When the Church is Protested
We had a protestor this past Sunday. He stood on the sidewalk, public space, on the Eleanor side of the parking lot with a sign that was a slur on people who are GLBTQ and their allies. When I was told, my first thought was, “Yeah! People know what we’re about.” I’m glad our mission to welcome all people in their fabulous array of orientations, gender identity, and sense of self is clear to the world. Of course, I also felt sadness that we are still fighting this battle against a version of Christianity that is judgmental and afraid. My prayers go out to the person, who must be terrified that God is more judgmental than loving. That’s a tough life. Read Martin Luther. It was part of his experience that led him finally to a gracious God.
What do we do if this happens again?
Don’t engage, and certainly don’t get in an argument. This is exactly what they want. They want to say much more than is on their sign. Let’s not give them the chance. There’s probably no way you’ll change their mind, anyway. If you need to say anything, say, “Jesus loves you.”
Pray for the protestor when you get in your car. Pray with your family. This is a chance to witness to a loving Christianity. Be careful in front of children that we don’t act as judgmental as the protestor.
Pray for those affected by the message. For many, seeing hateful messages brings up painful memories, even trauma, of being judged by the church that was supposed to represent a loving God. If you experienced pain, please reach out to the pastors and staff. We’re here for you!
Let church leadership know so that further action can be considered. Police may need to be called if the protestor is on church property or is acting in a threatening way. Or an announcement may be made if it’s appropriate.
Tell your friends that Gloria Dei welcomes everybody all the time. We’re proud of our mission and we want everyone to know about what Jesus is doing here. Maybe the protestor teaches us something about being public about our faith. After all, Lutherans were the first protesters, and it was for the sake of grace and love.
Pastor Bradley Schmeling