“I APoLogiZe for these “Christians”

Photo by Shauna Bittle, Evergreen Photo Services 2012

[UPDATE: My interview with Chloe Bradley.]

So I just got a Facebook message from reader Laura Maslin Bradley that said:

Hi, John.

Thought you would enjoy this picture of my daughter, Chloe Bradley (in green) — she is a junior at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. Yesterday she was walking across campus and saw these protesters. She ran to the bookstore, bought poster board and a pen, made this sign, and stayed there for hours. I think what impresses me the most is that she had some civil conversations with the sign-holders, as well as with people who walked by. She even defended their rights to Free Speech.

We raised our kids in a Christian Left home before we had heard that term. We are so proud of her compassion and courage. You are welcome to share this picture.

And, just like that, today became a good day.

Thanks for sending me this, Laura Maslin Bradley. And with every last bit of my heart, thank you, brave Chloe in green. (Seriously: Grimly Quakerstein there doesn’t exactly look like a barrel o’ laughs.) And thank you, lovely-looking person hugging our brave Chloe in green. [MAJOR UPDATE!! That's Elissa, Chloe’s first roommate at Evergreen State.]

And thank you, Shauna Bittle, for taking this extremely awesome photo.

And dudes with the signs: Really? This is how you choose to spend your spare time? This is how you think it’s best to go out into the world representing the God of love? C’mon, man. There’s no way you don’t know better than this.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • http://www.facebook.com/OblivionSalvation Samantha Smith via Facebook

    afuckinmen! beautiful

  • http://www.worthingtonpost.wordpress.com Aliza

    Fantastic. Absolutely love this.

  • Marie FishSquirrel Muchnik via Facebook

    Oh, you’re not even kidding. I took ONE look at the photo and it Elizabeth Montgomery’ed my day. *BAM* just like that. Wings now attached to my heart. Thank you for being the messenger here and thanks to Chloe in green. You restore my hope!! FABULOUSNESS!! {{{♥}}}

  • Jennifer Vance via Facebook

    :-)

  • Valerie

    I hope someday my kids have that kind of courage and integrity!

    Way to go Chloe!

  • Connie

    How wonderful! This made me smile! Hooray for Chloe!! And kudos to her parents!

  • http://www.facebook.com/KudzuAsheville Kudzu Asheville via Facebook

    How often I have felt the need to say that!

  • Michael Summers via Facebook

    Apologies are nice; concrete signs of metanoia from very hateful human institutions would be far better.

    • Lymis

      Well, of course.

      But prophetic moments like this are what cracks the facade and allows light, air, and renewal into those institutions. If’s far more common for human institutions to transform when they are at risk of becoming irrelevant than that they transform themselves from within at the height of their power and influence.

      The Holy Spirit has long offered the worst offenders among the rich, powerful, and out of touch church hierarchies and power structures the opportunity to transform, and if that offer isn’t accepted, the Holy Spirit will start somewhere else. God doesn’t need Christianity, and if it stops working in its current form, the Holy Spirit will work to create a new one, whether we will recognize it or not.

      Talk to the Borgias. We’ve been through this as a people before.

  • Andrew Raymond

    It made my day too, John. Thank you, Laura and Chloe!

  • Alison Defreitas via Facebook

    very nice

  • Cynthia H.-W.

    My day = made. Thank you, John, Chloe, Chloe’s mom, and anonymous hugging person. Beautiful!

  • chuck smith

    apologizing for christians, what a load no wonder every one thinks its okay to pick on us. as for being christian left why dont you just say liberal

    • Valerie

      Because there is a distinction between just being liberal and being Christian liberal. Christian left is just a title we have given it. I for one am tired of the Christian label because it is being abused by those that DO NOT follow Christ’s teachings. I am a Follower of Christ.

    • Catherine

      She’s not apologizing for Christians. She is apologizing to the world for the hateful people who CLAIM to be Christian, but obviously do not follow the teachings of Christ. There are many wonderful Christian people and they run the whole continuum from very liberal to very conservative. Being a Christian does not make you liberal or conservative. In fact, politicians are often eager to force us to choose sides, because they make their living by ensuring there ARE sides. You’ve bought into that, I see. But you don’t have to!

      • Ed

        Amen, Catherine! Being a Christian means you follow Jesus – if you don’t, if he’s not your Lord, then you aren’t a Christian, period. It’s that simple. Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal – those labels are completely meaningless and irrelevant. Do you follow Jesus or don’t you? Do you believe what he said or don’t you?

