My first Pride Parade in Bellingham was celebratory and hope-filled. I counted at least six Christian churches expressing recognition of Jesus’ boundary-breaking welcome of all! As a pastor in the United Church of Christ — a denomination that began openly working for inclusion at the national level in 1985 (and has ordained out ministers since 1972) — it is thrilling to witness the expanding acceptance of Jesus’ central commandment: love God with all you are, and love others as yourself.
As members from my congregation marched past the protestors, we waved and gave the peace sign. Afterward, some returned to the protestors for conversation to understand their presence at such a joyful event. I have no doubt that members of other churches did the same.
I don’t regret that protesters were present at the parade — different perspectives help us better define our own truths. My frustration comes with the continued misrepresentation of Christianity as having only one voice: the voice of opposition to love. The Herald’s caption on some Pride photos states, “Christian protesters and parade marchers mince words…” That is accurate, and the adjective “Christian” could have been meant to modify both “protesters” and “parade marchers,” but I wonder. Many of those “marchers” were also Christian, following Jesus’ call to justice-love. How many readers would have noted that from the caption?
Sharon A. Benton
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