An Open Letter to the YMCA

My blog is a letter I sent this week to Bob Ecklund, President and CEO of the Pierce and Kitsap County YMCA. In addition, I sent the letter to each of the YMCA’s Board of Directors–ten of them.

It concerns the “Y’s” recent decision that members are free to access whatever bathroom/locker room facility based upon their expressed “gender identity.” In other words, regardless of anatomy, people can use whatever bathroom/locker room they feel like. The transgender movement has pushed for this and the “Y” has succumbed.

My letter is a call for them to reverse their ridiculous, dangerous, and God dishonoring policy.

January 6, 2016
Bob Ecklund, President and CEO, YMCA Pierce/Kitsap Counties and Board of Directors
4717 So. 19th St.
Tacoma WA, 98405

Dear Mr. Ecklund and Board of Directors,

I write as a member of nearly 20 years. Our family of five has spent countless hours at the “Y” exercising and volunteering. Each of us has fond memories of our time there; literally, my children grew up in your facilities. In addition, I am a longtime pastor in Tacoma who has appreciated the goals and values of the YMCA.

What prompts my letter is your recent reversal (again) of your policy to allow members to access the bathroom/locker room facilities based upon expressed “gender identity.” Your appalling lack of communication with constituent’s aside, your decision fails miserably three standards that should concern you: theological, anatomical, and dare I say, common sense.

The Bible’s first chapter is sufficient to address all three: “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). There is male and there is female. Anatomy tells you who you are. Kindergarteners have the sense to know this. Yet culture’s sexual acronym keeps getting longer (LGBTQQIA is the most recent one I saw). And sadly, your acronym that has a “C” in it says you should know better yet you have gone along with the charade.

Dr. Paul McHugh, the former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital, calls transgenderism a “mental disorder” akin with other “assumption disorders.” Their disorder is their assumption their gender is different than physical reality. It is like the dangerously pick-thin teenage girl who looks in the mirror and thinks she’s overweight. The YMCA’s new gender policy is no different than agreeing with the anorexic and offering to help her lose more weight. Transgenderism doesn’t need accommodation and encouragement. Though claimed to be, tolerance isn’t the chief virtue; truth communicated with love is. Especially as an organization that wears the name Christian, you have miserably failed those who struggle with their sexuality.

If I may take it a step further, the YMCA is slandering God. Your stated mission is to put “Christian principles into practice.” One presumes that means honoring God’s truth as espoused in Scripture. Your new policy flies in the face of such. How many now conclude, “I guess God is fine with all these new changes and understandings of human sexuality.” Like it or not, people associate you with Christianity and representing God. You just lied about Him and His word. That’s slander.

To appease culture and its growing sentiment, you denied the very distinctive that sets you apart from other gyms and facilities. Like the mainline Protestant churches who denied the authority of Scripture 100 years ago and as a result continue to lose numbers and relevance; and like the Boy Scouts of America who reversed themselves a few years ago in a similar matter are beginning to lose numbers and relevance; the YMCA has put themselves on course for the same.

I plead with you to change direction. To mock God is to lose his favor. Stand again for the Christian principles that have served you well for years. Many of us are watching. So is God.

Don’t hide behind the Washington State Human Rights Commission. Stand for the truth and fight. God’s Word is your authority. It is not the Washington Administrative Code. And when you do, watch your brothers and sisters in Christ rally and respond with you. We’ll wipe the smudge of a Judas’ kiss from our cheeks smacked there when you betrayed your history, your name, and your most ardent supporters. We will be where families should be in times such as these; standing side by side with you.

Greatly concerned,

Rich Hamlin
YMCA member and Pastor, Evangelical Reformed Church
Tacoma, WA


  1. Eloquently said, Pastor. If I tried for a month, I could not have come close to conveying the message of our disappointment with the Y (I will no longer call it the YMCA) remotely as well. I am sure you spoke for a lot of us!!

    1. I agree!!! Thank you so much, Pastor, for NOT pandering or trying to be politically correct in this. God’s truth will prevail…..and those that stand for it will never be put to shame. Romans 10:11

  2. Thank you Pastor Rich for taking the time to address this extremely important issue. Praying that God’s Word will once again be the YMCA’s authority, not the WAC.

  3. We agree with Ron and Liz, and thank you for bravely speaking truth. Please share any responses, if you get them, from the “Y”.