    • Melody

      You should apologize for yourself, you dick. Why don’t you just call it hate? If you’re so against decency to other human beings, then go somewhere else, where your bigoted, un-Christlike views are tolerated. Jesus is ashamed of you.

      • DR

        (Can I just say how much I adore Melody).

    • Melody

      Also? Why don’t you learn some punctuation? You’re perpetuating the stereotype of the uneducated, illiterate conservative.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        I couldn’t even understand what he meant. That’s why I left it. I was like, “Who knows what he’s saying? But … poor guy. He’s clearly just learned how to type. And probably talk.”

        • Andrew Raymond

          I think he should have waited until he was toilet trained, at least.

      • Andie

        Maybe he just never learned about punctuation, and that’s why he can’t understand the implication of the quotation marks around the word ‘Christians’ on Chloe’s sign.

    • DR

      This is an obvious troll (though well done).

    • Laura Bradley

      Since one definition of “liberal” is “generous,” I’m perfectly fine with the label “Christian liberal” (or “liberal Christian”). Let’s be liberal with our love, patience, mercy, forgiveness, etc.

      • Diana A.

        Amen, sister!

  • http://www.unchainedfaith.wordpress.com Amy

    I love this. Beautiful. Yay for brave Chloe!

  • Mary Wisner Miller via Facebook

    I wish she were my daughter! I covet Chloe!

  • Damon Gray via Facebook

    Warms my heart. I hope people realize that most Christians don’t espouse tthe views of the far right.

  • Leslie Marbach

    That’s awesome! Thanks for sharing this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/epiphannyy Tara Wright via Facebook

    I needed this…..just when you’re about ready to throw in the towel and quit even trying to communicate with the lunatic opposition, something like this pops up and renews the commitment to never give up. It made my day!

  • K.E.

    I love this! I had a similar experience a while back, there was a hateful “Christian” group similar to this one protesting in front of an Islamic cultural center in the college town I completed my undergrad in. I made a similar type of sign and stood among them for roughly 2 hours, just smiling and waving at passers-by. It made people look twice, because my message was definitely different from the messages of those around me.

    I also had the opportunity to have some interesting dialogue with the “Christians” protesting there. Some of them were genuinely interested to hear my point of view and have a respectful exchange of ideas. And, of course, I also got screamed at through a bullhorn, told that I am going to rot in hell for eternity, accused of being unpatriotic and hating America, told I was blaspheming against God, etc.

    Anyway, kudos to Chloe for stepping out and showing God’s love, and to her family for raising such a brave, kind-spirited young woman!

    • Melody

      Exactly why I’ve never confronted these animals who call themselves Christians. I get angry enough confronting them online. I’d probably get arrested for kicking them in the balls as hard as I can. You and Chloe are much, much braver than I am. Kudos.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        I’m telling. You said balls.

        • Melody

          LOL!!! I needed that, John. I was in a pretty pissy mood when I made my comments (in case that wasn’t painfully obvious). Thanks for making me laugh.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            balls.

          • DR

            balls! (I love Melody)

  • Linda

    Extreeme Awsomeness!!! :-)

  • http://www.etsy.com/shop/MC2Works Mindy

    Hey, Chuck? As for posting a comment on a blog, why don’t you just use punctuation?

    I mean, even fundamental Christians should be able to use their language correctly.

    As for the apology being “a load,” you have no idea. It is a burden every one of the kind, compassionate Christ-like Christians I am honored to know has to carry every single day – the need to apologize and make up for the damage done by “Christians” like those in the picture. You’ll notice that brave Chloe’s sign does not say “I apologize for ALL Christians.” It says “I apologize for THESE Christians,” who are standing behind her spreading hate in the name of God. We should all be apologizing for them, and if you don’t agree, well, then we must add you to the list of those being apologized for. :::::sigh::::::

    • Andrew Raymond

      Well and gently said, Mindy!

    • Lymis

      I also love that she is saying something personal and active (“I apologize”) rather than something general and passive (“Christians aren’t all like this.”). She is putting herself and her faith out and on the line in service of the truth, and claiming nothing other than her own authority for doing so. (Even though, I believe she has far greater authority than she chooses to claim on the sign.)

      Good for her. Gracious, prophetic, and, one hopes, powerful.

