WASHINGTON (BP)–The U.S. Veterans Administration has approved a predominantly homosexual religious denomination to provide chaplains for its healthcare facilities.
The Metropolitan Community Churches recently registered with the Veterans Administration, a V.A. spokesman confirmed Aug. 5. The MCC describes itself as “a worldwide fellowship of Christian churches with a special outreach to the world’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities,” according to its Internet site.
The MCC also has an application pending with the federal government to provide chaplains to the military branches, it reported.
The V.A. has 219 denominations who have registered for chaplaincy service. There are 623 chaplains in service with the V.A. This figure includes fulltime, part-time and “intermittent” chaplains, according to the V.A.
The Southern Baptist North American Mission Board has 65 chaplains affiliated with the V.A.
At this point, no applications have been received from MCC chaplaincy candidates, said Phil Budahn, a V.A. spokesman, Aug. 5. “The major huddle yet to come is for [the MCC] to provide a qualified candidate,” he said.
“To the best of my knowledge,” the V.A. handled the MCC application as “we would any other registration,” Budahn said.
That process includes a formal application by the religious body, documentation of a spiritual ministry to laypeople, recognition by the Internal Revenue Service and the ability to offer qualified candidates, he said.
The registration with the V.A. “marks an historic step for MCC churches” and “another positive step toward full equality for America’s gay and lesbian citizens,” said Troy Perry, the MCC’s moderator.
The MCC, which was started in 1968, has 52,000 members in 300 congregations in 22 countries.
The Southern Baptist Convention and other evangelical denominations are on record through confessions of faith and/or resolutions that homosexual behavior is sinful and is inconsistent with the Christian faith and with the qualifications for the church’s offices.