Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Silencing LGBTQ voices at Methodist conference inspires protest and art

Protests over silencing of LGBTQ voices at the United Methodist Church conference this week inspired a new artwork of a queer Christ.

Dozens of protestors at the UMC General Conference put rainbow duct tape over their mouths in a May 14 protest to symbolize how the church has silenced LGBTQ people and remained silent about them.

LGBTQ protest at Methodist conference (photos by Love Prevails)

Canadian artist David Hayward, also known as Naked Pastor, created a Christ figure with a halo, a crown of thorns -- and the same kind of rainbow duct tape over his mouth. He calls it “The Silencing of the LGBTQ Community.”

The Methodists are reviewing 100 pieces of legislation on the role of LGBT in the church, including allowing ordination of LGBTQ clergy, same-sex weddings and changing the current position that “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” So far almost all the LGBT-related measures were voted down in subcommittee meetings, according to news reports. In addition to the duct-tape demonostration, other LGBTQ protests continued throughout the week.

Update: In the end, the Methodists voted to postpone justice by forming a commission (later) to discuss same-sex marriage and ordination of LGBT clergy.

More than 100 Methodist pastors, deacons, elders and clergy candidates came out publicly as LGBTQI in a widely circulated letter released one day before the conference began.

The letter closes with these words of prayer:

Our prayer, as the church begins its time of discernment, is that you will remember that there are nameless ones around the world, hungry for a word of hope and healing. LGBTQI people and their families exist in every church in every continent of this denomination. They are seeking to remain in faithful relationship with you, even when you refuse, because they know God’s tender mercies and great faithfulness.

Dear church, our prayers are with you, with all of us, in the coming days. May we all be surprised by the Spirit who continues to breathe new life in unexpected ways. May we find the body of Christ stronger at the end of our time together, not weaker or more deeply harmed. May we provide a powerful witness of finding unity even in our differences to a world fractured by fear and mistrust.

The global 10-day conference ran through May 20 in Portland, Oregon.

“Homosexuals Who Practice” by David Hayward

The Methodist church has struggled with LGBTQ rights for decades. Hayward was prophetic in 2014 when he drew the cartoon “Homosexuals Who Practice” to highlighting the Methodist mistreatment of LGBTQ people. The image was used this year on Facebook to help organize LGBTQ protests at the Methodist conference.

It shows two crucified figures: Jesus and a person whose LGBTQ identity is revealed by a rainbow tunic. Red flames of the Methodist logo flare beside the cross where the rainbow figure hangs. A sign over the crucified queer explains,
A homosexual who practiced!
United Methodist Church
Book of Discipline
Paragraph 304.3

In his blog commentary, Hayward quotes the notorious paragraph, which remains in force at the end of the 2016 conference. It states:

“The PRACTICE of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. The United Methodist Church does not condone the PRACTICE of homosexuality. Therefore self-avowed PRACTICING homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in the United Methodist Church.”

Hayward has a master's degree in theology and 30 years of pastoral experience. His books include “The Art of Coming Out: Cartoons for the LGBTQ Community” and his autobiography “Questions are the Answer.” Prints of “The Silencing of the LGBTQ Community” are available from Naked Pastor’s online shop.

Top image credit: “The Silencing of the LGBTQ Community” by David Hayward
Related links:

Delegates, supporters stand with LGBTQ people (

Outpouring Of Methodist Clergy Pledge Support To LGBT Colleagues (Huffington Post)

Photos of the Methodist protest with rainbow duct tape (Love Prevails)

Methodists postpone debate of gay issues that could split denomination (Religion News Service)

LGBT protest photos and info (Love Prevails)

This post is part of the Queer Christ series by Kittredge Cherry at the Jesus in Love Blog. The series gathers together visions of the queer Christ as presented by artists, writers, theologians and others.
Copyright © Kittredge Cherry. All rights reserved.
Jesus in Love Blog on LGBT spirituality and the arts

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