  • Catherine

    I have frequent conversations with young people about my Christian faith. So many of them say that they would NEVER choose to follow Christ because so many of his followers seem to be hateful, judgmental people. I explain, again & again & again that Jesus Christ should not be judged by the behavior of hateful people who claim to follow him. It makes my heart hurt to think of how many young people are being robbed of the opportunity to know Christ because so many hateful people claim to represent him. So, thank you Chloe!!!

    • Heather

      I know what you mean – as a Muslim, I feel the same way. I tell people not to judge Islam by the behavior of Muslims, but look at the original teachings. People can take something very beautiful and make it very ugly. They will be accountable for this one day!!!

  • Laura Bradley

    The hugger is Elissa, my daughter Chloe’s first roommate at Evergreen. Photo credit goes to Shauna Bittle from The Evergreen State College. Thanks for sharing the love!

  • Eva

    Best way to start the day EVER. Love the way she is totoally unconsciously pointing her toe. She’s dainty AND ballsy. Chloe for the win!!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      I know! That toe!

      • Laura Bradley

        Chloe has a lifetime of ballet behind her, thus the toe. :-)

  • Grant McNeil

    Awesome.

    Christ is Risen.

    Christ is Risen Indeed in the witness of folks like Chloe, Elissa and Shauna.

  • Amy B

    Thank you! Chloe and others. This makes my day as well. We hear that Westboro Baptist people are coming to our area (Lansing/East Lansing, MI) later this April, and the Christian community here (I would say Christian Left, which I am, but it’s pretty much Christians left-to-moderate!) are planning their response–knowing that Westboro makes a mini-business out of antagonizing and then suing those who respond angrily. They will protest at both Eastern High School and Michigan State Univ. for their LGBT tolerance policies. So, I may make a very similar sign for our response. Last time Westboro came, it sparked a remarkably peaceful and unifying counterprotest that actually helped bond the community.

    • Lymis

      Somewhere online there is a kit put together by someone who wanted to respond to the Westboro people non-hostily.

      He set up one of those “pledge a specific amount per minute” things, and then got a whole bunch of people get pledges from their friends and family and neighbors, who committed to donating whatever amount per minute that the Westboro people did their little protest, whether it was a nickel a minute, a dollar, or more.

      Then they timed the Westboro people, collected the money, donated to the local LGBT center, and sent the Westboro people a lovely thank you note for helping to raise thousands of dollars to help the gay community.

      The kit is downloadable free of charge.

      • Amy

        Thanks Lymis! Now that you mention it, I read about that as well. I will have to check it out.

  • http://queerfaith.tumblr.com/ Lil’ Lezzie

    Powerful photo and a great story! I’m passing it along on the queer faith tumblr.

  • Liza Chigos via Facebook

    Indeed…just like that it became a good day!

  • Keetcha

    Too wonderful. These young people are doing something very important. I wonder though what their sign says on the other side. All I can make out is LOVE, then again that may be all there needs to be.

  • Larry Petry via Facebook

    saw a similar pic floating around the web. Gay pride parade, two guys with a “I’m sorry for how the church has treated you” sign hugging a parader in his underoos. Cool stuff.

  • Tanya Botelho

    As a transsexual-lesbian woman who’s also Pagan, and I mean this with all my heart, my thanks goes to those real Christians out there like the girl and her friend pictured above. I’ve shared this, because it really does need to be shared. I have Christian friends who are not hateful, or spread hatred towards the LGBT communities or other religions and so on. There are still good Christians left in the world, and it really does warm my heart to see this picture. Having been verbally harassed by those who claim to be “Christians” for a long time now, it was just really nice to see this brave young lady apologizing for those who use the Bible to further their own hateful agendas instead of promoting love, joy, and acceptance. Again, thank you. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/thayerbooks Emily Thayer via Facebook

    Michael Summers, thank you for teaching me a very useful and hopeful new word. :)

    • Grant

      I love you John.

      • Grant

        Oops. That post of mine professing my love for John was for the post above this one. Darn netbook with small keyboard and having no lights on in the kitchen. :)

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

          I’m tempted to ask why you’re typing alone in a dark kitchen, but … part of me is too afraid to.

          • Driftwood2K11

            Don’t you eat your cookies in the dark? Delicious, soft, warm, chewy cookies with the lights out?

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            Um. Now I’m actually afraid.

  • giddiup

    What she’s doing is scripturally wrong. Guess how.

