The Nashville Statement (A Plain Language Translation)

This week over 150 Evangelical pastors and Conservative Christian leaders released a joint manifesto on sexuality and marriage entitled the Nashville Statement. The Tennessee city’s name was attached to the document, due to the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s annual conference in Nashville where the document was ratified.

The statement is steeped in churchy language and dusty religious-speak regarding marriage, creation, gender identity, and sexual orientation, which may be difficult for the average ear to decipher, especially if not raised to crack the code of such theological buzzwords.

Below is a Plain Language Translation so you can hear what’s actually being said here beneath the sanctified verbiage:

Evangelical Christians are at the precipice of extinction—and we know it. We are a profoundly endangered species coming to grips with the urgency of the moment, of our impending disappearance, of the whole thing going sideways here in the Bible Belt—and we’re in a bit of a panic. 

We are leaking people from our churches, watching multitudes walk away in disgust, and losing market share in the religious landscape, as well as the vice-like stranglehold we’ve had on American politics for the past 241 years—and we are rightly terrified.

Yes, we made our bed with this President, which a few months ago seemed like a victory, but we now realize we are inextricably tethered to an absolute monster, and have no choice but to deny Jesus daily and double down on him, lest we lose every ally. However, we forgot that people aren’t stupid, and they see the disconnect between the President and the Jesus we’re trying to simultaneously claiming allegiance to—and we desperately need a distraction to muddy the waters; we need an easy battle to regain the credibility we’ve forfeited as we’ve sold off our souls and built our personal empires.

We know that the only hope we have in regaining a foothold in the culture (as onion skin thin as that hope is), is to stoke the passion fires of our remaining base, who are rapidly dwindling to now include only those most susceptible to fear of the other; those who are most easily aroused by talk of other people’s bedrooms and body parts and marriages. We’re preaching hard to what’s left of our hateful choir.

And so right now, in the middle of an unprecedented humanitarian disaster, in one of the most divisive years in our nation’s history, in a time when we are terribly fractured—we’ve chosen to gather as Christian leaders:
not to condemn the White Supremacy and racism our President has refused to,
or to decry this Administration’s ties to Russia,

or to state unequivocally that Black Lives Matter,
or to offer support for Muslim-Americans,

or to stand in solidarity with the tens of millions who may lose the ability to be cared for,
or to leverage our influence to rescue people under water in Houston.

No, we’ve chosen this moment to launch an unprovoked attack on an easy target.
We’ve chosen to perpetuate and sanction discrimination, violence, and bullying against an already marginalized community.
We’ve chosen to do damage and create conflict, in a time when the world is so starved for healing and so immersed in discord.
We’ve chosen to use our sacred text; not to bring comfort or create unity or engender hope—but to beat the hell out of people who spend much of their days already walking through hell because of the cruelty of our disciples.
We’ve chosen to wage cheap war on innocent and vulnerable people in order to feel mighty again.

We’ve done this because regardless of all our lip service about love and Grace and compassion—we really just like to pick fights that give us that intoxicating rush of superiority and a small dose of the control that we’ve grown addicted to. We really want to hold the kind of power that we’ve become accustomed to (and are rapidly losing.)

And so we’ve once more trotted out every dangerous, Science-denying stereotype, every tired religious platitude about Adam and Eve, “God’s design”, and “ordained differences between men and women”—because that’s all we have left.

We’ve tossed out all but a handful of quite debatable verses from the expansive library of Scripture, and once again chosen to go back to the well of injecting ourselves in someone else’s personal business one more time—in the hopes that maybe it will be like it was in the old days, when people didn’t realize how twisted we’d gotten it and just how little Jesus we were actually emulating, and believing this kind of harassment is redemptive.

We’ve made this “statement”, because those still listening to our message, aren’t interested in loving their neighbors as themselves, or caring for the least, or being the merciful Samaritan, or welcoming the outsider or washing people’s feet (or any of that annoying Jesus stuff). They just want an enemy to wage war with.

And so despite him never once condemning or criticizing anyone for their gender identity or sexual orientation in the totality of his life and ministry—we’ve put these words in his mouth and stood on a social media mountaintop and in our bully pulpits and shouted them to the world in one last gasp for survival.

And we hope that no one sees just how terrified we are of our own extinction.

This is a dissenting opinion, from those of us without fear, who want to lead with love.

 

Order John’s book, ‘A Bigger Table’ here.

 

 

 

324 thoughts on “The Nashville Statement (A Plain Language Translation)

  1. Once again, John, you are spot on. With all the difficulties we face in this country, the fight they once again choose is one that divides and harms. There is no Christ in their Christianity. Thank you.

    • They have, in their own language, made a pact with Satan. The pact included the denial of Universal Law. Lies can never (at least , not for very long) stand up to the Truth. Darkness can never (at least, not for very long) stand up to Light. They are coming undone, after not having contributed anything of Substance to Light or to Truth. Evil is intelligent, but it misguided. They won’ t go without a struggle, a terrific struggle. Be prepared, when you go out to confront these forces of evil to take 2 buckets of water with you. The 2nd bucket is in case you get overly excited & miss the first time.

