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Does Gorsuch Heed the Gospel Preached at His LGBT-Supportive Church?

Does Neil Gorsuch Heed the Gospel Preached at His LGBT-Supportive Church

The Supreme Court nominee is supposed to be more conservative than Antonin Scalia, but Gorsuch's church preaches empathy toward LGBT people. Where does he really stand?

It's long been understood that people's faith informs their actions and beliefs out in the world. Even those who would advocate for a stronger separation of church and state recognize that decisions that one makes in the world are often based on religiousvalues.

Which makes me wonder what Neil Gorsuch believes. The Washington Post has reported that he attends a socially progressive, LGBTQ-affirming Episcopal church in Boulder, Colo. The church, St. John's Episcopal, has issued a statement affirming the welcome and inclusion of LGBTQ people in the life of the church. It is listed as a "Believe Out Loud" congregation by Integrity, the Episcopal LGBTQ advocacy organization. It also has a listing on GayChurch.org, a directory of churches that welcome and include LGBTQ people.

Gorsuch and his wife are active in worship; he ushers and she reads Scripture and leads prayers. That means they are not members in name only, but people involved in the ministry of the congregation, a ministry that includes addressing not only LGBTQ issues but also climate change and gun violence.

As a deacon who occasionally preaches, I know that not everyone listens, agrees, or follows what I say from the pulpit. Occasionally, I've heard from a worshipper who didn't agree with me. But still, I strive to preach a message from the Gospel, hoping to connect it to people's lives, helping them to think about their beliefs, choices and actions in the world.

Does Judge Gorsuch take in the messages and ministries at his church? It's hard to say. But those messages are around him.

The rector at St. John's hailed the 2015 Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, quoting Justice Anthony Kennedy and then paraphrasing Dr. Martin Luther King, saying, "The arc of the moral universe may seem unduly long, but yesterday it finally bent toward justice."

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It's entirely possible that Judge Gorsuch participates because he loves the music or the history of the building, and he can "put up" with the preaching. Many mainline Protestant churches, even those that may be labeled more liberal, continue to draw people with a wide range of viewpoints. Judge Gorush may not see a disconnect between what his church is preaching and the anti-LGBTQ positions he has taken:

He has argued that certain minority civil rights issues, like marriage equality, should be settled through elections or legislatures, not the courts. In decisions in the famous Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor cases, Gorsuch signaled willingness to allow religious employers to use their personal beliefs to sidestep federal law; SCOTUSBlog describes him as "an ardent defender of religious liberties and pluralistic accommodations for religious adherents" and "a natural successor to Scalia in adopting a pro-religion conception of the establishment clause."; As a Columbia student in mid-'80s, he defended keeping military recruiters on campus despite the military's discriminatory stance on LGBTQ soldiers.

These actions may point better to what a Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch would mean for LGBTQ Americans than his membership in an open and affirming church. While I am justifiably troubled by some of Gorsuch's positions on the role of LGBTQ people in society, I am happy that he has been an active participant in such a welcoming, inclusive, progressive congregation. I only pray that he has listened and heeded the inclusive message of his church during his time with at St. John's.

ROSS MURRAY is director of programs at GLAAD. He is also a Lutheran deacon. Follow him on Twitter @inlayterms.

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