    • Lymis

      By whatever standards you are declaring that, the original protesters she was responding to were far, far worse.

      Guess why.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Wait wait! Don’t tell us!!

      She’s smiling while another girl hugs her.

      No, wait. That’s … lame.

      She put the word “Christians” in quotes, and God forbids irony.

      No, that’s stupid: God LOVES irony.

      Uummmmmm …

      I got it! She’s barefoot, but she’s not pregnant!!

      What do I win?

      • Roger

        What, she’s “loudly” and proudly professing her beliefs in public, like the philistines? Somehow I think this is different, if that’s what you mean.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

          Oh, GOOD GUESS!

          Shoot. Now you’re gonna win.

    • Jeff Brady

      I only hope you’re joking… surely you’re not really going to cite some cultural reference from Paul such as women not having their heads covered or staying quiet in public (worship)… ugh. If this is humor, it’s lost on me.

    • Dan C

      She just came in from the field after sowing it with different kinds of seeds? Naughty girl.

      • http://www.facebook.com/divadarya Darya

        They must be wearing clothes made from two kinds of cloth and they had lunch at Red Lobster.

        • Lymis

          That was my guess. Cotton jeans and a wool sweater! Get her stoned! (Wait. That came out wrong.)

          • Laura Bradley

            Well, Lymis, she is at the Evergreen College after all…

          • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

            WIN!

    • Apotheosis

      Note the complete radio silence from our friend ‘giddiup’.

      • http://www.facebook.com/divadarya Darya

        He goddy lost.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        yeah, what’s up with that?

        • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

          He didn’t anticipate having to give prizes.

  • Donald Rappe

    He is risen indeed! I plan to share this with my straight friends. If my other friends are interested that’s cool too.

  • Andrew Raymond via Facebook

    Loved it — and turns out I needed it (rough day.)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      sorry to hear that, buddy.

  • Dominic Huether via Facebook

    Really, that’s nice, but some contrition from them is the only thing that’s going to make me feel better.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Well, you know: it’s a photo, not a … documentary film.

  • http://Flamidwyfe.wordpress.com Sandi

    Thank you, Chloe… And thank you, Chloe’s mom for raising your daughter in God’s LOVE for all people! And thank you, John, for yet another awesome post to read and share!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      thanks, sandi!

  • erika

    their hipster beards make me want to punch them in the balls.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Ding ding ding ding ding! Comment of the month.

      • Andrew Raymond

        Except that I can hit a LOT harder with my knee!

      • erika

        hip hip hooray for ME!

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

          Seriously: I’m about one hair away from changing the title of the piece to “Their Hipster Beards Make Me Want to Punch Them in the Balls.”

          • erika

            well then, here’s your sign…..

    • Graydon

      Those beards made me think they were Amish or Mennonites or something like that!

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        I KNOW! I just changed his name in the piece to Grimly Quakerstein.

        thangya. thangyaverymuch.

  • http://overwhelmedtoaction.com MaryJo Wagner

    Love the picture. Love John Shore’s blog. Keep up the great stuff all you good Christian Lefties.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      You have a great face, MaryJo Wagner.

  • Leslie

    That’s beautiful. Thank you, Chloe, for your bravery and integrity.

  • Jeffery J.

    I’m non-Christian, but as a gay person I just want to let LGBT allies know how much I appreciate you, whatever your religious beliefs. Together we can make this world a kinder and more affirming place! I’m just in awe of the fact that the love lives of a minority of human beings could be of such interest to anyone. If fundamentalists of *all* religious stripes would put as much effort into ending world hunger…

    • Graydon

      I love your last line, Jeffery J. When I think of the over $80 million spent in advertising, on both sides, for the Prop 8 campaign, I can’t help but think how many people could have been helped with all that money! So many hungry people who could have been fed with that money, spent basically just to take rights away!

  • Dan C

    The Bradleys raised a very confident and quick thinking young lady. Splendid.

  • Calvin

    Very good, Chloe! Kudos to Laura Maslin Bradley for manner in which you raised your daughter!

    • Laura Bradley

      Thank you! She inspires us.

  • http://ingridspeak.com Ingrid

    I love this photo! It made my day.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Ingrid! Don’t you owe me a cartoon, or something?

  • Molly Crosby Pellettiere via Facebook

    agreed!

