Southern Baptist pastor and theologian Al Mohler on Wednesday rebuked a United Methodist Church (UMC) congregation in Illinois for being led by a drag queen and claimed the growing fissure in Protestantism over LGBT issues is turning into “two religions.”
During the Wednesday episode of his podcast “The Briefing,” Mohler, who is also president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, denounced Hope United Methodist Church in Bloomington, Illinois, for allowing Isaac Simmons to be in a position of church leadership and promoting him as a candidate for the ministry.
Simmons, who is an openly gay man, dresses up as a woman even during his sermons. Serving under two female pastors as the church’s project and remote learning coordinator, Simmons is pursuing candidacy for ordination within the UMC and has claimed that by coming out as gay, “he found a deep love for theological discussion and spiritual formation.”
Mohler described the church’s willingness to promote Simmons as a ministerial candidate as “an intentional refutation and revolt against the very order of creation that God has given us, and a direct violation of the clear teachings of Scripture concerning the fact that those whom God has made as men should identify as men.”
“This is open revolt, and of course, you’re going to see a division between those who are appalled by it, deeply troubled by it, deeply concerned by it and opposed to it on the one hand, and those who celebrate it and say that it’s arrived far too late on the other hand,” Mohler said.
“By the time any kind of church or church body reaches this point, it has already basically embraced doctrinal annihilation. There is virtually nothing left of the historic Christian tradition,” Mohler added.
Mohler went on to claim that the widening gulf in mainline Protestantism over issues of gender and sexuality are not merely two different positions, but rather “two different religions.”
“Those two different religions cannot possibly continue to exist in one church or in one denomination,” said Mohler. “Once conservatives are out of the picture in the United Methodist Church, this is only the start of where things will go in the future.”
Simmons, whose drag name is “Ms. Penny Cost” in a twist on Pentecost, told CBS News affiliate WMBD in Illinois that he did not expect to get the green light for becoming a Methodist minister.
“They’re saying this person is being called to ministry and has our approval to receive the United Methodist support financially and otherwise,” Simmons said. “My faith and my understanding of God calls me to be a part of that; to be a part of change-making and to be a part of creating spaces where everyone, regardless of their identities [or] orientations, can be and exist without even an inkling of ‘Am I welcomed here?’”
During a recent sermon based on Mark 15, Simmons attempted to interpret the crucifixion of Jesus Christ “through a lens of queerness, through a lens of drag, even.”
“There is holiness in queerness. There is holiness in allyship. There is holiness is femininity, masculinity, and fluidity,” Simmons said in part.
The UMC is facing a potential schism over the issue of homosexuality, with conservative Methodist congregations attempting to break off.