On Monday, GLAAD posted a blog promoting videos of pro-LGBT preaching that we would like to see go viral. These videos contained messages of affirmation from Unitarian Universalist and United Church of Christ pastors whose denominations have supported LGBT equality for decades, as well as two prominent African-American pastors whose support for the LGBT community is now clearer than ever before. It is especially important to promote the videos from African-American pastors because the media often incorrectly portrays Black churches as a uniform opposition to LGBT people and marriage equality. However, preachers like Reverend Otis Moss III and Reverend Frederick D. Haynes III demonstrate that there are a growing number of pastors who can preach with incredible passion in support of equality for all people.
Just a day after posting our blog, we started seeing another video pop up in various places. This video features Father Bob Pierson, a Roman Catholic priest in Minnesota, speaking out against the proposed anti-LGBT marriage amendment in that state. Father Pierson is speaking at a rally, and not in the pulpit, but he speaks with such eloquence and passion that you can hear the audience cheer him on.
It’s important that videos like that of Father Pierson are also shared widely because the Roman Catholic Church is another institution that is often portrayed in the media as anti-LGBT. In fact, the reality is that there is a stark difference between the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church, which has been quite vocal in its opposition to marriage equality, and everyday Roman Catholics, who are overwhelmingly supportive of LGBT people, including marriage equality.
Father Pierson’s video demonstrates that even those within the priesthood do not agree with the anti-LGBT antagonism of the Roman Catholic hierarchy. Father Pierson is a priest at St. John’s Abbey Church in Collegeville, MN, which also operates St. John’s University. His speech potentially puts him at risk of losing his job and his livelihood. In fact, a Catholic school teacher in Moorhead, Minnesota recently lost her job because she stated in a self-evaluation that she did not support the proposed constitutional amendment.
While the Roman Catholic hierarchy opposes equality for LGBT people, Catholics across the country increasingly understand, as articulated in the video, the Catholic teaching of “primacy of conscience.” This means that following one’s conscience on LGBT equality may lead a faithful Catholic to oppose the anti-LGBT actions of the hierarchy. In fact, in his video, Father Pierson even quotes Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who is now Pope Benedict XVI, as the theologian who taught Catholics to follow their conscience, even when it brings them into opposition with the hierarchy.
GLAAD commends Father Pierson for speaking out in support of marriage equality, and we urge the media and advocates for LGBT equality to share his video broadly. Given that many of the recent YouTube videos to “go viral” have encouraged acts of violence against LGBT people, it’s all the more important to place a spotlight on the many messages of love, affirmation and inclusion that have come out lately. We hope that videos of clergy speaking in support of LGBT equality will lead others to do the same.