OUTMemphis issues a response to the United Methodist Church ruling in favor of Anti-LGBTQ policies.
OUTMemphis condemns in the strongest possible terms the United Methodist’s General Conference vote this week which bans gay, lesbian, and bisexual people from being ordained as Methodist ministers; forbids Methodist ministers from performing same-sex weddings; and accelerates the consequences of violating these rules. We stand in solidarity with the LGTBQ+ community and allies within the United Methodist Church. The UMC, who since 2001 have boasted a brand promise of “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors,” also voted to prohibit the church from contributing financial support to LGBTQ+ causes.
OUTMemphis recognizes that not all Methodist communities support the ban, and urges local Methodist leadership to clarify their stances to their LGBTQ+ congregants. OUTMemphis commends the work of the Reconciling Ministries Network, a coalition of LGBTQ+ affirming individuals within the United Methodist Church who, according to their mission statement, “seek justice for people of all sexual orientation and gender identities.” In a statement this week, Reconciling Ministries stated, “We remain committed to justice, inclusion, and the full love of Christ for LGBTQIA+ people in The United Methodist Church.”
We recognize and emphasize that all institutional restrictions on LGBTQ+ rights have a direct, adverse relationship to the health and wellness of LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly in the case of religiously-motivated bans. A new study from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) published in JAMA Psychiatry found that state laws permitting the denial of services because of religious beliefs are associated with a 46% increase in LGBTQ+ adults experiencing mental distress, including suicide. These risks are even greater for our young people. A 2011 University of Texas at Austin survey, published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, found a significant correlation between the importance of religion and the frequency of suicidal ideation and attempts in LGBTQ+ students aged 18-30.
OUTMemphis is proud to call several Memphis churches and spiritual organizations our partners and allies, including First Congregational Church, Cathedral of Praise, Freedoms Chapel, Holy Trinity, and more. Davin Clemons of Cathedral of Praise commented on the Methodist stance, “I want my LGBT colleagues, friends, clergy, and even the members of the United Methodist Church who have been traumatized by this decision to know that ‘One Day We Will Get to The Promise Land.’ I love you. I empathize with you. I see you. You are beautiful no matter what they say.” Memphians seeking affirming, spiritual communities should call OUTMemphis at 901-278-6422 to access our expansive list of welcoming churches. OUTMemphis also calls upon local Methodist Churches who wish to join our list of welcoming communities to contact us immediately.
As one of the only LGBTQ+ community centers in the region, OUTMemphis recognizes the importance of religious institutions and spirituality in the South, where over 75% of adults consider themselves Christian, and nearly 40% of adults consider LGBTQ+ individuals should be “discouraged,” according to current Pew Research data on religion. The United Methodist Church is the second largest Protestant denomination in the United States.
We urge LGBTQ+ Memphians affected by the ban who are seeking mental health services to contact OUTMemphis at 901-278-6422.