Everyone is cutting ties with Kanye West. For church leaders, it’s not that simple, but they’re not losing hope.
In the final hours of the month-long, nationwide wave of protests over his anti-gay statements, President Donald Trump was finally forced to issue a statement. The president condemned homosexuality at length: “I’ve instructed the White House counsel to get together with the Department of Justice people and make sure that, even though I’m running for office, and a Democrat, and somebody, and a lot of things could be said, that the president can’t be on a stage, at a campaign rally with people that plan to do something like that.”
His comments came at the end of a night of protests involving a range of religious leaders and organizations. Pastor Mark Burns, who led the Westboro Baptist Church, called them his “personal nightmare,” while others said they reflected the deep hatred of many religious people in a secular culture. While these leaders were protesting their own congregations, an anti-gay backlash was hitting the community at large: Within two weeks, according to a new survey from the American Values Network, almost a third of Catholic bishops would be gay, according to a survey from the National Association of Catholic School Nurses.
In some ways, however, Trump’s condemnation was only the most significant moment of the protest. The church protests, which have continued for days, are part of an ongoing, nationwide rebellion against the country’s most powerful people’s tendency to make a connection between religion and bigotry. “These demonstrations are a symbol of a much deeper and more fundamental problem,” Scott Lively, executive director of Focus on the Family, said on a conference call with reporters. “There is a growing intolerance and bigotry in the country, and it needs to be confronted head-on…. It’s very difficult to talk about that without being accused of bigotry, without being told that you’re the victim of a hate crime.”
What sets the Westboro protesters apart from other Christian organizations is how their message isn’t just anti-homosexuality but anti-gay in every sense of the word. They aren’t interested in condemning homosexuality, which they agree with. Rather, they say that Christians should no longer be accepting of the gay and lesbian lifestyle as a whole. They say that gay people are not