The following response is from the Reverend Nancy Hastings Sehested, Co-Pastor of Circle of Mercy in Asheville, NC.
August 9, 2014
Dear Dr. Duffett,
The times call for moral courage. We all have the responsibility to lend our voices to the on-going struggle toward justice and equality for all. We all benefit from our Baptist ancestors who bravely led our newly formed nation to include religious freedom rights in the First Amendment. The wall of separation of church and state is bedrock for our religious institutions. None of us desires the state to dictate unwarranted and unconstitutional intrusion into our institutional religious life.
Yet there are times in our history when the wall of separation has been the dividing wall of discrimination. A murky and complicated relationship exists between church and state since our religious institutions benefit from federal tax exemptions. Federal laws have worked to end discrimination against women and racial minorities. Civil laws have been critical to the creation of just laws. There are also times when leaders from our religious communities have stood valiantly against discriminatory practices and policies of the government.
Now is the time for our religious leaders to stand clearly and courageously against the possibility of discriminatory practices for LGBTQ people.
Rev. Nancy Hastings Sehested
Co-Pastor, Circle of Mercy Congregation (Alliance of Baptists and United Church of Christ)