Faith in America and the Human Rights Campaign Deeply Troubled By Rev. Eugene Peterson’s Reversal On Same-Sex Marriage

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 

From An Encouraging Statement of Support to Condemnation of LGBT Christian Marriages, Rev. Peterson puts profits and popularity above the health and well-being of LGBT Christians of Good Faith.

Hickory, N.C.—Faith in America and the Human Rights Campaign are disappointed by Rev. Eugene Peterson’s retracted statement of support for same-sex marriages of “Christians of Good Faith.” Since 2014, Rev. Peterson has been more affirming toward LGBT Christians (see his recorded dialogue at Western Theological HERE) and responded “yes” earlier this week when directly asked whether LGBT Christians would be allowed to marry in his church. We believe he had a “Joe Biden ‘Meet the Press’ moment” when he just could no longer deny what was in his heart.

Peterson faced intense backlash from anti-LGBT Christians who continue to ignore the medical research and evidence about the profound public health crisis their antiquated theology underwrites. Of particular note was LifeWays threatening Peterson’s income by the loss of a lucrative selling agreement with him. Immediately following this threat, Rev. Peterson retracted his support for same-sex marriages. Peterson released a statement saying that after “reflection and prayer,” he had changed his mind and would no longer perform a same-sex wedding in his church: “To clarify, I affirm a biblical view of marriage: one man to one woman. I affirm a biblical view of everything.” In doing so, the Reverend placed personal financial interests above his responsibilities as a leader in the Evangelical community—endangering the LGBT children and adults in his church and far beyond. Words matter.

"Rev. Peterson's initial statement provided hope and affirmation to many LGBTQ Christians searching for inclusive faith communities, a fact that makes his recent reversal that much more disappointing," said Mary Beth Maxwell, HRC's Senior Vice President for Programs, Research and Trainings. "Despite Rev. Peterson's hurtful reversal, we know that a a majority of people of faith do support LGBTQ people and every day more and more Christian leaders and laypeople open their hearts and change their minds in their own faith journeys to more fully embracing the dignity of all God's children.”

“The reality is everyone now knows what’s in Rev. Peterson’s heart. And we also know that he puts his own personal financial gain ahead of the sanctity of LGBTQ people’s lives. So he really put himself in a lose/lose situation. His credibility and integrity will be questioned forever.” Said Mitchell Gold, Co-founder and co-chair of the Faith in America board. “It’s particularly a shame for this to happen in his golden years. He should have followed the golden rule!”

“The Message (Eugene Peterson's famous paraphrase of the Bible) has been an important part of my life and ministry for almost a quarter of a century.” Said Stan Mitchell, Pastor at GracePointe Church and Director of Religious Outreach for Faith in America. “Peterson himself has been a particular inspiration for me at various and pivotal moments through the years. His recent retraction has been a particularly difficult gut-punch for me, 1) Because affirmations like the one Dr. Peterson made are desperately needed as the Christian Church is irrevocably but all too slowly moving toward a complete reversal on the matter of our LGBTQ+ siblings and their full inclusion in the Church and 2) because I personally relate to the excruciating pressure he has now caved to, an unremitting pressure experienced by pastors and ministers everywhere. Frankly, it was this type of powerful familial/vocational/financial pressure that was the last hurdle for me personally to cross on this matter only a few years ago. Since my decision, admittedly the consequences for me have been a mind-numbing mix of punishment and reward. I must say, though, the losses, while severe, have paled in comparison to the gains - not the least of which has been the relieving gift of a clear conscience. Sadly, it appears now that one of my heroes is going to miss out on this same reward.”

Faith in America and the Human Rights Campaign call upon Rev. Eugene Peterson and all non-affirming religious leaders to end the discrimination against LGBT people and once and for all end the teaching that “homosexuality is a sin” as that is the root of all the animus towards the LGBTQ community.

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Contact: Faith in America—Rich Harrington, rharrington@FaithInAmerica.org, 603.731.9811

Contact: Human Rights Campaign—Sarah McBride, sarah.mcbride@hrc.org