  • http://www.facebook.com/NEWolfe Nathaniel Wolfe via Facebook

    John, this made my night. Thank you. It REALY does warm my heart, as an atheist, that there are Christians like you out there, and that all of us can construct a compassionate and accepting world where love is the law of the land regardless of persuasions.

  • William George Cook via Facebook

    you know, I was thinking something along those lines. I fancy myself a pacifist, but after seeing those beards, I couldn’t help but think that a pair of hipsters found themselves in the wrong convention

  • Erika Beseda-Allen via Facebook

    thank you! thank you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ericathemeyer Erica Meyer via Facebook

    Completely awesome. :)

  • Mary T.

    Awesome Chloe!! You go girl! Thanks for doing what so many of s wish we could do, but can’t (for health reasons, lack of bravery, lack of caring, lack of access, lack of intelligence – whatever handicap we have). You, Elissa, Shauna and Lara all deserve or respect and gratitude!

  • Adri

    Kudos to those amazing gals!

    It is very difficult for me to understand how those people who call themselves Christians can spew so much hate. It is also sad because those who claim to love the Lord for his sacrifice tend to forget he put up with a whole lot of hurt for each and every one of us. Every time they go out of their way to be hurtful to someone else who might be a little different, it’s like they are spitting in his (Jesus’) face. Jesus IS love. He embodied divine love, yet those who claim to follow him most while being hateful are those who understand his message the least.

    • http://www.poesies.com Gina Cirelli

      In my opinion, they worship a false god.

  • Amanda

    This photo has made my day / week / month / year / life. Fantastic!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/PatriciaKLichen Pat Lichen via Facebook

    Hey, that photo was taken at my alma mater, The Evergreen State College.

    • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

      I know! Not too hard to recognize Red Square. :)

  • Michael Davis

    As cool as this photo is, its still just so disturbing to me that the other guys think what they are doing is the right thing. How can they live thinking that!? How could you possibly read the New Testament, let alone study it, and believe Jesus wants you to behave that way!? Ill never understand…and I thank God for that.

  • http://B-logismos.blogspot.com Jacob beaver

    That one guy on the right looks just like Mose (sp) Dwight’s cousin from the office.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gordon.herzog Gordon Herzog via Facebook

    I’m having trouble reading the signs the guys are holding up. And Chloe looks like Ann Hathaway – only prettier and smarter! You go, girl!

  • Nicole

    Go, geoducks! A former greener here…proud of this woman!

  • Ashley Cohea

    This just seriously turned my entire day around. Thank you John, Shauna, Laura, and Chloe! It’s amazing how a single act by a single person can impact a total stranger in a completely different part of the country. I love it!

  • Rachel McCann

    This reminds me of the day my son, when he was about 13, was walking across the campus of the local university with his friend and his friend’s mom and encountered a hate-filled super-righteous Christian group. Typically, they were virulently anti-women, and they called the mom “the wife of Satan” for daring to work outside the home. My son turned to his friend and said, with appreciation: “Dude! I guess that makes you the spawn of Satan!” We still laugh about that encounter.

    • Heather

      We had a couple of those at my campus when I was in undergrad. The man stood on the corner with his signs, screaming to all the students they were all going to hell. His wife just stood silently next to him with a big humiliating button on her shirt that read, “Proud to be my husband’s slave.” Where DO these people come from?!?!

      • Diana A.

        No way! That’s just sick!

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        Mars. I’m going with Mars.

        • Cynthia Anne Womack

          Naw,not Mars. No Barsoomian babe or dark and golden-eyed matriarch,former fuzz-ball or pyro-phobic green-skinned diva would ever debase herself. (Even the gum-chewer from ‘Mars Attacks’ would have more pride. )

          Why does ‘Mars Need Women’? Because the native gals won’t stand for disrespect.

          It’s widely assumed that Earth girls are easy-except by Terran fellows who think we can be quite difficult.

          Where do guys find females who skip submitting themselves to God in favor of kowtowing to the whims and prejudices of weak males?

          I don’t know.

          Even Gor wants its kajiras to have SOME backbone,compassion and sense.

  • Lymis

    First, and most important, I salute Chloe (and Elissa) for what they did. Well done!

    And I have no doubt that at least some people (sadly, not the idiots with the other signs) took away something very positive from it. And, especially since this was clearly an on-the-spot, in-the-moment response to something someone else was doing, something that was clearly hateful, I think it’s a clean and clear message. Way to go!

