Fort Worth, TX – Not all mainline Christian churches in Texas are happy with Rick Perry’s plan to co-sponsor a prayer assembly in Houston on Saturday, August 6. Fort Worth First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, voted unanimously in a congregational meeting on Sunday, July 10, to endorse congregants’ plans to travel to the event to protest its co-sponsorship by the American Family Association, a group which lay leader Phil Burnett notes “has been officially designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center” and “has used hate speech disguised as the Gospel of Jesus Christ, causing pain and suffering to GLBT people as well as people of faith traditions outside of Christianity”.
Fifteen to twenty people from the church, along with others from Christian churches throughout Texas, will travel to Houston to protest on August 6 outside the gates of Reliant Stadium while attendees are arriving for the prayer assembly. Congregants will protest via posters, flyers and silent witness.
“We certainly respect the governor’s call to pray and fast for the welfare of our country,” said protest organizer and deacon, Marvin Vann, “but we strongly object to doing that in collusion with a group that engages in hate speech and, therefore, misrepresents the gospel”.
The full text of the resolution is as follows:
Whereas: The Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, has called for a Day of
Prayer and Fasting in Houston, Texas, on August 6, 2011, and
Whereas: The American Family Association is the sole sponsor of
this Day of Prayer and Fasting, and
Whereas: The American Family Association has been officially
designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and
Whereas: The American Family Association, while claiming to be a
Christian organization, has used hate speech disguised as the Gospel of
Jesus Christ, causing pain and suffering to GLBT people as well as people of
faith traditions outside of Christianity, and
Whereas: A group of people from First Congregational Church, led by
the Holy Spirit, have felt called to demonstrate publicly in Houston, on
August 6, 2011, against this perversion of the Gospel in a peaceful
demonstration based on the theme, “Hate Speech Is Not the Gospel;”
Therefore: We, the people of First Congregational United Church of
Christ, Fort Worth, in keeping with our Open and Affirming status, pledge
our prayers and support and authorize those involved to demonstrate in favor
of the message of love and radical inclusiveness that is the Gospel of Jesus
Christ, with the blessings, and in the name, of First Congregational United
Church of Christ, Fort Worth.
I believe an imperative step to attaining full equality is to start a cross-over process with those whom the LGBTI community have always considered enemies. This ought to stat with the 33% of our population who could go either way on the question of equality, yet remain incognito by virtue of lack of outreach by the LGBT community. In a case such as this, where we see an earnest attempt by Christian Group to protest hate against other Christian groups, we should seize the opportunity to join in the protest in a supportive rather than overt fashion.
This will provide an opportunity to make friends across the spectrum. I challenge GetEQUAL and other Equality Groups to join this protest – quietly , to provide support merely by adding to the numbers and mingling with all who oppose hate.