Crystal Cathedral Founder Denounces Anti-Gay “Covenant”
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.
Crystal Cathedral Choir Asked to Sign Anti-Gay Statement
March 16th, 2011
There’s an old saying: If it weren’t for gays in the choir, church would get pretty quiet. Crystal Cathedral is about to put that to the test:
The “Crystal Cathedral Worship Choir and Worship Team Covenant,” recently handed out to members, states that members should commit to being Christians by following the Bible in every way.
Former and current choir members say they are particularly offended by a statement in the document that refers to homosexuality. Long-time church members say this is the first time they have seen the cathedral take a firm stand against homosexuality and are disturbed by it.
The covenant states: “I understand that in an era where images of family relationship and personal sexuality are often confused, Crystal Cathedral Ministries believes that it is important to teach and model the biblical view. I 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.”
Ann Moore Waltz, a long-time church member and the Cathedral’s first soloist to stand and sing on top the snack shack in Robert H. Schuller community church at the Orange drive-in said, she does not agree with the statement in the covenant. “If I were still in the choir and if that was presented to me, and if a gay person had walked out, I would have walked out with him or her,” she said. “If you are a Christian group and people come to you, you should be a good servant, love them and shine the light of Jesus on them – regardless of who they are.”
Longtime choir director Don Neuen resigned last October over earlier steps toward a purge of the choir:
But things ended on a sour note for the choir director. He said the “last straw” for him was when Gretchen Schuller Penner, who directs the “Hour of Power” programs, told him that she would be “vetting choir members” going forward and that she would make sure that they were “emotionally and spiritually fit for the Crystal Cathedral.”
“I found that to be terribly judgmental and couldn’t accept it,” Neuen said.
Crystal Cathedral founder Robert Schuller retired in 2006, placing his son, Robert A. Schuller at the helm. The younger Schuller was removed two years later due to a “lack of shared vision” — and amid controversy over salaries and housing allowances for family members. In 2009, the elder Schuller’s daughter, Sheila Schuller Coleman, was named pastor. Last year, Schuller Coleman announced that the church was going into bankruptcy after donations fell by 29% in 2009. It’s congregation has already shrunk in half over the past two years.