After a recent Macklemore concert in South Dakota on Friday, attendee Dannika Nash took to her blog to speak on behalf of a new generation of pro same-sex equality Christians. Since writing the post, Nash has been fired from her Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) summer camp counselor position.
Nash titled her post “An Open Letter to the Church from My Generation” and is a passionate plea to the institution to change their views for the sake of a new, more liberal congregation.
The Iowa native grew up with gay relatives and friends, but in a conservative environment that preached the notion that same-sex marriage is wrong. As she went off to college in South Dakota to study theology, she said that LGBT issues were something she couldn’t avoid.
“We had a gay pastor come speak and in protest a lot of the theology department didn’t show up,” Nash told 429Magazine. “I wasn’t sure how I felt about the subject just yet but as I listened to him he changed my mind on gay marriage and Christianity. I read work by Matthew Bynes and listening to that point of view was more fitting with how I want to treat people and goes hand in hand with what I believe, and that it’s ok to be pro-gay and Christian.”
Nash highlighted Macklemore’s song “Same Love,” which is about stereotypes against the LGBT community and how being LGBT shouldn’t matter.
“When I was at church, they taught me something else” sings Macklemore. “If you preach hate at the service, those words aren’t anointed. That holy water that you soak in has been poisoned.”
“During the song, almost every person at the concert had their hands up and their eyes closed…it reminded me of church,” Nash writes. “The whole crowd spoke every word with Macklemore. We were thirsty for those words. We want to hear about equality and love in a gentle way.”
Nash said that she knew in posting the blog she would get a call from work. Just last year, one of her coworkers was asked not to come back after coming out.
She said the conversation started off with the question “do you think marriage is between a man and a woman?” She said no. She said she believed that marriage is between two people who love each other.
That’s when ELCA asked her not to come back.
“No one knows the tension of that song like my generation in South Dakota does,” Nash writes. “So many of us were brought up in churches and Christian homes, and even if we weren’t, we’ve experienced the traditional Christian culture that just resonates from South Dakota’s prairie land. We know conservatism; we know tradition.”
“But we also have Twitter, we watch SNL, we listen to Macklemore, and we read Tina Fey,” she continues. “We’re more in touch with the rest of the country than the Midwest has ever been.”
The blog has gotten a lot of positive feedback from Nash’s peers and emails from gay Christians who said they needed a voice like hers to inspire them.
“Before the song, Macklemore spoke really simple words along the lines of: ‘Hey, you can all have your own opinions on how we treat gay people in this country, but this is mine.’” Nash writes. “And I held my breath in anticipation of some kind of uproar or walk-out…but the crowd cheered louder than they had yet. In our red state, in our conservative little city, the 5,000 young people in that arena wanted to hear about marriage equality.”
“Say what you want about my generation, but we can smell fake from a mile away,” she continues. “This rapper from Seattle had brought us truth in song form, and we all knew it. I live in such a conservative bubble that I couldn’t believe the crowd’s positive, thankful reaction. But I shouldn’t have been surprised.”
Nash notes that her blog is written to the church in hopes that they stop fighting for inequality and instead focus on things in society that are negatively affecting people, like violence against women.
“My point in writing this isn’t to protect gay people. Things are changing— the world is becoming a safer place for my gay friends. They’re going to get equal rights,” she says. “I’m writing this because I’m worried about the safety of the Church. The Church keeps scratching its head, wondering why 70% of 23-30 year-olds who were brought up in church leave. I’m going to offer a pretty candid answer, and it’s going to make some people upset, but I care about the Church too much to be quiet. We’re scared of change. We always have been.”
She signs her post as from, “a college kid who misses you.”
429Magazine was unable to reach ELCA for comment.