  2. It is sad that they honestly do not quite understand sexual orientation and the biology of being born physically male and female. Their is also an internal wiring that goes on inside each and every single one of us as far as our orientation, it is not chosen, it is assigned. There are also folks born with physical male and female body parts and the medical community has to get involved in that with the parents to try and decide, age appropriate surgeries and how the internal wiring of orientation went for that child. It can be quite complicated and then not so complicated.

    • Exactly, Heide. I am a former elementary school counselor and I truly have too many stories to type here. Ignorance almost always leads to hatred. Fear and anger are very close relatives😩

        • No, Bruce Jenner was born with physical male body parts and the internal hard wiring of a female. I guess his kids could call her mom now, it all depends on how they look at her. 🙂 🙂 I know, it is a lot to think about.
          If you want me to get very specific, I can. In these surgeries that take place, they surgically remove the male parts and give certain female body parts and add in hormones. How ever, they do not implant a uterus and ovaries, thus Bruce will not be able to get pregnant and carry a fetus to full term. Bruce was the biological, physical sperm donor, but now physically a female to match her hard, internal wiring that began in utero.

          It goes back to the womb for us all and the Hormones Testosterone, Androgen, and Estrogen. Testosterone is the deciding factor.
          trans·gen·der
          transˈjendər,tranzˈjendər/Submit
          adjective
          denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex.
          You can also research Sexual orientation in the human brain, Epigenetics. This all falls under the specialty of Endocrinology.
          One example : http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091302211000252

          Our physical formation and brain sexual orientation begin in utero and are hard wired from the beginning of conception and at birth and fully come to fruition in puberty.
          Chromosomes XX and XY make us physically male and female, but our hard wiring goes to other genes, hormones, and chromosomes that happen also in utero.
          ( noted above)

          Thus when some babies are born with both a vagina and a penis, the parents have to work with the medical community to wait and decide how the baby is internally wired, attracted to males or females. ( many times they have to be followed up through puberty to see who that child is attracted to, and then the physical surgery can be done to match the internal sexual orientation. )
          https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003269.htm
          pseudohermaphrodites
          This can be very complicated for some families.
          Some times it is not so crystal clear.
          A lot of education is needed.
          I think we all need to give a little Grace here. 🙂

            • It is okay, don’t ask the folks who are so blinded by being right they will never see the light. Walk away from them. Follow Jesus if that is what you are inclined to do, focus strictly on HIM. There are a lot of folks who understand all of this and a lot more churches that do as well. Ignorance is blinding. People are so much more then their sexuality.

          • What an awful thing to do to yourself and to your child, when they cannot know if he/she has one or two moms!

            • Oh Lord, they are all adults and understand every thing that has occurred. 🙂 🙂 Please go do some research and reading so you too may understand. A lot of these decisions are individual and they work with the medical community……which is where it needs to stay.
              By the people that comment on here we can all see where education levels are and where many have no understanding of the medical community and what all goes on.
              Some times I try and explain or lead to more education and many times it is better to just walk away. Hugs to all.

            • You underestimate the wisdom and resilience of children. Children need a person or people who are clearly devoted to their well-being to be able to thrive. The number and the gender of the person or people have no bearing.

              Which do you think would be the better parent? A person who is limited and oppressed by society into living a life that is a complete sham, leading to anger, anxiety, depression, and often suicide. Or a person who lives fully into the truth of who they are gaining peace, acceptance and wholeness, and allowing them to parent the child according to who the child really is.

        • You are 100% correct with those observations JC. However, that’s as far as it goes. You cannot dispute her that she is a female in her head and that is what counts.

    • When most people think about gender, they consider only structures in the genital region that a physician views to fill out a newborn’s birth certificate. But gender can also be defined by a person’s sex chromosomes which are usually either XX (female) or XY (male). Finally, there is a third definition which is most important because it causes the person to identify as female, male, neither, or both genders. There are recently discovered structures in a person’s brain that come either in male or female sizes and neuron density. Transgender individuals are accurate when most say they have a female brain in a male body or vice-versa. See http://www.religioustolerance.org/transsexu.htm

    • CAN our account gf the high rates the tate for suicide taking place in this particular group of people? Sexual confusion is real but I don’t think going under the knife is the answer.

      • Suicide rates among transgender people are much higher among those who have not or cannot transition. Those who have successfully transitioned report a dramatic improvement in the quality of life.

      • The problem is that most societies don’t give transgender people a real choice. A male in the United States are not allowed to totally fill the female role and vice versa, simply because our society conflates genitals with gender roles, which are slightly more flexible now but I think people should have a choice because simple body parts don’t define who they are.

      • Suffering years of fear and abuse scars people like me (I am trans) and inflicts life-long depression and anxiety. We know this, perversely, because in studies (you can google them; I’m stuck on my tablet without my ‘reference’ bookmarks) of trans kids raised in affirming, supportive households, the kids show normal levels of mental illness, particularly anxiety, depression, and suicidality.

      • Many transgender people choose not to have confirmation surgery, at least “bottom surgery,” below the waist. They live happily in their true gender identity without altering the incorrect physical genitals.

    • This mule has been kicking hard for the past 30 years here and even 2x4s haven’t gotten its attention yet. Until the business world decides to ostracize the powerful and moneyed Evangelical Fundamentalist Christian churches this mule will kick everyone to death.

  3. John, perhaps I should publish my address and a screenshot of Maps for my exact location.

    Well done, The Nashville Statement authors and signers… Swing wider the door to hatred.

