NAD Issues Statement on LGBT Civil Rights Legislation

On Friday, February 26, 2021, the North American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church issued a statement concerning the LGBT Civil Rights legislation being considered by the United States Congress. The statement appears in full below with permission:

Adventist Church Continues to Advocate for Religious Protections in LGBT Civil Rights Legislation

NAD responds to recent legislation.

On Thursday, February 25, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives once again passed the LGBT anti-discrimination bill “The Equality Act” (H.R. 5).

While the Seventh-day Adventist Church firmly believes that everyone is created in the image of God and should be treated with dignity, compassion, and respect, the Church remains concerned that the Equality Act as drafted would further erode the religious liberty of faith communities and their members. As currently written, the legislation makes no allowance for communities or individuals of faith who hold traditional views of marriage and gender and fails to provide essential religious liberty protections that would allow a diverse and essential group of social service, humanitarian, and educational organizations to continue to thrive.

Encouraging to the Church is the diminished support of the Equality Act and the growing support of the Fairness for All Act, which was reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday, February 26.

The North American Division and General Conference have partnered together to represent the Seventh-day Adventist Church in a diverse coalition of faith and advocacy partners who support the Fairness for All Act’s balanced approach to addressing LGBT discrimination while maintaining the historically-protected and cherished place held by religion in society.

Several members of Congress who previously co-sponsored the Equality Act are instead attaching themselves to the Fairness for All approach, which this term has more than doubled its number of cosponsors.

The Equality Act is expected to be introduced in the U.S. Senate, but lacks sufficient support to be passed in that legislative chamber.

NAD president G. Alexander Bryant responded to the legislative developments, saying, “People of faith play a vital role in our country, and I’m encouraged to see their values being considered in this important conversation. We need to find a way to protect the rights of all Americans in a fair and balanced way.”

NAD Public Affairs and Religious Liberty director Orlan Johnson affirmed the Church’s efforts, stating, “The Seventh-day Adventist Church will continue to advocate for the religious freedom of its members and institutions. It is both unnecessary and contradictory to weaken the civil rights of one group of society in order to strengthen the rights of another.”

 

This press release was written by Melissa Reid, North American Division Public Affairs and Religious Liberty and was originally published by the NAD. It is reprinted here with permission. Click here to learn more about the Fairness for All Act on the NAD website.

Photo by Louis Velazquez on Unsplash

 

We invite you to join our community through conversation by commenting below. We ask that you engage in courteous and respectful discourse. You can view our full commenting policy by clicking here.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11097

The NAD argument based on “religious freedom,” is a poorly expressed argument. It is a losing argument. Those who wish to restrict LGBT rights (NAD) VS those seek to have equality in society to pursue their LBGT rights.

Would not be more truthful for NAD to argue the issue as an official church creed. That God created a plan for humanity in Eden that gives us both the Sabbath and marriage between a man and a woman. Sure, many will not accept this Eden view–but it is a genuine religious teaching held by the SDA church and as such the church should not be forced to grand equality to all LGBT advocates. This would restrict their religious freedom.

The NAD could take a middle ground approach. LGBT visitors should able to worship peacefully in the SDA church. Why not? We worship beside many divorced individuals that do not meet the pre-condition Jesus expressly laid down of adultery, as the only reason for divorce. We baptize and ordain many individuals without any regard to their past failed marriages. Or for that matter if they are living in an adulteress marriage as Jesus taught. Don’t we love them and turn a blind eye on this issue?

4 Likes

Well said. It is important to protect the children in the churches and schools from being misled by confusion as members see fit.

1 Like

…protect from what, just exactly…what confusion is being suggested??

4 Likes

Five per cent of our population, one in twenty, are gay / lesbian, so five per cent of Adventists are gay / lesbian — a significant minority, ignored and unacknowledged by the NAD.

All are agreed that these individuals had zero choice / input into their sexual orientation —- just as the majority heterosexual population do not have selection as to why they are ( fortunately ) straight.

Currently twenty eight states allow gays and lesbians to be fired from their employment, not because of incompetence, but merely on the basis that they are gay / lesbian.

In thirty eight states, landlords may evict gays / lesbians, not because of failure to pay rent, but merely on the basis of their sexual orientation .

This LGBT CIVIL RIGHTS legislation would create federal safeguards that would prevent these cruel punishments and persecutions.

These LGBTs are tax paying citizens, and tithe paying Adventists, but lack the basic decent rights of non discrimination enjoyed by their straight siblings / cousins / peers.

