Ohio Faith Leaders Support Abortion Access and LGBT Nondiscrimination as Statehouse Committees Hear ‘Unholy’ Testimony on Trigger Bans and Gender-Affirming Care

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, May 19, 2022

 

MEDIA CONTACT

Austin Schuler, aschuler@faithinpubliclife.org

Rev. Dan Clark, dclark@faithinpubliclife.org

 

Ohio Faith Leaders Support Abortion Access and LGBT Nondiscrimination as Statehouse Committees Hear ‘Unholy’ Testimony on Trigger Bans and Gender-Affirming Care

 

Rev. Dan Clark, “Lawmakers need to know that the majority of people of faith support LGBT nondiscrimination and abortion access. They need to know that the Center for Christian Virtue is spreading an unholy ideology.”

 

Rev. Dr. Susan Smith, “Jesus was not a bigot.”

 

 

Columbus, OH – Today, proponent testimony for House Bill 598, the trigger abortion ban, and House Bill 454, the gender-affirming care ban for transgender young people, was heard in the House Government Oversight Committee and the House Families, Aging, and Human Services Committee respectively. The Center for Christian Virtue testified in both committees. 

 

Below are statements from Ohio faith leaders who oppose the testimony given by the Center for Christian Virtue.

 

Rev. Dr. Susan Smith, Crazy Faith Ministries, Columbus:

“Jesus Christ taught that the greatest commandment was to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, minds, and souls, and our neighbors as ourselves. It is a simple and powerful command but many who call themselves Christian ignore it. Jesus was not a bigot. The Religious Right does not practice the lessons of Jesus, and therefore, I can not call them ‘Christian.’ One cannot be a practicing Christian and support policies that result in the pain and oppression of others, including Black, Brown, Asian and poor people, Muslims, immigrants, members of the LGBTQIA communities, women and people who fall outside of their circle of acceptability.”

 

Rev. Dan Clark, Ohio Director, Faith in Public Life Action: 

“I learned as a child that loving one another was Jesus’s primary commandment. As a Christian minister and parent, I have tried to live and teach that. But the Center for Christian Virtue is waging a culture war in Ohio that does not align with the peaceful teachings of Jesus, but rather aligns with the dangerous teachings of White Christian Nationalism. They are doing harm to people who are made in the image of God, who have the divine spark within them. Lawmakers need to know that the majority of people of faith support LGBT nondiscrimination and abortion access. They need to know that the Center for Christian Virtue is spreading an unholy ideology.”

 

Pastor Joelle Henneman, United Methodist Church for All People, Columbus:

“All people reflect the beauty of God. We often hear a few, loud voices condemn people in God's name, but they don't get to speak for God. God looks at all people and calls them good. In particular, the LGBT community reflects the diversity of God. Let us affirm each other as people created in God's image and celebrate the beauty in each other.”

 

Rev. Kate Shaner, First Community Church, Columbus:

“In my faith tradition, we’re taught all human beings bear the image of God, Imago Dei, and each one is loved by God as if they were the only one in the world to love. Any attempt to legislate care for who God created a person to be not only harms our souls but is antithetical to the Gospel I was ordained to preach and teach. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a sacred text about abundant life, loving your neighbors, standing for those on the margins and confronting unjust systems. It is not about fear and control. HB 454 is legislation born out of fear and control, not out of love and abundant life. Denying affirming mental and physical care to Ohio’s trans minors while ignoring all the scientific data and medical evidence to support it is an abomination wrapped in fundamentalist religious language. Let us work together to fight for the abundant life God wills for all of us made in God’s image, not just for those deemed worthy by extremist legislation.”

 

Pastor Hank Osmundson, Unitarian Universalist Justice Ohio:

“Every human being is of sacred worth and my personal faith bolsters that idea. There are people who are using their faith to stoke fear, shield their bigotry, and impose their will on others. No one should have the right to interfere in the mental or physical health care of any individual, particularly when the result of that interference is potential self harm or worse. HB 454 is an overreach by religious zealots and government officials. And it presents a danger to young people in Ohio. This is egregious legislation that is an affront to my faith in humanity and the divine.”

 

Rev. Joan VanBecelaere, Unitarian Universalist Justice Ohio:

“A truly moral society honors the God-given worth, dignity and autonomy of persons, which includes the right to maintain our dignity and choose what happens to our own bodies. As a retired clergy person, I have seen the anguish of pregnant persons and trans youth when their autonomy and necessary medical care were denied in the past. Ohio HB 598 and HB 454 would take us backwards to those days when rights were denied, physical and mental health was ignored, and people died trying to obtain the medical care they desperately needed. This is not right. I call on our lawmakers to vote no on HB 598 and HB 454.”

 

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Faith in Public Life Action is a national movement of clergy and faith leaders united in the prophetic pursuit of justice, equality and the common good. Together, with a network of over 50,000 leaders, they are leading the fight to advance just policies at the state and federal level that affirm our values and the human dignity of all.