This weekend Indianapolis will host the twentieth Indy Pride Festival. It has changed drastically over the decades- but there has been one notable and consistent voice- that of the clergy and faith communities. The clergy , faith leaders, churches and temples have participated in Pride, but also met with legislators, testified at the Statehouse, signed petitions, and held prayer vigils advocating for total inclusion of GLBT regarding marriage, adoption, healthcare, and protections. Their polity and doctrine affirm LGBT in the life of the churches and faith community they represent.
In 2014 over 13 churches or houses of faith walked in the Pride parade. Some of these were in the first Pride events in the 90’s- The Church Within, Jesus MCC now LifeJourney, First Congregational UCC, Central Christian to name a few.
The national media is slow to report on such inclusion and support. But it is there. Over 18 denominations affirm same sex marriage with public statements. Another 3 leave the decision to individual churches or conference areas. And some faiths have no stated policy. Add to this that some of the congregations/organizations participating in IndyPride are themselves welcoming, yet at the official doctrinal level their denominations consider GLBT incompatible with the faith. (United Methodists and Roman Catholics). These communities are working from within to change the official stance- and for some it is a long process. But they remain faithful.
So who is at IndyPride? United Church of Christ (UCC), Disciples of Christ (DOC), Metropolitan (MCC), Buddhist, Pentecostal, United Methodist (UMC), Independents (Church Within) Episcopal, Church of the Brethren, Spiritualist, Unity, Unitarians, Roman Catholics (Dignity), to name a few.
The faithfulness of the communities , clergy, and denominations cannot be ignored- yet it is. The continued support will probably not make any headlines, after all, Indiana is fixed. Just ask anyone.
Earlier this year Indiana held the attention of mainstream media (and LBGT organizations) for almost a week when the General Assembly passed and Governor Pence signed into law the Religious Freedom Reformation Act. (RFRA). Mayhem ensued- boycotts, organizations threatening to pull their conventions, artists cancelling performances, and companies talked of moving their headquarters. Even other states canceled trips to the Hoosier State.
And then… the media fell under the spell of Mike Pence and believed the hype when the legislator passed and Pence signed the RFRA “fix”. And they all disappeared. Except those of us long-suffering Hoosiers , including the above mentioned clergy and faith communities , stay the course. We know there never was a “RFRA fix”. On March 25, there was not a law in Indiana which protected businesses or individuals from refusing service to anyone who held a different faith view then theirs. On March 26 when Pence signed RFRA, there is now legal protection for discrimination based on religious views. ( views on anything- birth control, fertility, end of life, marriage, medical treatment…) After the uproar the fix came in- and , unless you live in one of Indiana’s eleven municipalities with a Human Rights Ordinance regarding sexual orientation, it is STILL legal to discriminate. So, no, it is not better. Its still worse.
So when you ask anyone? Try asking any of us who have lived in this State. Ask the grassroots organizations who have maintained their inclusion. Don’t be surprised when you find faithful people who realize nothing has changed regarding LGBT. But, as Mother Theresa said, many come to be faithful, not successful. We haven’t stopped yet.