The Washington National Cathedral took heavy fire for allowing popular evangelical pastor and author Max Lucado to preach at its virtual Sunday service last weekend. Though the church initially defended its decision as part of a move to build bridges, leadership later caved to pressure from left-wing activists and nearly tripped over themselves apologizing for the mistake of allowing Lucado to speak.
Lucado's offense? He holds biblical Christian views on sexuality and marriage.
He didn't preach on those topics Sunday — his sermon was about the Holy Spirit, the Christian Post reported — but the fact that he has a history of standing up for traditional biblical values on social issues was enough to have him silenced, the woke mob said.
After the Episcopal Church's Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Paul in the City and the Diocese of Washington invited Lucado to speak at the cathedral in Washington, D.C., LGBT activists were livid.
The reliably liberal denomination known for its left-wing views on marriage and sexuality had betrayed the gay community by inviting a nondenominational evangelical pastor like Lucado who follows traditional Christian teachings on marriage and sexually, and the woke mob couldn't have that.
So they did what mobs do: sought to intimidate their target into compliance and force their opponent to be silenced.
Activists launched a petition days before Lucado's sermon demanding that the church rescind its invitation to Lucado, claiming that his "teaching and preaching inflicts active harm on LGBTQ people."
They accused him of pushing "[f]ear-mongering and dehumanizing messages" and preaching "the kind of dangerous theology that promotes oppression of and violence toward the LGBTQ community."
According to the petition, "Lucado has inflicted serious harm" and should not be given a platform.
On Feb. 6, the cathedral's dean, the Rev. Randy Hollerith, sent a response to the petition. Hollerith said that he and the church have long been supporters of "LGBTQ inclusion" and that they "believe the Gospel calls us to nothing short of full embrace and inclusion." He also added that he understood why the petitioners would be concerned about Lucado's past statements on sexuality and that it "grieves" him when churches "are used as weapons against God's LGBTQ children."
But, he said, there was good reason to invite Lucado: We must find common ground, which comes by peacefully engaging with people we might disagree with.
Let me share why we invited Max to preach. We have to come out of our corners, find common ground where we can, and find ways to live with and see each other as the beloved children of God that we are. We have all grown too accustomed in our silos and echo chambers. In order to start the process of rebuilding, we need to hear from each other.
That does not mean we will always agree. In fact, I don't agree with Max's views on LGBTQ issues. We can still hold our convictions and cling to our values in the midst of disagreement. But the work that we cannot ignore is the vitally important task of what Isaiah called “repairing the breach." That starts, first and foremost, with those with whom we disagree. When we only engage with those with whom we agree on every issue, we find ourselves in a dangerous (and lonely) place. My hope is that all churches and faith communities will find ways to open their doors to perspectives different from their own.
And retired Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, defended the cathedral's invitation in a video Sunday morning after Lucado's sermon, saying the church should be a house of prayer for "all the people of God — all — and sometimes that includes we don't agree with much at all."
But that wasn't enough for Lucado's critics. They had wanted his sermon canceled, and when it wasn't, they turned up the outrage and increased their criticism of church leaders, according to a report from the Episcopal News Service.
Dean Hollerith blamed his "straight privilege" for failing to understand the "pain" Lucado had caused in the past and the "depth of injury his words have had."
"I made a mistake and I am sorry," Hollerith said.
Washington Bishop Mariann Budde echoed the dean's statements and offered her own mea culpa.
"I would like to apologize for the hurt caused in inviting Max Lucado to preach at Washington National Cathedral," she wrote. "I have heard from those who were not only wounded by things Max Lucado has said and taught, but equally wounded by the decision to welcome him into the Cathedral's pulpit."
Hollerith and Budde announced that they are going to hold a "listening session" on Feb. 21 for anyone who wants to share their LGBT experiences within the church.