African American United Methodist clergy – who are also longtime civil-rights advocates – say there are parallels between the struggles of blacks in the 1960’s and those of gays and lesbians working for full inclusion in the church today.
At an April 27 rally held in Fort Worth, TX where the denomination’s 2008 General Conference is meeting, retired United Methodist clergy the Rev. James Lawson and the Rev. Gil Caldwell [pictured] spoke of the connection between racism and “heterosexism.” The rally was organized by the national, gay advocacy organization Soulforce.
Caldwell, former chairperson of Black Methodists for Church Renewal and former co-convener of United Methodists of Color for a Fully Inclusive Church, sees a similarity today in attitudes toward LGBT people, he said. “There is a great need for us to link the ‘isms’: anti-Semitism, racism, sexism and now heterosexism. They come from the same kind of place.”
Lawson described the “spiritual poison” that comes to mind when he hears about discrimination against gays and lesbian United Methodists.