  4. This is the reason I am so happy to call ERC home, and follow a pastor who is unafraid to call people out on sin. Bravo, Pastor Rich!

  5. I remember many years ago we were taught in school that the YMCA would always be a safe place to “run to” if we ever found ourselves in trouble. I certainly wouldn’t teach that to my grandchildren now!
    Think about it!

  6. Thank you Pastor Rich. God certainly used you to speak His word concerning this atrocity. As Christians we need to abide by God’s Word.

  7. Very well said. Thank you so much for your boldness in speaking the truth when it is not popular to do so.

  8. I will protect and defend my Pastor, any where and any time. He stands for the truth, and will not be silence or give consent to man, but God himself thru his son Jesus Christ, my lord and savior

  9. Thank You Pastor Hamlin for speaking such truth to the Y board. I’m praying they see the error of their ways in being of the world. Blessings to you for speaking up!

  10. Thank you so much. My family has been going back and forth about canceling our membership. We too want to support the but only if they continue their Christian principles.

  11. Rich,

    I couldn’t agree more with your letter to the YMCA. Thank you for the courage to take a stand on this issue. I hope that the leadership of the YMCA will take note and reverse their foolish decision.

  12. We too have been struggling to cancel our membership. We are charter members and did not have a lot of time this year to use our family membership since our youngest completed each level of swim lessons. We thought that we needed to get back in routine and get healthy, then this announcement came.. The opposite of physically and mentally and spiritually healthy. Wow.. Happy new year! We pay full price, get asked to help others be there by donating more and now this. My daughter lives camp Seymour it comes at a $500-$600 price for a week ( so less fortunate can enjoy it as well at a discount) ., does this mean cabins and bathrooms there will also be open to any “gender identity”. I am not sure I feel the “C” in YMCA means what the original intent and foundation of this country stood for.. Thank you for your honest and true depiction of what the Chrisian expectation is and the intent of Gods creation of man and women.

  13. We are proud of your stand, Rich. You have always been a man of truth and courage. We pray that you and your church will be an inspiration to many other pastors and churches to see your boldness, recognize the spiritual warfare all about us in this region, and rise up to resist this “Judges”-like downward spiral. Joshua 1.7-9!

  14. God bless you brother! More pastors need to speak out on this atrocity. God will not be mocked. We will reap what we sow. Our nation is under judgment for our wickedness and especially the wickedness that self-identified Christians have come to accept. We Christians must repent of our sins of complacency, moral compromise, and materialism. We of all people will be held to account for our failure to be the salt and light that the Lord Jesus command us to be. He said those who fail in this role are worthless and fit only to be thrown out!

  15. Thank you for writing so clearly the words so many of us feel burning in our hearts today! We need to be clear in the Truth, bold in the Truth and standing in the Truth. Amen!

  16. My wife and I completely agree with and support your letter, Pastor Hamlin. Mr Ecklund should be ashamed and immediately removed from his leadership position in the YMCA.

  17. Thank you for standing on your faith and the Word of God. I have lost friends for speaking my mind about this subject. Please never lose that part of you Pastor.

  18. This is a thoughtful, well reasoned, and articulate response to a shameful caving into political correctness on the part of the YMCA. Thank you for your expression of concern for truth.

  19. Today an instructor at the Lakewood Y quit because she brings her young girls with her and the girls said that boys are coming and going onto the woman’s locker rooms.
    This is a real problem that has to be addressed at the State level-NOW!!!!

  20. Thank you so much, Pastor Rich, for your strong stand for Biblical truth in response to this very bad decision disguised as virtue. While in Lakewood yesterday, I noticed a new sign advertising “The Y”, as if these folk are openly acknowledging they no longer are the YMCA. I think the challenge Pastor Rich puts forth cuts to the chase: “The Y” either stands for biblical truth as its authority or it does not; and if it does, it cannot hide behind WACs. This organization, which indeed has been served well by its Christian principles has here a golden opportunity to witness to the truth. Let us pray for the conviction of the leaders at YMCA who so shamelessly caved in to the trend of rampant error in our greater society. Let’s do pray they will see the error of their ways.

  21. I didn’t know there was a place for comments until today. Good letter. And let me add that when the gym we had been attending closed down, we did not consider the YMCA as an option purely because of this new policy. Companies don’t make policies like this, that they know very well are going to decrease rather than increase membership, unless they are succumbing to external pressures. Our state government is as much to blame for this as the “Y”. Let us all vote accordingly in all future state elections.