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Crystal Cathedral Founder Denounces Anti-Gay “Covenant”

Jim Burroway

March 17th, 2011

Rev. Robert H. Schuller, who began his ministry by preaching a positive message at a 1950s drive-in theater, and who ultimately commissioned gay architect Phillip Johnson to build his Crystal Cathedral, has issued a statement denouncing an anti-gay covenant that his daughter and current Crystal Cathedral pastor, Sheila Schuller Coleman, is requiring all choir members to sign. The elder Schuller, who retired in 2006, contacted the Orange County Register to say that he didn’t know about the covenant and would not have approved it:

“I have a reputation worldwide of being tolerant of all people and their views,” he said. “I’m too well-educated to criticize a certain religion or group of people for what they believe in. It’s called freedom.”

The covenant calls for signers to “understand that Crystal Cathedral Ministries teaches that sexual intimacy is intended by God to only be within the bonds of marriage, between one man and one woman.” Schuller says that theologically he agrees with the message of the covenant. However:

“That doesn’t mean that we are going to start a crusade against homosexuals,” he said. “But if my church members required covenants, they would no longer live up to the principles of being positive that marks the history of the ministry of Robert H. Schuller.”

…”We have never been for covenants or definitions,” Robert Schuller said. “We don’t test anyone who comes to our ministry. We don’t require them to be Christian. We would not demand that they be born-again Christians.”

Schuller’s daughter dismissed her father’s stance. Her response, I think, is telling, and goes to the root of some of the problems at Crystal Cathedral (and many of the megachurches generally):

There are going to be times when he might have done something differently,” she said. “As he is less and less involved in management, this is going to happen more. His personal views may not coincide with the management’s view.”

Management? That’s business talk, not ministry talk.



Chitown Kev
March 17th, 2011 | LINK

OMG, there has to be some lines from King Lear to fit this.

March 17th, 2011 | LINK

Does the “covenant” cover pre-marital sex, extra-marital sex, drinking, smoking, inhospitality, working/playing on Saturday, women speaking AND HAVING POSITIONS OF LEADERSHIP in the temple (yeah, I’m looking at YOU Rev. Sheila Schuller Coleman) and other biblical prohibitions? If so, and they enforce all of it without bias, then I say more power to them! If they truly believe in the literalness and inerrancy of the Bible and are willing to live up to ALL of it, then I have no problem with them. But if they are only picking and choosing and condemning by the authority of verses a, b and f but not by verses c, d and e, then they are the very kinds of hypocritical and legalistic Pharisees and Sadducees that Christ despised!

March 17th, 2011 | LINK

Mr. typo here – “Schuller” not Fuller in the first sentence.

Scott L.
March 17th, 2011 | LINK

TampaZeke, I know the Mormons forbid smoking and drinking, but is that the case with Evangelical Christians? And don’t most Christians consider Sunday to be the Sabbath, so why would they consider work or play on Saturday to be a sin? Other than those quibbles I agree with your post.

March 17th, 2011 | LINK

Looks like Reverend Schuller has raised a full fledged homophobic. She needs to step down and let a true Christian fill the position. That is if you can find any true Christians that don’t condem people that don’t hate certain people that disagree with them.

March 17th, 2011 | LINK

Actually Saturday is the Sabbath, as research will show, most chrstians just have it wrong… that and Chick-fil-a and Hobby Lobby.

March 17th, 2011 | LINK

Scott L, that’s EXACTLY my point. Evangelical, fundamentalist Christians claim that the Bible is the inerrant, literal word of God yet THEY have decided that SUNDAY is the Sabbath. Please show me chapter and verse where God changed its mind about which day was the Sabbath or how it was to be “kept holy”. These people are also big on putting the Ten Commandments in public buildings but most can’t name more than five of the commandments that they claim to have so much respect for. For example, the Fourth Commandment: they don’t KEEP the Sabbath (SATURDAY) and they sure as Hell don’t “keep it Holy”.

As far as drinking and smoking, fundamentalists have ALWAYS been prohibitionists when it comes to alcohol and they BIBLE says that the body is the Temple of God and should be treated as such. That would certainly rule out smoking cigarettes.

I come from a fundamentalist background. I’m just asking that they put their actions where their mouths are and either live up to ALL of the Biblical edicts or stop hypocritically holding some people to certain rules while ignoring other people and other rules.

Scott L.
March 17th, 2011 | LINK

Thank you, TampaZeke, having been raised in Salt Lake City I’m familiar with LDS doctrine not a Mormon, by the way), but still sometimes need clarification about other forms of Christianity.

