The Nashville Statement: Homophobic Evangelicals Continue Delusional Conviction of Their Own Victimhood

Amid a hurricane pummeling the nation’s 4th largest city, North Korean nuclear testing, and a presidency shredding at the seams, right wing Evangelical Christians have an important, shocking message:

They find queer and trans people and the ways we have sex distasteful and incompatible with Christian teachings.

On Tuesday, the Council On Biblical Manhood and Womanhood released The Nashville Statement, a set of 14 articles that profess a staunchly anti-gay and anti-trans viewpoint. It condemns polyamory and pre-marital sex and says that people who have “a physical disorder of sex development” i.e. intersex people “should embrace their biological sex insofar as it may be known” in order to live a “fruitful life in joyful obedience to Christ.” It also says that it is sinful for anyone to affirm “homosexual immorality or transgenderism.”

It’s made up of a preamble and 14 articles like a queer-antagonistic constitution. Basically, it’s a pretty standard screed against LGBT people dressed up in the trappings of Jesus and claiming to speak from the one and only true theological viewpoint on the topic. It doesn’t say anything new or interesting, and it’s being signed and promoted by all the usual suspects, like Focus on the Family Founder James Dobson, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and a couple hundred other pastors and Christian leaders who have made their anti-LGBT views clear for many years.

The statement has its own very snazzy website and makes it easy for anyone to join the statement as a signatory. It’s got a full press strategy that has been effective in getting the word out to people on all sides —#NashvilleStatement trended nationally on Twitter Tuesday night. It has a ton of muscle behind it on the Evangelical right, and with that breadth of buy-in it can safely be called an official declaration of right-wing Christianity’s viewpoint on LGBT people and our relationships.

The content of the statement is so obvious as to be trite, and there are no surprises in the list of signatories and proponents. It is unlikely to convince any Christian who was not already anti-LGBT to become so, but that doesn’t mean it’s not significant. If nothing else, it’s important because powerful people said it is and others are listening. In a way, it’s a line drawn in the sand, as Evangelical leaders essentially ask “are you with us or against us?” Calling on others to publicly side with them will provide fuel that powers anti-LGBT forces in culture and politics.

It is easy to point out the many hypocrisies of these (mostly) men. How many of them voted for a known sexual abuser with multiple divorces, after all? Where is their coordinated public response to the cries of the poor, incarcerated, and abused? How can they all be so racist and still claim moral authority on anything? But at the end of the day, they are incredibly powerful, influential hypocrites, and some are close to Trump’s inner circle. They’ve been shaping GOP legislation for decades and today they help drive policies like transphobic bathroom bills and employment discrimination loopholes, and a unified platform will only make them stronger and louder. They are also, it should be noted, Mike Pence’s People.

It is imperative to speak out against The Nashville Statement while it’s still gaining its footing so that those who denounce it are at least as loud. Some are already doing so, including Nashville’s mayor who objected to the association of the city’s name with the document, which was written there. Right wing Evangelicals believe that they are becoming an abused minority, which is nonsense if you look at the laws that govern the United States and broader cultural norms. Still, they’re right about one thing: LGBT people are a threat to their way of life, and we’re slowly but surely shifting both secular and Christian culture toward inclusion, grace and compassion. Now is the time for Christians, be they queer, allies, or lapsed, to work harder. We have to drown out this vile manifesto with joyful noise. Queer Episcopal priest Broderick Greer put it beautifully on Twitter:

It’s difficult to predict what may come after the Nashville Statement. It may be a stand-alone declaration, but it seems more likely to be the beginning of an even more concentrated efforts to chip away at progress that has been made toward creating a society where LGBT people can flourish. That means the ongoing work of queer and trans Christians and our allies has never been more crucial.


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Audrey is a writer, a Texan and a sometimes-heretical Presbyterian. They write about bisexuality, gender, religion, politics, music and a whole lot of feelings at Autostraddle and wherever fine words are sold. They hope to adopt a dog some day. Follow Audrey on Twitter @audreywhitetx.

Audrey has written 134 articles for us.

23 Comments

  1. My heart breaks for the queer folks who find themselves stuck in congregations who are signatories to the Nashville Statement. I hope they remember: whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

    No matter how much they pretend otherwise, these folks do not know God.

