LGBT flag stealers would be welcome at Edmonds church

Rally of support on Sunday
By Brian Soergel | Feb 09, 2017
Courtesy of: Edmonds Lutheran Church A gay pride rainbow flag has been stolen four times from Edmonds Lutheran Church.

The Rev. Tim Oleson has a message for those who continue to steal his church’s LGBT rainbow pride flags.

“We’ll keep spreading our message of love and acceptance, and that goes for the people who take our flags, you know? We love you just the same, and you would be welcome to come here even if you can’t stop stealing our flag. We would walk beside you.”

Oleson and the staff at Edmonds Lutheran Church began placing the flags on its 84th Avenue West sign two years ago when it gained status as a Reconciled in Christ Congregation, one that celebrates and welcomes participation and membership from the LGBT community.

Since then, thieves have swiped the flags four times, the last coming Sunday, Feb. 5, during a morning service.

The church hangs the flags several times a year, often to recognize events such as Gay Pride Week and Transgender Remembrance Day.

The church does not have security cameras, and Oleson said he’d be hesitant to bring charges against someone stealing a flag.

“It could be just teenagers walking by,” he said. “It’s right next to a bus stop. It could be someone who just sees it and has strong emotions, whether they are religiously based or just logic-based. I’m guessing that out of the four stolen flags, at least one of them was taken because of religious convictions.”

Oleson said that the church always receives one or two messages when the flag flies from callers who ridicule the church, but do so anonymously. On Sunday, Jan. 31, somebody pinned a homemade cardboard sign on the flag with an inscription from the Old Testament book of Leviticus that reads: “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.”

That passage is a common one used by those who interpret the Bible literally and view homsexuality as sin, Oleson said, who added that church members responded by embracing and kissing each other next to the sign.

Oleson says he will continue to fly the flag.

“We’re not going to stop. We will continue to put the flag up during times it’s important to share our support of our LGBT brothers and sisters. We really believe that God’s message of grace and love is truly for everyone. When it comes specifically to the LGBT community, we do not interpret Scripture in such a way that we believe the Bible condemns them, or says that by being who they are, as a gay person, is sinful.

“We interpret Scripture in a different way. And so we want to get the message out that God loves you, fully embraces you for being who you are, including how you are within your human sexuality. We fully embrace them into the church, and they can be leaders in the church, they can be pastors in the church, they can be in relationships in the church.

“The church in the past has excluded, marginalized and condemned various groups of people for a variety of reasons, while using Scripture to demonize them. We’re not on board with that; we don’t think that’s what Christ was about at all, and it’s not what we’re going to be about.”

Oleson said that five new rainbow flags, ordered from Amazon, are on the way.

A rally to support Edmonds Lutheran Church, "Edmonds Show of Colors," is 10-11 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 12. The church is at 23525 84th Ave. W, Edmonds. Participants should not park in the church parking lot.



Comments (1)
Posted by: Nathaniel R Brown | Feb 09, 2017 11:23

For those who might wish to educate themselves further about the biology and theology of acceptance of LGBT persons, the following reading list might be of interest.  To the flag-stealers and those who quote Old Testament passages, there is another side to it:

Leroy Aarons, Prayers for Bobby, Harper, 1995 – The deeply moving story of a fundamentalist Christian mother coming to terms with here son’s homosexuality after his suicide.

Bruce Bagemihl, Biological Exuberance, St. Martin’s Press, 1999 – Homosexuality in nature observed and exhaustively documented.

Howard H. Bess, Pastor, I am Gay, Palmer Publishing, 1995 – A very readable look at issues surrounding homosexuality by an American Baptist Minister. Probably the easiest source for broader examination of the "troublesome verses". Highly recommended.

John Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality, University of Chicago Press, 1980 - Highly scholarly and deeply notated; the study of linguistics and Biblical texts, and a history of the relatively "new" phenomenon of anti-homosexuality withing the Church and society. Fundamentally important reading.

Robb Formann Dew, The Family Heart, Addison-Wesley, 1994 – Well-written account of the growth of a family through coming to terms with the homosexuality of one of their sons. Highly Recommended.

Stephen E. Fowl, Engaging Scripture, Blackwell. 1998. A distinctively theological interpretation of scripture, as opposed to a subjective or personal one. Heavy, but most valuable.

Daniel A. Helminiak, What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality, Alamo Square Press, 1994 – Examination of Biblical texts.

Richard Holloway, Dancing on the Edge, Fount/Harper Collins (UK), 1997 – Tremendously exciting look at core Christian beliefs in the post-modern age.

Richard Holloway, Godless Morality, Canongate (UK) 1999 – Presents a superb & challenging way of examining inherited dogma. Highly recommended as a basis for further examination and discussion.

John J. McNeill, Freedom, Glorious Freedom, Beacon Press, 1995 – McNeil, a former Jesuit, offers some of the most inspiring directions for gay and lesbian lives to take, in deeply spiritual and very clear writing. This was a very important book in my own coming to terms with spirituality as a homosexual Christian.

John J. McNeil, The Church and the Homosexual, Beacon, 1976

Eugene F. Rogers, Sexuality and the Christian Body, Blackwell, 1999 – A scholarly and very challenging examination of Christian attitudes towards homosexuality. Cannot be too highly recommended.

Colin Spencer, Homosexuality in History, Harcourt Brace, 1995 – Useful reference for historical questions and research.

John Shelby Spong, Living in Sin?, Harper, 1990 – Highly readable, thoughtful and at times provocative meditation on Christian sexual ethics. Highly recommended whether one agrees or not, as a starting point for reexamination of a broad range of issues.

Andrew Sullivan, Love Undetectable, Vintage, 1999 – A conservative and often inspiring reflection on homosexuality from a Catholic point of view.

Michael Vasey, Strangers and Friends, Hodder & Stoughton (UK), 1995 "A new exploration of homosexuality and the Bible." Very scholarly be most readable; highly recommended.



If you wish to comment, please login.