Christian Student’s Open Letter to the Anti-Gay Church Costs Her a Summer Camp Job

Dannika Nash is the college student who wrote a wonderful open letter to the Christian church at large:

I’m writing this because I’m worried about the safety of the Church. The Church keeps scratching its head, wondering why 70% of 23-30 year-olds who were brought up in church leave. I’m going to offer a pretty candid answer, and it’s going to make some people upset, but I care about the Church too much to be quiet. We’re scared of change. We always have been. When scientists proposed that the Earth could be moving through space, church bishops condemned the teaching, citing Psalm 104:5 to say that God “set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.” But the scientific theory continued, and the Church still exists. I’m saying this: we cannot keep pitting the church against humanity, or progressmy generation, the generation that can smell bullshit, especially holy bullshit, from a mile away, will not stick around to see the church fight gay marriage against our better judgment. It’s my generation who is overwhelmingly supporting marriage equality, and Church, as a young person and as a theologian, it is not in your best interest to give them that ultimatum.

The very honest, very blunt, very needed-to-be-heard-by-the-church letter had a serious impact.

It led the Christian summer camp Dannika worked at to fire her:

She was sitting in a coffee shop with her boyfriend when the camp director called to politely, regretfully dismiss her.

“I just cried in public,” Nash says. “People probably thought (my boyfriend) was breaking up with me. The place and the people are really, really important to me, and even though I knew I was risking that a bit with the blog post, it hurt to have it taken away.

The 10-week job would have provided her income for the upcoming school year. Although she has received job offers from other ELCA camps, gay reconciliation ministries and people on Facebook and Twitter, she hasn’t decided what she will do yet.

What she won’t do is back off from her stance on marriage equality.

Unbelievable. Dannika pointed out why the church is pushing younger Christians out of their congregations for good… and her summer camp just proves her exact point.

Fred Clark is stunned by the sheer perfection of how badly the camp handled this matter:

[The camp director's] first reaction to reading Nash’s explanation of why so many young people no longer feel welcome in the church was to pick up the telephone and personally inform a young person that she was no longer welcome in the church. Faced with Nash’s eloquent complaint that young people were figuratively being forced out of the church, his first reaction was to actually force a young person out of the church.

… There’s almost a kind of beauty in how exactly wrong this particular response was to this particular open letter. It’s like his tone-deafness has perfect pitch.

Keep in mind this goes beyond mere homophobia. If Dannika were fired for admitting she was a lesbian, the camp’s actions would have been bad, but not even all that surprising. Instead, she got fired for merely explaining why the church is doing such a horrible job of keeping young Christians in the fold. She wanted the church to succeed and even gifted them with the playbook for how to get themselves back on the right path.

And they thanked her by telling her that her services were no longer needed.

Dannika should write her camp director a thank-you card for proving her thesis.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://drzach.net Zachary Moore

    Dannika, you’re welcome to be a (volunteer) counselor at Camp Quest Texas! http://campquesttexas.org

  • Dave Jones

    THE CULTURE INDUSTRY – THE IDEOLOGY OF DEATH

    http://deltamachine.atspace.cc/

    • blasphemous_kansan

      Good old Mr. Mabus, off his meds again.

      • blasphemous_kansan

        Type above. Obviously meant ‘Markuze’

    • Mario Strada

      One would think that you would have enough confidence in what you believe to buy a stupid $10 domain name and actually spend $40 a year for hosting instead of using free hosting places.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bill.zeblinsky Bill Zeblinsky

    Maybe they didn’t like the use of the word “bullshit.”

  • Country Crock

    Something similar happened to me several times. (I’m a slow learner) Finally I had enough of trying to reconcile the non-christlike actions of followers of Jesus. So now, I just observe it and watch them get mad when they are called out on it.

  • DougI

    I’m sorry, love, tolerance and honesty won’t be tolerated at this church. You’re fired until you can learn to be a bitter, hate-filled individual and embrace the moral values of the church.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Dharmaworks David Benjamin Patton

      Bitter? Hateful? Let’s not casually bandy about such words that may not be so accurate. Life is never black or white but infinite hues of grey. Decent yet so fearful of change? Misdirected yet so ignorant of being lost? Honest yet deceived? Those might be better words to choose among others. Humanity is messy and complicated and there are real people behind the stereotypes you paint with your words. It might do us all good to remember that.

      • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

        How else do you describe a group of people who’d fire a young woman for merely stating that equality is important?

      • CottonBlimp

        There’s humanity behind the Boston bombers, it doesn’t mean you should make excuses for them.

      • guest

        Stereotypes are based on observed patterns. Sometimes being PC doesn’t work.

      • RobMcCune

        Exactly, these are just normal people who react hatefully to homosexuality or appeals to side with humanity. That’s totally different from being a hateful person.

      • Houndentenor

        Some of us are from that tradition and deal with people still in that tradition on a daily basis. It’s not a stereotype for me. It’s a lifetime of interaction with real people who are as bad or worse and knowing that what they say when they don’t think they’ll be quoted is far worse than anything you’ll hear from a televangelist or spokesperson.

