Statement on the Divine Gift of Sexual and Gender Diversity

August 30, 2017
Drew Konow | | 203-222-0055

Statement on the Divine Gift of Sexual and Gender Diversity
Religious Institute president Rev. Marie Alford-Harkey responds to Nashville Statement

Bridgeport, CT—Rev. Marie Alford-Harkey released the following statement in response to the “Nashville Statement” released by a group of evangelical religious leaders on Tuesday, August 29, 2017.

The so-called “Nashville Statement” on sexuality by evangelical religious leaders is shameful. While it espouses no new positions on sexuality and gender, it reiterates harmful theology that has led to death, shame, stigma, and rejection. This theology is rooted in sexism, heterosexism, misogyny, and racism. Religion should not be used to promote discrimination or to drive people away from the divine.

Throughout its 16 year history, the Religious Institute has worked to combat this deadly theology. The Religious Institute was founded to change the death-dealing culture around religion and sexuality, and we continue that work along with many other progressive religious organizations. Our founding document states that sexuality is God’s life-giving and life-fulfilling gift, and we join with more than 4,800 religious leaders in affirming this statement today and every day.

As LGBTQ people, and especially transgender people, are under increasing attack in the United States, we call out the “Nashville Statement” as immoral and irresponsible for promoting further discrimination and harm in the name of religion.

We affirm that sexual and gender diversity defy binary categories and are part of the divine beauty and wonder of creation and are gifts to society and to faith communities.

We affirm that people of all gender identities and sexual orientations have sacred worth and dignity.

We affirm that sexual ethics pertain to justice, love, and right relationship, not genitalia or specific sexual acts.

We affirm that it is the responsibility of congregations and religious leaders to actively work to heal the harm done to LGBTQ people in the name of religion.

Religion is at its best when it invites people to live in wholeness and authenticity. We will continue to work toward a world where all people are free to celebrate their sexuality and gender in faith communities and society.


The Religious Institute is a nonprofit, multifaith organization dedicated to advocating for sexual health, education, and justice in faith communities and society. More than 8,500 clergy, seminary presidents and deans, religious scholars, and other religious leaders representing more than 50 faith traditions are part of the Religious Institute’s national religious leaders network.

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