Monday, May 12, 1997 -- A statement endorsed by 68 Christian clergy and additional non-Christian clergy was released today at a press conference at First Congregational Church, Madison, Wisconsin

A Madison Affirmation: On Homosexuality and Christian Faith

Jesus Christ calls us to love God and our neighbor as ourselves. As Christian clergy we embrace gay and lesbian persons as our neighbors. From our reading of scripture and from our pastoral experiences, we believe there is sufficient evidence to conclude that homosexuality is neither sickness nor sin. For too long, homosexual persons have been condemned and mistreated by the followers of Jesus Christ. Sadly, the Bible has been misused in support of this condemnation. This abuse of scripture must end. Heterosexual and homosexual persons are children of God, created in God's image. We invite Christians to prayerfully re-examine scripture and their consciences for any vestiges of hatred or prejudice against their homosexual brothers and sisters.

We strongly uphold the family as the basic social unit in which we are called to live together and to give and receive nurture and support. We often find the term "family values" applied to only some Christian families. Gay and lesbian persons live among us as our brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, uncles and aunts, nephews and nieces. We believe in the value of loving, committed families for all God's children. We support families who provide love and affirmation for each of their members. We are saddened and concerned by the breakdown of the family that stems from various forms of infidelity, violence, and failure to maintain long-term commitments---among both heterosexual and homosexual communities. We commit ourselves to the encouragement and blessing of relationships that meet the test of fidelity and loving nurture.

We believe it is time to eliminate all policies and practices which create barriers and restrictions to the full participation of gay and lesbian Christians in all of the privileges and responsibilities of church membership. Recognizing that our churches still speak and act out of our longstanding prejudices:

We hope and pray that those who have left our churches will in God's time return to full and unqualified membership in the Christian community and by their presence help us to be renewed as the church of Jesus Christ."

This statement is addressed to the Christian community since much of the anti-gay rhetoric in Wisconsin comes from the right wing of the Christian church. Non-Christian clergy signed in support of the Christian clergy and the statement remains open to other signatures which can be added by mailing one's intention to: First Congregational UCC, 1609 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53705 or by Fax to 608/233-7180. Questions should be addressed to the Convenor of the writing group, The Reverend Paul Kittlaus, pastor of First Congregational, or to Woody Carey

Web publication of this document provided by the Interfaith Working Group Online