Although certain freedoms and liberties have expanded for the LGBT community in recent years, some religious groups still continue to openly express the belief that homosexuality is an immoral sin that should not be accepted by society. On Tuesday, over 150 evangelical leaders signed a "Christian Manifesto" against gay marriage and homosexuality, a document intended to warn about the "confusion" that will result if LGBTQ individuals continue to challenge "the most basic questions of our humanity."
The document, which has come to be known as the Nashville Statement, was signed at a conference for evangelical leaders in Nashville, Tennessee, on Friday; this was arranged by The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, an evangelical Christian organization. The document lists 14 of the group's core beliefs about human sexuality, like the belief that sex before marriage should be strictly prohibited and that biological sex is inextricably linked to gender identity.
As an example, Article 7 of the document reads:
WE AFFIRM that self-conception as male or female should be defined by God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption as revealed in Scripture.
WE DENY that adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption.
The statement is intended to respond to secular challenges to the Christian church and an increasingly "post-Christian" Western culture, the document states.
The manifesto has already received a significant amount of criticism from people across the country who feel that it is in poor taste to send a message of exclusion in the wake of tragic events, like the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the deadly floods in Houston, Texas. Even Nashville's mayor Megan Barry took to Twitter to denounce the document, stating:
The @CBMWorg's so-called "Nashville Statement" is poorly named and does not represent the inclusive values of the city & people of Nashville
What is even more troubling about the document is the very real political influence that many of its signers have — influence that can and is being used to revoke LGBTQ rights. According to The HuffPost, one of the people who signed the statement, Tony Perkins, not only serves as the president of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian lobbying organization, but he also reportedly helped craft President Trump's ban on transgender service members.
It's important to note that not all religious groups, or even evangelicals, condemn homosexuality. An entire religion can't be blamed or held responsibile for some individuals who believe that their religion justifies anti-LGBTQ attitudes. In fact, a recent Pew Research poll showed that 35 percent of Evangelical Christians approve of same-sex marriage, which Reuters notes is more than double was it was 10 years ago.
But the Nashville Statement is an important reminder of just how emboldened some religious groups who do have anti-LGBTQ beliefs feel in publicly spreading their message of exclusivity, and using it to influence Trump's policies.