Religion-based stigma and hostility not limited to small town pastors.

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People should not be lulled into thinking that this is a story about a 70-year-old pastor in a small rural town saying outrageous comments about gay and lesbian people. The message behind this pastor’s words is one of hostility and spiritual violence toward gay and lesbian people and that is being promoted in churches all across North Carolina and all across America.

The president of the Southern Baptist Convention in February preached a sermon at his church in Marietta, Georgia in which he compared gay affirming people of faith to Nazis. The Methodist Church considers itself moderate when it states that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching and other Christian denominations are espousing similar messages. Behind all those messages – where extreme or moderate – is the idea that gay and lesbian people are immoral and they undeserving of human dignity and equality.

Christian churches must reckon with the fact that you cannot pretend to show God’s love toward someone and at the same time reject and condemn that person as living a “sinful lifestyle” when in fact there is no lifestyle and no sin in a person’s innate sexual orientation. We can’t let misguided teaching blind us to God’s understanding and knowledge.