Last week when Gary Hall, an Episcopalian priest and dean of Washington’s National Cathedral, labeled homophobia “a sin” during a sermon marking the 15th anniversary of the murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay man, he raised a storm of howls from the Religious Right… and received plenty of condemnations from them himself.
Jennifer LeClaire, who writes for the conservative Christian magazine Charisma, quotes Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center), as saying “Gary Hall of the National Cathedral is sinning when he claims that opposition to homosexuality is a sin. This is counterfeit Christianity in action—transferring the guilt before God from those who are committing sins (of which homosexuality is one) to those who oppose those sins.” LaBarbera calls this an example of a new heretical ‘sin-affirming Christianity ’ that poses a danger of spreading within the evangelical Church. Jennifer LeClaire adds that she thinks LaBarbera is “spot-on” and declares she is shocked by the kind of deception the Very Reverend Hall is perpetrating.
Yesterday (Oct. 22), Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (another hate group according to the Southern Poverty Law Center) added his two cents worth in the FRC’s Washington Watch Daily Commentary. He compared the Very Rev. Hall to one of the “false prophets” from the biblical Book of Jeremiah: “they encourage those who do evil, and as a result, no one turns from doing evil.”
So what did Gary Hall say that has the Religious Right so upset? Here’s a sample:
"We must now have the courage to take the final step and call homophobia and heterosexism what they are. They are sin. Homophobia is a sin. Heterosexism is a sin. Shaming people for whom they love is a sin. Only when all our churches say that clearly and boldly and courageously will our LGBT youth be free to grow up in a culture that totally embraces them fully as they are."
“It’s more than tragic—in fact it’s shameful--that faith communities, especially Christian ones, continue to be complicit in putting our children at risk and abetting the attitudes that oppress them, thereby encouraging the aggressors who would subject our children to pain, humiliation, and violence."
And after same-sex marriages became legal in Washington DC earlier this year, Hall announced that the National Cathedral would begin to perform the wedding ceremonies.
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