A Methodist pastor is sleeping outdoors in the freezing Michigan winter to protest discrimination against LGBT people by the church, ThinkProgress reports.
Rev. Michael Tupper, who is a pastor at Parchment United Methodist Church, was punished after he officiated his daughter’s same-sex wedding last year. He did so despite the fact that pastors are forbidden from officiating such weddings by his denomination.
“I chose to do that, and complaint was filed,” he told ThinkProgress. “All of sudden it became so clear to me — the discrimination against LGBT people in the church.”
Tupper pitched a tent outside his home and vowed to sleep outside for 175 days, or roughly 6 months. The point, he told TP, is to symbolize, “how we push LGBT people out of the church and into the cold.”
“Most nights it gets into the 20s. It’s gotten down to 5 degrees,” he told ThinkProgress. “Yeah it’s cold. But I’ve managed.”
The United Methodist Church, or UMC, is at something of a crossroads in terms of how it handles the LGBT community. While it currently calls the “practice” of being LGBT incompatible with Christianity, mounting pressure from its own clergy and community are pushing it in a different direction. Another minister, Frank Schaefer, was defrocked but reinstated in 2014 for marrying his son and husband.
Clergy members have come out to their parishes, refused to punish pastors for performing same-sex marriages and even performed mass same-sex marriage ceremonies in protest of the church’s stance on the issue. Meanwhile, other Christian denominations, including Episcopalians and the Presbyterian Church have chosen to embrace same-sex couples.
“It’s a very small sacrifice to pay compared to the experience that my daughter and other LGBTQ people have had in the church…the rejection they’ve experienced is so much more than my little physical discomfort,” he told TP when asked about his personal sacrifices. “It’s a God thing…I’m willing to do it for my daughter.”
Watch Tupper talk about the issue, as posted to MLive, here: