The careers of some of the 100 Reverends who marched in this year’s Mardi Gras have been threatened -“ but they have also received support from lay churchgoers.
In addition to the 35 ministers who marched openly to apologise for the Christian Church’s past mistreatment of GLBT people, eight chose to be anonymous by sending a proxy.
Footage of the float was placed on YouTube and then removed by the organisers a few days later without explanation.
One marcher, who spoke to SSO on condition of anonymity, said his career was still at risk for participating, but the consequences were not as clear-cut as getting fired.
It’s very untalked about. It’s things like the revocation of opportunities for future ministry [positions], the minister said.
The conservative side were very upset. I still underestimate the level of political sway they have. I’ve definitely made a few enemies.
Despite this he and others said emails of support for the apology had come from across the country, including many older churchgoers, as well as a few explicitly condemning the march.
It was a hot topic of conversation around many a Sunday lunch after church. The theologian figures will be arguing over it for the next year, but the average guy in the pew will be saying well done, the minister said.
On the night of the parade, the minister said they were also nervous about how the gay and lesbian community would receive them after some criticised the apology for not going far enough.
It’s not our normal space, but to have that sense of being embraced was great. We had an experience of being quite overwhelmed, he said.
Some people came up and said, -˜Where were you when I was a teenager in my youth group?’ Others told a little of their story or said thank you.
This was a spiritual significance for a number of us, this is what Jesus was about, meeting people where they are out there. Of course I was desperately afraid of getting caught on camera giving everyone a hug.
Not all of the 99 ministers and sisters who signed the apology to the GLBT population agreed with the decision to march.
Lance Lawton from St Luke’s Anglican Church in Mulgrave made a personal decision that marching would be a step too far in endorsing the gay lifestyle -“ which he felt was contrary to the teachings of the Bible.
I’m not willing to affirm the gay lifestyle or the general tone of the Mardi Gras, but I certainly want to acknowledge my failure and that of others to live up to our own Christian biblical standards, and therefore we have some apologising to do, he told SSO.
It’s a distinction between people and their actions. It’s about the teachings of the Bible, not hatred.
Lawton said he had almost no reservations about signing the apology, but he did consider it would be open to misinterpretation from some of his colleagues.
Well tough! I’m prepared to be judged on it because I believe fundamentally it’s the Christ-like thing to do, he said.
Lawton, who serves as an interim minister, did not believe his job was threatened simply by signing the statement, but had not yet had an opportunity to discuss the apology with his congregation.
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