    They can come and take me.

    Though I’d be just one more name; added to the long list of precious others. Brutalized and murdered for being.

    But let my gay self die with the word of God in my hand and the love for others and Christ in my heart; His name on my lips. I’ll have nothing less.

    Martyrdom wasn’t particularly on my agenda, but today sounds like a good day for it.

    • You are only SICK NOT GAY! That part is an etiquette someone put on you, same with Christianity. Look what broke you before you broke others, ups, that is too late now for you anyway. Or if you allow yourself to say you are a Christian and Gay, you are just waiting to die… Why? Sodoma and Gomora. How DO YOU PROCREATE LIFE? Your life was given unto you by WHOM? By a GAY?

      • My natural life was given to me by a loving mother and father; blessed by God. My salvation was graced to me by the loving act of atonement and justification on the cross by my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I have the indwelling Holy Spirit.

        And no, I do not procreate.

        Do you have any other questions?

      • You’re a mess, Cosmic Sound, and ignorant of scripture. Sodom and Gomorrah had nothing to do with homosexuality at all. That’s a lie found in the Quran, taught to Christians in the early middle ages… Christians whose only Bibles were in Latin, a language they couldn’t read, and copies were only available to clergy anyway. So they bought the lie. And centuries later when they made vernacular translations of the Bible, they incorporated the lie and expounded on it.
        God NEVER condemned homosexuality. It exists throughout His creation, created by Him. http://hoperemainsonline.com

      • And you are an uneducated douchebag. We need to start laughing people like you out of the public forum like the ridiculous nimrods you are. You are so stuck in the Stone Age you probably still believe the earth is flat and snakes talk and Genesis is literal. We really need to stop taking people like you seriously. Laughter is the best medicine for the sickness you have.

      • Lots of people have had life given to them “by a GAY”. Being gay does not reduce your fertility. Did you skip health classes at school?

        • Patricia Brush wrote, “Lots of people have had life given to them “by a GAY”. Being gay does not reduce your fertility. ”

          I think “by a GAY” has been confused with pesticides, proven to reduce male fertility.

  4. We should affirm the willingness of the authors and supporters of the Nashville Statement to come out of the closet, show their true selves in public, and expose themselves to secular and biblical correction. Hopefully, they will avail themselves of the necessary and freely available conversion therapy. I hope they understand that we hate only the sin, not the sinner.

  5. You just did a great job of saying it plainly. I am so disillusioned by what I thought I was part of all those years. More than anything, the timing of this “proclamation” is deeply disturbing. Of all the threats that are imminent–the Houston hurricane, nuclear war, collaboration between the White House and Russia–THIS is what seems pressing to the leaders that I used to sit under for guidance. It will take me awhile to recover from this disillusionment.

  6. I didn’t like Obama’s policies, but my life wasn’t based in thinking about him and hating him. How horrible it must be to be obsessed with Donald Trump and to think that others who support him are equally obsessed and see him as part of their faith.

    At any rate, Progressive Christians ought to see this reaffirmation of marriage as good for business. They are the ones who have sold out morality and the inconvenient unborn lives for their “anything goes” (except being a Republican) version of Christianity.

    I don’t see why progressive pastors who tell people what they want to hear should complain about a statement that works to their benefit.

    • Yawn! Yet another abortion meme, Joe Catholic? Is there nothing else swirling in your mind 24/7? FYI, many of us who loathe and despise donald trump do so not because of politics, but because he threatens virtually everything we value. He is fomenting hate in this country by encouraging those who are already prone to hatred to act out their aggression. He encourages disdain for the unfortunate. He demeans those who disagree with him and insults anyone who catches his notice, including other heads of state. He demonstrates no personal moral code. He disrespects our court system. He blatantly enriches himself in jaw-dropping conflicts of interest. I could go on, but why bother? Although he sometimes pays lip service to worthwhile ideals, I would be hard pressed to think of a single one he embodies.

    • I know several Republicans who are part of my progressive church in Phoenix. My church welcomes you as you are, wherever you are on life’s journey. That includes young, old, LGBTQ, Republican, Democrat, and any other ability, as long as you are willing to love God with your, heart, mind and soul and your neighbor as yourself.

    • I find it interesting that someone who is not wasting time hating someone else nevertheless leads with thoughts about that person in order to justify their affirmation of prejudice. Of course, when one has the ability to arbitrate “morality,” I guess anything is on the table.

      Still, that must be a terrible burden. I’m thankful that God didn’t lay that upon me.

    • The so called Christains I see, only seem to care about the un-born, and once born you’re on your own. This new prosperty gospel they preach basically shames poor people, so if you are born to a single mother struggling to care for the child, they point fingers and shame you for the poor choices you made. John has it right when he says it’s way for them to just feel superior to someone else. I’m sick of what I see being offered up these days as being Christain. Pathetic group of self rightous, fearful, control freak, A HOLES , is all I see.

    • Joe, your life didn’t NEED to be “based in thinking about [Obama] and hating him” because, despite shrill conservative hysteria to the contrary, he wasn’t trying to deny you & yours any of your basic civil rights. The Current Occupant* on the other hand, is doing his level best to allow you & yours to continue in your comfortable feelings of superiority by making sure that the “others” in this country have to fight ever harder for the rights you take for granted.

