Pastor explains how God instructs him to stand up for the LGBT+ community – even when America doesn’t

Affirming Christian pastor

A North Carolina Christian pastor has explained why his faith instructs him to stand up for his LGBT+ neighbours, especially as the US Supreme Court determines whether queer people can be discriminated against.

Reverend Ray McKinnon is pastor of South Tryon Community United Methodist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In a piece for The Charlotte Postthe pastor wrote about what it means for him to be an “affirming Christian”.

McKinnon said: “I preach that, as a part of our Christian faith, we need to love our neighbours as ourselves. That means all our neighbours, including those who are LGBTQ.”

He added: “Unfortunately our state and this country don’t fully hold the LGBTQ community in the same regard in the way that it should — not yet anyway.”

Stakes ‘could not be higher’ ahead of crucial Supreme Court ruling.

The pastor said he is “watching closely” as the Supreme Court considers a trio of LGBT+ cases heard on October 8, which between them could determine whether millions of LGBT+ workers are protected under the US’s most powerful federal workplace anti-discrimination law, or whether it is legal to fire people on the basis of their identity.

The Supreme Court is set to announce its verdict any day now.

McKinnon said: “The stakes could not be higher. Believe me when I say now is not the time to endorse discrimination but rather to open the doors wide to the neighbour, and the stranger.

“How the Supreme Court rules in the employment discrimination cases is especially important in North Carolina, where our LGBTQ friends and neighbours lack statewide protections.

“Discrimination is a real and urgent problem that disproportionally impacts the most vulnerable members of our community – LGBTQ people of colour, especially Black and brown people, immigrants, and transgender people… As a Black man fighting for civil rights and justice for fellow people of colour, how could I stop short of extending those calls to other marginalised groups?”

LGBT+ people ‘are God’s children too’.

The Christian pastor said he had to do some “soul searching” having been brought up in conservative Baptist household, but later realised that his faith taught that LGBT+ people were “God’s children” too.

McKinnon urged his community to work together for justice and equality for the LGBT+ community.

He said: “We all deserve to be treated with dignity, and respect in houses of worship and under the law. None of us should live in fear of being fired or denied a job, none should be denied aid or medical assistance because of who we are or whom we love.

“That is something that all of us should be able to agree with.

“Regardless of how the Supreme Court rules in the employment discrimination cases, the work for justice will not be done for our community.

“LGBTQ people throughout our state urgently need protections from discrimination in ALL areas of life… All North Carolinians are children of God, and all deserve to be treated with love and kindness — regardless of who they love or their gender identity.”