June 26, 2019

Church Clarity Responds to Mosaic LA’s Statement on Sexuality in Hypebeast Article

Church Clarity Team

Yesterday, Hypebeast published several reports by ex-attendees of Mosaic Los Angeles that detailed how the church ambiguously prevented queer volunteers from serving in leadership. One of the largest churches in California and home to many Hollywood celebrities, Mosaic LA released a statement to defend its practices:

To be clear anyone and everyone is welcome at Mosaic. Mosaic is one of the most diverse communities that exists. There are currently many people of varied race, color, ethnicity, economic status, sexual orientation, and religious beliefs who attend Mosaic.” (Bolded emphasis is ours).

This statement is anything but clarifying. While it may be accurate to claim that anyone is “welcome” to attend a church service, this is a question nobody is asking. It cleverly frames the discussion in a way that limits the scope of inquiry exclusively to attendance, leaving out answers to questions around who can lead, who can get married, and so on. 

This statement is carefully worded in such a way that makes it highly likely to mislead the average person to assume that LGBTQ people can fully participate in the life and liturgy of the church without any restrictions. 

Let’s review the facts:

  1. Mosaic LA was founded as and is listed as a current member of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). 
  1. The SBC has a very clear policy on marriage:

“Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime.”

The SBC also has a clear policy on “transgender identity”:

“We oppose all cultural efforts to validate claims to transgender identity.”

Yesterday’s statement is in stark contrast with these publicly verifiable facts. The omission of these facts is the main problem we are interested in addressing. 

Although Mosaic LA found in the SBC database, its denominational affiliation is curiously omitted from its website. Church Clarity is a database that scores church websites on how clearly they communicate their policies. Given that these policies were not listed on Mosaic’s website, we scored Mosaic as “Unclear_Non-Affirming.”

Mosaic’s lead pastor Erwin McManus not only failed to disclose Mosaic’s SBC affiliation in the statement provided to Hypebeast, but he has also explicitly evaded or even denied that the church’s affiliation when asked point-blank on Twitter: “We would never define ourselves as SBC.”

In addition to Mosaic’s listing in the SBC database, here are several pieces of evidence of its Southern Baptist ties:

  • In 2006, McManus spoke on a panel in a SBC Conference in Greensboro, North Carolina.
  • In 2008, McManus said in an interview that the original name of Mosaic LA was “First Southern Baptist Church of East Los Angeles” and that “we and the Southern Baptists have the same high view of Scripture.”

The real life stories provided by former attendees of Mosaic indicate that the church is in alignment with the SBC’s non-affirming policies. People have reported that openly LGBTQ people in Mosaic could only volunteer in behind-the-scenes roles such as “cleaning bathrooms and floors” but they could never be seen on stage in a position of leadership. Another reported that a gay friend went through Mosaic’s volunteer program and committed to contribute 10% of his income to the church only to be told, at the final stage, that he could not serve in a public position because of his sexuality.

Not only has McManus denied his church’s Southern Baptist affiliation, he has also evaded questions from reporters on the church’s stance on ‘homosexuality.’

When asked about the church’s stance in 2015 for The New York Times article, he said, “Our position is, you have to be for each other.”

When asked again about the church’s stance in 2019 for the (original) Hypebeast article, he said, “We probably have more people who identify themselves in the gay community at Mosaic than probably any church in LA, just by the sheer virtue and the size of Mosaic… And so our posture has always been we’re for everybody.”

Church Clarity calls on Pastor Erwin Mcmanus and the leadership of Mosaic LA to clarify their latest misleading statement by publicly disclosing simple YES or NO answers to policy questions. These questions were previously sent to Mosaic LA (formally via email by our team, and repeatedly online by our advocates)  in an effort to set proper expectations for the public and the broader Christian community:

Will Mosaic LA Church currently hire LGBTQ+ people for any ministry role? 

Will Mosaic LA Church currently officiate a wedding for LGBTQ+ people? 

Will Mosaic LA Church currently ordain LGBTQ+ people?  

Such extraordinary measures taken by church leaders is not only misleading to the public, it is an irresponsible stewardship of pastoral duty. It dangerously encourages people who assume the best of those in spiritual authority to engage with churches like Hillsong from a place of vulnerability because they do not have full information about church policies. We stand with the countless individuals who have been harmed by such blatantly ambiguous practices and we reaffirm our score for Mosaic LA as Unclear: Non-Affirming. 

We look forward to Mosaic LA living up to their declaration that they "hold a high view of Scripture" which would no doubt include one of Jesus’ clearest teachings to “let your yes be yes and your no be no.” 

- Church Clarity Leadership Team

To take action, you can request clarity from Mosaic on Twitter.

You can also email to request clarity from Mosaic.