      It must be sad that the only way you can feel better about yourself is for others to have it worse…

    • Hey Joe, All knowing Jesus certainly knew that abortion and infanticide were going on all around him and he chose not to speak of it. Why do you?

      • You don’t know that he didn’t speak about it. Certainly you could agree that infanticide is murder, can’t you? Or does the fact that Jesus didn’t talk about it mean that He approved of it? At any rate, the Bible says that Jesus did and said many things that are not recorded, so it’s possible he would have spoken out against the injustice of killing humans in the womb. Certainly the Church which he founded makes it very clear.

        • The main conflict over abortion is being caused by a lack of agreement about human personhood. Scientists have decided on a seven point statement that defines whether something is alive. There is a concensus that a zygote — a newly fertilized ovum — is a form of human life. There is a near concensus that a newborn baby is both a form of human life and a human person. But there is no agreement about when a human life also becomes a human person. Some say it happens at conception, or when the heart starts beating, or when the higher brain functions first turn on, or at birth, etc. If we could agree on that then the abortion controversy would fade. See http://www.religioustolerance.org/abo_when.htm

          • Some are so hardened in their hearts against the unborn that they will even concede that they are persons, but that they have no rights impose on their mother, and therefore may be evicted for any reason.

            If we were looking at a man lying beside the road, we might disagree whether he was alive or dead. Wouldn’t the wisest and most compassionate approach be to presume he is alive and be ready to administer aid instead of calling for the undertaker?

            There is plenty to support the idea that the unborn at all stages have a moral worth and deserve to be protected, but the argument that there is a “disagreement” as to when that time comes for the unborn, doesn’t mean we should presume they are mindless blobs of flesh? Wouldn’t it make more sense and be more compassionate to err on the side of life, especially since abortions stop beating hearts? Think about a doctor intentionally stopping a beating heart!

            Many many times more women regret their abortions than women who regret allowing their unborn baby to mature and be born.

            The most ugly and dishonest argument of the heartless abortion rights crowd is that pro-lifers don’t care about “the born.” That lie even if it were true in no way justifies the injustice and horror they support and encourage.

        • Joe, if you’re going to start claiming that Christ preached about important things that never made it into The Bible, then you’ve lost the argument. Here’s why:

          Christ said unto the faithful, “In the fullness of God’s time, there will be an egregious sinner who preaches false claims in God’s name. You will know him by the name he uses. He will call himself Joe Catholic, and much of what he says will be outright blasphemy. He will be forgiven, but that will not undo the harm he caused by spreading his sinful lies. Beware of this man and of men like him, who seek to pervert God’s will in my name.”

          That passage never made it into The Bible, but you can’t reasonably argue that he never said it, if you’re going to go introducing things that aren’t in The Bible as part of God’s will.

          You also probably can’t explain why something so important as God’s position on abortion would be left out of The Bible. Is it because God didn’t know it would be an issue? Is it because God didn’t have a strong opinion and figured we’d be ok on that point without divine meddling? Is it because God really wanted a lot of obnoxious hate-mongers to have the leeway to poison his church by preaching intolerance and hatred?

          • How can I argue with someone who thinks it’s “hateful” to oppose the intentional killing of unborn babies?

            But to answer your question in the general sense–the Bible was never intended to be the be-all and end-all. God gave us the Bible and the Church. Sadly there are many denominations and sects which have wrenched the Bible out of its proper home and from its rightful interpreter, and they interpret it as best they can, and some as worst they can, as they are looking to excuse their sins and injustices (like killing babies in the womb who interfere with their pleasures and comfort).

        • The only thing he made clear was about Divorce. Get out of politics, ban divorce and abortion for Catholics. You can have your religion, just keep that crap out of America as the Bible is no way to run a country and a terrible prospect for a “religion” but it is America. You can be a dumb as you “think” god wants you to be.

    • Maybe, just maybe, your life wasn’t about Obama at the time. However, it’s clear to see that you’re all about your image management as a Catholic. Really, you gotta lead with your label, and not perhaps your actions?

    • Excerpted from “Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America” © 2006 by Randall Balmer:

      In the 1980s, in order to solidify their shift from divorce to abortion, the Religious Right constructed an abortion myth, one accepted by most Americans as true. Simply put, the abortion myth is this: Leaders of the Religious Right would have us believe that their movement began in direct response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Politically conservative evangelical leaders were so morally outraged by the ruling that they instantly shed their apolitical stupor in order to mobilize politically in defense of the sanctity of life. Most of these leaders did so reluctantly and at great personal sacrifice, risking the obloquy of their congregants and the contempt of liberals and “secular humanists,” who were trying their best to ruin America. But these selfless, courageous leaders of the Religious Right, inspired by the opponents of slavery in the nineteenth century, trudged dutifully into battle in order to defend those innocent unborn children, newly endangered by the Supreme Court’s misguided Roe decision.

      It’s a compelling story, no question about it. Except for one thing: It isn’t true.

