Is the YMCA Upholding Christian Principles?

In 1844, the Young Men’s Christian Association was founded by George Williams in London. A handful of years later, the first YMCA opened in America. Its mission, it says, is “to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.”

But some of its recent actions make us question whether the organization is actually putting Christian principles into practice today.

As a recent American Life League press release explained: “Throughout the month of June, YMCAs across the United States coopt rainbow icons and promote events to celebrate ‘pride month.’ The YMCA.org website declares, ‘Pride Month is traditionally recognized in June by communities across the U.S. to celebrate and support the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, other dimensions of gender identity and allies) community and honor the history of the LBGTQ+ movement.'” 

Christian principles and values teach that we are more than our sexuality. A person should not be defined by either their heterosexuality or their homosexuality. We are children of God, and as such, we have an obligation to follow His commandments.

Sexuality outside of marriage is considered a sin, regardless of whether that relationship is with a same-sex person or the opposite sex. And our Catholic faith teaches that marriage should be between one man and one woman, for life. The Catechism explains that all people are called to chastity, regardless of whether they are married (“conjugal chastity”) or single. This includes those who experience homosexuality. The Catechism continues, “By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, [homosexuals] can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.”

Those who experience same-sex attraction have a difficult cross to carry, and we should help them carry it by talking with them, walking with them, and loving them. That is part of being Christian. But advocating for sinful relationships is not part of Christian principles, and that is exactly what the YMCA is doing with its advocation of Pride Month festivities.

This is not how an organization that calls itself Christian should uphold Christian standards. It’s that simple. Thus, as Katie Brown, national director of American Life League, stated, “The YMCA should take ‘Christian’ out of its name since the organization has made it clear it has no intention of upholding Christian values.”

For a long time, our society has been at a crossroads, with many people and organizations choosing the road that is easy or bending to the will of the loudest in the room. Many fear standing up for the tenets of the faith, and rightly so, as the woke mob can “cancel” you, berate you, and accuse you of hating those who experience same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria.

Standing up to the culture of death bullies takes courage, and it’s an action that must be born of love—love for our fellow human being and love for our God who has given us commandments to live by.

Let that moral courage start with each one of us. Summer is a time when more families go to the Y. Families go to the pool to swim, and kids take classes and go to summer camps. Christians of all ages, stand up for your faith, and tell your local Y that you will not support it if it does not uphold Christian values.

For over 170 years, the YMCA has helped people within our communities in many amazing ways. Encourage this organization to reclaim the Christian values it was founded on. Or tell it that you will find another place to spend your time and your money.  

This article first appeared in the Catholic World Report at catholicworldreport.com/2024/06/28/the-c-in-ymca-now-stands-for-capitulation.

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About the author

Susan Ciancio

Susan Ciancio is the editor of Celebrate Life Magazine and executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program.