Washington National Cathedral is taking flak for having allowed an evangelical who believes homosexuality is immoral to preach during a virtual church service.
Max Lucado, a bestselling Christian author and pastor of the nondenominational Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, preached to the church about the Holy Spirit on Sunday, which outraged some members of the liberal Episcopalian denomination to which the National Cathedral belongs.
Lucado, who was invited by the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Paul in the City and the Diocese of Washington, D.C., to preach, has publicly opposed homosexual behavior and gay marriage. A petition addressed to Dean Randy Hollerith describes Lucado’s teachings on the issue as actively harmful.
“Lucado’s teachings and preaching inflicts active harm on LGBTQ people,” the petition said, which called for Lucado to be disinvited. “To cite one example, in 2004 he wrote of his fears that homosexuality would lead to ‘legalized incest’ and likened same-sex marriage to incest and bestiality.”
“Fear-mongering and dehumanizing messages from powerful speakers like Lucado have been used to justify rollbacks of LGBTQ rights and to exclude LGBTQ people from civil protections and sacred rites,” the petition continued. “To our knowledge, Lucado has not publicly renounced these views.”
Appealing to the fact that the National Cathedral houses the remains of Matthew Shepard, a gay college student who was brutally beaten and murdered in 1998, the petition seemingly conflated Lucado’s opposition to homosexuality with the torture that Shepard suffered.
“Matthew Shepard’s remains were entrusted to the care of this cathedral,” the petition said. “Inviting a man who preaches the kind of dangerous theology that promotes oppression of and violence toward the LGBTQ community does not honor that trust nor serve his memory.”
“If Lucado wishes to use this opportunity to renounce his hateful views, this is not the appropriate forum or context,” the petition concluded. “This is not an opportunity for easy healing or ‘bringing together,’ as though the question of the full belovedness of LGBTQ people is a simple argument or difference of opinion. Lucado has inflicted serious harm. If healing is to take place, Lucado has much work to do before it can begin.”
Hollerith responded to the petition, maintaining that the Cathedral’s support for the LGBTQ community remains “unshakable and unchanged.”
“As you know, this Cathedral has long been a beacon for LGBTQ inclusion, and we believe in that because we believe the Gospel calls us to nothing short of full embrace and inclusion,” Hollerith wrote. “That said, I understand why Max’s earlier statements on LGBTQ issues would cause concern, and I want you to know that I share your concerns. As an ally of the LGBTQ community myself, it grieves me when churches or religion are used as weapons against God’s LGBTQ children.”
Hollerith nevertheless defended Lucado’s invitation, writing, “We have to come out of our corners, find common ground where we can, and find ways to live with and see each other as the beloved children of God that we are. We have all grown too accustomed in our silos and echo chambers. In order to start the process of rebuilding, we need to hear from each other.”
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