      Although various Roman Catholic groups denounced the ruling, and Christianity Today complained that the Roe decision “runs counter to the moral teachings of Christianity through the ages but also to the moral sense of the American people,” the vast majority of evangelical leaders said virtually nothing about it; many of those who did comment actually applauded the decision. W. Barry Garrett of Baptist Press wrote, “Religious liberty, human equality and justice are advanced by the Supreme Court abortion decision.” Indeed, even before the Roe decision, the messengers (delegates) to the 1971 Southern Baptist Convention gathering in St. Louis, Missouri, adopted a resolution that stated, “we call upon Southern Baptists to work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.” W.A. Criswell, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, expressed his satisfaction with the Roe v. Wade ruling. “I have always felt that it was only after a child was born and had a life separate from its mother that it became an individual person,” the redoubtable fundamentalist declared, “and it has always, therefore, seemed to me that what is best for the mother and for the future should be allowed.”

      The Religious Right’s self-portrayal as mobilizing in response to the Roe decision was so pervasive among evangelicals that few questioned it. But my attendance at an unusual gathering in Washington, D.C., finally alerted me to the abortion myth. In November 1990, for reasons that I still don’t entirely understand, I was invited to attend a conference in Washington sponsored by the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a Religious Right organization (though I didn’t realize it at the time). I soon found myself in a conference room with a couple of dozen people, including Ralph Reed, then head of the Christian Coalition; Carl F. H. Henry, an evangelical theologian; Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family; Donald Wildmon, head of the American Family Association; Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention; and Edward G. Dobson, pastor of an evangelical church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and formerly one of Jerry Falwell’s acolytes at Moral Majority. Paul M. Weyrich, a longtime conservative activist, head of what is now called the Free Congress Foundation, and one of the architects of the Religious Right in the late 1970s, was also there.

      In the course of one of the sessions, Weyrich tried to make a point to his Religious Right brethren (no women attended the conference, as I recall). Let’s remember, he said animatedly, that the Religious Right did not come together in response to the Roe decision. No, Weyrich insisted, what got us going as a political movement was the attempt on the part of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to rescind the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University because of its racially discriminatory policies.

      Bob Jones University was one target of a broader attempt by the federal government to enforce the provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Several agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, had sought to penalize schools for failure to abide by antisegregation provisions. A court case in 1972, Green v. Connally, produced a ruling that any institution that practiced segregation was not, by definition, a charitable institution and, therefore, no longer qualified for tax-exempt standing.

      The IRS sought to revoke the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University in 1975 because the school’s regulations forbade interracial dating; African Americans, in fact, had been denied admission altogether until 1971, and it took another four years before unmarried African Americans were allowed to enroll. The university filed suit to retain its tax-exempt status, although that suit would not reach the Supreme Court until 1983 (at which time, the Reagan administration argued in favor of Bob Jones University).

      Initially, I found Weyrich’s admission jarring. He declared, in effect, that the origins of the Religious Right lay in Green v. Connally rather than Roe v. Wade. I quickly concluded, however, that his story made a great deal of sense. When I was growing up within the evangelical subculture, there was an unmistakably defensive cast to evangelicalism. I recall many presidents of colleges or Bible institutes coming through our churches to recruit students and to raise money. One of their recurrent themes was,We don’t accept federal money, so the government can’t tell us how to run our shop—whom to hire or fire or what kind of rules to live by. The IRS attempt to deny tax-exempt status to segregated private schools, then, represented an assault on the evangelical subculture, something that raised an alarm among many evangelical leaders, who mobilized against it.

      For his part, Weyrich saw the evangelical discontent over the Bob Jones case as the opening he was looking for to start a new conservative movement using evangelicals as foot soldiers. Although both the Green decision of 1972 and the IRS action against Bob Jones University in 1975 predated Jimmy Carter’s presidency, Weyrich succeeded in blaming Carter for efforts to revoke the taxexempt status of segregated Christian schools. He recruited James Dobson and Jerry Falwell to the cause, the latter of whom complained, “In some states it’s easier to open a massage parlor than to open a Christian school.”

      Weyrich, whose conservative activism dates at least as far back as the Barry Goldwater campaign in 1964, had been trying for years to energize evangelical voters over school prayer, abortion, or the proposed equal rights amendment to the Constitution. “I was trying to get those people interested in those issues and I utterly failed,” he recalled in an interview in the early 1990s. “What changed their mind was Jimmy Carter’s intervention against the Christian schools, trying to deny them tax-exempt status on the basis of so-called de facto segregation.”

      During the meeting in Washington, D.C., Weyrich went on to characterize the leaders of the Religious Right as reluctant to take up the abortion cause even close to a decade after the Roe ruling. “I had discussions with all the leading lights of the movement in the late 1970s and early 1980s, post–Roe v. Wade,” he said, “and they were all arguing that that decision was one more reason why Christians had to isolate themselves from the rest of the world.”

      “What caused the movement to surface,” Weyrich reiterated,”was the federal government’s moves against Christian schools.” The IRS threat against segregated schools, he said, “enraged the Christian community.” That, not abortion, according to Weyrich, was what galvanized politically conservative evangelicals into the Religious Right and goaded them into action. “It was not the other things,” he said.

      Ed Dobson, Falwell’s erstwhile associate, corroborated Weyrich’s account during the ensuing discussion. “The Religious New Right did not start because of a concern about abortion,” Dobson said. “I sat in the non-smoke-filled back room with the Moral Majority, and I frankly do not remember abortion ever being mentioned as a reason why we ought to do something.”

