This testimony was given at the Rio Texas Annual Conference in Corpus Christi, Texas. Watch the video here.

My name is Davis Covin and I am a member of First United Methodist Church Austin in the Capital District. I would like to thank Bishop Schnase for allowing me the opportunity to share my story about a topic that is very connected to my experience in the church and to my fellow believers in Christ.  I know many of you followed the events at General Conference a few weeks ago and I promise, I do not plan to reopen any of those never-ending discussions or suggest any new legislation. Instead, I want to highlight the harm that some Christians are causing in the United States and in our world to our children and youth ranging from 12-22 years old.

Can you stick with me for just 180 seconds?  It doesn’t take much research or higher-level thinking to see that the church and Christians rank as one of the largest contributors to homelessness and suicide in LGBT youth.  Before you groan and think to yourself “Here we go again, I’m so tired to hearing about gays in the church!” please remember my intention is not to present any legislation or open up discussions and I WILL be done in 180 seconds.

According to The National Coalition for the Homeless, LGBT youth represent an estimated 7% of the total youth population but represent 40% of the youth homelessness population. The most frequently cited factor contributing to LGBT homelessness was family rejection.  The CDC cites LGB youth are already 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers and this number is only further compounded for LGBT youth who come from highly rejecting families who are then 8.4 times more likely to attempt suicide as their LGBT peers with no levels of family rejection.  With no family or support, we would hope that these and youth could turn to the church for help.

But as we learned at General Conference, LGBT people are not even universally considered children of God or fit to receive the word of Christ.

Now I realize that Christians will never all agree but at least can we agree that Jesus would never have wanted His followers to be the largest cause of youth homelessness and youth suicide in America?

I know it’s very difficult to believe that a true Christian would ever abuse their own children, encourage suicide or force their child out onto the street for how they were born.  I had never thought this either until last year when I saw this ugly side of Christians myself.

Last year, a video was recorded and posted on social media which was titled “Man proposes to boyfriend at Church.”

As of last week, this video has had a few million views on Youtube and as you can imagine, many viewers decided to leave comments and send messages including their opinions of the occasion.  Many were messages of love and encouragement from Christians around the world but there were also thousands of messages and threats from Christians expressing their disgust and hatred including “If this had happened in my church I would nailed these faggots up onto the cross myself” or “the devil is in this church and it should be burned down with everyone still inside.”

Words such as these would be expected from Nazis or the KKK not from those claiming to follow Jesus.

Can you now see why so many youth kill themselves, live in constant fear and are rejected by their families? 

You can probably infer from my reaction that this topic is personal for me.  That is because I am that boyfriend who was proposed to in the video.  It’s hard to hear those comments and it makes me want reject God the same way that I have been rejected by his Christians.  But I know that will do no good for me, my brothers and sisters in Christ, or any future generations of youth so here I stand.  In The United Methodist Church our motto is Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors but for many, all they see are cold hearts, closed minds and locked doors.

In the book of Matthew we hear Jesus say “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”  Are all children and youth not included in these words?  I appreciate your attention for my 3 minutes and I ask all of you to stay true to to our motto and keep open hearts, open minds and open doors to all, especially those most vulnerable.

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