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Score Definitions

Actively enforced policies should be clearly communicated on a church’s website.

Why? Glad you asked. An organization’s website serves as a centralized location for the public to understand its critical information.

We're currently scoring LGBTQ Policy & Women in Leadership Policy, with plans to expand, based on public demand. This page offers additional insight into our unique scoring methodology.

TLDR? A simple rule of thumb: If a new person was browsing your church's website and was not searching for particular policy, would they discover it? If "yes," it's "clear." If not, then it's "unclear."

Undisclosed

Definition: The score for church websites that do not provide conclusive evidence about their actively enforced policies. These churches are the least clear.

Unclear

Non-Affirming

The score for church websites that do not clearly communicate non-affirming LGBTQ+ policies.

Unclear websites locate policies in peripheral sections of the website (e.g. sermons) OR are located in a denomination's website and are not directly linked from church website's primary pages.

Non-Affirming policies place restrictions on individuals based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity (e.g. people who identify as Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex or Queer). A church may welcome LGBTQ+ people, but if it will not ordain, hire or marry LGBTQ+ people, their policy is non-affirming. If a church has non-egalitarian policy, that will be counted as non-affirming since it discriminates based on gender identity.

Unclear

Affirming

The score for church websites that do not clearly communicate affirming LGBTQ+ policies.  

Unclear websites locate policies in peripheral sections of the website (e.g. sermons). Affirming policies located in denominations’ websites do not count towards a church’s score, as affirming denominations do not require churches to be affirming.

Affirming policies place no restrictions on people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and/or Queer; they are allowed to participate and lead at all levels of church leadership and liturgy (e.g. marriage, ordination). Policies must specify both sexual orientation and gender identity/expression in their affirmation -- if only one is addressed, they will be scored as "unclear." Generic "we are inclusive" or "we welcome all" statements do not meet our standard for clarity.

Actively Discerning

The score for identifying churches who are openly and proactively contemplating their actively enforced policies. Publicly acknowledging this process is an example of delivering clarity. Because this option has a high potential for abuse, however, we only grant this score as a temporary placeholder. A church can only declare it is "Actively Discerning" if it publicly commits to delivering clarity within a reasonable, specific deadline.

We are excited about the potential this option offers church leaders and we hope to be a resource whenever possible. We believe by identifying ambiguity as a fundamental source of harm, we can collectively encourage more churches to aspire for clarity, regardless of their convictions. Please email us for additional information.

Clear

Non-Affirming

The score for churches who clearly communicate indicate non-affirming policies in a way that can easily be found on their websites.

Clear websiteslocate their policies in their primary pages (e.g. Beliefs, About, Values) or accessibly links to policies from those pages.

Non-Affirming policies place restrictions on individuals based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity (e.g. people who identify as Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex or Queer). A church may welcome LGBTQ+ people, but if it will not ordain, hire or marry LGBTQ+ people, their policy is non-affirming. If a church has non-egalitarian policy, that will be counted as non-affirming since it discriminates based on gender identity.

Clear

Affirming

The score for church websites that clearly communicate affirming LGBTQ+ policies.

Clear websites communicate their policies from their primary pages (e.g. Beliefs, About, Values) or accessibly links to policies from those pages. Alternatively, having openly practicing LGBTQ+ folks represented in pastoral roles would suffice in lieu of a policy. Affirming policies located in denominations’ websites do not count towards a church’s score, as affirming denominations do not require churches to be affirming.

Affirming policies place no restrictions on people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and/or Queer; they are allowed to participate and lead at all levels of church leadership and liturgy (e.g. marriage, ordination). Policies must specify both sexual orientation and gender identity/expression in their affirmation -- if only one is addressed, they will be scored as "unclear." Generic "we are inclusive" or "we welcome all" statements do not meet our standard for clarity.

Verified Clear

Verified Clear is the clearest score that a church can receive. A “VC” church indicates a representative from the church has responded to our policy-survey, confirming their actively enforced policies, directly with our team. Churches are eligible for a Verified Clear score regardless of their answers to the survey questions, which are displayed in lieu of our typical scoring designations. 

In the survey, we ask if churches will hire, marry and ordain (or recommend for ordination) all who identify as LGBTQIA, if women can preach, lead and govern, how often women and/or non-binary preach and if they make up at least 50% of church's leadership team.

Are you a church leader or staff person who is Interested having your church scored as Verified Clear? Email us to receive the survey.

Read more about “Verified Clear.”

Undisclosed

The score for church websites that do not provide conclusive evidence about their actively enforced policies. These churches are the least clear.

Unclear

Non-Egalitarian

The score for church websites that do not clearly communicate their non-egalitarian policies.

Unclear websites locate policies in peripheral sections of the website (e.g. sermons) OR are located in a denomination's website and are not directly linked from church website's primary pages.

Non-Egalitarian policies place restrictions on women’s leadership within a local church. A church may suggest that women are “equal in worth” to men, but if it will not permit a woman to lead at every level within a local church, it is non-egalitarian.

Unclear

Egalitarian

The score for churches whose egalitarian policies are not adequately reflected in the current leadership personnel as listed on their websites.

Unclear: Egalitarian churches permit women to serve at all levels of leadership within a local church but LACK clear and adequate representation in leadership ranks. Adequate representation = at least one woman or non-male person holds a pastor or minister title or leadership team is at least 50% non-male. If this information is not provided clearly on the website, it's scored as "unclear." If the pastor title is non-distinguishable from pastor titles that women hold in non-egalitarian churches (e.g. "Children's Pastor") then it's scored as "unclear." A Clear: Affirming policy will suffice in lieu of an Egalitarian policy, but Clear or Unclear depends on representation.

Actively Discerning

The score for identifying churches who are openly and proactively contemplating their actively enforced policies. Publicly acknowledging this process is an example of delivering clarity. Because this option has a high potential for abuse, however, we only grant this score as a temporary placeholder. A church can only declare it is "Actively Discerning" if it publicly commits to delivering clarity within a reasonable, specific deadline.

We are excited about the potential this option offers church leaders and we hope to be a resource whenever possible. We believe by identifying ambiguity as a fundamental source of harm, we can collectively encourage more churches to aspire for clarity, regardless of their convictions. Please email us for additional information.

Clear

Non-Egalitarian

The score for church websites that clearly communicate non-egalitarian policies.

Clear websites communicate their policies from their primary pages (e.g. Beliefs, About, Values) or accessibly links to policies from those pages.

Non-Egalitarian church policies place restrictions on women. A church may suggest that women are “equal in worth” men, but if it will not permit a woman to lead at every level of leadership within a local church, it is non-egalitarian.

Clear

Egalitarian

The score for churches whose egalitarian policies are adequately reflected in the current leadership personnel as listed on their websites.

Clear: Egalitarian churches permit women to serve at all levels of leadership within a local church and have clear, adequate representation in leadership ranks. Adequate representation = at least one woman or non-binary person holds a pastor title or leadership team is at least 50% non-male; this information must be clearly presented on the website. The pastor title must be a title that is distinguishable from titles that women have in non-egalitarian churches.

Verified Clear

Verified Clear is the clearest score that a church can receive. A “VC” church indicates a representative from the church has responded to our policy-survey, confirming their actively enforced policies, directly with our team. Churches are eligible for a Verified Clear score regardless of their answers to the survey questions, which are displayed in lieu of our typical scoring designations (i.e. "affirming","non-affirming, “egalitarian” or “non-egalitarian”).

Are you a church leader or staff person who is Interested having your church scored as Verified Clear? Email us to learn more!