Christian group Equal Voices ‘apologises for church harm’ to LGBTI people

A new cross-denominational group will collect signatures from Australian Christians for an apology to LGBTI people to “address the harm” caused to them by the church.

Equal Voices have explained in detail on their website why Christians have “an increasingly urgent need” to apologise to LGBTI people for “the harm done in the past by Christian teaching and behaviour, and harm continuing to be done in the present,” including the condemnation and past criminalisation of LGBTI relationships and sexuality.

The group will begin collecting signatures in March and will be officially launched at Sydney’s Pitt Street Uniting Church by former High Court Judge Michael Kirby in April.

Equal Voices spokesperson Natalie Cooper told BuzzFeed most of the seven people involved in Equal Voices are from “fairly conservative church backgrounds” and represent a variety of denominations.

“We’ve got quite a number of Anglican and Catholic members, Baptists, Uniting, we have a couple of people from ex-Pentecostal backgrounds, a couple from the Metropolitan Community Church,” she said.

Ms Cooper said some are LGBTI Christians, and the group wants to stop the misconception you can’t identify as both.

“What’s often denied is that there are large numbers of LGBTI people of faith,” she told Buzzfeed.

“Some of those people are in church, some of them are out, a lot of them are closeted because they don’t feel safe being out.

“Very often, the impression given is that there is just one point of view, just one Christian voice. We want to make it clear there are lots of Christian voices, and give everyone a seat at the table.”

Last August, over 100 congregants of the gay-welcoming Metropolitan Community Church in Brisbane voted to oppose the Turnbull government’s proposed marriage equality plebiscite.

A cross-faith group of religious leaders, including Brisbane’s Reverend Dr Peter Catt, travelled to Canberra in November to release a joint statement supporting marriage equality.

For more information about Equal Voices, visit their website. Read the group’s proposed apology in full below:

An apology to my LGBTI friends, and to all who have been adversely affected by the teachings and behaviour of Christians and their churches

Speaking for myself and as a member of my church, I ask for your forgiveness:

1. For being too slow to acknowledge that we need to say sorry to you.
2. For not speaking up against the hurtful, damaging and often violent mistreatment you have been subjected to.
3. For speaking about you, without first listening to you.
4. For not creating safe environments within our churches where people can speak openly and honestly about their struggles and understandings.
5. For perpetuating stereotypes, and for not taking full account of your actual lived experiences.
6. For talking to you or about you in such a way as to suggest that sexual and/or gender differences are not part of your true identity as creatures made in the image of God, but are simply a result of brokenness or sin.
7. For perpetuating the mistaken belief that non-heterosexual orientations should be treated, healed or changed, and for not acknowledging the damage such misunderstanding has wrought in peoples’ lives.
8. For not acknowledging that Christians who are seeking to be faithful to their Lord and to the Scriptures are coming to different conclusions on matters of gender, sexual orientation, and marriage.

I commit myself to:

1. honour and support you in every way possible
2. be open to your correction and gentle guidance
3. hold others to account for careless, hurtful or misleading talk
4. resist all efforts to ‘other’ you or exclude you from the fellowship of the church
5. engage in genuine and open dialogue to gain better understanding of other perspectives

(Top photo by Greg Ness via Flickr)

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