America’s Largest Churches Are All Anti-LGBT and Led By Mostly White Men

None of America’s 100 largest churches are LGBT-affirming and almost all of them are led by white men, according to ChurchClarity.org, an organization that reports churches’ LGBT policies and rates congregations based on their level of clarity.

Just one of the U.S.'s largest churches has a female pastor and 93 percent of the churches are led by a white pastor, according to the site, which collected data from churches and represents over 1.1 million Evangelicals in America.

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That one female pastor, Nicole Crank of Faith Church in West Palm Beach, Florida, has a co-pastor: none other than her husband, David. While there is an increase of female pastors leading churches in America, the largest churches just aren't catching on. In October 2018, Heather Larson will become the lead pastor at Willow Creek Community Church outside of Chicago, bringing the grand total of female pastors leading America's largest churches to two, according to the Religion News Service

And it isn’t because Americans don’t want a female pastor. According to a survey by the Barna Group, 79 percent of Americans are comfortable with a female priest or pastor. Evangelicals, though, which the Church Clarity study focuses on, are the most uncomfortable with the idea. Only 39 percent of evangelicals said they’re comfortable with a female pastor, citing a “more traditional interpretation of the scriptures.”

“Evangelicals aside, most other practicing Christians would be comfortable with a woman in the pulpit,” Barna Editor-in-Chief Roxanne Stone said. “[T]his is likely to become more of an issue for churches as women continue to gain equality in other spheres.”

Even if they do, according to the Church Clarity study, those women will probably be white. Only seven out of the 100 largest churches are led by a person of color, which the study found based on “visual appearance, last names, or any mention that the senior pastor makes online (e.g. blog posts, social media posts) of his/her ethnicity or heritage.”

GettyImages-845437360 Reverend Margaret Mayman, minister of the Pitt Street Uniting Church, heading the Sunday service in Sydney. None of America’s 100 largest churches are LGBT-affirming and almost all of them are led by white men. PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images

These churches are also all anti-LGBT. The study found that it was difficult to tell what a church’s outright LGBT policies are, so it looked at which of the 100 churches simply had clear policies on the main pages of their websites. Over 50 percent of churches profiled were categorized as “Unclear: Non-Affirming,” meaning that they “do not clearly and accessibly communicate” their LGBTQ policies. Thirty-five percent of the churches were “Clear: Non-Affirming,” meaning that they “clearly indicate non-affirming policies in a way that can easily be found on their website.” Eleven percent were categorized as “Undisclosed,” meaning their “policy cannot be found on their website."

"An affirming policy means much more than 'welcoming' LGBTQ+ people," Church Clarity says on its website. "It means that the church will ordain, hire, marry and baptize LGBTQ+ people."

“Part of the reason we chose to release this now is because the New Year is a time when people decide to reengage with religion by attending church,” Church Clarity’s co-founder Tim Schraeder told Religion News Service. “As people of faith commit to new resolutions, we wanted to set them up for success by helping them make the most informed decision.”

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