      During the following break in the conference proceedings, I cornered Weyrich to make sure I had heard him correctly. He was adamant that, yes, the 1975 action by the IRS against Bob Jones University was responsible for the genesis of the Religious Right in

      the late 1970s. What about abortion? After mobilizing to defend Bob Jones University and its racially discriminatory policies, Weyrich said, these evangelical leaders held a conference call to discuss strategy. He recalled that someone suggested that they had the makings of a broader political movement—something that Weyrich had been pushing for all along—and asked what other issues they might address. Several callers made suggestions, and then, according to Weyrich, a voice on the end of one of the lines said, “How about abortion?” And that is how abortion was cobbled into the political agenda of the Religious Right.

      The abortion myth serves as a convenient fiction because it suggests noble and altruistic motives behind the formation of the Religious Right. But it is highly disingenuous and renders absurd the argument of the leaders of Religious Right that, in defending the rights of the unborn, they are the “new abolitionists.” The Religious Right arose as a political movement for the purpose, effectively, of defending racial discrimination at Bob Jones University and at other segregated schools. Whereas evangelical abolitionists of the nineteenth century sought freedom for African Americans, the Religious Right of the late twentieth century organized to perpetuate racial discrimination. Sadly, the Religious Right has no legitimate claim to the mantle of the abolitionist crusaders of the nineteenth century. White evangelicals were conspicuous by their absence in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Where were Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell and Billy Graham on August 28, 1963, during the March on Washington or on Sunday, March 7, 1965, when Martin Luther King Jr. and religious leaders from other traditions linked arms on the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, to stare down the ugly face of racism?

      Falwell and others who eventually became leaders of the Religious Right, in fact, explicitly condemned the civil rights movement. “Believing the Bible as I do,” Falwell proclaimed in 1965, “I would find it impossible to stop preaching the pure saving gospel

      of Jesus Christ, and begin doing anything else—including fighting Communism, or participating in civil-rights reforms.” This makes all the more outrageous the occasional attempts by leaders of the Religious Right to portray themselves as the “new abolitionists” in an effort to link their campaign against abortion to the nineteenth century crusade against slavery.

      • Reverend Randy Balmer is a man of outstanding Christian character who is one of the principal opponents of Christian fundamentalism, conservative evangelicalism, and the Religious Right—one of their worst nightmares actually. Randy was raised from birth as a die-hard Christian fundamentalist, attended the Oregon Extension, and figured out how screwed up much of his religious upbringing was. He left Christian fundamentalism, kept his faith in Jesus, became a preaching minister of the gospel and a college professor at Barnard College in New York City, and is now—if a recall correctly–an Episcopalian.

        Randy knows well the evil underbelly of the Christian fundamentalist monster, all its soft spots, and how it deviates so much from the Jesus Christ of the New Testament.

    • Ya know, Joe, if the church (and you) want to keep marriage as a “sacred union between a man and a woman”, they should keep it in the church and get the government out of the business. However, if you want the legal protections for YOUR marriage, then those same protections have to be open to all. That’s the thing about “equal protection under the law.” You don’t get to pick and choose who gets that EQUAL protection.

    • It is a terribly sad day for this so- called pastor to refute the very Word of God and to behave, instead, like he is God. Sorry Pastor. You are not serving the One True God. You are serving yourself and Satan in all your bloviating self-righteousness.

      • God did not say that His followers had to be mindless automatons who did what they were programmed to do and never thought for themselves. God gave us working brains, and He expected us to use them. There are many ways to serve God; yours seems to be to your “bloviating self-righteousness.” Because you may not agree with John does not mean that he is not “serving the one True God.” It just means that you have a difference of opinion. Wow.

  7. My stomach is churning after reading this. Sadly, it is so true. We can blame it all on Satan and “dark forces”, or we can take accountability for our own actions as Christians. Thank you for this.

    • The enemies of a person are threefold: The flesh, the world, and Satan. If people are promoting discord, then the second is true in that case.

  8. Thank you, John, for this translation. Evangelicals and fundamentalists do use a lot of code words. One time I was in book group discussion about a book written by a former pro-football player also former heroin addict turned self-proclaimed pastor and founder of a megachurch in the city in which I live.

    All but one of us in the group were Episcopalians well the other person was a member of this megachurch. Some of the Episcopalians didn’t understand certain things and the megachurch member and I would translate.

    I suppose every group of people have their own unique code words. The Episcopal Church has some and they are plastered on signs all over the country, “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You.” Please allow me to translate. By “welcome” we mean, “please come in just as you are, we love to have you.” By “you” we mean every person in the world for exactly who they are, exactly as it delighted God to create them.

    • Beautiful comment. The very definition of “Christianity.” Jesus does not hate, he does not discriminate. Jesus is love and he is peace. It amazes me – sadly – how many so-called “Christians” today have perverted His name to be related to the very opposite of His teachings. So many “Christians” have lost their Way. Let’s hope that we can help them find their way back.

      • Greg wrote, ” Let’s hope that we can help them find their way back.”

        We have to do more than hope, Greg. We have to love.

    • Thankfully the Episcopalian Church hasn’t sold out the unborn and speaks out against the horrific injustice of killing them. Sadly, some of her members don’t have the same compassionate attitude.

      • Umm. You do realize that under Obama. Abortion rates dropped to the lowest rate since 1973. Matter of fact abortion rates dropped under all Democratic Presidents. Sadly you don’t even know about your #1 issue. Conclusion you are a Republican troll and puts party over faith.

