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Watch: Mark Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Speaks Out for Bullied Gay Teens


Bishop Mark Hanson, the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, lends his voice to the "It Gets Better" project in a new video.

Says Hanson: "Sometimes the words of my Christian brothers and sisters have hurt you. I also know that our silence causes you pain...You are a beloved child of God. Your life carries the beauty and dignity of God's creation...There is a place for you in this world, and in this Church."


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  1. I am so proud of my church and our Presiding Bishop. The Churchwide Assembly last year created a schism in the church, and yet our Presiding Bishop is still willing to stand up and say what is right even though it will inevitably make things worse for the church with some more determined to leave. I hope with the courageous leadership we have seen since the 2007 Churchwide Assembly I was a voting member at, that the church will pull through ok. Thank you Bishop Hanson!

    Posted by: E | Oct 29, 2010 10:32:26 AM

  2. Good for him, and us. More religious leaders should watch and learn. Their silence is appalling.

    Posted by: DG | Oct 29, 2010 10:50:17 AM

  3. E, I know people who left the ELCA and converted to Catholicism... to get away from the possibility of gay clergy.

    Yes, I know.

    You're better off without them.

    Posted by: The Milkman | Oct 29, 2010 10:58:46 AM

  4. LOL @ Milkman: That's real stupid, there are any number of Lutheran "denominations" that are way more conservative than the ELCA, why didn't they just go there? The Missouri Synod would love to have those refugees, I'm sure.
    But really, this is excellent news, and the Luthies don't get nearly as much press as the Episcopalians, but should. If you read the Augsburg Confession--go ahead, it's not very long, with short, numbered and topical paragraphs--Luther and Melancthon's approach to the Bible and to "legal" pro/prescriptions in particular are suprisingly liberal for their time. So liberal in fact that it is not surprising at all to see how Lutherans, in time, would have no problem accepting same-sex relationships, and in fact it is the Missouri Synod sort of Lutherans who are, like their Southern Baptist counterparts, betraying core elements of their tradition.
    Anyway, thank you, Bishop Hansen, and y'all keep up the good fight.

    Posted by: clint | Oct 29, 2010 11:33:38 AM

  5. This is such a good video. I grew up as the son of a Lutheran minister and I've struggled for years to overcome my bitterness at how so many supposed "representatives" of Christianity could be so hateful toward gay people. But this message goes right to the heart of what the Lutheran church taught me to value: love, compassion and social justice. Bravo for the ELCA. If more denominations did this, perhaps we'd be able to prevent more of these awful suicides.

    Posted by: BD in Seattle | Oct 29, 2010 11:42:16 AM

  6. This is part of what I would call healing the heart, for so many of us. Thank you
    Rev. Hanson...

    Posted by: terryp | Oct 29, 2010 12:18:08 PM

  7. If he were being fully honest he would have said, "...as long as ALMOST fully welcomed and AFFIRMED is good enough for you and little things like marriage equality aren't important to you."

    If you want a church that FULLY accepts and FULLY affirms you, including full equality in marriage, then you don't have to settle for ELCA or any other church that is still "struggling" with these issues. You can join the United Church of Christ that DOES fully, FULLY, accept and affirm you as a FULLY equal child of god and citizen of America. ELCA is still "struggling" with issues that the UCC dealt with last century. The UCC even passed a nationwide denominational marriage equality position in 2005, when almost NOBODY, religious or otherwise, was publicly supporting marriage equality.

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Oct 29, 2010 1:06:35 PM

  8. I find it ironic when religions claim "it get's better" when essentially they're the ones making it worse.

    They can't deny their doctrine is anti-gay (Leviticus) and who wants their existence merely 'tolerated' with such fatuous arguments as "love the sinner, hate the sin".

    In short, I see any and all religions as part of the problem and not the solution.

    Posted by: dreamfish | Oct 29, 2010 1:14:05 PM

  9. You know, I want to meet this man, and either hug him, or shake his hand. In a world that's filled with hate, he reaches out with kind, warm, and sincere words. I think I speak for many when I say he put a smile on my face.