The long overdue LGBT CIVIL RIGHTS LEGISLATION is just as vital and imperative as was the civil rights legislation for blacks, enacted decades ago.

Just as blacks, born without choice in their skin color, deserved non discrimination, so do gays / lesbians whose orientation is no choice of their own.

It is egregious that the NAD would deny five per cent of their membership, the basic rights enjoyed by the majority of the population.

No wonder, with such cruel disregard for their basic protections, that gays and lesbians born into Adventist families, hasten to distance themselves from a group that deliberately fails to treat them fairly, and is often overtly hostile to them.

G Alexander Bryant, the first black NAD President, should of all people, be acutely aware of how discrimination is hurtful and hateful.

The NAD should be ashamed that they are openly conspiring to ensure that their LGBT members lack basic civil rights protections.

8 Likes

I thought a Supreme Court ruling last year stopped this discrimination in employment nationwide. I’m not sure if the ruling extended to housing.

i think this is the best solution for this issue, which essentially amounts to don’t ask, don’t tell…what NAD should be seeking to secure from the courts is the right to spell out what we believe the bible teaches on LGBT, but then allow full scope for individual decision making when it comes to practical considerations…

this means individual conscience should be the final arbiter in the LGBT question, and no-one should be prohibited from employment, baptism, or ordination on the basis of their sexual orientation or practice…this kind of policy would likely escape all aspects of prosecution in potential discrimination cases, and reduce the hurt and bitterness many LGBT persons feel over their treatment in and by our church…

1 Like

Jeremy you state :
Which essentially amounts to DONT ASK DONT TELL

You are saying that gays / lesbians who hide their identity and “ live a lie “ are the only ones acceptable to Adventists ? Regrettably, many have been forced to do just that, in order to maintain denominational employment, or to ensure that their congregations / families / schools do not treat them with disdain, derision, and discrimination.

It is exceedingly liberating to proclaim your own identity and not pretend to be someone you are not.

2 Likes

You are correct, Tom, SCOTUS did in 2020 outlaw employment discrimination in the US but there still remains no federal law banning it.

Hello, I think an issue that is missed (unless I missed it) is that your “compromise” is not good enough for those that are advancing this legislation. This Act, like other laws, is seeking to make it illegal to in any way oppose homosexuality on moral or religious grounds. One may agree or disagree whether lgbt is acceptable biblically, (and we all have our own opinion) but we cannot compromise on whether the church has the right to prohibit homosexuality within its denominational teachings if it so chooses. Certain aspects of morality cannot be legislated, but morality is heart of most religions and religions must be able to uphold their particular teachings even if legally a corporation or company cannot.

Look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Right now the face of opposition to the Equality Act is Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, an evangelical, QAnon conspiracy theorist, serial adulterer, supporter of Donald Trump, and someone so repugnant as to personally attack a colleague’s trans child. Greene was recently stripped of all of her House committee memberships for inciting violence against her Democratic colleagues and for supporting the January 6, 2021 insurrection on the nation’s Capitol.

Evangelicals have a reputation for being bigots. Scripture teaches that in the eyes of God such individuals, who should know better, are not entitled to rights. Matthew 18:21-35. What goes around comes around, measure for measure, you reap what you sow.

Seventh-day Adventists have a better brand than evangelicals. We have affirmed that black lives matter. We have condemned Trump for separating migrant children from their families. And we have spoken out against Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban. But there are some Seventh-day Adventists on the fringes of our faith community who did vote for Trump and they will have to answer in the judgment for that apostasy. You cannot kneel down before a golden statue and rationalize that you are doing something different than what you are doing. The unveiling of the Trump golden statue at the CPAC conference this week underscores the reality that his supporters, despite some protestations to the contrary, have always and everywhere made him an object of worship.

Whether the reservoir of Seventh-day Adventist credibility is deep enough to safeguard our religious liberties remains to be seen.

