Preacher Franklin Graham is pleased to see the end of Pride Month. In a weekend posting to his Facebook page, Graham said that being anything other than heterosexual is a sin and that celebrating it is like celebrating murder. In the post he said, “Gay Pride month has come to an end. This is an entire month set aside to celebrate a lifestyle that God defines as sin. It’s like setting a month aside to celebrate lying, adultery, or murder (which includes abortion), or anything else that God says is sin.” His posting has had hundreds of thousands of ‘thumbs-up’ or ‘heart’ emojis and prompted 60,000 comments, most of which are simply saying “Amen”. He has 2.3million followers on Twitter and 9.6million on Facebook.
For members of the LGBTQ community, it can feel like there’s no place for them in the world of faith and religion, especially within Christianity. When you’re a queer person of faith and your faith seems to be sharply weaponized against who you are, Rev. Serene Jones, president of the Union Theological Seminary says that is one of the “greatest crimes that you can perpetrate against a person.” Despite the pain some experience when trying to live a life of faith, in 2020, the UCLA law school’s Williams Institute found nearly half of LGBTQ adults surveyed identify as religious and that can lead to a tumultuous relationship.
Pope Francis has sent an encouraging letter to a U.S. priest known for his ministry affirming LGBTQ Catholics, comparing his work to Jesus and God. The pope’s letter comes in the wake of more oppositional moves from the Vatican — that were authorized by Francis — on the topic of gay rights. And it adds to the confusion facing many LGBT Catholics about where the pontiff stands eight years after he said, famously, “Who am I to judge?” Francis has frustrated many of his liberal supporters by continually speaking about gay rights in welcoming terms, while also upholding, and sometimes reaffirming, official church law and teachings that call LGBT acts “disordered” and say a fluid idea of gender identity is not “based on the truths of existence.”
Jonathan Shelley, pastor of the Stedfast Baptist Church in Hurst, Texas, celebrated a fatal accident at the Wilton Manors, Florida Pride parade last weekend. An elderly driver accidentally drove into the parade, killing one and injuring two others. He told his congregants that homosexuals don’t just partake of sin, but enjoy it, and said, “Look, there’s only one group that enjoys that: It’s the Pride parades going up and down the street, And, you know, it’s great when trucks accidentally go through those, you know, parades. I think only one person died. So hopefully we can hope for more in the future.” He continued his decidedly un-Christlike rant with,“I hope they all die! I would love it if every fag would die right now.”
Evangelical Christians are discussing tips on “Surviving the Rainbow Onslaught” this year now that President Joe Biden is flying rainbow flags and hiring LGBTQ people. Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins on his PRAY VOTE STAND webcast said, “The world is upside-down when American pride is something we should apologize for, but sexual perversion is the stuff of parades.” Echoing every conservative Christian for the last half century, Perkins said that LGBTQ people used to want tolerance but now they’re asking for too much. Perkins said things are especially bad because, “we have a president that’s flying the Rainbow flag above the U.S. flag at our embassies.” As he said that, a picture of a flag flying at the U.S. embassy in Seoul, South Korea during the Trump administration showed on screen.
Far-right pundit Rick Wiles established himself during the pandemic as one of the top Evangelical news sources for hate-based conspiracy theories about the virus. He said that the world would be a “better place” after a “genocide” caused by the vaccines kills 70% of the population. Time and again, he said that COVID-19 is “God’s judgment” against people he doesn’t like, such as the LGBTQ+ and Jewish communities. He has just been hospitalized with coronavirus. Wiles is 67 and lives in Florida, where the vaccine is now available to anyone over age 12. But it’s unlikely Wiles himself was vaccinated – he was very publicly opposed to the vaccine.
Kellogg’s released a new cereal for Pride Month, “Together with Pride,” which has rainbow-colored cereal hearts in the colors of the rainbow flag, covered in edible glitter. Kellogg’s announced the cereal last month, and right on cue, several religious right and anti-LGBTQ groups are trying to boycott the conglomerate for daring to support LGBTQ people. This is not the first time Kellogg’s has released something for the LGBTQ community that earned conservative backlash. Just having LGBTQ people in their commercials has sent anti-LGBTQ people into a frenzy. For every box purchased, Kellogg’s is donating $3 of the $3.99 suggested retail price to GLAAD if customers upload their receipt to their website.
Anti-LGBTQ televangelist and right-wing pastor Andrew Wommack said last week that gay people should wear warning labels on their foreheads to communicate that their sexuality could be “hazardous” to their health. Wommack made the comments while talking about the high suicide rates among LGBTQ people, as the guest on his podcast deadnamed Caitlyn Jenner. Wommack then compared homosexuality to smoking, saying cigarettes only take an average of seven years off of someone’s life. He said, “So homosexuality is 3 times worse than smoking. We oughta put a label across their forehead: This could be hazardous to your health.”
The US Lutheran church has elected its first openly trans bishop, Megan Rohrer, marking the first time a major Christian denomination has had an openly trans leader. Rohrer, 41, will lead the Sacramento, California-based Sierra Pacific synod, which covers almost 200 different congregations in California and Nevada, for a six-year term. Rohrer said in a speech over the weekend after he was elected as bishop “I am humbled and honoured, and aware that this call is bigger than me.” In a 2014 interview Rohrer recalled how difficult the journey has been. Back in college, when he identified as a lesbian, Rohrer was targeted by his peers for their sexuality. Rohrer said “The people who were in my religion classes with me would sing hymns when I walked by, to try to get rid of my gay demons. And I would just sing harmony. I didn’t know what to do.” At Queer News Tonight we congratulate the journey. As Rohrer is now the highest ranking Trans person in a major religion in the entire world.
This June, Pride flags will officially fly for the first time at Catholic schools in Toronto. After a marathon meeting Thursday night, a majority of Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) trustees voted in favor of recognizing Pride this year and flying the rainbow flag. The School Board published a statement saying “We recognize that this is an important step required to demonstrate the TCDSB’s ongoing commitment to fostering inclusive environments that are safe and welcoming places for 2SLGBTQ+ students and staff.” At the meeting, all three proposals related to Pride month passed. That means rainbow flags will fly outside all TCDSB schools, as well as the board’s head office, throughout the month of June. The TCDSB is the largest publicly-funded Catholic school district in the world and encompasses more than 91,000 students at 196 schools. The decision comes after years of failed proposals and fraught debate over recognizing the annual celebration of LGBTQ2S+ identities.