Burlington Lutheran Church stands for the rights of all persons to live their authentic selves, practice their religion, have fair and easy access to food, water, shelter, clothing - without being belittled, demeaned, or threatened, and without endangering or threatening others. We should've have to state explicitly that we support these rights for transgender persons, but with the current landslide of anti-trans legislation, it is necessary to speak up.
Burlington Lutheran is known (and loved) for actively supporting LGBTQ+ persons. In spite of the risk of being reduced to only being known as "the gay church" we will continue to stand with our queer members, friends, and allies. It is only one aspect of our fidelity to following the path of Jesus, who made it very clear that caring for others, our neighbors, is HOW we live out our faith.
Our Presiding Bishop's Statement
Our denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, has a presiding Bishop, who represents the denomination in a variety of capacities. On March 20th, 2023, she released this statement:
Bishop Eaton Issues Statement on Anti-Transgender Legislation
As we approach March 31, many people are preparing to recognize Transgender Day of Visibility, an international day to celebrate the contributions of transgender people and raise awareness about the deadly injustices they face.
As bishop of this church, I am concerned that the rights of transgender and nonbinary Americans have been targeted all over this nation. Nearly 400 anti-LGBTQIA+ bills were introduced across the United States in 2022, most of them targeting trans youth. That is twice the number from 2021 and almost eight times the total from 2020. The language in many of these bills attacks the humanity of trans and nonbinary people, often erasing the dignity that should be afforded to everyone.
While members of our church hold various convictions regarding gender, the teaching of our church supports legislation and policies to protect every person's human dignity and civil rights. (Human Sexuality, p. 19) As Christians we believe every human being is created in God's image, and we must honor and celebrate God's creation. Our church teaches that we affirm transgender and nonbinary siblings are God's children, who are loved unconditionally. Our social statement Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Call to Action (2019) also declares that this church commits itself to "advocate for and support laws, policies, and practices that respect diverse bodies rather than discriminating against, objectifying, or devaluing them" (p. 60).
I urge us, as people of faith, to love our neighbors, care for the vulnerable and marginalized, and work for justice and equality. We may have differing opinions on "matters related to sexual orientation and gender identity," (FSJ, p. 61) but we must always uphold the dignity and humanity of everyone. These disagreements do not allow us to accept actions that dehumanize, discriminate against or objectify any individual or group.
We must stand together, dear church, faithfully advocating for the full humanity and dignity of all people. Let us recognize and affirm the humanity of our transgender and nonbinary siblings. Let us advocate for their dignity. Let us continue to be guided by God's love and compassion as we seek justice and equality for everyone.
The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with 3 million members in more than 8,700 worshiping communities across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands.," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer Martin Luther.