"Every day, all across America, countless unnamed boys and girls suffer indignity, humiliation, bullying, and violence, and they feel that they are in it all alone. And I’m sorry to say that much of the blame belongs to our churches, which give religious cover to the last cultural prejudice that we allow to persist in our society: the stigmatization of a person because of sexual orientation or gender identity. And that cultural prejudice against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered people persists even in a time when every third television show features a gay protagonist or next-door neighbor. That prejudice persists because Christian churches continue to promote it."Rev. Hall called homophobia a sin, urging the church to reject anti-gay bigotry as it had once rejected racism and sexism.
"I’m old enough to remember a time when Christian churches, including our own Episcopal Church, segregated its churches and actively participated in racism. I’m old enough to remember the ordination of women movement, when many in our church found ingenious theological arguments to deny women leadership roles and so promoted sexism. In its wisdom, the church came to its senses and labeled both racism and sexism as sinful. And now we find ourselves at the last barrier—call that barrier homophobia, call it heterosexism. 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. Shaming people because their gender identity doesn’t fit neatly into your sense of what it should be 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."He concluded by encouraging people of faith to welcome LGBTQ youth and create a world in which LGBTQ young people are safe from violence.
"Young LGBT men and young women will continue to be vulnerable to the sins of homophobia and heterosexism, to the violence of hate and fear until we in the church can say to homosexuals now what it has said to heterosexuals for 2,000 years. Your sexuality is good. The church not only accepts it. The church celebrates it and rejoices in it. God loves you as you are, and the church can do no less.To read a transcript of the sermon, click here. To access an mp3 audio recording, click here.
Only when we find a way fearlessly to speak just that clearly and boldly to LGBT kids, their families, their schools, and their communities, will the world be a safe and nurturing place for the Matthew Shepards and Tyler Clementis of our own day. We don’t need more faith. We just need some faith—faith in a God who is bigger and deeper and more loving and compassionate than we are. It really is OK for you and me to be who we are. Our job, as Christians, is not only to proclaim that Gospel. Our job is to live it. And if we are faithful in proclaiming and living it, today’s generation of LGBT youth will thrive and grow and take their places around this table, with Jesus, as we bless, forgive, heal, and love the world. Amen."