Richmond’s historic Episcopal Church rejects anti-LGBTQ “Vote Your Values” group
St. Pauls Episcopal Church, located a block away from the Virginia State Capitol, has canceled an event deceptively scheduled by a national anti-LGBTQ group.
The church has been around since 1845. It’s played host to a number of important historical events and history makers, including the home-church of Confederate leader Robert E. Lee. More recently, it was the location of the 2013 Transgender Day of Remembrance ceremony where the names of some local transgender people were read after being lost to transphobic violence.
But the historic church wont be allowing the ”Vote Your Values Christian Awakening Tour” to entire their building after the “Christian” group scheduled a rally on their hallowed grounds earlier this week.
GayRVA learned of the “Vote Your Values” event via press release earlier this week. The event includes speeches by two notoriously conservative and anti-LGBTQ-activists, radio host and pastor Rick Scarborough and former Lt. Governor candidate and VA Beach pastor E.W. Jackson.
Scarborough’s track record with anti-LGBTQ actions includes saying the AIDS epidemic is God’s “judgement as a result of an immoral act“ and calls it “a homosexual disease” as well as anti-immigration rhetoric like a comment he made at a 2010 Tea Party convention: “If this country becomes 30 per cent Hispanic we will no longer be America.”
Jackson’s failed run for Lt. Governor in 2013 was marred by a number of gaffes including saying things like hot yoga is the tool of the devil and “the Democratic party has created an unholy alliance between so-called civil rights leaders and Planned Parenthood.” He also condemned the Black community and civil rights groups for aligning themselves with the LGBTQ movement because they “embraced the lies, and betrayed the Black community and God all mighty.”
On the campaign trail, Jackson further defended his anti-LGBTQ comments saying “the family was ordained by God. He ordained it one man and one woman in the bonds of holy matrimony… (In the Bible) I don’t hear anything about two people of the same sex being married.”
The group organizing the “Vote Your Values Christian Awakening Tour” is Scarborough’s own Vision America Action.
According to Vision America Action‘s website, they a support federal-level so called “religious freedom” law which would protect “supporters of Biblical marriage” from lawsuits or government action if they deny service to someone because of their sexuality or gender expression. They also support removing laws that bar pastors from taking part in political speech from the pulpit.
They oppose expanding workplace and hate crime protections to include LGBTQ people as well as things like a national gun registry and “tax payer funded abortions.”
GayRVA informed St. Pauls’ leadership of the details of the event and the church’s response was swift.
They said they rent out their meeting space to many different local groups and originally agreed to host the event after receiving an email requesting the space for a “pastors’ lunch.”
“We thought nothing more of it,” read a statement from St. Pauls. “However, in time, we came to learn more about the gathering and realized that the views represented there would not be consistent with our values and mission here at St. Paul’s, particularly in regard to the LGBTQ community and to people of other faiths.”
The church then informed the “Vote Your Values” hosts they would not host their event.
“Our mission at St. Paul’s is for inclusion, compassion, and reconciliation,” the statement continued. “As an Episcopal church, we take our baptismal covenant very seriously, and in that covenant, do vow to ‘strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.’”
Attempts to speak with Vote Your Values organizers were not returned by press time, however as of this morning, they sent out a new press release showing a change of venue for their event.
The summit is now planned for Credit Union House of Virginia, 108 N. 8th Street, Richmond Va. The time and line up appears to be the same, 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12 with Jackson and Scarborough.
According to its website, the Credit Union House of Virginia is a collection member-owned financial institutions in the Commonwealth that work to advocate for Virginia-based credit unions. Attempts to reach their organization by phone were also not returned by press time.
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