Richard Grenell, the highest-ranking gay person in Donald Trump’s administration, says being gay has made him a better Christian.
“I was made this way. I was born gay,” the former U.S. ambassador to Germany, now acting director of national intelligence, told fellow gay conservative Dave Rubin in a recent edition of The Rubin Report. “So the fact of the matter is I fully embrace that I was made this way in the image of God and you can be gay and be a Christian. And there’s no problem with it.”
He said hardship brings a person closer to God. “When I had cancer and I was really kind of down in terms of my physical outlook, I felt like I prayed more and I was closer to God because I was in need,” Grenell said. “I feel guilty about that as I go through life and, of course, the ups and downs of life, when things are going well you don’t pray as much.”
“I think I get so much challenge that you can’t be gay and be a Christian that it makes me a better Christian,” he added. “It makes — I am an imperfect follower of Christ. I fail every single day. But for me what’s the beauty of this is that the Bible talks about having new mercies every morning and grace every morning.”
While many LGBTQ people of faith may relate to Grenell’s statement, they may have problems with some other things he said in the extensive interview. The diplomat, who has been leading a campaign to decriminalize homosexuality in other countries, claimed liberal U.S. LGBTQ groups don’t care about the global situation and indeed, are reluctant to get involved because they’ll be accused of imposing Western values. Actually, American LGBTQ organizations have often spoken out about the plight of those who live in homophobic countries.
Grenell also contended that LGBTQ activists don’t simply want equality but want others to “jump up and down” and celebrate them. He said LGBTQ people and their opponents need to “agree to disagree.”
Grenell is not necessarily popular with LGBTQ people — or women or Germans. He denounced gay Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg for calling out Vice President Mike Pence’s anti-LGBTQ record; the idea that Pence is homophobic is a “hoax,” Grenell said. He is known for insulting powerful women, such as Hillary Clinton and Rachel Maddow, based on their appearance; he had claimed he was trying to be funny. And he has offended Germans with his criticism of the nation’s foreign and domestic policies.
As acting director of national intelligence, Grenell has been the first openly gay person to hold a Cabinet-level position. But “acting” means temporary. Trump has nominated U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe, a Texas Republican, for the director position. The conservative Ratcliffe, who by the way has a poor record on LGBTQ rights, was up for the post last year, but he withdrew from consideration when members of Congress expressed doubt that he had the proper qualifications. To be director (other than an acting director) requires Senate confirmation.