LGBTQ Ministers Accused of Mocking Christians With ‘Glitter Ash Wednesday’

LGBTQ activist ministers around the country are celebrating “Glitter Ash Wednesday” in what critics are calling a subversion of the penitential act.

One such event at Fort Hays University in Kansas went viral Wednesday after an announcement for  Ashes-To-Go and Glitter+Ash was shared on social media by several conservative influencers, including Libs of TikTok. The event was advertised as “an inherently queer sign of Christian belief, blending symbols of mortality and hope, of penance and celebration.”

Ash Wednesday marks the first day of the solemn season of Lent.

The student group “Us 4 U” sponsored the event and sent the announcement to students in an email that included the university’s brand mark in the header. The group said ashes would be “distributed by Pastor Brenda Rodger and Pastor Troy Miller.”

Ash Wednesday, a Holy Day of Obligation in the Catholic Church, is traditionally observed with prayer, fasting and abstinence from meat.

During Ash Wednesday church services, many Christian churchgoers receive ash on their foreheads, as the priest or minister says “repent, and believe in the Gospel” or the dictum “remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

For most practicing Christians, the ashes symbolize grief over one’s sinfulness, and serve as an external sign of repentance. The distribution of ashes is not considered a joyful, celebratory occasion.

The idea for “Glitter Ash Wednesday” dates back to Lent of 2016, when a lesbian Episcopal priest in New York City saw Christians walking around with smudges of ash on their foreheads and decided to tailor the practice for the LGBTQ community, the Wichita Eagle reported in February of 2017.

“How could we walk around being visibly queer and visibly Christian, or visibly progressive and visibly Christian?” Rev. Liz Edman, author of “Queer Virtue,” told the paper. The Episcopal priest said “her girlfriend suggested glitter ashes.”

Edman says the purpose of Glitter Ash Wednesday is “to mark Christians with glitter instead of ashes to signify the full inclusion of LGBTQ+ people who are often rejected by the church.”

During an interview last year, Edman said she received a very positive response from New Yorkers when she debuted the practice at the Christopher Street Subway Station in “a kind of ashes to go moment.”

She said ministers “had a quick little chat” with commuters to let them know they were distributing the ashes as part of “a protest movement” and as “an affirmation of LGBTQ people” so that they would have informed consent.

Edman claimed she had only one person who demurred, but many people told her it was preferable to what the Church offered.

“I had a number of people who said ‘my relationship with the Church is so strained right now. There is no way I would have done Ash Wednesday, but I’ll do this,'” she said.

The practice was adopted by the Rev. Marie Sager, pastor of Trinity Lutheran in Hays, Kansas.

“Glitter within the LGBT, the queer community, is a sign of life and celebration,”  Sager told the Eagle. “It is kind of that visible statement that you are valued, you are welcome.”

Christians on social media noted that the “Glitter Ash” practitioners appear to lack a basic understanding of what the day is all about.

“Glitter ash misses the point,” one X user said. “Ash Wednesday marks a time for those of the Christian faith to confess their sins and profess their devotion to God leading up to Easter.”

“They are mocking Christians,” another user wrote. “It’s sick and twisted.”

Catholic Answers strongly condemned “Glitter Ash Wednesday” back in 2017 when it was gaining popularity in the LGBTQ community, calling it “an objective subversion of the meaning of this penitential act.”

Like the holy water with which they are blessed, the blessed ashes are sacramentals, and canon law requires that all sacramentals “are to be treated reverently and are not to be employed for profane or inappropriate use.” Mixing glitter with the ashes is clearly profanation. Moreover, in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, an alternative formula may be used by the priest as he distributes ashes on Ash Wednesday: “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.” The very intent behind the use of “glitter ashes” is “inappropriate,” as this formula makes clear: Calling attention to one’s self-identification with a particular type of sexual sin is hardly the best way to turn away from that sin; it is, however, a very effective way of perverting a Christian symbol and turning it into a political one.

Following the backlash on social media, Fort Hays University released a statement clarifying that the school does take a position on student activities. The university said it would be updating its “student organization event announcement procedures to clarify that these are announcements from the Student Organizations, not the university.”

The “Glitter + Ashes” event scheduled for today (February 14) on campus is sponsored by Us4U and the United Methodist Campus Ministry. Both are recognized Student Organizations at Fort Hays State University, and both followed established protocols for creating, announcing, and holding this event.

As with any Student Organization-led event, email communications about this event included an FHSU-branded header graphic. The inclusion of the university brand mark in the header is not intended to serve as an affirmed or implied endorsement of the beliefs and views held or expressed by any Student Organization. In the interest of ensuring that the First Amendment right of every individual is respected, FHSU remains viewpoint-neutral on this and other Student Organization-led events. We are in the process of updating our student organization event announcement procedures to clarify that these are announcements from the Student Organizations, not the university, and the content of the emails and the events themselves may not reflect the opinions/beliefs of the university or university leadership.

The Kansas Board of Regents and Fort Hays State University are committed to the free expression of ideas and beliefs, and we are united in our commitment to full and open inquiry and discourse and the robust exchange of ideas and perspectives. The principles of freedom of speech and freedom of expression are fundamental rights guaranteed under the U.S. and Kansas Constitutions.

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About Debra Heine

Debra Heine is a conservative Catholic mom of six and longtime political pundit. She has written for several conservative news websites over the years, including Breitbart and PJ Media.

Photo: NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 06: Roody Chatelain, a worshipper at the Church of the Village, administers a glitter ash cross on a forehead during a service at the historic church that serves all, including members of the LGBTQ community on March 06, 2019 in New York City. The Church of the Village has joined with other Manhattan churches to celebrate the beginning of lent with a "Glitter Ash Wednesday" which seeks to promote faith, love and the visibility of lesbian and gay communities in Christianity. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)