Press

National Religious Leadership Roundtable calls on people of faith to condemn attack against UCC congregation

Date: 
July 12, 2005

'It is the responsibility of all people of faith to stem the tide of homophobia that is flooding our country' — The Rev. Steven Baines, National Religious Leadership Roundtable member and elder in the Disciples of Christ denomination

WASHINGTON, July 12 — St. John's Reformed United Church of Christ (UCC) in Middlebrook, Va., was vandalized in the early hours of July 9, with anti-gay graffiti and a small fire started in the sanctuary. Police and church leaders suspect the attack was in response to the UCC's General Synod gay-affirming vote on July 4 when delegates overwhelmingly approved a resolution supporting same-sex marriage.

Statement from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
National Religious Leadership Roundtable:

"The Task Force National Religious Leadership Roundtable denounces the anti-gay violence committed against St. John's Reformed United Church of Christ in Middlebrook, Va. The General Synod of the United Church of Christ has expressed its support for full marriage equality for same-sex couples with careful prayer and deliberation. Any backlash or act of violence against a UCC congregation for the denomination's courageous action can only be interpreted as an attack on its constitutional right to free exercise of religion and should be condemned by all who respect that right.

"'There is no question that hateful actions come from hateful words,' said the Rev. Steven Baines, steering committee member of the National Religious Leadership Roundtable and an elder in the Disciples of Christ denomination. 'The perpetrators of this attack against a sacred space have been trained to hate by faith leaders who tell them gay people are sick and by state and federal governments that are working to enshrine discrimination in their constitutions. It is the responsibility of all people of faith to denounce this attack and stem the tide of homophobia that is flooding our country.'

"Crimes motivated by bias against one's 'religious conviction' carry enhanced penalties under Virginia's hate crimes law, and we encourage law enforcement to prosecute the individuals responsible for attacking our houses of worship to the fullest extent the law will allow. We also urge Virginia lawmakers to pass a law that places crimes motivated by sexual orientation and gender identity bias with the categories covered by the existing hate crimes law."

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.