  • C Peterson

    Instead, she got fired for merely explaining why the church is doing such a horrible job of keeping young Christians in the fold.

    Lucky for her, she lives in the 21st century. Throughout history, thousands of people have been “fired” in a much more spectacular way for nothing more than explaining things to the Church.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    is that 70% number sourced? amazing, and heartening, if true.

    • http://www.facebook.com/abb3w Arthur Byrne

      Depends which exact church, and on exactly how measured, but that sounds a bit high. My guess from what I recall of the GSS, Pew, and Barna is that 30-40% disaffiliation would be more common, though it might be over 50% in a few denominations.

  • observer

    She sent a blunt, yet honest, letter to the church explaining why they’re losing young people…and the church responds by shooting itself in the foot.

    And yet, I’ll bet you the church is still scratching its head as to why young people are leaving it.

    • pete084

      Because it wasn’t the answer they wanted to hear. When they get the answer they are looking for, in support of their prejudiced views, it will be paraded for all to see and lauded as the truth, meanwhile they make decent people go away.

  • BobaFuct

    Do they still get to count this as an instance of persecution of Christians? I’m not sure what the rules are when it’s intra-faith harassment…

  • LesterBallard

    Why be part of “the church”? Why be a Christian? Why not just be a human being?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1078695333 David Kopp

      Because some people really, really want to think that there’s more after our life here, and can’t imagine that this is all there is. And I don’t necessarily blame them for it. As long as they don’t use that belief as justification to be a jerk right here and now, they’re welcome to whatever fantasies make them happy.

      • LesterBallard

        “As long as they don’t use that belief as justification to be a jerk right here and now, they’re welcome to whatever fantasies make them happy.” Let me know when that is the norm.

        • http://www.facebook.com/immanuel.goldstein Immanuel Goldstein

          For this young lady, it is the norm. Get over yourself.

          • LesterBallard

            That’s one.

  • Mario Strada

    I think we should thank the camp for their good work on behalf on secularism. Anyone has their facebook page?

  • Mario Strada

    I think we should thank the camp for their good work on behalf on secularism. Anyone has their facebook page?

  • Eric D Red

    This is a duplicate of something I’ve posted to JT’s blog, for an almost identical situation. Substitute the more generic “christian” for “catholic” and you get the same thing, although not all christian’s are as closed-minded.

    I almost wish all religious institutions would behave this way. Or at least
    that the Catholic ones would actually expect all their members to conform to the
    doctrine. Partly because I despise hypocrisy more than anything else. As we’ve
    seen elsewhere, few who call themselves Catholic actually believe any of the
    doctrines. It would do “Catholic” individuals good to actually square their
    actual beliefs with what they claim to be. Most of all, the Catholic church
    would either whither to a few members and become insignificant, or would
    actually have to start to reflect some real values.

    When they mostly get away with these positions because few actually have to
    live with them, those positions are leant an air of credibility that they don’t
    actually have. They can claim that so many millions of Catholics believe X, and
    should have those beliefs protected, when in fact few believe it.

  • Mr Reasonable

    Unless I missed something, no reasons are given here as to why poor Dannika was let go of her position at the Camp. Let’s not be so quick to chastise their actions and assume it’s just because she openly supports gay marriage. Also, we can’t conflate the Camp with the Church as a whole. All we know is that a young woman posted an open letter criticizing the behaviour and attitude of Christian churches, and was subsequently fired from her position at a Christian summer camp. It bugs me when atheists and ‘free-thinkers’ jump to conclusions and try to make everything conform to their view of Christians as ignorant, hateful, bitter, and xenophobic. Reaching for the low-hanging fruit, if you will. We should be better than that.

    • Houndentenor

      I think you are assuming that we don’t know the difference between various strains of Christianity. This incident is typical of several branches of that religion. I’m well aware that there are gay-friendly and gay-neutral denominations and congregations.

    • ruth

      We all know there isn’t a church as a whole. But there certainly are plenty of Christian churches which treat gays poorly, if for no other reason than treating homosexuality as a sin. No one hear said all Christians were this way. The story spoke for itself.

  • Kirsten

    I’ve witnessed far more firings due to social media policy violations than I have for disagreeing with stances. I wonder if that’s the situation here? Did anybody check, or are we all just saying “hurray one more bad mark for the church” because it’s fun?

  • Erp

    Her firing may cause a reaction within her church since it seems to have been an Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) camp and the ELCA is on average liberal (you can check their enemies).

  • JA

    And the Church shoots itself in the foot in standard textbook fashion.

  • Houndentenor

    This isn’t at all surprising. It is textbook for what Fundamentalist Christianity is all about. She had her thesis confirmed and now she can move forward based on this confirmation.

  • Chris in Thailand

    Somewhere out there, there’s a GLBT camp that can’t wait to bring her on staff.


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