    I do want to add something, though, because a few people have made comments about people doing something similar at pride parades, and this thing that Chloe did has the potential to take off and be a real positive thing in the world.

    I’m far more plugged into the gay blogosphere than the Christian blogosphere, and believe me, there has been a significant amount of comment about the Christians at pride parades with positive messages – not all of it positive, by any standard.

    I have absolutely no reason to question the motives of the people who showed up with the positive signs, and the reports of the people who saw those signs and were deeply touched and overwhelmed with emotion about it seem very real – it truly seems that they touched more than a few hearts.

    But at the same time, a lot of people interpreted it as fake, as a trick, as a cynical attempt to tell gay people that they are wrong to feel wronged by Christians or to build up positive PR for homophobic Christians. A lot of people thought it was a trick to try to sucker people into their church so they could cut gay people out from the herd to try to convert them one-on-one rather than in the safety of the gay friendly crowds. A lot of people have been so hurt by people speaking in the name of Christ that they consider anything to do with God or religion to be suspect, if not an act of overt hostility. And a lot of people saw the mere presence of self-identified Christians at a gay event as an attack from people speaking as members of a tradition that has made it clear to them that gay people are absolutely not welcome at Christian events – and who go to gay events specifically to get away from Christians.

    I don’t say any of that to discourage people who are called to do something like that – and, as I said, something clearly spontaneous like what Chloe did in response to bigots is far less likely to be seen as suspect by gay people than a clearly pre-planned and organized presence at a gay event or gay venue.

    But if anyone does decide to use this as inspiration to try to get a supportive message out, they should be prepared to get some hostility and suspicion back from some of the very people they are trying to be supportive of. Don’t assume that “God Loves You” signs will be universally appreciated at a pride parade. That doesn’t mean to stay home, but it does mean to be aware that you will be treated as heroes, or even as welcome, by everyone. Nor that the only hostility will come from bigoted Christians.

    A lot of people, for perfectly sensible and valid reasons, will hear it as “Not all of us rich white people who are members of the segregated country club are racists” and will react accordingly.

    And it’s in part because of that that I am even more impressed with Chloe’s willingness to prophetically share her message in the way she did.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Lymis: As you say, it wouldn’t be reasonable to suggest “God Loves You” signs would necessarily be a smash hit at Pride parades.

      This seems to work pretty well for Kathy. What do you think? http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2011/08/07/offering-a-straight-apology/

      • Lymis

        I think that’s wonderful. And I think that a lot of people would receive it well.

        And that anyone who chooses to do that needs to go into it eyes open that some will react with hurt and hostility – and will say the kinds of things that they would prefer to be saying to the people who hurt them.

        I would say that it would take a very, very strong, and very, very loving person to serve in that capacity without being hurt by it in turn. That it’s something that likely needs to be done, and done a lot, but that nobody should expect it to be all cuddly and sweet and should know that going into it. Sometimes I really don’t think that most open-minded Christians actually have the least clue how deeply the damage done to LGBT people runs, or the (often fully justified, or at least understandable) rage that accompanies it.

        Even straight people with gay friends may not know the depth of that pain and rage, because those of us who have come through it often make it a point not to lead with the victim card, nor to open ourselves up to those feelings with people who didn’t cause them.

        There’s a very common feeling among gay people, at least those roughly of my generation, that we don’t discuss that pain with other gay people, because they already get it, and we don’t discuss that pain with straight people, because they never will. If someone knows gay people and don’t think they have pain about all this, then there’s an opportunity for discussion there. People may be surprised at what they find.

        One t-shirt won’t repair a lifetime of hurt, shame, and damage, especially not in a target audience of people who have been bullied, shamed, legally discriminated against, and often, thrown out of homes, churches, jobs, and relationships. It won’t bring back our dead, heal our families, or give back the money and resources we have to spend that straight people don’t, in an economy where we are all hurting.

        But one t-shirt and a hug and a face on the fact that there are people out there who are Christians and don’t hate could easily open a door, or shine a light, or change a life.

        It might well be worth doing, but I honestly doubt it would be easy.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

          I’ll get Kathy to come over and see if she has anything to say.

        • http://www.canyonwalkerconnections,com Kathy Baldock

          Hello, hello –I am “the str8 apology lady” as people call me at Pride Events. I have been doing this for five years and the response is SHOCKINGLY receptive. I have beautiful stories of healing. I never know what the needs will be, the range has been wide: an 80+ year old man who CRIED over being told “I am SOOOO sorry that happened to you.”, gangs of little boy-girls thrilled to get resources on how to find a church and deal with the verses, parents with glbt youth who are inspired to “come out” in their own faith communities.

