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St. Paul Pastor Oliver White makes The Atlantic’s ‘brave thinkers’ list

He and the others were chosen for their willingness to risk “their reputations, fortunes, and lives in pursuit of big ideas’’ — in his case, supporting gay marriage.

Oliver White, pastor of a now-foreclosed church in St. Paul, is among a list of  The Atlantic magazine’s “brave thinkers of 2012.”

The list — which includes a huge cross section of people ranging from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to Fawzia Koofi, a corruption-fighting woman who is a member of the Afghanistan parliament,  to scientists — cites those the magazine says have shown willingness to risk “their reputations, fortunes, and lives in pursuit of big ideas.’’

White, who for 22 years headed the predominantly African American United Church of Christ in St. Paul, saw members of his church fall away when both the UCC and White came out in support of gay marriage.

“I thought my congregation was with me, but I immediately lost two-thirds of my members,’’ said White of his advocacy of gay marriage in the Atlantic article.

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 The loss of members multiplied financial problems in the church, which ultimately was foreclosed. White is seeking to raise money to purchase a church in a “different kind of neighborhood.’’

His position on gay marriage is not shared by many — perhaps most — Twin Cities black pastors.

“The other minister tell me, ‘Oliver, this is not a civil-rights issue like we went through 50 years ago,’ ’’ White said in the article. “But it is. When you preach against the gays and lesbians, that’s discrimination, pure and simple.’’’