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New Pastor Arrives At LGBTQ-Inclusive Church At Pivotal Moment For Dallas

Jon Viscott/Facebook
Neil Cazares-Thomas speaking in Los Angeles, where he lived before coming to Dallas.

A North Texas megachurch that bills itself as the largest LGBT-Q church in the country gets a new leader, just as the Supreme Court prepares to rule on same-sex marriage. Neil Cazares-Thomas comes to Cathedral of Hope from L.A. where he worked to lift the ban in that state.

In this Friday Conversation, he explains his concept of Jesus as a queer theologian, his formative experience as a Mormon born in Britain and his plan to heal Dallas. 

Interview Highlights: Neil Cazares-Thomas...

...on his life story:

“I came out as a gay man just after my fifteenth birthday and walked into my first metropolitan community church in Bournemouth, England, where I’m from, very shortly afterwards. I really had been spiritual all of my life, grew up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

My family left the church, primarily because my mom and dad were divorced. My mom wanted to remarry. He was not a Mormon. And the church denied her a marriage. I came to the understanding that the church could be wrong.”

...On the imminent Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality:

"I think we’re in a moment of history in the United States, not just around marriage equality.

Marriage equality in some ways is a symbol or a symptom of something much, much deeper that I think is going on around many, many different minorities.

The sense of radical inclusion, this ‘melting pot’ if you will, is a value that we want to uphold."

...On his book, From Queer to Eternity:

"The lens that I look through is to understand the word “queer”. Whilst it’s been used as a derogatory term, the root word for queer is “that which is different, that which is odd, that which is peculiar.” And in many, many ways, Jesus was a queer theologian."

...On tackling the decreasing number of Christians in the United States:

"The problem is not with Christianity. The problem is with the church.

The church needs to in some ways do a massive repentance job and say, “We’re sorry for misleading you away from the words of Jesus to the words of what we want this world to look like,” which is, in some ways, the dominant culture of white male, middle class, heterosexual society. And that kind of power is denying the people on the fringes of society their rightful place at the table."

Lyndsay Knecht is assistant producer for Think. 
Rick Holter was KERA's vice president of news. He oversaw news coverage on all of KERA's platforms – radio, digital and television. Under his leadership, KERA News earned more than 200 local, regional and national awards, including the station's first two national Edward R. Murrow Awards. He and the KERA News staff were also part of NPR's Ebola-coverage team that won a George Foster Peabody Award, broadcasting's highest honor.