By Don Brasted-Maki
I am a Christian and proud to call myself one. I attend church on Sunday and a Bible study and prayer group during the week. I am also chair of the First Congregational Church of Eugene’s Open and Affirming (ONA) Work Group responsible for making sure our church is a safe, welcoming and affirming place for the non-binary LGBTQ folk to come, worship and openly be who they are.
On August 12, KEZI did a story on the Eugene Pride in the Park Festival featuring an interview with Bryan Carver, a protester from Wellspring Bible Fellowship, based in Roseburg, who said, “Homosexuality is sin, and what’s being celebrated today is the kind of thing which God judges nations for,” and “We do not speak hate, we speak what we believe is the truth.”
When he spoke of “God judging” and of “speaking the truth,” he gave the impression that he spoke for God and for all Christians, but he does not. He does not speak for me, the God I worship, or for the churches in Eugene who welcome and affirm nonbinary folk as they are and support their right to be who they are.
I would not worship a God who disapproved of them for doing that. The protester must worship a different God than I do or be wrong about the God that he does worship.
At the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) Convention, political commentator Michael Knowles told the crowd, “For the good of society… transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely — the whole preposterous ideology, at every level.”
While Knowles subsequently claimed that eradicating “transgenderism” is not a call for eradicating transgender people, any time the word eradication occurs in the same sentence as a word that describes any group of people, alarm bells should go off, and they did.
Transgender people are not an ideology or an “ism.” They are individual human beings who discover that they do not identify as their biological gender or the gender they were identified as at birth. Knowles is playing a dangerous game of semantics. He is trying to galvanize the Republican base by directing their hate and anger at something they do not understand. The LGBTQ community is under attack by those on the right as a means of stirring up their base of support. My church and many others in Eugene try to provide a safe place for these people to gather and be fully accepted and affirmed for who they are.
Many Eugene area churches were present at Eugene Pride to show their support for the LGBTQ community but were not interviewed by KEZI so they could give that support voice. In addition to my own, First Christian Church, the Unitarian Universalist Church, Saint Mary’s Episcopal Church and Trinity Methodist all had booths or an organized presence. There may have been more. To the best of my knowledge, none of these churches worship a God who judges homosexuality to be a sin or feel a need to eradicate what Knowles labeled “transgenderism.”
Contrary to what the protester claimed at Eugene Pride, he was preaching hate — hate against those in the LGBTQ community whom he fears and can’t understand. By labeling them an “ism” and ideology and calling for their eradication, Knowles, too, is preaching hate.
I worship a God who knows me and loves me for who I am and does the same for all those in the LGBTQ community. I follow the man who told me that loving my neighbor as myself, even if that neighbor looks, thinks and acts differently than I do, is one of the two greatest commandments. I belong to one of many churches in Eugene that share my values and beliefs and fully support the LGBTQ community.