The following statement was sent to members of the Kansas Senate by SoMA Executive and Stated Clerk Landon Whitsitt, opposing Kansas House Bill 2453.
February 17, 2014
Members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) relish our freedom as citizens of the United States. We regularly give thanks for the opportunity to worship our God in the manner we deem appropriate, and celebrate that this opportunity is for all. However, because our church constitution is clear when it names “the proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind” and “the promotion of social righteousness” as two of the great ends of the Church, it must be said that the recent political agenda being advanced in the Kansas Legislature is neither commensurate with the gospel nor socially right.
House Bill 2453 purports to protect the “religious freedom” of Kansans by legally allowing government employees and business owners to refuse services and goods to gay and lesbian couples and individuals. This is not “religious freedom.” This is state sanctioned discrimination in the vein of laws which, at one time, allowed for discrimination on the basis of color, sex, and nation of origin.
Kansas has always been proud of its “Free State” history, and has continued to forge new moments in that history. We were the first to elect a woman to political office. “Brown v Board” is a phrase woven into our national consciousness, and it is Kansas that is known as the home of the death of school segregation. We must not take a step backwards.
Presbyterians are a diverse group of people. We disagree about many things, but we are united in our affirmation that the God we serve requires each one of us to “love your neighbor as yourself.” It is this self-sacrificial posture that we promise to assume when each member of our church promises to show Christ’s love to the world.
Ad Astra Per Aspera. Kansans have always believed that we can make a way through difficulties to reach the stars. Please do not shy away from this present difficulty. I urge you to reject this bill and continue forging Kansas’ place in history as a state committed to freedom and equality.
Grace and Peace,
The Rev. Landon Whitsitt
Executive and Stated Clerk
The Synod of Mid-America, Presbyterian Church (USA)