Good morning, my name is Rev. Dr. Rebecca Voelkel and I am the justice pastor and Director of the Center for Sustainable Justice at Lyndale United Church of Christ.
I stand before you today as a Christian pastor. I have to tell you, being a pastor is one of my greatest joys in life. Because of my role, I have been invited into some of the most sacred spaces: I’ve seen in the delivery room as babies were being born, I’ve been in hospice rooms as folx have taken their last breath and crossed over the River Jordan, I’ve sung and prayed and preached and communed in some of the most powerful worship services, I’ve marched and been arrested witnessing for the gospel of love and justice. Being a pastor is one of the greatest joys of my life.
But my identity as a pastor is also a source of deep sorrow, shame and anger when I consider the violence done in the name of Jesus. My identity as a Christian pastor causes me to weep and rage when I consider the ways in which bad theology has been used to abuse. And there are far too many examples of bad Christian theology. In the last two months, we’ve heard of story after story of indigenous children’s bodies being discovered at so-called boarding schools. The latest one just this week on an island in Western Canada run by the Catholic Church. Bad theology distorts a gospel of love and liberation into a tool of violence, torture and death.
And when that happens, the only faithful thing any of us can do, but certainly the only faithful thing a Christian pastor can do is confess, repent and work toward reparation.
This morning, I am greatly honored to be standing with Gov. Walz and Lt Gov Flanigan as they ban so called reparative therapy. This practice is not any kind of therapy and is, instead, a technique of torture. It is a clear example of twisted, perverted theology. Conversion therapy is a tool for imbuing self-loathing. It creates life-long wounds that far too often lead to suicide.
I stand before you as a Christian pastor to confess that far too many Christians have used this torture technique against the LGBTQ community. I stand before you to call all of my Christian kindred to repent of this blasphemous practice. And I stand before you today in deep gratitude for Gov Walz and Lt Gov Flanigan and this Executive Order. May it be one step in the work of healing and repair for all Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer beloveds.