Mass Exodus From Finnish Church After Church's Anti-Gay Screed

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland has gotten itself into hot water with its members -- many of whom are now ex-members -- after aligning itself with hateful, conservative views about homosexuality.

More than 78% of Finns are said to be members of the church, but those numbers have been tumbling as of late; last year, some 40,000 people resigned from the church, and this year 70,000 have already left. The most recent exodus can be attributed to a recent live televised debate during which church representatives called homosexuality a "sin" and questioned gay couples’ ability to raise a family.

The views expressed during the "Gay Evening" TV event were seen as abhorrent by many citizens.

For the church, the Gay Evening has been a huge PR disaster. The discussion was aired on a Tuesday, but it wasn’t until the following Sunday that the archbishop distanced the official church from the conservative views, in a television interview. When the scale of the problem became apparent, the church sprang into action. Five out of Finland’s nine bishops announced that they support blessing gay couples’ registered partnerships in the church (Finland allows gay couples to register their partnership but not to get married).

“The position of gay people in the church has been a stone in the shoe for many people, and it seems that the Gay Evening unleashed these repressed feelings,” said Petri Karisma, co-founder of a website that enables Finns to resign from the church.

Read more at Monocle.

AlterNet / By Lauren Kelley

Posted at November 26, 2010, 4:49am

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