EPISCOPALIAN bishops in the United States have expressed their outrage at President Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military.
The Church’s Presiding Bishop, the Most Revd Michael Curry, said in a statement that he was “compelled” to oppose the move both as a follower of Jesus Christ and a US citizen who loves his country.
Mr Trump tweeted last week that he had decided to bar transgender people from being in the armed forces because the military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail”.
But Bishop Curry rejected his argument: “As followers of Jesus Christ, we believe the inherent sanctity, dignity, and equality of every human being as a child of God is part of the moral foundation of our faith.
“As Americans, we believe in civil and human equality, as one of the foundational ideals of our country. Discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation is a violation of the fundamental ideal of equality in America.”
His statement concluded by thanking transgender soldiers, pilots, sailors, and marines for “your service and for your sacrifices”.
Other Episcopal bishops have also come out against President Trump’s order. The Bishop Suffragan for the armed forces, the Rt Revd Carl Wright, said that he was “troubled” by the President’s “disrespectful” tweets.
“While it could be true that there are atypical costs associated with the healthcare of troops who are transgender, surely such costs would be no different than those of medical conditions incurred by other distinct groups,” he wrote in a statement. “We can’t retreat on the issue of full inclusion of all Americans in the defence of our great nation. I pray the President will reconsider.”
The Episcopal Church’s General Convention voted in 2012 to ban discrimination based on gender identity or expression, and affirmed that transgender people were welcome to seek ordination in the Church.
The Roman Catholic Archbishop to the Military Services in the US, the Most Revd Timothy Broglio, said in a statement that while the Church would always draw near to people and honour their human dignity, society had got it wrong on gender identity.
“Sexual orientation and gender identity issues reflect a rapidly increasing and incorrect societal attitude that individual behaviours in life should pursue immediate and personal choices rather than eternal truth,” he said. Everyone, including those his archdiocese cared for in the armed services, should accept their “God-created biology”.
Some conservative Evangelicals in the US praised the decision, including Franklin Graham, chief executive of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
The Christian Broadcasting Network, an Evangelical TV station which President Trump has courted, reported that some of the Evangelical leaders who had a widely publicised White House meeting with the President last month specifically requested that he implement a transgender military ban.
Evangelicals in some states have been campaigning against attempts to protect transgender people from discrimination and instead have been promoting so-called “bathroom bills”, which would force transgender people to only use toilets that corresponded with the gender that they were born into.
Polls suggest that President Trump’s ratings are twice as high among white Evangelical Protestants compared with the general public.
In Britain, senior military figures, including the Second Sea Lord, and the Ministry of Defence have said that transgender people will continue to be welcome in the UK’s armed forces.