Karen Ocamb

No Gays in the Crystal Cathedral Choir?

Filed By Karen Ocamb | March 17, 2011 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: California, media

There is trouble at the famed Crystal Cathedral mega-church in California's Orange County - and it's not just that they've filed for bankruptcy. The church now appears to be vetting its leadership by making them sign a "covenant" promising that they, too, stand against homosexuality.

Crystal Cathedral - the monumental glass structured megachurch renown for Rev. Robert Schuller's televised "Hour of Power" ministry - has fallen on hard times in the past two years. The Orange County Register reports that on Oct. 11 – Crystal Cathedral Ministries filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. They've also had to cut staff, sell off property, and cancel their annual tourist-attracting “Glory of Easter” extravaganza.

And now they may lose members because the founder's daughter and senior pastor, Sheila Schuller Coleman, is requiring that all church leadership - including members of the church choir - sign an explicitly antigay covenant. Part of the covenant reads: "I understand that Crystal Cathedral Ministries teaches that sexual intimacy is intended by God to only be within the bonds of marriage, between one man and one woman.”

Longtime church member Ann Moore Waltz told The Register that she's upset by this turn of events. Waltz said:

“If I were still in the choir and if that was presented to me, and if a gay person had walked out, I would have walked out with him or her.”

Other church members are upset at being "vetted."

Coleman issued a statement saying the covenant was intended to "clarify" the church's expectations of its leaders.

The irony is that the Crystal Cathedral was designed by the late great GAY architect Philip Johnson.

Crossposted at LGBT POV, image from Wikipedia

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Holden Alee | March 17, 2011 1:04 PM

And let's not forget that Rev. Schuller (senior) was good friends with the flamboyant and fabulous organist Virgil Fox, who often performed at the Crystal Cathedral. He even presided over Fox's funeral. This is really sad....they are risking alienating many talented people with this.

Derrick Bowman | March 17, 2011 1:12 PM

This might be of some use. The founder of the church has come out against these forms.


Yeah, saw that. Weird.

Also interesting is that this covenant seems to be for the whole church, and yet we find out when they try to get the choir to sign on.

Well, it seems that Rev. Schuller was kept a bit out of the loop -- if his statement is to be believed. (I have no knowledge, one way or another.)

Of course, it seems to me that the founder of the Church (i.e., Jesus) probably wouldn't have been that enthusiastic about what St. Paul did to his preaching, either.

Rick Sutton | March 17, 2011 3:47 PM

I have long enjoyed the senior Rev. Shuller's TV broadcasts. So much so, that while visiting a convention nearby in 1985, I went to the CC.

In one word--amazing. One of Johnson's best designs anywhere.

The ministry has fallen on hard times because of the economy and because his offspring have fought over succession plans. He was taken very seriously ill while travelling abroad four or five years ago, and had emergency brain surgery in--I think--Russia...he's not well.

He started as one of the first ministers in America, to venture outside. The CC site is the home of a former drive-in theatre, where he preached for five years before he bought the site.

I hope they can recover from their financial hardships. And get some common sense pushed between his daughter's ears. Her father is not about excluding anyone.

This acorn fell far from the tree. Sadly.

My take on the Good Reverend Shuller is not so charitable. Even though they are so often the families we grew up in, we schmooze with the judgmental fundamentalists at our own peril.

In the early 90's my parents were visiting me in my home in Cerritos, and on Sunday I thought of going to the Crystal Cathedral for church service -- I thought my parents would enjoy that and I would find it interesting.

It proved to be way too interesting. It turned out that Magic Johnson had recently announced that he was HIV-positive, and Rev. Shuller's sermon included his reading of a letter he wrote and sent to Mr. Johnson -- it was so obviously Rev. Shuller's duty to do such a thing. The letter boiled down to, "Magic, you're the one who thought you were invincible just because you got rich and famous, and now that you've had your fun fuckin' around, you've gotten what you deserve."

What a compassionate, thoroughly Christ-like attitude!

(Of course, this was at a time when America was still naive enough about HIV that everyone except Johnson's HIV doctors were assuming that Magic would drop dead within a matter of days.)

In the car on the way home, I drove silently while my parents praised what a wonderful service they had just attended. Had I vented my rage, it would have convinced them of absolutely nothing, plus ruined their entire visit (in their view). Call me a coward if you must, but for the sake of proving myself to be a gracious host, I sat through the whole episode without a word.

Chitown Kev | March 17, 2011 4:32 PM

anti-gay hate = bring in the bucks needed to save the church.

Or at least that appears to be the calculation.

Never mind what will happen to her father's legacy.

as featured on "Laguna Beach" right?

Yeah, Jake, after seeing "90210" and "The O.C" we can only conclude that TV producers are working their way down the coast ... I assume the last in this series of trendy prime time soap operas will be fatefully entitled, "Diablo Canyon" ...

... or maybe they have already re-named it "The Event" ...

Have I ever mentioned that I have Alzheimer's genes on both sides of my family tree?

I meant to mention "San Onofre" as the nuclear plant south of Laguna Beach, not "Diablo Canyon" ...

Have I ever mentioned that I have Alzheimer's genes on both sides of my family tree?

Oh. Yeah. I did.

So have any choir members walked out?

No ... but three donkeys, two camels, and a flock of geese did. (The geese didn't exactly walk out, but ... you know.)

And the gay penguins were excommunicated.

Just joking.

P.S. The two lesbian nanny goats were allowed to stay -- and don't worry, their kidds are alright.

Wayne Bradley | March 18, 2011 5:49 PM

This is troubling because, for some years, the UFMCC attended the annual Church Leadership Conference held there. We were led to believe we were welcome there.