To mark Pride 2022, a special religious service was broadcast on RTÉ on Sunday, June 12. Members of the Christian group Amach le Dia were invited to lead worship and they spoke about how churches have been a source of pain and suffering for the LGBTQ+ community.
Amach le Dia is a group for LGBTQ+ Christians that aims toward providing a safe space for queer folks and their friends who wish to come together in their faith. Last Sunday, the group was invited by RTÉ 1 to lead a special Pride service broadcast on television and RTÉ Radio 1 Extra.
During the sermon, Teagan MacAodhagáin of Amach le Dia spoke of how Christian churches have not been welcoming places for LGBTQ+ folks. “Like slavery, like the treatment of women, the Christian church finds itself yet again on the wrong side of history in its approach and treatment of the LGBTQI+ community,” he said.
Although there are those within churches that have been accepting of LGBTQ+ people, the track record and overriding feeling is one of “abject rejection” from the mainstream church. MacAodhagáin denounced how when churches declare certain individuals as undeserving of acceptance and love “they are providing permission, for others to treat those in the LGBTQI+ community differently”.
“The decision that those in a loving relationship are not eligible for full church membership, nor are their children entitled to Baptism, is but one small step from physical violence against the LGBTQI+ community,” he continued.
In his speech, he referenced the recent episodes of violence that the LGBTQ+ community experienced this year: “In April there was horror when Sligo, a quiet unassuming town in the west of Ireland was cast into the headlines as the scene of not one but two gruesome murders, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of both Aidan Moffitt and Michael Snee. The outrage was quietly felt up and down the country with vigils being in various places. But who was not leading those vigils? Whose voices were largely silent in the wake of such abhorrent taking of life? The Church.”
“It is time to say, ‘No more.’ It is time to say, ‘Not another murder, not another assault, not another suicide, not another hateful, hurtful Church motion, not another witch hunt, not another comment that tears down the humanity in another,’” he declared.
MacAodhagáin recalled how church leaders in history have urged those who were fighting for their civil rights to be patient and to obey the law instead of persevering in their struggle to be recognised as equals. These leaders were not affected by unjust laws and their desire to preserve their privilege prevented them from speaking out for what was right.
“Those men urged caution, urged maintaining the status quo, because the status quo was comfortable for them. But we are not comfortable,” MacAodhagáin said. “We are not designed to be in ghettos. I want to be a fully accepted, fully involved member of my church. I am tired to the core of my being, of my presence, being a problem, my life being an issue to solve, my faith being an obstacle to overcome.”
He concluded his sermon for the Pride service by calling on the mainstream churches to stop being a “source of much pain and suffering” for LGBTQ+ people, saying that they too often had been guilty of talking about instead of with the community.
“It is time for the churches of Ireland to make history and extend the hand of Christian fellowship to its gay, lesbian, transgender, non-binary, bisexual and queer siblings. I challenge you to look around your church, be the person to extend that hand, be the person to challenge the hatred, be the person to seek change,” he concluded.
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