Church Clarity (CC) was launched in October 2016 as an organization that reports churches’ LGBTQ+ policies, and they rate congregations based on their level of clarity. They announced their most significant accomplishment to date, according to Religion News Service: a detailed analysis of America’s 100 largest churches. Using Outreach Magazine’s popular annual list, CC’s staff uncovered three explosive insights about America’s mega-churches and discovered that evangelical churches are lacking in three critical areas of diversity: sexuality, race, and gender.
After the organization has been launched, some conservatives attacked the CC’s liberal leadership, while some progressives claimed that labeling churches undermined progress. According to its website, Church Clarity’s goal is to eliminate the prevailing evangelical reality where ambiguity is acceptable, where accountability is non-existent and where pastors are able to conceal the policies they actively enforce. “We believe that clarity should start on what many churches describe as their “front door”—their websites.” They believe that churches need to be clear about policies that impact LGBTQ+ individuals.
Religion News Service reports: While progressive Christians often claim that same-sex issues have largely been settled, America’s mega-churches have apparently not received the memo. None of them have policies affirming same-sex people and relationships. This staggering statistic will doubtlessly provide firepower to conservative Christians who claim that LGBTQ+ affirmation is a slippery slope to liberalism and a congregation killer.
And yet the data also provides progressives a counterargument. According to CC’s analysis, a paltry 35% of these mega-churches have clear LGBTQ+ policies, and 54% actually hide their LGBTQ+ positions (e.g. sermons and blogposts) deep inside their websites. This seems to indicate that many non-affirming mega-churches are not as boldly opposed as one might assume, and some of these large congregations may be currently reconsidering their positions and policies.
Another interesting thing the report finds is that the vast majority of megachurches (93%) are led by white pastors, and only one is led by a female pastor who works as a co-pastor together with her husband.
Only 7 out of 100 of the churches on Outreach’s list are led by a person of color… So despite the Christian calls to diversity, equality, and justice, America’s mega-churches are still lagging in the race department. These churches may preach a Gospel of inclusion, but they disproportionately prefer white men for their top leadership positions.
Female pastors are on the rise in America, but not so for the largest mega-churches. Only 1 of the 100 largest churches on Outreach’s list cites a female pastor.
In the future, Church Clarity plans to also report on race and gender inclusion among church leadership. Transparency might lead churches to change some of their exclusive policies.
Photo Credits: LGBTQ Nation