Faith leaders condemn bills that target LGBTQ+ people

These bills contribute to an environment where LGBTQ+ young people already face bullying in schools and experience greater struggles with depression, chemical dependency and suicide.

JSSP Letter to Editor

The 2023 Legislature has over a month of work under its belt, with hundreds of bills being considered by our state representatives and senators. As they consider these bills, we hope each legislator is guided by spiritual values we all hold dear — values such as compassion, kindness, charity and love for all people created in the image of God.

However, as ordained and lay faith leaders from across North Dakota, we believe a number of bills fall short of those shared values. More than 20 bills target our LGBTQ+ family, friends, neighbors, and parishioners. These bills contribute to an environment where LGBTQ+ young people already face bullying in schools and experience greater struggles with depression, chemical dependency and suicide.

These bills run the gamut from banning trans athletes from participating in school sports to endorsement of conversion therapy — a long discredited and dangerous practice. These fear-based bills are efforts to remove people from participating fully as members of our society, church and communities.

Those who support these bills argue they will somehow protect our kids. They will not because the real threats to children across this country are poverty, hunger, lack of health care, gun violence, bigotry, social pressures, mental health … and bills like these.

We believe God calls us to love one another and care for the needy. We believe Jesus preached a Gospel that embraces the marginalized. We believe that LGBTQ+ people are beloved children of God. We call on our legislators to oppose bills that would harm the people of North Dakota and support legislation that reflects the true values of North Dakotans — values that guide us to care for one another and build a state that welcomes everyone.


Other names attached to this letter were the following: The Rev. Joe A. Larson, Fargo; Bishop Tessa Moon Leiseth, Eastern North Dakota Synod-ELCA, Fargo; The Rev. Deborah Blood, Fargo; The Rev. Gretchen Deeg, Bismarck; Bishop Craig A. Schweitzer, Western North Dakota Synod-ELCA, Bismarck; The Right Rev. Thomas C. Ely, bishop provisional, Episcopal Diocese of North Dakota; The Rev. Edith Love, Unitarian Universalist Church of Fargo-Moorhead; The Rev. Dr. John Floberg, Standing Rock Episcopal Congregations, Fort Yates, Cannon Ball and Selfridge; The Rev. Gail Hagerty, Mandan, North Dakota; Rev. Dr. Gretchen Daneke Graf, Family of God Church ELCA and UCC, Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, Minnesota; Murray G. Sagsveen, Bismarck; The Rev. Grace Morton, Fargo; Pastor Jon B. Olson, Erhard, Minnesota; The Rev. Donna Olsen, senior minister, Hope 4 All UHM Interfaith Community; Hannah Vanorny, Bismarck; The Rev. Dr. Leanne Simmons, Bismarck; The Rev. Dr. Peter and Vicki Schmidt, ELCA-retired, serving LaMoure parish as interim pastor; The Rev. Dick Smith, Bismarck; The Rev. Steven Godfrey, diocesan minister, Episcopal Diocese of North Dakota;
Deacon Ashley Tangen-Greenwood, Bismarck; The Rev. Derek Harkins, Bismarck; Sandra Holbrook, St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Fargo; Camille Grothier, United Church of Christ, Bismarck Bill Patrie, United Church of Christ, Bismarck; Marcia Patrie, United Church of Christ, Bismarck; The Rev. Sylvia Bull, Bismarck; Phyllis Johnson, vice president, Eastern ND Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Grand Forks; The Rev. Michelle Webber, Moorhead, Minnesota; Micah Louwagie, St. Mark's Lutheran Church, Fargo;
The Rev. Zanne Ness, Episcopal priest, chaplain at Ministry on the Margins, Bismarck; Peter Edwards, Spiritual Director, Fargo; The Rev. Sharayah Robinson, ELCA pastor, Kathryn-Nome-Fingal Parish; The Rev. Karen Van Fossan, Authentic Ministry, Fargo; The Rev. Ellery Dykeman and Denise Dykeman, First Lutheran Church, ELCA, Minot; Deacon Beth Lipp, St. George’s Episcopal Church, Bismarck; Pastor Laurie Natwick, Fargo; Amy Phillips, St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Fargo; Dan Rice, St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Fargo; Christie Iverson, Episcopal Church, Bismarck; The Rev. Karl Kroger, Bismarck; The Rev. Ray Baker, Fargo; The Rev. Kyle Symanski, Valley City;
Gerard and Loretta Hegstad, Heart River Lutheran Church, Mandan; Lisa Ahlness, ELCA pastor, Bismarck; Deacon Erin Power, Fargo; The Rev. Martin Avery, serving Mayville and Gran ELCA; Stephanie Fournier; Hope Lutheran,
Surrey, North Dakota; Deacon Jodi Lorenz, ELCA, Underwood, North Dakota;
Debra Hoffarth, First Lutheran Church. Minot; the Rev. Janet Mathistad,
ELCA (retired), Minot; the Rev. Rachel Simonson, Minot; The Rev. Kathy Hintz,
Minot; Barb Solberg, First Lutheran Church, Minot; The Rev. Jared Carson,
Fargo; The Rev. Kim Gifford, Burlington, North Dakota; The Rev. Natasha Woitzel-Kolles and Jared Kolles, Minot; Janet Fisher, First Lutheran Church, Minot; The Rev. Carol Wendel, ELCA clergy (retired), Bottineau, North Dakota;
The Rev. Lisa Lewton, Dickinson; Pastor Connie Monson, Rugby; The Rev.
Helen Beth Kuhens; Fargo; The Rev. Bradley Dokken, ELCA pastor; The Rev. Kim Becker, Northwest Regional coordinator, Episcopal Diocese of North Dakota

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