For 42 years, there was a Nativity scene placed in a local park in Bellevue, Kentucky. But in order to prevent any potential church/state separation lawsuits, the display was moved to St. John United Church of Christ. Which is exactly what they should’ve done a long time ago, though it’s really wonderful that the city did the right thing without an atheist group having to force their hand.
There’s also another tradition in Bellevue. Local churches gather around the Nativity scene every year and have a procession with Bible readings and a candlelight vigil. On Friday night, that procession was scheduled to be held at St. John UCC — instead of the park where it had taken place in the past — but the four other churches in the area all declined the invitation.
What was the problem?
It turns out the UCC church is just too damn inclusive. They have a gay pastor. They welcome LGBT church members. And the other churches want nothing to do with that pesky idea of “tolerance”:
“We were the only place that had space for it,” the Rev. Keith Haithcock, the openly-gay pastor of St. John UCC, said of the life-sized nativity scene. “Then all of a sudden, it began to surface that our location was causing controversy for some people because of our Open and Affirming stance.”
Haithcock extended invitations to the heads of each Bellevue church. He said two declined to participate for various reasons, one did not respond at all, and the other told Haithcock his church would not participate because St. John UCC does not follow the teachings of Christ.
A local news station spoke with the pastor of one of those other churches and his bigotry was palpable:
WLWT reached out to the pastor Aaron Sams of First Baptist Church in Bellevue.
He released a statement that said,”We support St. John’s religious liberty. We appreciate that they want to have a positive impact in our community. They are clear however on what they believe and we are clear on what we believe and there are contrasts. We have some different beliefs that prevent us from linking arms from this activity.“
They can’t link arms with the church that is accepting and inclusive? Of course not, because that sounds like something Jesus would do, and there’s no way members of a Baptist church would be caught dead acting like that hippie.
(Thanks to Lauren for the link!)