Response to the Masterpiece Cakeshop Ruling
We, the Union of Affirming Christians, a coalition of Christians actively affirming the full inclusion of LGBT+ persons in the life of society and the church, continue to stand against religion being used to deny people their civil rights. Today, the Supreme Court reversed the decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, ruling that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission did not properly consider the free speech claims of a shopowner who refused to sell a gay couple a cake because they are LGBT, based on religious objections. While we believe no one's religion permits them to discriminate under the law, we take note that it is a narrow ruling focused on the specifics of the case at hand, rather than furthering legal discrimination. We are heartened by the fact that the Supreme Court made clear that civil rights laws can constitutionally prohibit discrimination by businesses open to the public, including to protect LGBT+ people. As Christians called to love our neighbor as ourselves, we believe discrimination has no place in our society, and we will continue to follow our calling to fight for the full inclusion and dignity of all God's children.
Regional Reflections: Denver
By Josh dickson, co-founder, evangelicals for marriage equality
On Wednesday April 25th, 2018, the Union of Affirming Christians partnered with Denver faith, community, and political leaders for a discussion on the LGBTQ policy landscape in Colorado and across the country. Hosted by Highlands Church Denver, event partners included Left Hand Community Church, Denver Community Church, and the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado.
At the gathering, attended by more than 60 members from the community, Denver leaders from across the political spectrum highlighted that the fight for equality is far from over and talked about the need for more Christian voices in advocacy efforts for just, humane policies that acknowledge the inherent human dignity of all God’s children. Speakers included Mark Tidd, Co-Pastor of Highlands Church; Pinky Reinsch, Political Director of One Colorado; Paula Williams, Co-Pastor of Left Hand Community Church; Colorado State Representative Leslie Herod; George Gramer, President of the Colorado Log Cabin Republicans; Jill Wildenberg, Policy Director of the Colorado Interfaith Alliance; Michael Hidalgo, Lead Pastor of Denver Community Church; and Jennifer Jepson, Co-Pastor of Left Hand Community Church.
Pinky Reinsch began with an overview of the LGBTQ policy landscape. Pinky discussed attacks on LGBTQ rights currently taking place in the Colorado legislature, through Federal policies, and in the courts, and highlighted that the struggle for equality is far from over after the 2015 US Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage. Following Pinky’s policy overview, nationally-renowned speaker Paula Williams (featured in the NYT and TED) discussed the need for more Christians to stand up for the LGBTQ community at a time when other Christians continually attempt to use their faith as a tool for discrimination. Paula highlighted the Union of Affirming Christians as a group aiming to step into this space as a voice for justice and equality.
After Paula, George Gramer offered a conservative perspective on the need for more faithful voices in the equality conversation. George, a gay Christian Republican and military veteran, discussed Log Cabin’s commitment to equality and inclusion and highlighted that this can and should be a bipartisan effort. Following George’s remarks, Rep. Leslie Herod spoke about the concerted effort by some elected officials in Colorado to legalize discrimination, and why it is critical for people of faith to show their support for the LGBTQ community in the midst of consistent attacks.
The event concluded with a call to action by Jill Wildenberg, who shared a multitude of opportunities for advocacy and engagement with the Colorado Interfaith Alliance, One Colorado, local congregations, and others. Moving forward, the Union of Affirming Christians will work with community and legislative partners to engage in pro-LGBTQ advocacy in Colorado and around the country as we continue our important work towards full inclusion and equal rights for all.
Regional Reflections: Portland
By rev. Adam phillips, founding pastor, christ church: portland
Can you imagine growing up gay around Focus on the Family? Amber Cantorna did and she shared her courageous story at Christ Church: Portland’s recent Bridgetown Forum, which was our first regional Union for Affirming Christians (UAC) event, co-sponsored by Convergence.
Amber’s story is a story for our time - raised at the center of conservative evangelical Christianity, with incredibly painful experiences of family heartache and exclusion. When she came out to her family, with her father as a powerful VP at one of the country’s premier evangelical organizations, she was essentially cut off and kicked out. But despite all of the painful experience, a profound story of hope, redemption and love emerged.
Our Portland event also featured reflections by Fred Davie, Union Seminary’s Executive Vice President, who shared UAC’s roots and ongoing work for spreading the good news of LGBTQ inclusion in churches nationwide. Adam Phillips, founding pastor of Christ Church: Portland and co-founder of UAC also gave a legislative update on opportunities to defend LGBTQ rights despite the Trump Administration’s efforts to threaten the health and flourishing of our fellow neighbors.
Stay tuned for updates on similar events in San Diego, Denver, Dallas, Charlotte, Santa Fe, Minneapolis and elsewhere. If you’d like to check out a recording of our Portland event with Amber Cantorna, and hear more about her new book and ministry, tune in here . Special thanks goes to fellow UAC member Isaac Frank, a childhood friend of Amber’s who helped make this special event possible.
New pro-LGBTQ Christian advocacy group, Union of Affirming Christians, holds first event in a series aimed at elevating faithful voices in support of equality
March 8, 2018
In the wake of attacks on LGBTQ and other human rights, and the use of religion to support those attacks, a group of prominent evangelical and other Christian leaders has launched the Union of Affirming Christians (UAC).
The UAC, made up of more than 60 organizations across 21 states, has a mission to elevate Christian voices to fight for LGBTQ rights and intersectional justice. In the first of several regional events, UAC will hold a forum in Portland, with Amber Cantorna, the daughter of a Focus on the Family executive who came out to her family as gay in 2012. That transparency tore her family apart and led to her new book, “Refocusing My Family: Coming Out, Being Cast Out, and Discovering the True Love of God”.
