Database Launches To Single Out Churches Opposed To Gay Marriage

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Joshua Gill Religion Reporter
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An online database launched Wednesday singles out churches opposed to homosexuality ostensibly to encourage clarity in whether various churches support LGBT lifestyles.

The database, called Church Clarity, scores churches on whether they are “clear” or “unclear” in their message of being “affirming” or “non-affirming” toward LGBT relationships. Church Clarity takes aim specifically at evangelical churches and accuses them of having a dangerous “capitalist mindset” and of being purposefully unclear in their policies toward LGBT relationships .

The database’s website emphasizes the fact that churches are tax exempt organizations that receive public subsidies, and says that the perceived lack of clarity in church policy means “there is very little accountability to demonstrate that they are earning that subsidy.”

Church Clarity characterizes itself as “unequivocally inclusive, affirming and celebrating of all people,”  and says that it unapologetically allows people of any faith or gender identity to “participate at every level of Church Clarity’s mission.” The organization claims that it does not seek to force churches to conform to its stance toward LGBT relationships, but acknowledges a conflict of interest between its mission and its policy.

“We acknowledge that there is a potential tension between our policy-views and our organizational goal, but we also believe that remaining completely free of bias is impossible for any organization. We are comfortable with this tension and welcome feedback on how we can improve in this regard,” the website reads.

Further complicating the organization’s ostensibly bipartisan goals is the fact that, as Jonathan Merritt, a writer for Religion News Service, noted in his article on the database, the database is filled with mostly large conservative churches with well known pastors, and labels none of the included liberal churches as unclear.

The organization states that it seeks to pressure church leaders to clarify their church’s “actively enforced policy” concerning the participation of LGBT individuals, but is not interested in clarifying the theology, reasons, and possible nuances behind those policies. The organization poses an “Are you with us, or against us” style of question regarding policy despite acknowledging that the issue of a church’s stance toward LGBT persons and lifestyles is often fraught with nuance.

“While we recognize the pastoral desire to discuss nuances of a particular theology, actively enforced policies are much more straightforward. They can and should be communicated explicitly from the start,” the website reads.

Church Clarity argues that a church’s policies should be communicated clearly and simply, without explaining the reasoning and theology behind said policies, so that LGBT people can know from the outset whether they will be allowed to participate in every level of the church community.

Self professed Gay Christian leaders, such as Bandon Robertson and Julie Rodgers, have praised Church Clarity’s initiative, according to Christian Today. Rodgers also serves as an adviser for Church Clarity’s database project.

Church Clarity’s initiative comes in the wake of the Nashville Statement– a 14 article document in which over 150 leaders of largely conservative churches clarified the church’s teachings on gender and sexuality. The Nashville statement was viewed and promoted as “a line in the sand” concerning the issues of homosexuality and transgenderism in the church. The statement and the database now respectively represent pushes from both parties of the church divide, conservative and liberal, for Christian leaders to clarify where they stand on the subject of LGBT lifestyles.

Merritt also noted in his article for RNS that while the Church Clarity database may bring about more clarity from church leaders, it also has the potential to widen the divide between Christians, given the organization’s eschewing of nuance, rather than cultivate understanding.

“In a time when the church is bitterly divided over sexual ethics and LGBT issues, it is, well, unclear, whether Church Clarity’s effort will create more division or less…we don’t want to further polarize the Christian community on an issue that is riddled with nuance.”

North Point Community Church, Hillsong Church, and Newspring Church did not respond to TheDCNF’s request for comment by the time of publication.

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