I never intended on writing a part 4. However, something happened a couple weeks ago that really brought home the problem of the centralization of worship that I discussed in part 2. As the bio says, I work as the worship arts director of a lovely little mainline church. This church is in a period of transition as it moves towards some modernization of its worship songbook. That process has involved inserting some diverse voices into the liturgy but also looking to modern worship songwriters for material. While in the midst of that, I came across the following tweet:
I have more than a few parishioners who are either part of the LGBTQ community or have family members that are LGBTQ so I felt compelled to follow up on this.
What I found was this: Bethel Church (of Bethel Music fame) is currently marshalling resources and leading a campaign to fight California’s attempt to ban gay conversion therapy.
For those of you unfamiliar with conversion therapy or “ex-gay” therapy just know this: Conversion therapy has been roundly condemned by the scientific community. It is incredibly damaging and has left a trail of addiction, suicide, and mental health issues in its wake. (you can read the World Health Organization report here). Even major proponents of “reparative therapy” have disavowed the practice and apologized for the damage they caused.
After doing the research and searching my own heart I arrived at the following conclusion: How could I in good conscience allow any of the church’s licensing fees go towards funding an initiative that will do direct harm to LGBTQ people? Especially since I worship with LGBTQ people and their family members on a regular basis. It would be wrong. And how could I ever ask them to worship through material that sends royalty money into the war chest of an organization that is actively fighting against the well-being of the LGBTQ community? As a consequence of this knowledge, my church has decided that we will no longer include Bethel Music in our services and will continue to do that until Bethel decides to cease this activity.
So church peeps, I want to leave these thoughts with you.
Even if you minister in a non-affirming space, odds are you have LGBTQ parishioners. I’m sure many of you either know some LGBTQ folks or count a few as your friends. I would urge you to consider if you want your licensing dollars supporting harm to people like them.