          The power of one person with the heart and Spirit of God beyond counters these street preaching fools. I stood directly in front of them last year at Pride Charlotte . Do read the account of the whole event–long , three part , but you will be teary eyed and angry, inspired and hopeful. http://canyonwalkerconnections.com/pride-charlotte-three-part-series-str8apology-god-has-a-better-way-and-the-street-preachers/

          I write about standing in front of those crazies (one who called me daily afterwards to FURTHER condemn me to hell, so lovely), the stand against 200 Christians marching into Pride Charlotte and the apology action itself.

          I believe Christians are mandated to be peace-MAKERS–active verb. Not peace -hopers, or peace-wishers–MAKERS.

          I hope this series inspires you and gives you insights into the sift that IS happening. I will be in MT for a FULL week this summer helping to create a model to engage with communities during Pride events in productive, Jesus like ways.

          Thanks for the mention John-honey.

          • Christine

            Going to be very careful, here…

            What Lymis is describing happens because people who appear at first to be just like this are sometimes indeed out to do what Lymis described gay people suspected them of.

            I was once referred by an affirming pastor to an organization that sounded very much like this. And then I found their other website, where they run a full ex-gay ministry with links to Exodus International. They wanted to find gay people to come help them with a video, give them credibility, and my pastor, for one, fell for it. I had some very unpleasant run-ins after with the woman who ran it, who tracked be down on facebook and on blogs (she might even show up here, now) to try to, as far as I can figure, do damage control after she was discovered. She would still assure me today, if I spoke with her, that she was and is entirely sincere in wanted to mend the hurts between the church and the lbgt community and has a lot of (lame and disturbing) excuses for why the ministry’s ex-gay portion still exists. To meet her for the first time, she sounds just like Kathy.

            Now, Kathy may very well be the real deal just getting a bad rap. perhaps the reception is better from people who have never associated much with the church (as opposed to those of us who’ve tried to be gay in it).

            But the reason it seems suspect it that it stills seems like a conversion exercise at an event that isn’t about religion. It’s like trying to paste a Christian agenda over it. It’s like asking, “how can Pride be an evangelistic opportunity?”. That just feels like the wrong question, because it’s making it about Christianity, not about the lbgt community.

          • Reed

            I have met Kathy IRL. She IS “the real deal,” and doing a hell of a lot of good in the world. She does NOT proselytize. “The straight apology” she offers is sincere – and she continues to engage with the extremists. She has (more than once, more than twice, and perhaps more than twelve times) become the focus/target of some fairly heavy anti-gays (“Dr.” Michael L. Brown, you know who you are).

            I’m simply mad about her. Most days I’m at a loss as to whether I adore her or Rachel Maddow more.

          • Christine

            Good to hear. And I have no reason to think otherwise. (Although this other group had convinced enough good people, gay and straight, who vouched for them enthusiastically at first, before they were shown things I had found.) The point was more that there are good reasons why even something sincere won’t always work or be well received. There’s a long road of earning trust that, for many, they have to be involved in personally before buying in. Just a sad reality.

          • Christine
          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            I just spoke with Kathy by phone yesterday, for about an hour. She wrote the forward to my book “UNFAIR.” And you’re right: she really DOES dive head-first into the deep waters of the fundy pool. She really has that knack/passion.

          • http://Www.unnameablecuriosity.wordpress.com Christine

            Thanks, John. Not to say she isn’t doing some great things. But I’ve got to question someone’s judgement when they defend something like this on the good it might be doing for Alan Chambers. Talking to him, I (almost) get, but giving him a microphone and putting him on stage in front of a crowd of gay Christians at their conference is beyond inappropriate and irresponsible. Not exactly a tough panel for him, either. The others are just in a different flavor of ex-gay ministry.

            Fair warning that I will be referencing this on my own blog today. Will provide a link to this thread.

          • DR

            I think this kind of perspective is invaluable. Wow, that is so manipulative on the part of the woman but these people are so unconscious!

          • Lymis

            Kathy, that’s wonderful. I suspect, then, that the people who are suspicious or have the negative reactions that they post on blogs are not bothering to actually speak to you and your people, and are simply reading their own interpretation onto it, which doesn’t surprise me.

