For years, conservatives have warned that, as same-sex marriage became more widely accepted and legalized, clergy and Christians would start facing persecution. Priests would lose their positions for expressing Biblical views of homosexuality, we were warned. Now, Reverend Warren Hall says he was ousted from his ministry because he spoke openly about his beliefs regarding sexuality and same-sex marriage. However, contrary to fear-mongering predictions, it didn’t happen because he said that his God condemned homosexuality — it was because he spoke acceptingly, and condemned the bullying of kids over their sexuality.
He says the post was not in support of same-sex marriage as much as it was about an opposition to bullying — but another priest, seeing the post, reported Reverend Hall to his employers at Seton Hall university. He says he explained the post, agreed to delete it, and thought the issue was at an end — until he was notified of his dismissal a few days later.
Despite being fired for expressing support of LGBT individuals, Hall was not devoid of supporters. After Hall’s dismissal, a professor at the school showed solidarity by holding up a NOH8 sign at graduation.
— NOH8 Campaign (@NOH8Campaign) May 18, 2015
— Bailey Sadowski (@baaiilll) May 18, 2015
Students also took the opportunity to share messages of support.
— Danielle Barany (@danibabayyy) May 19, 2015
Students have also started a petition to save the priest’s job, and as of this publication, have ammassed nearly 6,000 signatures.
Reverend Hall spoke out on Twitter to thank everyone for the support, and to ask that, instead of an opportunity for anger, this is seen as an opportunity for new discussions.
Grateful for all the support. Dont be angry!! Turn this into an opportunity for open/reasonable discussion on LGBT issues on a Cath Campus.
— Warren Hall (@Warrmeister) May 15, 2015
In fact, the support the Reverend has received may have prompted his recent public statement to a reporter for OutSports — in which Reverend Hall came out openly as a gay man himself.
He notes that he still maintains his vows of celibacy to the church. However, when he hesitated to give an answer to a student who asked if he was gay, she reminded him that he had always told students to “be honest with themselves and others about who they are.”
That student was right. I have to be myself. I can’t worry what other people think.
He says he gave his student an affirmative answer, and now he’s giving the same answer to the world, and the church.
In the meantime, he has asked the church to give him a six-month sabbatical before reassigning him to a new position.
It looks as though conservatives may have been right about religious leaders facing persecution for expressing a stance on same-sex marriage — they were just wrong about which stance, and who would do the persecuting.