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Martin Eldred
Eagle River, AK

Thousands of faith leaders and parishioners alike are incredibly welcoming to the LGBTQ community and seek to have them join their faith communities in fellowship. One such faith leader is Pastor Martin Eldred of Joy Lutheran Church in Eagle River, Alaska. Pastor Eldred said that he grew up in a religious environment where many of the teachings spoke against inclusion of LGBTQ people. When Eldred began college, he said that’s when things began to change for him as far as his own beliefs, and he began a process of acceptance, which has continued into the present day. The issues of acceptance and discrimination hit close to home for Pastor Eldred: His son is a gay man who struggled to come out when he was younger. Pastor Eldred is very clear that religious liberty and religious freedom are not valid reasons to deny services to anyone.

“The framers gave us a great distinction between private and public spheres. My religious liberty stops as soon as I leave my home and enter into a public space. We saw this same issue years ago in the South, when black people were being discriminated against, and ultimately, the Supreme Court said you cannot refuse to serve someone based on the color of their skin. This is no different. You can’t be a baker or own a restaurant or have a business and put up signs saying, ‘We don’t serve these people.’”

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