“I did not dream that I would be married to a woman and that my dad’s position at Focus would divide me from my family rather than keep us focused on it—but that’s what happened,” says Amber.
Amber will speak about her journey of self-discovery and exposes the dark truths of how the values of Focus on the Family tore her family apart. There will also be a discussion about how best to advocate for inclusion in churches, as well as a public policy update on LGBTQ rights in Oregon and across the United States.
Date: Friday, March 9, 2018
Time: 7:00 p.m. PST
Location: Leaven Community Center, 5431 NE 20th Ave, Portland, OR
For tickets, click here. The event is being sponsored by UAC, Christ Church Portland and Convergence. Each gathering, done in partnership with local churches, will be open to the public and members of the press. Upcoming events will be held in Denver (April), San Diego (June) and New York City (July) and information will be available on the UAC website, http://affirmingchristians.org.
About Union of Affirming Christians
The Union of Affirming Christians represents a growing body of believers committed to the full humanity, dignity, and inclusion of all God's children in every aspect of society. We are committed to elevating Christian voices in the policy arena, the culture arena, and beyond to fight for LGBTQ rights, intersectional justice, and a world that reflects the restorative and redemptive nature of the teachings of Jesus.
The Union of Affirming Christians promotes inclusiveness and justice in policy and culture through public events, advocacy, media, resource sharing, and partnerships.
Contact: Ben Perry, firstname.lastname@example.org, (212) 280-1591
Union of Affirming Christians Condemns the Trump Administration’s Dismantling of LGBT-friendly Policies
New York City, NY – The Union of Affirming Christians issued the following public statement condemning the Trump administration’s dismantling of LGBT-friendly policies.
We, the Union of Affirming Christians, a coalition of Christians actively affirming the full inclusion of LGBTQ persons in the life of society and the church, implore the Trump administration to refrain from undoing supportive policies or implementing hurtful policies that impact the LGBTQ community.
We are particularly alarmed by recent reports, as detailed in the February 19th Politico article, “Trump administration dismantles LGBT-friendly policies,” that the US Health and Human Services Department is rolling back LGBT health programs because certain religious leaders are opposed to them. As Christian leaders who are deeply involved in our communities, we believe the compassion of Jesus extends to all of God’s creation, especially the oppressed and the marginalized, which the LGBTQ community has been for far too long in our nation. They are our children, siblings, neighbors – our family.
We believe that discriminating against our loved ones in any way, but especially in the name of religion, seriously misses the mark of the words of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, when he calls us in the Gospels to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Kathy Baldock, Executive Director, Canyonwalker Connections
Erin Byrne, Christian USA
Dr. Shawn Casselberry, Executive Director, Mission Year
Reverend Dr. Neil G. Cazares-Thomas, Senior Pastor, Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ
Jane Clementi, Co-Founder, Tyler Clementi Foundation
Angel Collie, Metropolitan Community Church
Danny Cortez, Board member, Q Christian Fellowship; Pastor, New Heart Community Church
Robert Cottrell, Co-Founder, FreedHearts
Susan Cottrell, Founder & President, FreedHearts
Eliel Cruz Activist, Faith Organizer FaithfullyLGBT
Samantha Curley, Executive Director, Level Ground
Candice Czubernat, LMHC, Union of Affirming Christians
Rev. Fred Davie, Executive Vice President, Union Theological Seminary
Josh Dickson, Co-Founder, Evangelicals for Marriage Equality
Bishop Yvette Flunder, The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries
Jon Gettings, Executive Pastor, Denver Community Church
Joseph Gidjunis, Member, Union of Affirming Christians
Rev. Dr. Derrick Harkins, Union Theological Seminary
Reverend Cedric A. Harmon, Many Voices: A Black Chuch Movement for Gay & Transgender Justice
Michael Hidalgo, Lead Pastor, Denver Community Church
Patrick Van Inwegen, Associate Professor, Whitworth University
Jennifer Jepsen, Pastor, Left Hand Community Church
Dr. Serene Jones, President, Union Theological Seminary
David W. Key, Sr., Founding Pastor, Lake Oconee Community Church
Rev. Michael J. Kimpan, (un)common good collective
Max Kuecker, Co-President Incarnation Ministries
Kathryn Lee, Professor of Political Science, Whitworth University
Rev. Jacqui Lewis, Ph.D., Senior Minister, Middle Collegiate Church
Colby Martin, Pastor, Author, Podcaster, Father, Husband, Sojourn Grace Collective
Dr. Julie Morgan, Eastern University
Dan Nejfelt, Trainings Director, Faith in Public Life
Rev. Benjamin Perry, Union Theological Seminary
Rev. Adam Phillips, Founding Pastor, Christ Church: Portland
Rev. Terri Steed Pierce, Sr. Pastor, Joy Metropolitan Community Church
Bishop Tonyia Rawls, The Freedom Center for Social Justice
Brandan Robertson, Lead Pastor, Missiongathering Christian Church
Bishop Gene Robinson, The Episcopal Church
Lisa Salazar, Board Member, Canyonwalker Connections
Rod Snyder, Board member, Evangelicals for Marriage Equality
Dale Soden, Professor of History, Whitworth University
Josef Sorett, Professor, Columbia University (CARSS)
Lauren Ileana Sotolongo, Writer, Faith in Public Life
Marsha Stevens-Pino, Director, BALM Ministries
AnaYelsi Velasco-Sanchez, Organizing and Programs Director, The Reformation Project
Naomi Washington-Leapheart, Faith Work Director, National LGBTQ Task Force
Jonathan Williams, Lead Pastor, Forefront Church NYC
Paula Williams, Pastor, Left Hand Church
Victoria Kirby York, Advocacy & Action Department Deputy Director, National LGBTQ Task Force Institute for Welcoming Resources