Schuller’s Ministry Hijacked by Gay Haters?

By: Angie [Schuller] Wyatt

Posted March 21, 2011 on her blog

Come as you are in the family car,” was the slogan that started that first drive in church.  More importantly, it was the heart that sustained my grandfather’s ministry for over fifty years.

The Crystal Cathedral has been a safe place for all people to find God. In fact, even my uncle, Jim Coleman, was hired to work for the church despite him being a non-believer. My grandfather affectionately says, “what better place for a non-believer to work than in a church.” It was this inclusive love that led to my uncle’s conversion.

Shocking then when his wife, who is the current pastor of the Crystal Cathedral asked the choir to adhere to a “Crystal Cathedral Worship Choir and Worship Team Covenant” that includes a firm stand against homosexuality. Pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman said that it was intended to, “clarify expectations on them as ministry leaders.” However, the fallout from this action has been widespread.

People are devastated, confused and angry. It has torn an already broken church to pieces. When my aunts ousted my father as the pastor of the church, people felt abandoned and left in the incapable hands of untrained leaders.

Now, with this “social contract,” the remnant feels that the core values of the ministry have changed. Has Schuller’s ministry been hijacked by gay haters? What’s going on?

I think it is completely appropriate for Christians and Christian ministries to adhere to a biblical view of sexuality that includes a traditional approach to marriage. In my mind, that does not make you a homophobic or a gay hater. The issue lies in how we address our beliefs with individuals, our faith community and then society at large. Sensible people can respect differences of opinions, as long as we consistently show respect for human dignity. It boils down to how we treat people. Frankly, the way we treat people says more about our true beliefs than anything we write in a “social contract.”

So why has this social contract hurt so many people? Is it because the church is taking a position on a hot issue? Personally, I don’t think so. I think it’s because human instinct says that there’s something else going on. There’s some deeper message, an underlying belief, that’s being covertly communicated.

First, why would spiritual leaders at the Crystal Cathedral ask their choir members to sign a social contract about homosexuality? It is the responsibility of a spiritual leader to

teach biblical principles that result in transformed lives. If you are unsatisfied with the lives of those you lead, a contract will not fix the problem for you.

What does this action reveal about a leaders core belief? Certainly implied is the idea that the leader does not want to take responsibility for his or her lack of spiritual leadership. They believe others should bear the weight of their burden.

Secondly, why would spiritual leaders at the Crystal Cathedral specifically mention homosexuality? Was there mention of other controversial issues such as pornography, alcoholism or violence? Statistically, they probably had more people in the choir dealing with these problems.

What does singling out homosexuality reveal about a leaders core belief? Addressing a major controversial issue in a group setting does not help individual people. A male member of the choir is not going to raise his hand and say, “Yes, that’s me. I’m gay and I feel that God doesn’t love me. I need spiritual guidance.” That is not realistic. So, this action doesn’t actually help individuals because it’s only a general statement.

At the core of Christianity is the belief that while God once solved social and behavioral issues with codes and contracts (Old Testament), He now takes a strictly relational approach. He deals with the core identity of individuals with His grace and love. As spiritual leaders, we must ardently refuse any inclination we might have to find a quick fix to spiritually deep, complex issues. We must be intimately and relationally connected with people if we want to bring restoration or healing to any area of their lives.

I think discerning people perceive the Crystal Cathedral’s social contract as a selfish act. It appears to be something to safeguard leadership against their fears and insecurities. Perhaps they are insecure about being associated with homosexuality. They might be thinking, What if there are gays in our choir? What will people think? Frankly, I think the leaders are afraid of something deeper. And, that brings me to my final point.

Hearing God. I teach people to hear God. That’s what this ministry, Spiritual Wellness, is all about.

Inside sources tell me that Crystal Cathedral leadership is using a lot of God-talk these days. Specifically, they are saying, “God told me.” We must be careful with these words because a major part of learning to hear God includes identifying when we have not heard God. Leaders are reportedly saying that they want to address the issue of homosexuality because God told them this is the reason that they are having problems at the church. They are convinced that addressing this issue (code: get rid of it) will reverse the fiscal problems in the church.

Clearly the fiscal problems are not a result of the of the behaviors or beliefs of the choir members. The fiscal problems have a direct correlation with firing the legacy, my dad, of an aging predecessor, my grandfather. The church has no true leadership.

When we use “God says” to evade responsibility, we have not heard God. But, spiritual leaders love to do this because they look into the future and feel fearful and powerless. Using “God says” makes them feel okay again. But, it’s wrong. Why are people hurt? They are catching the covert messages.

First, my spiritual leadership would rather tell me what to do than teach and instruct me in spiritual principles. Second, my spiritual leadership is more concerned with their reputation than with my transformation,

healing and growth. And finally, my spiritual leadership is using “God says” to manipulate my spiritual reality

Those are hurtful messages. They are messages that are more powerful than simply sharing one’s belief about homosexuality. That’s why people are shocked and hurt.

I have not been gentle in my assessment of the situation. God help me if I have been judgmental. These hijackers of the faith share my name. I will not standby as if I agree with something that misrepresents God’s true heart for people. I will speak out. It is my hope that the truth will reach the ears of those seeking help and answers. If that’s you, watch my video, Hurt By Religion.

Editor’s Note: Angie Schuller Wyatt is the daughter of Robert A. & Donna Schuller

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