Some Chicago-area churches and others across the nation broke tradition on Ash Wednesday--a Christian holiday that marks the beginning of Lent--by using ashes mixed with glitter as a sign of support for the LGBTQ community, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Led in part by Parity, a faith-based organization in New York that focuses on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities, the "Glitter Ash Wednesday" initiative aimed to combine a symbol of repentance with a message of solidarity.
"I think it's really important for the church to respond to the intolerance and culture of fear that is being created especially for LGBTQ people," said April Gutierrez, a pastor of one of the participating churches.
"We want to make sure the Christian message is one of love and inclusivity, of empowering people to be who they are."
The initiative didn't escape controversy among traditionalists who think that unorthodox approach would inherently change the meaning of the religious symbol for future generations.
"If you start changing its meaning, some are going to feel this is a political statement," Rev. Donald Senior, the president emeritus of the Catholic Theological Union said. "Ash Wednesday is a long, long, long tradition, and the use of the ashes is a religious ritual. I think it should be dealt with a lot of respect."
But conservative Christians weren't the only ones who vocalized their opposition. Self-proclaimed liberal Christians said the joyful glitter doesn't belong on a day of remorse and repent, the Washington Post reported.