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A Catholic diocese in Michigan believes everyone is worthy of forgiveness… unless you’re a trans person whose only crime is existing.

The Diocese of Marquette has told all pastors to deny trans and non-binary people baptism, confirmation, and communion — all sacraments that mean something to practicing Catholics — “unless the person has repented.” Which is to say they can’t fully participate as a member of the Church unless they admit they’re ashamed of who they are and sincerely wish they could change.

The cruel, heartless, and unabashedly Catholic policy treats trans and non-binary people the same way they treat gay people in same-sex relationships: The Church will take their money, sure, but they refuse to show any respect in the other direction unless the LGBTQ people agree that their sexual orientation or gender identity is a problem and pledge to live a life of celibacy and/or singleness. (The policy was released in July but didn’t get noticed until a priest who’s an LGBTQ ally shared it online this week.)

The Washington Post notes that this may be the first and only diocese in the country to take such drastic steps to cut trans/non-binary people out of the fold.

Because the Catholic Church primarily baptizes infants, the Diocese of Marquette’s policy is likely to primarily impact non-Catholic adults seeking baptism in the Catholic Church, transgender teenagers preparing for confirmation and children of Catholic migrants who were not baptized as infants because their parents were frequently moving, among other possible reasons.

While other dioceses have released guidance on transgender people, several experts said they believe Marquette is the first to deny access to baptism and confirmation. That decision comes in an absence of significant guidance from the Vatican or the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which have said little about transgender individuals and the sacraments.

Even from a Catholic perspective, the policy doesn’t make much sense which may be why other dioceses haven’t adopted similar policies. Catholics could easily argue everyone’s a sinner, yet baptism and full participation in the Church must be given to anyone who requests it, so the idea that certain LGBTQ people are locked out of the system is selective and absurd. (After all, there are plenty of straight, cis people whose actions have also violated Catholic doctrine, but because the public may not know about it, it’s not like they’re denied communion.)

Part of me also wonders why someone who’s trans or non-binary would want anything to do with a bigoted institution that has been the leading force against LGBTQ rights on a global scale. But that’s for them to figure out, not me.

If the Church decides it wants to kick out anyone who doesn’t match a particular orientation or identity, let them keep going down that path. And then let’s hope decent people of all stripes are so disgusted by the open display of hate coming from the top down, that they decide to walk away from the Church altogether. Why voluntarily remain in an institution that hurts so many people for no reason other than faith-based spite?

People who are still in the Catholic Church at this point are either bigots themselves or not really bothered by the Church’s bigotry — not enough to openly walk away from the institution, anyway. They’re willing to see LGBTQ people thrown under the bus in exchange for their kids’ admission into a Catholic school, or the ability to have a Church wedding, or because they think lazy traditions matter more than civil rights. No one’s asking them to stop believing in God, but choosing to remain Catholic — after all the harm the Church has caused and continues causing — reveals a lot about their broken moral compass.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.