Christians in This Town Dropped Out of a Nativity Procession Because It Was Hosted By an LGBT-Affirming Church

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.

A weak invitation for a lawsuit (via Facebook)

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!)

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.

  • betty barcode

    A UCC member once told me, with tongue in cheek, that UCC stands for Unitarians Considering Christ.

    But the first American denomination to publicly oppose slavery was Quakers.

  • Lilly Munster


  • Buckley

    You are correct, I should have mentioned the Quakers as well, but the Quakers, as a faith, did not believe in openly challenging the system as organized religion. Sure, many individual Quakers were involved in the UGRR or abolition, most meeting houses kept their distance as places in opposition to slavery.

  • baal

    Maybe we have different definitions of tolerance. Mine include a right to marry, live together, hold hands in public (like het couples) and not be fired for any of that regardless of who is the employer.

  • rwlawoffice

    Morality based upon the whims of the culture is inherently relative. That is what you are professing when you say “morality evolves”. There are objective moral standards that are found in the Bible. The fact that some people ignore those is not a problem with the bible, it is the problem with the people.

  • rwlawoffice

    So very wrong. You should read the Bible and find out what God wants before you think that he is pleased when people are mistreated. The fact that you want moral acceptance from Him and his followers for behavior that you deem moral does not change that when they disagree with you.

  • rwlawoffice

    I see that you don’t deny that this is the goal. I believe that is because you know its true.

  • Spuddie

    There is no such thing as “biblical moral standards” in any real sense and they are certainly not even close to objective.

    Morality based on Biblical precepts is arbitrary, capricious and extremely relative (if not completely absent) when it comes to dealing with anyone outside of the faith. It is not rational and subject to so many convenient “opt outs” as to be completely amoral.

    Your willingness to embrace spiteful, bigoted actions under the guise of “condemning sin” shows how relative many Christians hold their morality. It is certainly not universal for the faith considering the subject is a Christian church which does not engage in such things.

    Deferring moral judgment to “the Bible” or “orthodox religious ideas” means you are outsourcing all your moral decisions to outside authority. You are forgoing any actual decision making and contemplation required in moral thinking. Morality comes from understanding the human condition. From having a degree of empathy and notion of things beyond self-interest.

    Following a rule because one fears divine retribution or expects divine reward is not moral thinking. It is self-interest. It does not account for knowing and feeling what it is like to be among other people.

  • Spuddie

    Shorter RWlawoffice, “You can’t tolerate my bigotry and my desire to deny a group civil liberties, you are the bigot.”

  • baal

    What I want is christians to talk about harms first and this ‘sin’ business second. I couldn’t care less about getting moral acceptance from an imaginary being.