Anyone who has ever been to a Pride parade knows to expect Christian protestors telling queer people that they’re sinful and going to hell (bo-ring). So it’s a refreshing change to hear about pro-gay Christians who, during this weekend’s Pride festivities in Marikina City in the Philippines, held up signs apologizing for anti-LGBTQ Christians.
The group came from an Evangelical and Pentecostal church in Makati called Church of Freedom in Christ Ministries (FICM). They have carried similar signs at the Marikina City Pride event for the last four years.
Wearing t-shirts that said, “I’m sorry” their signs included phrases like “I’m sorry Christians have shunned you,” “I used to be a bible-banging homophobe. Sorry!!,” “God adores you,” “You are fearfully and wonderfully made,” “Jesus didn’t turn people away and neither do we” and “God love you, so do we.”
Their largest sign read, “We’re here to apologize for the ways that we as Christians have harmed the LGBT community. I’m sorry: for hiding behind religion when really I was just scared; I have looked down on you instead of honoring your humanity; for not listening; for judging you; I’ve looked at you as a sex act instead of a child of God; I’ve rejected and hurt your family in the name of ‘family values.’”
The church’s pastor, Val Paminiani, told Buzzfeed News, “I used to believe that God condemns homosexuals, but when I studied the Scriptures, especially the ones that we call ‘clobber Scriptures’ that are being cherry-picked from the Bible to condemn LGBT people, I realized that there’s a lot to discover, including the truth that God is not against anyone. God does not discriminate against people based on gender.”
Pro-gay Christians are only part what we need to heal the queer-Christian divide
Interestingly, Christians from a group called The Marin Foundation showed up with similar at Chicago’s Pride parade in 2010. Sadly, it turns out that the foundation was run by Andrew Marin, a conservative Christian who, despite his group’s apologies, thought that gay people should change.
It looks like the pro-gay Christians with Filipino church are more sincere in their apologies though.
While we’d love to see more Christians apologizing to the LGBTQ community and challenging the queerphobia of conservative churches, many LGBTQ people remain hesitant about attending so-called LGBTQ-affirming churches. That’s because such churches tend to be predominantly cisgender, heterosexual spaces that value an authoritative Christian-centric worldview that isn’t always open-minded to other value- and faith-systems.