A popular Christian author is on the receiving end of a vicious backlash after he said in an interview that LGBTQ people can be Christians and lead lives of devotion and spiritual faith.
Pink News reported Thursday that The Message author Eugene Peterson told Religion News Service that his formerly anti-LGBTQ views have evolved into a place of tolerance and acceptance.
“I wouldn’t have said this 20 years ago, but now I know a lot of people who are gay and lesbian and they seem to have as good a spiritual life as I do,” Peterson said.
When asked whether the Presbyterian Church should accept LGBTQ clergy, Peterson said that battle has already been fought and won.
“That kind of debate about lesbians and gays might be over,” he said wryly. “We’re in a transition and I think it’s a transition for the best, for the good… it’s not a right or wrong thing as far as I’m concerned.”
The comments prompted a furious backlash from some evangelicals, including the LifeWay chain of Christian bookstores, which says it will ban Peterson’s books unless he disavows the remarks.
“LifeWay only carries resources in our stores by authors who hold to the biblical view of marriage,” the company said in a statement. “We are attempting to confirm with Eugene Peterson or his representatives that his recent interview on same-sex marriage accurately reflects his views. If he confirms he does not hold to a biblical view of marriage, LifeWay will no longer sell any resources by him, including The Message.”
LifeWay is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Church, Pink News noted, an organization that has doggedly clung to its anti-LGBTQ, anti-same-sex marriage dogma even as it has watched its membership numbers plummet.
In 2016, the Southern Baptist Church saw its ninth year in a row of shrinking numbers, the Associated Press said, “Membership stands at 15.3 million, down from 15.5 million in 2014, according to denomination statistics released on Tuesday. Baptisms also fell by more than 10,000 to just a little more than 295,000.”