      • And are you willing to help love, support financially and medically, clothe, feed, and educate a child born from a woman who cannot? Are the others willing who think as you do?

        • There is help for any woman who wants to keep her baby.

          Are you willing to outlaw abortions for those women who do not have such problems?

        • Marj, he doesn’t care about the child once born, nor the civil rights of others, nor the right of bodily integrity, nor will he acknowledge that sometimes the rights of the mother and the right of the unborn child are in conflict, nor does he care that making abortion illegal will not stop it, nor will he acknowledge that women will be traumatised and possibly die from a fatal pregnancy. He is a one-trick pony.

      • Officially, the Episcopal Church is pro-choice. The Church believes that it is a personal issue best decided by a woman and her doctor(s).

  9. I am sad that the evangelicals have condemned a minority group, a vulnerable group. It is easy when you have millions of people, when you have had the power over others, to pick on a minority group that has been attacked and vilified over who they are and who they love. Once again, John, you have hit the nail on the head and shone the light on the wrong and the damage that the evangelical leaders are doing.

  10. Just a look at the Rogues’ Gallery of signatories is enough to put me off. I have to admit I skipped to that part. I felt physically sick after Article 10 that states it is ‘sinful’ to approve of homosexual relationships AND furthermore doesn’t even let me agree to differ. What a set of absolute twats.

    • Tony. I read an article earlier today about the Nashville Statement, and the author made a point about it that I liked. With regard to all those people who signed off on the statement at the end of it, and are still signing off on it on-line, he expressed his gratitude to them for voluntarily starting the first American National Registry of Bigots.

      • Charles wrote, “he expressed his gratitude to them for voluntarily starting the first American National Registry of Bigots.”

        Wondering what we would discover if we cross-referenced that list with the membership list of the KKK, other white nationalists/supremacists groups, anti-Semitic groups etc?

        “Thousands of Christians Respond to Nashville Statement with Emphatic ‘No’”

        “On Tuesday, a group of 150 evangelical leaders representing the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood released a document called the “Nashville Statement,” which delineates their conservative theological position on human sexuality and gender. The statement not only condemns those who are bisexual, lesbian, gay, and transgender, but also anyone who supports them — claiming that agreeing to disagree on human sexuality is sinful in itself.

        “Though little in the document is new, the response from countless other Christians — ranging from evangelicals to progressives — has been swift and emphatic. A number of statements have been drafted in response. One such statement, called “Christians United,” was organized by LGBTQ activist and theologian Brandan Robertson, and gained more than 1,000 signatures from around the world within its first 24 hours of being circulated.

        “That document contains a preamble and 10 articles of its own, which affirm the full spectrum of genders and sexual identities with statements such as, “WE AFFIRM that every human being is created in the image and likeness of God and that the great diversity expressed in humanity through our wide spectrum of unique sexualities and gender identities is a perfect reflection of the magnitude of God’s creative work.” Moreover, in direct contradiction to the Nashville Statement, Christians United’s document also denies that “teachings on the Biblical interpretation of sexuality and gender identity constitute a matter of orthodoxy and should be a cause for division among Christians.”

        More may be read here. There are also links to other statements and petitions.

        https://sojo.net/articles/thousands-christians-respond-nashville-statement-emphatic-no

    • Tony, I found that appalling too. It is apparently not enough that the drafters of the Nashville Statement condemn me and other LGBTQ people, they openly condemn non-LGBTQ Christians who support us! I just cannot fathom how they can think this. Sadly, stuff like this is driving people away from church, and likely away from a relationship with God. “Hmm.. I’m straight, but if I love and support my friend, *I* am living in sin? What kind of twisted logic is that?!? So long and good riddance, you spiteful group of holier-than-thou hypocrites!”

      • Perhaps, if someone were to say, it is a sin to be friends with a person of another faith, you might understand. How would it be if God had said, “Hey, I don’t want my followers to interact with Catholics because they are – you know – different. If any of my followers do interact with Catholics, I shall consider it to be a sin.” Or perhaps if God had said, “I don’t want you to befriend anyone who is [insert your own label, such as bald, male over 50 years of age, women under 30 years of age, etc.]. If anyone does befriend someone like that, I shall consider it to be a sin.” Better yet, perhaps you should just get your head out of your nether regions and stop criticizing and start loving. It’s so easy to do, and it is exactly what Jesus asked us to do.

  11. Dear John,

    I was hoping that you would provide a link to this declaration. I firmly believe that LGBT issues are the only lifeline of the fundamental Christian Church. I understand their fear. Research strongly suggests that fundamentalism and the varying shades of fundamentalism is an immature theology that, if one does not grow and develop, becomes imbedded in their theology. Their theology is a well developed immature theology that is self-reinforced and passed down to others-sometimes in coercive ways.

  12. It’s difficult to prescribe to a higher power to solve racial and gender tensions when it’s apparent that those who claim to serve that higher power are the ones who are causing those tensions.

  13. Brilliant exposition of the true intent of their statement.

    NOTE: You’re an excellent writer. This piece was obviously written in an impassioned flow of outraged compassion – so, you may be forgiven for the copyediting lapses. Still, I recommend you make another round of copyediting.

