Three Nashville progressives have created a left-wing alternative to the Nashville Statement, a declaration signed by evangelical Christian leaders that upholds traditional marriage and describes homosexuality and transgenderism as sinful.
Corey Pigg (pictured above, left), Melissa Greene, and Matthew Paul Turner drafted The Accurate Nashville Statement and are collecting signatures from around the city and across the nation.
“On behalf of those that are religious – we want you to know that you are created in the image and likeness of God (however you define it) – and that there is nothing wrong with you,” reads part of the brief statement. “God does not need you to change. God loves you just the way you are – no matter where you land on the spectrum of the LGTBQIA+ continuum. There is great diversity expressed in humanity through our wide array of unique sexualities and gender identities.”
Greene is a former Christian recording artist who performed with the group Avalon and until recently was pastor of worship and arts at GracePointe, an evangelical church whose membership plummeted when it endorsed LGBT inclusion in 2015. Greene recently co-founded a spiritual community called Imaginarium.
The Accurate Nashville Statement has attracted more than 1,200 signers, including leaders at local liberal churches. They include Alison Bocking of Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Nashville, Christy Jo Harber of Eastwood Christian Church in East Nashville and Matthew Kelley of United Methodist Church in Franklin.
Signers also include LGBT activists and everyday citizens, many of whom identified themselves by their occupation or workplace. Metro councilwoman Nancy VanReece signed as “Metro Councilmember, Christian, Wife, Lesbian.” VanReece tweeted Tuesday about the evangelical Nashville Statement:
Thou shall not use the name of Nashville in vain. #nashvillestatement Slanderous and unfortunate. So obviously hateful it's embarrassing.
— Nancy VanReece (@NancyVanReece) August 30, 2017
Mayor Megan Barry also tweeted about the Nashville Statement, saying it’s “poorly named and does not represent the inclusive values of the city & people of Nashville.”
The Nashville Statement was approved last Friday at a meeting of evangelical leaders in Nashville and was named for the city in keeping with a historical Christian practice of naming doctrinal statements for the places where they were written.
The evangelical statement condemned all sexual activity outside the bounds of marriage between one man and one woman, but emphasized that God’s forgiveness is open to all. It also said, “We deny that the approval of homosexual immorality or transgenderism is a matter of moral indifference about which otherwise faithful Christians should agree to disagree.”
The Nashville Statement simply reiterated historic orthodox Christian beliefs. But its release comes at a time of intense public pressure nationwide to conform to the new LGBT ideology, and as even a growing number of church-going evangelicals appear to be losing their convictions or at least a willingness to express them.
According to a Pew Research Center report released in June, black Protestants and white evangelical Protestants support same-sex marriage at lower rates than other religious groups. But the share of white evangelical Protestants who support same-sex marriage has grown from 27 percent in 2016 to 35 percent today. Around two-thirds of Catholics and mainline Protestants now support same-sex marriage, the report said.
While the Nashville area has a number of evangelical churches, they have largely remained silent as the LGBT movement in Middle Tennessee has exploded. Many businesses and corporations now openly align themselves with LGBT activist groups. Among the sponsors for Nashville’s large annual gay pride festival in June were Bridgestone, Nissan, Sam’s Club, Opry Mills and Dollar General. Even the family-friendly restaurant chain Cracker Barrel had a booth at the festival.