Friday, September 15, 2017

General Convention 2018: A Time to Celebrate

Donate to the General Convention 2018 fund

Less than a year from now we will have finished General Convention (GC) 2018. This is the first opportunity Integrity USA has had to actually celebrate what happened during General Convention 2015.

GC 2015 represented the accomplishment of a legislative mission that began in earnest about 26 years ago. At the Episcopal Church-wide level, canon law now exists that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity…among all of the other prohibited discriminations in the life of the church, access to the ordination process and a myriad of areas that impact the lives of all, but especially the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer-plus (LGBTQ+) members of the church.

Similarly, we now have rites to celebrate same sex unions, including the first reading of changes to the language of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer to make marriage rites gender neutral. These rites in conjunction with the Supreme Court ruling in July 2015, makes marriage between members of the same sex available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the territories of the United States. We do note that the bishops of eight of the 101 domestic dioceses still do not permit same sex marriages in their dioceses, in clear violation of canon law.

The overarching mission of Integrity USA has been accomplished at the church wide legislative/canonical level. What still remains to be accomplished needs to be done at the diocesan/parish level as grass roots missionary work.

So yes it is time for celebration.

Integrity USA wants to celebrate at GC 2018 in two ways: One is in staffing a booth in the exhibit hall. The other is in sponsoring a Celebratory General Convention Eucharist. The cost of both is outside our budget. So we turn to you.

We need to raise approximately $42,500 to support our booth in the exhibit hall and to cover the expenses of a General Convention Eucharist (space rental, communion supplies, bulletins, etc., usual expenses for a large Eucharist outside our normal church setting.)          

Those of us whose names appear below have served as national presidents of Integrity USA. We seek your prayerful support and your financial support to help us make GC 2018 a holy celebration for the accomplishments achieved over decades of work. Will you join us?

Kim Byham
Fred Ellis
Bruce Garner
Matt Haines
Caro Hall
Michael Hopkins
David Norgard
Susan Russell

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Millstone of the Nashville Statement

In Nashville in October of 2014, I joined about fifteen LGBTQ people who were invited to a closed-door, off-the-record conversation with the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. I was disappointed, this week, to recognize the names of many from that meeting on the list of anti-LGBTQ evangelical leaders who drafted the “Nashville Statement,” a comprehensive fundamentalist Christian manifesto on sexuality and gender.

That 2014 meeting went late into the night, and the discussion was intense. What I remember most clearly were the pleas and tears of some of these men in attendance (all of them were men) begging us to understand that they didn't hate LGBTQ people––saying how much it hurt them to have people call them “bigots” and “homophobes.”

We ended the evening having all promised more kindness, more listening, more respect, and more dialogue, and I, perhaps naively, hoped both sides were sincerely committed to those goals moving forward.

In the subsequent months and years that followed, and with growing intensity since the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling in 2015, they have abandoned all remaining pretense of tolerance for the LGBTQ community. Since then, they have demonized and pathologized transgender people, lobbied for bills that discriminate against LGBTQ people under the name of "religious freedom," and created a martyrdom complex for their own decreasing social relevance.

A year after the meeting in Nashville, I traveled to Louisville, for a biblical counselor's conference on what they billed as "Transgender Confusion." At the conference, one of the Nashville Statement's signees said during his presentation that any parent with a transgender child should sever ties with the child completely––that they should abandon their child for being transgender. When asked about their responsibility to LGBTQ lives––particularly the alarming numbers of LGBTQ youth lost to suicide––the panel denied culpability, smirked at the notion of their theology being toxic or harmful, and suggested that while such deaths are tragic, the reality of eternal separation from God (damnation) was far sadder.

Once again, there were tears because the issues of gender identity and sexuality supposedly represented a crisis at the very foundation of the Gospel and the social order itself (I've always believed that Jesus was the foundation of the Gospel, but I digress).

And so I'm here a couple of years later, seeing and hearing the same things from these men, all crying the same crocodile tears of "loving conviction" for people they have fought so passionately to demonize and blame for their own diminishing power and influence.

In the age and spirit of Trump, their bigotry is once again emboldened by their ties to political power. In fact, several of its prominent signatories make up the President’s faith advisory council. Much like white conservative evangelicals in the Reagan era, these desperate men feel like maybe, just maybe, they haven’t lost the culture war once and for all, and the Nashville Statement serves as proof that the old guard is still holding out.

Their 2014 and 2015 tears, confessions, and prayers have amounted to nothing more but a revived lust for dominance, subjugation, and the placing of an unbearable burden around the necks of LGBTQ Christians. There was no love in their words and tears then, nor is there any love in their words now; and without love, God cannot be present in anything they profess.

At the end of the day, I’m left to wonder what tears they’ll cry at the end of their time. Will they weep with remorse for lifetimes of cruelty when they find LGBTQ people in the Kingdom of Heaven? Or will they weep with disappointment and anger when they find that God is infinitely more loving and inclusive than they ever imagined?

Justin Davis
Queer Christian and LGBTQ Advocate


  • “The Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage” Conference 10/28-29/2014 (Start date may have been 10/27) Nashville, Tennessee, Gaylord Opry Hotel
  • “Transgender Confusion and Transformational Christianity” Pre-conference 10/5/2015, Louisville, Kentucky, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Homosexuality Conference: 

Transgender Conference: