Faith leaders oppose gay discrimination laws

Amy Butler, senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, joined 13 other faith leaders opposing laws to allow businesses to deny services to gay and lesbian customers based on their religious beliefs.

By Bob Allen

Baptist pastor and ABPnews/Herald columnist Amy Butler joined nationally known evangelical leaders including author Brian McLaren and blogger Rachel Held Evans in an open letter opposing laws to permit businesses to discriminate against homosexuals like the one vetoed by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer Feb. 26.

Amy-Butler-2013-6The Arizona law, which would have allowed businesses that asserted their religious beliefs the right to deny service to gay and lesbian customers, faced opposition from powerful groups including the National Football League, which threatened to move the 2015 Super Bowl from Phoenix if the measure passed.

Signatories including Alan Chambers, the former president of Exodus International, and Ted Haggard, pastor of St. James Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., said Christians should oppose similar laws in Kansas, Georgia and Florida.

“To support such a law is to fail to walk in the footsteps of Jesus who was known for associating with and loving those who were considered outcasts by his society,” the letter said. “Serving people with whom we disagree is a central calling for those who follow Jesus.”

The signers said many Millennials are leaving the church because of “uncompassionate postures that many of our leaders in the evangelical church continue to take on many important social issues.”

“We are saddened by the lack of Christ-likeness displayed by our leaders and deeply desire to see our churches return to speaking and living like Jesus,” the letter said. “We believe that the time has come for church leaders to stop allowing fear to dictate their theological and social positions, and start acting in the radical love of Jesus.”

Butler, senior pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, is one of 14 clergy, theologians and thought leaders from across the spectrum expressing the view that “the current position that many Evangelical leaders are taking on issues of discrimination toward the gay community directly contradicts that posture of radical love and grace that Jesus so powerfully embodied in his life and teachings.”