ACR NEWS RELEASE:
Institute on Religion and Democracy
March 29, 1999
The Association for Church Renewal (ACR) is calling upon the secular news media
not to lavish undeserved attention upon an extremist pastor who advocates hatred of
homosexuals. The ACR is a coalition of evangelical renewal leaders and executives within
mainline Protestant denominations, including the United Methodist Church, Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Episcopal Church, American
Baptist Church, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and the United Church of Christ.
The following is their statement:
The Rev. Fred Phelps of Topeka, Kansas has become a merit-less focus of media attention
because of his very public demonstrations against persons or organizations he perceives to
be pro-homosexuality. Rev. Phelps and his followers loudly proclaim that God
"hates" homosexuals. Most recently Phelps has appeared in the limelight because
of his demonstration at Matthew Shepards funeral and against two United Methodist
ceremonies celebrating same-sex unions, in defiance of their own denominations
teaching. Rev. Phelps has also demonstrated at the funerals of Sonny Bono, Frank Sinatra,
Barry Goldwater, and Bill Clintons mother. In his view, all were complicit in
promoting homosexuality. Phelps once demonstrated against the Rev. Jerry Falwell because
Falwell had said God loves homosexuals. And Rev. Phelps has demonstrated against
conservative religious schools such as Bob Jones University and Oral Roberts University.
Phelps denounces religious conservatives for refusing to endorse his erroneous message of
divine hatred for all homosexuals.
Phelps is not affiliated with any denomination and his small congregation appears to
include mostly family members. His nationwide demonstrations, although vocal, typically
comprise no more than 20 persons who are Phelps children, grandchildren or in-laws.
The Phelps organization is largely a clan, not a church, and certainly is not a national
As renewal leaders in mainline denominations, we strongly affirm the Scriptures
celebration of marriage between man and woman as the only proper context for sexual
expression. We are also mindful of the Bibles admonition to love all persons, and to
offer Gods invitation to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ to all persons. We
believe the church must be in compassionate ministry to homosexuals and to all persons
addicted to sexual sin, with Christs offer of forgiveness and healing.
The campaign of hatred by Phelps bears no resemblance to scriptural Christianity. It
properly may be called heretical. His demonstrations provide an erroneous view of our
faith in the public arena. His views are too often portrayed as the sentiments of
conservative or traditional Christians. And his advocacy of hatred and bigotry is often
contrasted with the ostensible love and inclusiveness of homosexual advocates and the
practitioners of same-sex "marriage." Thus, Phelps organization, as the
embodiment of gross stereotypes about Christians, has become a very helpful ally of the
movement for full acceptance of homosexuality. His message of hate inspires bigotry
We implore members of the media who cover topics relating to religion and sexuality not
to portray Phelps as a voice for Americas Christian community. He does not speak for
us, and he does not speak for any branch of Christianity.