  14. John, you’ve done it again. You have spoken so well what is in my own mind and heart. As a gay man who was a gay boy sitting in a conservative church Sunday after Sunday after damn Sunday I somehow made it though. I fear for the lives of any kids having to sit through and listen to this bullshit. Thank you for loving. Thank you for speaking.

  15. Spot on, John! Except that I don’t think the battle they have chosen will be all that easy–too many people, even conservative Christians, have discovered that LGBT people are less like bogeymen they have been taught to fear, and more like themselves, now that all those “abominations” have come out of the closet and are trying to live their lives like everybody else. Perhaps a church that promotes fear and hatred deserves to become extinct.

  16. I’ve known for decades that living my life as an out gay male- in an environment where religion perpetually brainwashed its followers in fear and hatred of the “unknown other”- would never be easy. We were all surprised by the pace and scope of the change- and we hoped it would hold. And since the change paralleled the presidency of a non/white person- we could see the back-story unfolding- yet we still hoped the shift would hold. Here’s the push-back. And these folks hope they can wield success and hold onto their power-base while their followers have become their deserters. It’d be almost funny- if so much of it weren’t so horrific- so destructive- and so filled with hate and abuse.

    Ancient Chinese Proverb: May you live in interesting times…

  17. John:
    Again, a powerful response to an ungodly statement from Godless people. The Nashville Statement is all they have and hopefully as you say the New Generation of people who love and follow Jesus will will see the hatefulness of these so called Christians and leave their churches in droves and thus they will be gone forever..I pray..
    This type of hate is so against everything that Jesus stands for and why we follow him..I do not like to dislike anyone, but I must follow the teachings of Jesus..We must reach out even further to those who are being marginalized and hated by these groups, we need Holy Spirit to rain down his power and bring love to this world. We need to replace the haters with lovers..Thank you John once again for bringing hope to all.

    • I wonder how many of you have read both the old and New Testament. If you accept the Bible as the word of God and that Jesus is the physical manifestation of God on earth then you would know that several times in the Old Testament homosexuality and cross dressing was listed as a sin, so Jesus didn’t have to talk about it directly when he talked about sin in general terms since it was widely known what sin was. So why are you condemning people who are standing up for what they believe in and attack them personally when what they have said IS backed up by scripture as they have said (I can most assuredly tell you that it is). The choice to believe what they believe or not is a personal one. But if you choose to believe in the Bible and it’s teachings then this statement is consistent with that. I’d also like to point out that as a father I have had to tell my son to avoid certain things (power sockets when he was young or trying to get into chemicals that were locked up) not because I was “mean” but because I knew that it was harmful to him. He thought I was just being mean by saying no to him but it was done out of love for his wellbeing. In a similar way, the words that the Bible conveys on the nature of sin is that all sin is harmful to us, whether in the moment or long term and God doesn’t want us to do things that will harm us or others. You may not agree with homosexuality being listed as a sin, and that is your choice. It doesn’t mean that it isn’t a sin because you don’t want it to be, nor does it mean that the Bible by itself makes it a sin. It’s acknowledgement of your acceptance of the Bible being Gods word or not that determines this. I find that most people who have not read the entire Bible and dissected it and kept an open mind are usually the ones to say that it’s a hate filled book. I most confidently will affirm that it is not. People try to view it through the lens of being a work of solely human hands and designed to proport patriarchal domination and then they miss the point. If you look at it from the perspective of a father who loves his children and how mankind is like a young child that slowly matures through time, as it was intended to be read as, then you will see a very different message.

      • I’ve read both Testaments… in the original languages. Those texts never directly mention homosexuality, and therefore, do not suggest that it is a sin.
        As for cross-dressing, not only is it not condemned in the Bible, it wasn’t even possible at the time. Both sexes wore exactly the same garment, called a simlah (שמלה). A simlah was a full-length robe. It would be worn with a belt around the waist that made it more form fitting and shortened it slightly for ease of movement.
        There was absolutely no difference between a man’s simlah and a woman’s. A possible exception might be the simlah of a wealthy woman who could afford extra ornamentation or color. But most people wore identical homespun robes.
        Deuteronomy 22:5 is frequently translated as a prohibition of cross-dressing. But the translation is a mess. The Hebrew text of the verse forbids a woman to wear (strap on) a weapon that belongs to a warrior, and forbids a warrior to wear a simlah that belongs to a woman.
        Our Bibles don’t reflect God’s thinking in regard to sexuality, but medieval prejudice that has been amplified by modern translators.

      • Thank you Bill Carey for your reply to Damien. I would like to add that those who think cross dressing is not a sin are woefully misinformed about transgender identity. A person who is transgender is not cross dressing. They are dressing appropriately for their true gender. Gender is not defined by a person’s genitals, but by who they are at their core, in their soul. Our souls do not reside in our reproductive organs.

        And as an aside – someone quite famous was tried and martyred for cross dressing – remember St. Joan of Arc? Would you condemn her?

  18. I officially asked a Southern Baptist church, in writing, to remove my name from its rolls twenty years ago. I stated that my beliefs were no longer congruent with those of the SBC. I’d like to say that I left and never looked back, but that is not true. I’ve looked back in shame that I was ever a part of that denomination.

    • I’ve done exactly the same thing. I’m ashamed that I was ever a part of that toxic, inhumane bunch of vipers. The SBC is simply a home for hate, and I’m so glad I left it behind years ago.

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