Church Clarity: US pastors pushed to define the 'limits of their welcome' for LGBTQ persons

A new online initiative is pressuring US churches to clearly declare their stance on homosexuality, separating the 'affirming' from the 'non-affirming'.

Launched yesterday, Church Clarity is an online database that aims to provide a means for discerning church-goers to know a given church's position on homosexuality, with churches scored on how well they communicate their stance and detailed as 'affirming' (supportive of same-sex relationships) or 'non-affirming'.

A new database 'scores' churches according to how they communicate their position on homosexuality.Pixabay

Church Clarity's website writes: 'There are millions of churches around the world. They represent a wide spectrum of beliefs, which are translated into actively enforced policies. At the level of the local church, policies are often communicated unclearly, if they disclosed at all. In many churches, especially evangelical ones, clarity is elusive.

'In the first phase of Church Clarity, our focus is on policies that directly impact LGBTQ+ people...No person should have to wonder the limits of their "welcome."'

The group adds that it is 'not advocating for policy changes', but rather 'establishing a new standard for church policy disclosure' – one where ambiguity is minimal.

The website has rated 24 churches so far, and plans to update its database with new 'batches' as research is completed. For example, Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City (the church until this summer pastored by Tim Keller) has been classed as 'Unclear: Non-Affirming', while New York City's Forefront Church is 'Clear: Affirming'.

Regarding its own policy, Church Clarity describes itself as 'unequivocally inclusive, affirming and celebrating of all people', but adds that its agenda is not to conform others to its stance.

The website writes: 'We acknowledge that there is a potential tension between our policy-views and our organizational goal, but we also believe that remaining completely free of bias is impossible for any organization.'

Progressive, gay Christian voices such as Brandan Robertson and Julie Rodgers (who serves as an adviser to Church Clarity) have praised the initiative. 

Church Clarity has also begun sharing quote-memes from popular pastors who have enthused about the importance of 'clarity' but not clearly disclosed their position on sexuality, which co-founder Sarah Ngu told RNS was part of an attempt to put 'pressure' on leaders to 'help them become more clear'.

RNS columnist Jonathan Merritt opined that the 'fascinating' initiative might be celebrated by conservatives who also oppose evasiveness on the question of sexuality. But, he cautioned that 'we don't want to further polarize the Christian community on an issue that is riddled with nuance. If Church Clarity has its way, the messy middle on this issue will shrink or be eliminated.'