Well-known Christian author Jen Hatmaker drew attention over the weekend when she and members of her church attended an LGBT pride parade in Austin, Texas, to offer “free mom hugs” to fellow demonstrators.
Hatmaker, who faced backlash in 2016 when she departed from traditional Christian teachings and declared same-sex marriage to be “holy,” shared about the outreach event in an emotional Instagram post.
“My beloved little church went downtown to the [Austin Pride Parade] and gave out free mom hugs, free dad hugs, free grana hugs, and free pastor hugs like it was our paying jobs,” she wrote.
My beloved little church went downtown to the #AustinPrideParade and gave out Free Mom Hugs, Free Dad Hugs, Free Grana Hugs, and Free Pastor Hugs like it was our paying jobs. And when I say hugs, I mean THE KIND A MAMA GIVES HER BELOVED KID. . Our arms were never empty. We “happy hugged” a ton of folks, but dozens of times, I’d spot someone in the parade look our way, squint at our shirts and posters, and RACE into our arms. These were the dear hearts who said: . “I miss this.” “My mom doesn’t love me anymore.” “My Dad hasn’t spoken to me in three years.” “Please just one more hug.” . You can only imagine what “Pastor Hugs” did to folks. ? So we told them over and over that they were impossibly loved and needed and precious. And we hugged until our arms fell off. This is what we are doing here, what we are here for. . The last pic is what you look like at the end of Pride covered in glitter, sweat, and more than a few tears. . Thanks to Sara Cunningham and the @freemomhugs tribe for the wonderful inspiration.
Hatmaker went on to write that her “arms were never empty,” noting many ran toward her and others from her congregation and told them things like, “I miss this,” “My mom doesn’t love me anymore,” “My dad hasn’t spoken to me in three years,” and, “Please just one more hug.”
After Hatmaker shared her unorthodox views on same-sex relationships with religion columnist Jonathan Merritt in 2016, the former HGTV star’s husband, Brandon, penned a lengthy Facebook post detailing his and his wife’s journey toward embracing the LGBT lifestyle.
In it, Hatmaker’s husband explained that the couple had been on “a journey” to determine what they believe Scripture says about homosexual relationships. After pouring over the Bible and several books on the topic, he concluded, “We both believe a same-sex marriage, as a life-long monogamous commitment, can be holy before God.”
In the aftermath of their progressive shift, LifeWay Christian Bookstores, which had previously stocked Hatmaker’s books, pulled the author’s works from its shelves, noting the “significant changes in her theology of human sexuality … contradict LifeWay’s doctrinal guidelines.”
Nevertheless, Hatmaker thanked Sara Cunningham, who offered last month to be a stand-in mother at LGBT weddings, for the “wonderful inspiration” that catalyzed their effort over the weekend.
“We hugged until our arms fell off,” Hatmaker wrote. “This is what we are doing here, what we are here for.”