In the face of mounting governmental restrictions targeting the LGBTQ+ community, the Cathedral of Hope, an LGBTQ+-affirming United Church of Christ in Dallas, Texas, took a controversial stand by blessing drag queens during a recent service.
Cathedral of Hope Stands Strong Amid Threats
In the face of about three dozen protestors who gathered outside, hurling slurs and threats, approximately 850 people stood firm in their support of the church’s message.
Sanctuary for the Queer Community
The Cathedral of Hope has emerged as a sanctuary for the queer community in Texas, pushing back against the state’s harsh measures.
At the center of this was a service where drag queens were not only welcomed but blessed. The church’s mission was to “stand for justice, proclaim love, and protect the rights of all people,” regardless of the challenges that loomed outside its doors.
The protestors served as a stark contrast to the congregation’s message of love and radical inclusivity.
Protester’s Violent Threats
Amid the noise, one protester’s words rang out, “Anyone check the weather today? ‘Cause it might rain fire and brimstone on this church and burn every [person] inside!”
A Stark Contrast to Inside the Church
Inside the Cathedral of Hope, it was a completely different picture.
Warmth and Unity
The pastor’s words during the service embodied the church’s commitment to embracing diversity.
“We recognize that all people are made in the loving image of God, no matter who they are, how they dress, express themselves, or who they love,” the pastor proclaimed.
All Made in God’s Image
“We celebrate this divine diversity and commit to lifting up the voices of the LGBTQ+ community and creating spaces where everyone can thrive.”
A Focus on Hate and Violence
A worship leader highlighted the alarming reality faced by drag queens, often targeted by hate and violence.
Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a group that played a vital role during the AIDS epidemic, were given special recognition for their profound impact.
“These Sisters were at the bedsides of men dying of AIDS,” Reverend Dr. Neil G. Thomas noted.
“They bring humor, they bring activism, they provide and bring a level of spirituality that many of us have had taken away from us. Despite the humor, they take their spiritual work very seriously.”
Defying the Texas Drag Law
The service was a direct response to recently passed legislation that aimed to criminalize drag performances.
Opposition to Republican-Backed Law
This law, passed by Republicans, faced strong opposition from civil rights groups and federal courts alike.
The Controversial Texas Law
It imposed a hefty $10,000 fine on drag performers and venues that allowed minors to witness what it deemed “sexually explicit” performances.
The law defined these performances as those where “a male performer [is] exhibiting as a female, or a female performer exhibiting as a male, who uses clothing, makeup, or other similar physical markers and who sings, lip syncs, dances, or otherwise performs before an audience.”
Greg Abbott’s Role
Although lawyers from the Texas Attorney General’s office argued that the law wasn’t discriminatory towards drag performances because it didn’t explicitly mention them, the intentions behind it were clear.
Governor Greg Abbott himself shared a story celebrating the law’s passage with the headline, “Texas Governor Signs Law Banning Drag Performances in Public,” and enthusiastically added, “That’s right.”
Numerous state politicians echoed this sentiment, confirming that the law was explicitly targeting drag performances.
Uncertainty Surrounding Religious Freedom
Although the law’s applicability to churches remains unknown, the lead pastor questioned, “My kid was here. I don’t have the right to choose to bring my kid to church when there are drag queens?”
An Ongoing Debate
The Cathedral of Hope’s recent service highlights the ongoing dialogue surrounding LGBTQ+ rights and religious freedom in Texas. Whether the state will crack down on these sorts of church gatherings remains to be seen.
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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Sabrina Bracher. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.