  2. Thanks to you Audrey, and other AS writers for letting me know there’s a thriving queer christian community! You introduced me to Mary Lambert’s awesome interview on it (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoCVKKa-XRs) and stuff. It is so hard for me to understand how people who (say they) read the Gospels or Leviticus on the daily can think that it is telling them to condemn vulnerable people, esp immigrants, like this.

  3. I think Article X is one of the most alarming parts of the statement.

    “We affirm that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness.

    We deny that the approval of homosexuality and transgenderism is a matter of moral indifference about which otherwise faithful Christians should agree to disagree.”

    This is essentially calling into question a person’s salvation for not being anti-LGBT. Christians like my parents have found a way to embrace many of the pastors and organizations who are signing this statement (Moody, Focus on the Family, John Piper, etc.) while willfully ignoring their views on being gay. While my parents are wrestling with having a gay child and being devoted Christians, a statement like this is only going to make it harder for them to embrace the tension.

    • “While my parents are wrestling with having a gay child and being devoted Christians, a statement like this is only going to make it harder for them to embrace the tension.”

      This was my thought too. I’m particularly concerned about the effect on people who’ve slowly moved from being anti-LGBT to reaching a kind of internal detente with themselves. This statement is a destabilizing factor that could cause them to backslide, which feels so scary and frustrating for the LGBT folks in their orbit.

    • I’m very sorry to hear your parents are struggling with this. It’s a shame
      When I discovered my daughter was gay, although christian at the time, not for a second, did I think she was any different than before I found out. Your sexuality does not define you. It only defines you within religion! That is why religion is so damn dangerous. It eliminates the need for logic and reasoning. It didn’t take long for me to realize there are MANY crazy teachings we are expected to follow as christians. I became an atheist because there is no way I can reconcile all the hate in the bible (performed by your very own god) with some “loving” deity
      If it’s any consolation, my daughter is getting married in less than a month. Here, in Canada, gay marriage is so yesterday and so not an issue. One day, it WILL be that way in the US of A too

  4. thanks for writing this. i’m so often inclined to just roll my eyes and ignore statements like this, bc like i’m over it, i know i’m fine, but then i remember that there are small queer babes who don’t get to choose where they worship yet, who haven’t discovered progressive theology, and they need to know that there are christians who don’t think there’s anything wrong with them.

    but also, why can’t people chill the heck out, like honestly, who asked for this? who needed this?????

  5. As a Peace-loving, accept everyone as they are, pacifist of christian history I must confess that as I was reading this I went “all Old Testament” for a moment and thought “Harvey you missed a spot!” I then admonished myself severely for having such a non-christian moment for not accepting them for who they are as they are.

    WTF People !?

  6. I’m not shocked that this is a thing and I don’t think anybody else should be either. This is actually very “on brand”. Shit like this is why I haven’t been to church in decades and that will continue to be the case.

  7. I find this weird since there are many cases of trans and intersex well document in the Bible. Like Adam, his first partner Lilith, and Eve can all be argued they are either intersex, or trans. In fact Lilith was described as being androgynous, trans, and/or intersex depending on who you ask. Then we have Adam giving birth to Eve(they say comes from his ribs, but I think people translated it wrong years ago and it was birth). Or conversely we could say if Eve came from Adam, she’s trans or intersex.

  8. My other thought: Shit! I better not look at the list of signatories. That’s a whole long list of people I’d then be obligated to pray for. (For once, I love the phrasing of the relevant verse in the King James: “and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”)

  9. thanks for this Audrey!
    I’m seeing two further likely impacts:
    1. evangelical educational institutions will probably put everything from this statement into their statements of faith that all students and faculty have to sign on to. the language licenses expelling students merely for identifying as gay or queer or trans (where now mostly they have to have some evidence of sexual activity). It could also be grounds for firing supportive tenured faculty.
    2. I could definitely see future legal battles for religious exemptions from nondiscrimination laws citing this statement (the reasoning behind exemptions for businesses is probably a bit different, but for any arguments based on freedom of association). article x of the statement basically makes a position on this topic a central core theological doctrine, and courts would be looking not just at sincerity of belief but also centrality.

  10. Sounds like a bunch of southern Baptist dicks who know they are irrelevant and also know that if they write an inflammatory thing people will give them money. Did you see the big donate button on the bottom?
    But I do feel bad for baby gays growing up in that world.

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