I think the change from Saturday to Sunday was decided upon during the Nicene Diet as a way to distinguish Christianity for Judaism, thus it’s considered divine revelation, not biblical, in nature.

Scott L.
March 17th, 2011 | LINK

Oops was Nicea considered a diet, or a convocation? Or is there some other term used for that particular meeting?

Scott L.
March 17th, 2011 | LINK

Never mind, it was considered a council.

Throbert McGee
March 17th, 2011 | LINK


Please show me chapter and verse where God changed its mind about which day was the Sabbath

Please show me where it’s written that “the Sabbath” CAN’T be “Sunday,” or where “Sabbath” is even clearly identified as being “the day after Friday.” (You won’t find this, because Jewish tradition doesn’t name the six non-Sabbath days of the week.)

Of course, since Jewish tradition has always regarded the “Sabbath” as being the final day of a seven-day week, then for consistency’s sake, Christians who want to observe Sunday as the Sabbath ought to reckon the week as beginning on Monday, thereby making Sunday the seventh day.

So in this sense — and ONLY in this sense — calendars that treat the Christian Sabbath (i.e., Sunday) as the FIRST day of the week rather than the LAST day of the week are inconsistent with the way that Scripture defines “the Sabbath.”

But NB that calendars beginning the week on Monday and ending on Sunday are in fact used in some Western countries that are or historically were majority Christian — it merely happens that the Sunday-to-Saturday week is the preferred calendar format in other countries, including the US.

Throbert McGee
March 17th, 2011 | LINK

By the way, TZ, I’m certainly not denying that fundamentalists play word games with Scripture — I’m just saying that your complaint about the definition of “the Sabbath” doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, because the start and end of the Jewish weekly calendar aren’t tethered to external events like full moons or solar equinoxes in the way that the Jewish monthly/annual calendar is. (Except in the sense that any given day begins at sundown.)

March 17th, 2011 | LINK

exactly. management they very thing jesus was against in his stories the church has become today. complete with lawyers, yearly fiscal reports, land ownership.

the ones in atlanta georgia all own parking lots making thousands every night from people who go to clubs etc. imagine.

Donald W. Potter
March 17th, 2011 | LINK

I believe that this is the beginning of the end of Rev. Sheila Schuller Coleman. This church has played a positive role up to now for so many of us. Hers is sick thinking and needs to be squashed. I have heard her father preach many times. A few times in person and he never spread a seed of hatefulness such as this. I think that the Crystal Cathedral needs a new pastor that represents the Power of Positive thinking from whence it was born.

March 18th, 2011 | LINK

Some day the owner is going to ask the management what they did with His resources, and I do not think His response will be pleasant.

Paul J. Stein
March 18th, 2011 | LINK

I was thinking that Rev. Sheila Schuller Coleman’s words would piss off her father. He is the only “Sunday Morning Preacher” I could listen to. He needs to come out of retirement and kick some ass and show some “moral outrage”.

March 19th, 2011 | LINK

I’m a United Church of Christ pastor and managing our financial resources is part of my job. But I share the responsibility with a Church Council that is elected directly by the congregation, is accountable to them, and not beholden to me. And none of them are my relatives.

We are an open and affirming church that welcomes LGBT people. Why, even the pastor is gay!

Given the Crystal Cathedral’s precarious current financial situation — they are in bankruptcy — I would not be surprised if a large donor has promised a major gift on the condition the church become more visibly anti-gay.

And, from a business perspective, the current leadership of the Crystal Cathedral has led them into severe decline and bankruptcy court. In a real business, with an independent board of directors, they’d be fired.

March 24th, 2011 | LINK

Go, Dr. Bob! I have always respected Reverend Robert Schuller – he was the only TV preacher I’ve ever been able to watch, and he always impressed me with his “I love my faith, it makes me joyful, come and share the joy” kind of attitude. Not “I know better than you, you’re going to hell unless you repeat after me” which is what his daughter seems to be buying into.

I’m not much for organized religion, but I found myself enjoying his sermons, some of which I still think about. He seemed like one of the most sincerely decent people in the megachurch circles; I always wondered if he’d get caught in some scandal like so many of his peers, but it sounds like he’s still a decent man.

It makes me sad to think of Robert Schuller’s joyful and loving welcome being tainted by his daughter’s “welcome, but only after you sign here that you agree with my bigoted and moralistic opinion”…I don’t know if I would ever have gone to his church, but I used to feel I would have been welcome as a guest. Not any longer, it seems.

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