            That makes me feel more hopeful that someone who does something similar out of pure, but possibly naive, motives isn’t likely to get some angry people in their faces, which would be sad if it can be avoided.

            It also sounds like you have a great and solid grounding for what you are doing, and working to help others have that as well. Thanks for what you are doing!

          • DR

            In a way, I wonder if part of making amends for our church is absorbing some of that pain, shame and rage we’ve inflicted as a church on the GLBT community. I wonder if for some of those people, it’s the first time they are finding their voice which for me at least, was the first step of an important healing process for me.

            I do some similar things that Kathy does (though not nearly as well) and when I get the “I could give a shit about your apology. Change your evil church.” it stings. Of course it does. But it’s so not about me – that moment has *nothing* to do with me. It is all about giving someone else a moment that they’ve never had with a Christian before. I don’t want to be a martyr of course but in a weird way, I guess that’s what I believe people in this spot are and can be. Taking the hits for a church we are representing. I think we should.

          • http://Www.unnameablecuriosity.wordpress.com Christine

            I thinks it’s also important to make a distinction between apologizing for and apologizing on behalf of. To say “I’m sorry Christians did that. I would change it if I could,” is different than saying, “On behalf of all Christians, I apologize to you.” Usually it isn’t so blunt, but I’ve seen it kinda feel closer one or the other. The Firestone is sincere; the second is entirely phoney. You can’t apologize on behalf of people who aren’t repentant, and the church as a collective has a LONG way to go before it can claim otherwise, even if some sub-groups have great track records. The second version almost denies the extent of the harm that is happening and is still happening. So, my advice would be to stick to the first as much as possible. You might get a better response.

          • DR

            That is very insightful. So glad you added these comments, they’re important. Thank you.

          • DR

            You know what, it’s not even giving someone a moment with a Christian. It’s not that. It’s just being sorry. It’s feeling sick about what people have gone through and them knowing I’d do anything to change it if I could, and I’m going to try to change it and protect them from it happening again. That’s what it’s about. It’s not even about someone wanting someone to see a different kind of version of both.

    • vj

      “A lot of people have been so hurt by people speaking in the name of Christ that they consider anything to do with God or religion to be suspect, if not an act of overt hostility. And a lot of people saw the mere presence of self-identified Christians at a gay event as an attack from people speaking as members of a tradition that has made it clear to them that gay people are absolutely not welcome at Christian events – and who go to gay events specifically to get away from Christians.”

      This just breaks my heart – that the Church, which is *supposed* to be spreading the Good News of God’s love and acceptance, has been the means by which people have been told that God *rejects* them. What part of ‘while we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ and ‘God loved us first’ is so hard to understand? I simply cannot accept that God wants a message of hate and rejection to be preached instead of one of love and acceptance. Thank you so much, Lymis, for the grace and eloquence with which you address these issues.

  • Cynthia Anne Womack

    BTW,don’t eat cookies in bed. The crumbs can get awfully itchy. (Chocolate Redi-Whip is o.k.)

  • Linnea

    That’s awesome!! Makes me want to show up at the next anti-gay protest in Minneapolis (not that there are many) with a sign like that.

    Last summer I joined my church in walking with the Reconciling United Methodists in the Twin Cities Pride Parade. I saw many spectators with tears in their eyes as they saw us go past. If I can be a representative of God’s unconditional love on this earth, and leave the world a bit better than I found it, that’s all I ask.

  • leila penton

    I was raised in a Christian home and was alway taught the old saying “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. Well if you believe in God then you believe in creation and not evolution or the Big bang. If you preach christianity then learn that God created all men and woman equal and loves them all equally. And if you soot your mouth off about G&L’s and think you are so right and smart, then tell me this Einstine “Who created Steve?” I have gay friends and they are wonderful people. As I have grown up over the years I have opened my eyes, mind and heart and can now see the world for what it really is…sad thing is, what it really is is falling apart. Its sad to know that in a country as great as Canada we are trying to prevent people from loving and sharing just because of their parts when children all over the world including Canada are starving. Where are our priorities?

    • Melody

      THIS.

    • DR

      “Who created Steve?”

      Brilliant.

  • Laura Bradley

    Came back to read through these comments again — they cheer me up during down times, and the current fast-food free speech nonsense has me losing my mind. Thanks again to John Shore’s community for all the warm fuzzies in response to my daughter’s protest. I think Chloe needs to get her sign out again.


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