The first transgender bishop in the United States resigned this week over racist behavior. Megan Rohrer, a bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, was accused of vulgar racism after firing Pastor Nelson Rabell-Gonzalez, a popular Hispanic pastor in Stockton, California.
Rohrer made headlines last year as the first openly transgender bishop in the nation and in the liberal denomination. An LGBTQ group, Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, also expelled her over the racism.
The mostly Mexican immigrant congregation of Mision Latina Luterana had gathered on Dec. 12, 2021, to celebrate the Feast of the Virgin Guadalupe and had no idea their pastor was set to be fired. According to The Daily Mail, Rohrer arrived at the church citing cause for his termination as verbal assault and harassment.
In a strange, and what many see as a racist act, Rohrer, 42, wore a bulletproof vest to perform the firing and threatened to call the police on church members if they responded “aggressively.” The congregation defended the pastor and described the intrusion by Rohrer as “an egregious action, especially when dealing with the vulnerable communities of Black, Indigenous and people of color.”
Many in the congregation also said Rohrer was smirking the entire time but the former bishop attributed that to autism.
Rohrer’s rise was built on progressive activism especially centered around LGBTQ+ issues. The LGBTQ movement has also attempted to co-opt the Black civil rights movement and slogans, according to observers.
Rabell-Gonzalez’s church’s related group, the Latino Ministries Association, said Rohrer was a “white aggressor” who was rooted in “white supremacy and systemic racism” and they dispatched a “listening team” to assess the situation and provide feedback to the church’s leadership.
That report released June 1 made several recommendations to the ELCA, including publicly apologizing to the Latino church community for the hurt caused, planning anti-racism training for churchwide staff and leaders, paying a “healing visit” to the community and creating a task force to review the church’s policies and procedures.
It’s not the first time the ELCA has created controversey. Pastor Aaron Musser gave a sermon in drag and clarified the church’s position that “queerness is sacred.” Rohrer was elected in May 2021 for a six-year term within the Sierra Pacific Synod, which consists of roughly 200 churches.