Episcopalians house homeless gay youth

Timothy Kincaid

December 8th, 2009

Matthew 25:34-40

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

Christendom has a well-deserved reputation of behaving abominably towards gay people, particularly gay youth. Every gay person knows someone who during their youth was mocked, tormented, or thrown out of their home, all in the name of Christianity. For some, it was even worse.

We regularly confront those who, like those “family” organizations that testified in opposition to marriage equality yesterday in New Jersey, come bearing the title of minister but blatantly spew hatred and lies. We know that when we hear “the Bible says” that it is almost invariably going to be some quotation of Scripture that is selected to bash, condemn, or demean gay people.

The Catholic Church in D.C. recently went so far as to claim that if gay people received equal marriage treatment under the law, then they would stop providing care for the poor. There is little wonder that for many gay people, all of their experiences tell them that “Christianity = Hate”.

So Carl Siciliano, the founder of the Ali Forney Center, a group that helps homeless gay youth, was hesitant when he was approached by a Christian group. Although they said they wanted to help, gay people are accustomed to “help” that is less charitable than it is an attempt to “save the homosexual from his sinful and destructive lifestyle”. (New York Times)

“For a lot of us, when we hear about Christianity, our stomachs kind of churn,” Mr. Siciliano said in an interview. “Another part of me is very grateful the church is making this kind of gesture.”

But this time the help was genuinely charitable. The Episcopal Community Services of Long Island and the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island contributed $200,000 to create and house a new 16-bed shelter at the Church of St. Andrew\’s in Astoria.


But the partnership is less about politics than about simple charity, said Bishop Lawrence C. Provenzano, who represents 146 congregations in the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island (which includes Brooklyn and Queens).

“I think it\’s an obligation to care for God\’s people,” Bishop Provenzano said. “This is basic nuts-and-bolts Christianity.”


There is no small amount of anti-Christian hostility from many readers of our site. And though we try to minimize broad-stroke attacks on people of faith, there is no doubt that public Christianity has earned mistrust and even hatred from gay people many times over.

But perhaps this story – and I do see this as part of a trend – can begin the process of repairing the image of the faith. And I dare say that if all Christians behaved like the Episcopalians on Long Island, far more Americans – including our readers – would see religion as a positive force in the world rather than a vehicle for superstition, bigotry, and control of others.

Richard W. Fitch

December 8th, 2009

I have an invested bias on this, but I think we will see more cases where EC-USA steps in to support LGBT causes in the future. The consecration of Gene Robinson and the election of Mary Glasspool are just the beginning.


December 8th, 2009

While I’m not fond of the anti-Christian hostility on this site, I think this “trend” may be rather slow-moving.

Christianity has gone from being a persecuted sect to becoming a sign of respectability. And being “respectable” usually means behaving in a socially conservative fashion.

So I fear that it is likely that, with the exception of the more liberal churches, Christianity in general will be slower than the rest of society to accept gays.


December 8th, 2009

It helps that Bishop Provenzano’s daughter is a lesbian in a long term relationship. He has also told gay clergy in this diocese that they need to get married/civil unioned so that their relationships are taken as seriously as straight clergy.


December 8th, 2009

While impressive, you kind of have to expect this thing from Episcopalians (not to take them for granted, I have the utmost respect and appreciation for them!). It’s not a trend until some of the other churches start picking up on it.


December 9th, 2009

The Episcopal Church has been generally (not universally) supportive of gay and lesbians. But I admit, it’s not purely because of charity: gay and lesbian people are active members of the church. They fund mission, serve on vestries and help bishops. And they are open. The REASON is because it is a democratic church, by and large. A gay person who participates in the community with their time and money will find themselves supported – like any other not-for-profit.

Historically, the Episcopal church decided it was much better to have open priests than closeted ones. It also helps that having women priests breaks down the men’s club that protects its own.


December 9th, 2009

Oh Timothy…but are you saying that these good people would only know to reach out to homeless youths because the Bible teaches them to? I usually suspect, rather than respect someone who does something because God tells them to (would you necessarily want to catch the same flight as such a person?). We have to be thankful that the Episcopalians happened to have read the Bible in a particular way, and that they did good in spite of the many texts that could have easily sent them in Pat Robertson’s direction instead.

Until there is an overhaul – a new reformation – of the holy texts, that temptation to lurch to fundamentalism will always exist. What ARE we doing venerating texts that call for genocide and intolerance in books such as Numbers, Deuteronomy etc? Cut them out, for goodness’ sake!

I would gladly take inspiration from Luke 10:25-37, in which Jesus is reported to teach his followers that goodness transcends social groups…. At present it doesn’t say much for Christian faith when such a good deed by Christians towards gay people is so unusual it is seen as news.

That said, I don’t want to pour cold water on an initiative motivated by genuine compassion and Christian charity; more power to them, and I hope they are an inspiration to many others.


December 9th, 2009

Kumbaya my lord, Kumbaya.

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