    Posted by: Cocoa | Oct 29, 2010 1:14:55 PM

  10. My mother's family was Catholic & my father's was Lutheran. As a young boy, I was exposed to both religions & was advised that when I was old enough, I was free to choose which path I wanted to follow.

    Obviously, my parents were not fanatical, one way or another. But at large family gatherings, it often became a heated dispute reminiscent of the Reformation.

    I recall very rigid RC training & authoritarian teachings in which anything outside the doctrine was heresy.

    In contrast, I was sent to a Lutheran boys' summer camp which had daily devotionals, Sunday services, and regular prayers at meals & bedtime. Emphasis was on Christ's teachings of love & how to treat your fellow man. There was never "fire & brimstone" or theological ritual. The values they taught are ones I can (and do) hold today.

    At this point, all religions seem too far-fetched to be believable to me & I don't belong to any church or espouse superstitions of any kind. Still, I can respect the religious institutions with leadership like Bishop Hanson, who can advance core moral values into a blueprint for making the world a better place.

    Posted by: JONNY NYNY2FLFL | Oct 29, 2010 1:17:21 PM

  11. @cocoa I hope you do get to meet him. I have met him several times. I have hugged him. He is a good man, leader, and shepherd. We reelected him at Churchwide Assembly in 2007. He missed out reelection on the first ballot by one vote. And it was an open ballot. For those who can't understand the courage this took or the ELCA view on the world, I apologize. Find a nice Reconciling in Christ church and you will change you will understand. This is a big change. Christianity is made better with the UCC church, Anglicans and Lutherans. We shouldn't snipe one another as we journey down the road toward social justice and reconciliation. We play for the same team.

    Posted by: E | Oct 29, 2010 1:48:00 PM

  12. @ DREAMFISH: Dude, you'd be hard-pressed to find anything in Leviticus that Christians of today would identify as "their doctrine." You're showing just as much ignorance about what the Book of Leviticus is as the ranting idiots who think it should be a rulebook for believers in our time.

    Leviticus was a specific type of book compiled to regulate social and religious practice of a nomadic-shepherding ethnic-religious community living in Mesopatamia some 3,400 years ago. Random reading of brief passages of the text easily reveals the absurdity of pressing it into service as a normative religious text for any group in this time and place.

    Posted by: Danny | Oct 29, 2010 1:53:22 PM

  13. Think about it: Young adults are KILLING THEMSELVES because they are gay. The bullies didn't kill them; they killed themselves.

    Can we finally admit now that homosexuality is, indeed, hazardous to human life?

    Posted by: Doc d20 | Oct 29, 2010 2:11:53 PM

  14. Who's "we", doc? You aren't a member of this community. You need to learn how to use pronouns...remedial English, perhaps? Anyway, that's what we call a strawman.

    Yeah, Danny...no christian today justifies their homophobia with reference leviticus...ha ha ha ha...or the bible, or their christian faith! You folks are so dumb that you can't even spin facts. Instead, you have to resort to transparent lies and self delusion. But, you disprove your "faith" with your flagrant pick and choose defense. If it's the time and place which determines the relevance of these "religious beliefs," then that relies on a normative standard divorced from revelation, and religious belief. Yeah, you don't need after all, huh. Unfortunately, those that believe that ethical beliefs should be determined by a time and place (that is, can do vary), and SHOULD BE assessed as such...aren't very good people. It entails that a host of things that aren't right today were, at some point in time, right. And they must at least believe this...

    Posted by: TANK | Oct 29, 2010 2:27:55 PM

  15. I'm quite comfortable with having lost faith as a teen but wonder what would have happened if the Lutheran church had progressed to this point a couple of decades earlier.

    It is great to see religious leaders reaching out with a message of love for a change.

    Posted by: Shawn | Oct 29, 2010 2:42:11 PM

  16. YES! This is MY Bishop and I'm friggin' proud of him, and my church. Thank you, Bishop Hanson for taking the time to do this video.

    Posted by: Perry | Oct 29, 2010 2:52:04 PM

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