As the Tennessee state legislature begins its work in this new year, we, an ecumenical coalition of clergy, rabbis, and faith leaders from different religious traditions in East Tennessee, wish to declare that we stand proudly alongside all of those who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community. We affirm lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer members of our community, of our state, of our nation, and of the world, unconditionally and unequivocally.
While we walk different spiritual paths, we are united in supporting each individual’s human dignity and worth.
We believe every person in Tennessee, and beyond, should feel safe and nurtured as they live their lives. We are united in believing that our LGBTQIA+ siblings are beloved children of God, however each of us defines that term, and are entitled to a safe space to be fully themselves.
Therefore, we urge an end to political hate speech against these communities and their members. Hate speech dehumanizes our friends and neighbors. Dehumanization leads to violence. We urge all citizens of the state of Tennessee, and especially our elected officials, to cease any form of speech that demonizes, vilifies, and dehumanizes members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
In particular, we oppose Tennessee Senate Bills SB001, SB003, and SB005. These pieces of legislation prioritize discrimination against members of the LGBTQIA+ community over the actual needs of Tennesseans. In addition to being blatant attempts at governmental overreach and removing decisions best left in the hands of parents, these pieces of legislation further stigmatize and dehumanize entire segments of our population. We believe that this not only violates the rights of those targeted by these proposed pieces of legislation, but they also seek to further divide our state and our country.
Finally, we affirm in the strongest language possible the beauty, dignity, and worth of all human beings, including LGBTQIA+ people. We believe each person is made in the divine image and is of infinite worth. We are committed to showing love for all and building a community where every person, regardless of race, religion, creed, color, national origin, age, political persuasion, sexual orientation, or gender identity is safe, nurtured, treasured, loved, and able to live their lives and pursue happiness in freedom.
And to the LGBTQIA+ community: As leaders from a diversity of faiths, despite our differences of belief and creed, each of us agrees that you are loved – some would say God’s beloved. No matter how you identify, no matter which part of the LGBTQIA+ spectrum you are part of, we believe you hold beauty, worth, and dignity. You strengthen our cities and our state, and we thank you for that. We stand with you. Know that we see you. Know that we love you. Know that we proclaim love.
The Knox Pride Interfaith Coalition
Chattanooga signers are:
Rev. Laura Becker Northminster Presbyterian Church
Rev. Katharine Howe-Toledano Pilgrim Congregational Church UCC
Rev. Maribeth Manoff St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Rev. Cathy Meyer Second Presbyterian Church
Rev. Dr. Clayton Thomas Rivermont Presbyterian Church
The Reverend Brad Whitaker St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Pastor Melody Winderweedle Ekklesia Christian Fellowship
Rev. Candace Worth New Hope Presbyterian Church
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The LGB community has worked so hard to gain rights and equal recognition from society. Opposing bills/laws that protect minors from changing gender, viewing drag shows, etc. gives the LBGT community a bad name.
Minors can’t consent to surgery without parents’ permission, attend certain movies, drive, buy cigarettes…whatever. If you are an adult, and you want to change your gender, go ahead, but our kids should be protected.
If you say otherwise, I think you are participating in child abuse.
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Patrick aren't you kind of, sort of talking out of both sides of your mouth on the LGBT issue and the recent show they held when you say minors can't consent without parental permission? I'm thinking those minors were there with a parent or parents or had permission to be there from a parent or parents.
I think it's people like you who attempt to sexualize everything that's the real problem.
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There are organizations and coalitions that promote their political and ideological ideas, agendas and causes by subterfuge, disguising their ultimate intentions using their position as ‘members of the clergy’ (I am reminded of Chattanooga Clergy for Justice) to intimate a false legitimacy . I find this cowardly, self absorbed, conceited, vain and one of the most dishonest uses of our beloved Savior Jesus Christ. This standard applies to all parties engaged in electoral politics.
In the case of the Knox Pride Coalition they support transgender surgeries for children in addition to promoting the policies and efforts of the Democrat Party. Among their other causes are partnerships with Planned Parenthood (obviously no compassion or love for the unborn) and Pagan Pride of East Tennessee. These are but a few of their concentrations, and are spelled out on their website.
Failure to mention their partisan efforts up front, in their letter to Chattanoogan.com, further increases and confirms my skepticism of their objectives and that their true intent is to fool rather than educate, to incite rather than discuss.
Their website shows no board of directors (which I believe is the law for non-profits outlined by the IRS for C3's or C4's ) and no donor information. Who funds them?
Clergy have every right to promote whatever causes they choose...they don't have the right to hide behind their clerical robes to somehow elevate their opinions and imply superiority over others.
There seems to be a flock of “Virtue Vultures” (my words) that seek out legitimate causes and put their talons out to capture the sympathies of the media organizations and individual supporters of various organizations.