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From the Pews | Subtle Protest Undercuts LGBTQ Affirmation

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This weekend, Columbia, South Carolina, will celebrate Famously Hot Gay Pride with a parade and all kinds of festivities.

If you follow social media, you know that Gay Pride events are happening all across the country.

While it may seem as though we have come so far in welcoming and affirming members of the LGBTQIA+ community with public events where advocates, families and businesses come together, another movement is going on as well.

In Columbia, the same weekend of the Gay Pride festivities, there will be another movement throughout the city called Love Columbia.

Local churches are partnering all around the city to serve together in nonprofits. The whole movement will end with a free worship service at the baseball park on Sunday night.

Sounds like a great way to bring people together to show love and support for the good work that nonprofits are doing in our city. And it is.

But this is not just a day of service. This is not just a movement. This is an alternative to celebrating with members of the LGBTQIA+ community this weekend.

Having grown up with prom night alternatives and Super Bowl alternatives, it has taken me a while to realize that alternatives are very purposeful and intentional in communicating doctrine and dogma.

In the case of our city and this weekend’s event, the churches who are listed as participants have already made statements of faith against individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community.

It is not happenstance or a coincidence that this service day is the same day as the Gay Pride Parade. This is purposeful planning.

What do we do with this realization? What do we do when we find out that in the midst of a day of service is also an underlying protest against a community of people?

This is the difficult work of seeking and searching for what it means to be a follower of Christ.

This is the difficult work of searching for more information about organizations and activities. This is the difficult work of uncovering the reality that churches often have an agenda in the activities they plan.

Jeremiah 19:13 provides hope in this challenging task of discernment: “You will seek me and find me when you seek with all your heart.”

Merianna Harrelson

Merianna Harrelson is pastor of Garden of Grace United Church of Christ in Columbia, South Carolina, editor-in-chief of Harrelson Press Publishing, and an EthicsDaily.com / Baptist Center for Ethics board member.