4 Likes

i’m saying two things: adventist gays must give their church the freedom to follow the bible wherever it leads when it comes to stated beliefs, and our church must give its gay members the freedom to follow their conscience wherever it leads when it comes to lifestyle choices…sexuality is a deeply personal, but also private, matter…there’s no need for anyone to discuss or demonstrate their sexuality, nor is there any need for anyone to involve themselves in someone else’s sexuality outside of their own, when it isn’t being openly flaunted and agitated…

a don’t ask, don’t tell policy isn’t living a lie…it’s living in terms of a no comment commitment to the good of the group, and the individual members involved…we wear clothes, not in order to lie about our bodies, but in order maintain boundaries of privacy and respect…in a similar way, there must be a collective agreement to not discuss things that are inherently private, not in order to lie about them, but to maintain belief and trust in one another, and promote each other’s spiritual well-being and advancement…

this is ridiculous…what’s liberating is proclaiming your identity in christ, and your willingness to follow wherever he leads, whenever he leads…no-one needs the whole world to be aware of each and every advance step he makes in his life in christ…what he needs is the freedom to advance as, and when, his conscience stirs him…granting and nurturing this freedom is our collective and individual responsibility as church members to one another…

nothing is being missed about this LBGT subject, believe me…i know exactly what is going on with the Equality Act…but i also know the pain and despair with those who want to do the right thing, but are caught in a situation from which they see no way out…no-one should be forced to choose between their religion, which their conscience tells them is right, and what they know to be the truth about themselves…a don’t ask, don’t tell policy, while it isn’t perfect, would remove much of the necessity for this choice…it imposes responsibility on all sides to conduct themselves in a way that promotes the good of the group…

my own feeling is that LGBT interests who want more than a don’t ask, don’t tell policy aren’t thinking about the group…they’re thinking only of themselves…i think our church, which must always be about what is good for the group, should stand firmly against them…

In reality it may be some time before conservative believers can accept LGBT visitors to be fully accepted enough to be an Elder or Pastor. On one hand some believers hold it is “against nature” and Revelation, while others believe one is born with a desire for same sex relationships. As such it is God given to them.

I wonder if these two deeply rooted viewpoints can ever accept each other? The only middle ground is that we make a choice to do so. Which is not far distance from that of embracing members that have multiple non-biblical divorces, anger issues and/or substance abuse. Furthermore members can be still be in good standing while holding that EGW’s counsels are not all God given. Or those who question the 1844 date? True?

3 Likes

true…the biblical test of fellowship, which must always be our test of fellowship, is accepting christ as our personal saviour…at this point we choose baptism, renounce our sins as we see them, and begin our journey heavenward…

i think there must always be space for private disagreement on everything from LGBT and evolution to egw and 1844…it’s seldom that two people, let alone everyone, will see everything in exactly the same light…it’s when we publicly campaign against our church’s stated beliefs, and teach others to do the same, especially when we are employees drawing a salary from the tithe of church members, as was the case with desmond ford at PUC in 1979, that we are causing disruption…in this kind of case, i can’t see how our church has any choice but to act against the source of disruption…

in the ford case, there was nothing stopping him from calling for a symposium of our BRI, and other scholars, and present his views for examination in an orderly fashion, before launching an offensive that disparaged the authority of our prophet in a hall full of lay persons in order to bolster the credibility of his own views…i think our church would have been open to an objective, full examination of our sanctuary doctrine at glacier view, without the backdrop of what was the clear attack against the inspiration of egw at PUC…it was the venom in the attack on egw - and i was there, i heard and felt it - more than anything else that propelled neal wilson, our new president at the time, to act as decisively as he did…

1 Like

Don’t ask don’t tell doesn’t work!

It is a natural instinct to want a partner / companion to share your life experiences— both gay and straight are innately programmed for this.

The sex, which occupies a tiny fraction of the week, is the least of it.
It is the validation, companionship, trust, affirmation, support, affection, camaraderie, intimacy, and also the financial security that a partner provides. When one partner loses employment, it is the other who often prevents homelessness.

Adventism and much of evangelical Protestantism, and Catholicism would prohibit gays / lesbians from this cherished asset of a partner, They wish to retain this right exclusively and selfishly for themselves,
while cruelly imposing life long loneliness on their gay family members.

Those gays / lesbians who are blessed enough to find such a trophy, immediately expose themselves, when they attend church services / family events, week after week, with obviously a same sex partner.

Don’t ask, don’t tell is thereby eviscerated.

2 Likes

Don’t ask don’t tell was an imperfect solution for the military but cannot possibly work in church because church is all about family and community. We see each other each week we know our church families very closely…when a gay couple is in leadership, everyone will know, therefore, they will be telling the church they are homosexual and the church will be accepting that relationship implicitly by accepting their leadership. I see the pain in those that want to be part of the church too, but the issue here isn’t what SHOULD the church do (we all have an opinion on that) but the issue is what CAN the church do. And we cannot let the government tell the church what it must do when it relates to moral teaching and doctrine.

