBTQ equality.”
David joined the Very Reverend Canon Martini Shaw at the pulpit for St. Thomas’s Sunday morning service this morning, March 1. View video of his remarks here. The visit to St. Thomas comes after David attended services at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina on February 23 and met with the Senior Pastor of Mother Emanuel, Rev. Eric Manning.
“We were thrilled to welcome Alphonso David and representatives from HRC at the Historic African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas this morning,” said the Very Reverend Canon Martini Shaw. “St. Thomas has a history of engaging in outreach to the community around us and ensuring that the welcoming love we see in the Gospels is felt by everyone we serve -- including LGBTQ people. As we begin the season of Lent, we encourage everyone to reflect on the ways in which people of faith can begin finding common ground with LGBTQ people in their communities.”
At St. Thomas this morning, as part of HRC’s Get Out The Vote (GOTV) efforts, HRC volunteers were on hand to help members of the congregation update their voter registration information, and asked members to pledge to increase participation in upcoming elections by bringing their friends and family with them to exercise their right to vote.
There is a persistent myth that a person cannot be LGBTQ and also a person of faith, or vice versa -- whether because there is a perception that being religious is in conflict with being LGBTQ, or because the loudest narratives in media are those of anti-LGBTQ religious people. In fact, LGBTQ people of faith live in every state and country around the world, and many people of faith support the LGBTQ community.
Data released last year by PRRI show that solid majorities in all major religious groups support laws protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination.
“We were honored to kick off the HRC Foundation’s ‘Coming Home to Faith: A Search for Common Ground’ tour at the Historic African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas this morning,” said HRC Foundation Religion & Faith Program Director Michael Vazquez. “In the course of the tour, HRC President Alphonso David will visit houses of worship across the country, including Historic Black Churches, evangelical churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious and faithful spaces. As the tour progresses, we will work towards the goal of finding common ground between the LGBTQ community, LGBTQ people of faith and communities of faith, while we work to advance justice and equity for the whole LGBTQ community.”
The purpose of “Coming Home to Faith: A Search for Common Ground” is to work to establish common ground with prominent houses of worship and faith traditions across the country. Ensuring equity and justice for all people, while giving all individuals the space and freedom to be fully themselves, is a message inherent in all major religions and faith traditions and is the cornerstone of the LGBTQ movement. If LGBTQ people and people of faith can speak together, our voices and impact will carry that message that much farther. Making sure that that message is heard loud and clear in the 2020 elections has never been more important.