The handwriting is on the wall. When we do not remain “thus sayeth the Lord” we will slide into apostasy, one creeping compromise at a time. There is no way that the Adventist church or any other religion will escape the “common good.”

church and state
we are a church it is SIMPLE

or is AMERICA church run so are we debating with the ROMAN CATHOLIC church ?
we should be more clear in our context of the 3 ANGLES MESSAGE our position
in context of CHURCH and STATE separation

how individuals treat people and also as a church don’t preach the word and TRUTH I am afraid we will be judged BOTH WAYS

WE NEED TO BE CLEAR we discriminate on many levels when pick a ELDER OR PASTOR or any role in a church be the person is liar we vote on BIBLICAL LAW not state

DOUBLE EDGED SWORD

THE SDA SHOULD STRONGLY OPPOSE THIS LEGISTLATION
YOU ARE WATCHING THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ERODE THE CONSTITUTION

NAD president G. Alexander Bryant responded to the legislative developments, saying, “People of faith play a vital role in our country, and I’m encouraged to see their values being considered in this important conversation. We need to find a way to protect the rights of all Americans in a fair and balanced way.”

VERY SOFT RESPONSE
we as a church talk about the OMEGA that seem mysterious and ambiguous and seems to morph and answers that are very similar in character

i think you overestimate the value and attraction of being in a marriage, which comes with many responsibilities…it isn’t everyone who wants to be bound to the life of another, even if they’ve had, and continue to have, many opportunities…many singles are happy to be single, thank-you very much, and can well afford to live on their own…nor is it the case that everyone who is in a marriage is actually happy…

for those gay adventists who want a marriage, and specifically a gay marriage, one of the calculations of the cost of that decision must surely be the risk of rejection by their church family, in the event that they are church attending adventists…this is the only responsible course…but in this case, i wouldn’t underestimate the average adventist congregation…there was a time, yrs ago, when i routinely brought my bf to church with me…it is the case that no-one in my church, which is said to be the most conservative church in canada, said one word to me, and i don’t believe they didn’t understand what they were looking at…instead of being shunned, i felt a lot of sympathy…and a lot of warmth was directed at the bf, who enjoyed attending my church…the same was true of his mormon church…people there welcomed me with open arms…

i think the horror stories we constantly hear about, in which gay people feel forced to leave our churches, are vastly overblown…i’m not saying these instances never occur…but i think chances are that someone who is evidently sincere, and who exudes openness and friendliness, will tend to see the same reciprocated, regardless of what is evident in their life…i don’t think, at all, that the average adventist congregation is looking for opportunities to ostracize or exclude members…

i agree that our church must always stand up for the right to define doctrine and uphold moral teaching…but the question we’re discussing relates more with how that doctrine and moral teaching should be applied in a practical context…the question of LGBT, in many ways, is unlike any other…we now have clear evidence that a biological component exists, and there are many who believe that being born a certain way trumps every other consideration…very many gays, particularly from outside our church, have been conditioned to believe that sexual expression is their civil right that nothing in the bible can challenge…

under such circumstances, strict rules that are rigorously enforced, while it may make the enforcers feel good about themselves, has the potential to cause lasting damage in people where we may least expect it…we are told that on “some, have compassion, making a difference”…this important text in Jude certainly means that there are instances where black and white rules shouldn’t be applied and enforced…from what i’ve seen, i do believe that the case of LGBT is one of these instances…it is far better to err on the side of leniency, ED:293, than chase someone permanently out of the arms of christ…i think we need to give the HS room to act in ways that we, ourselves, can not…

but we must also pray that we truly understand what confronts us, and that we are actually acting in a way that god can bless…sometimes this does mean standing firm, no matter what…but other times, it means accommodating, as much as we can, to the situation at hand…much spiritual discernment is needed to know when to stand firm, and when to accommodate…

1 Like

The surest way for religious fundamentalists of differing belief systems to galvanize together in a united front to stop the Equality Act from ever becoming the law of the land, is to insist that there be no religious exemptions of any kind.

While I have little sympathy for homophobic religionists, I do think that there has to to be some religious accomodation here with regard to churches, or we in the lbgt community will see a backlash the likes of which we haven’t witnessed for a long time. The only winners will be the lawyers, who will make big bucks, tying up everything up in lawsuits. I can see the entire thing held up in court, with the supreme court eventually striking down the Equality Act in its present form.