Why The Not All Like That (NALT) Christians Project works

holding-handsOn behalf of the small but passionately dedicated team responsible for The NALT Christians Project, I want to thank everyone who has helped make our first week such a tremendous success. Most of all, I want to thank the (as of this writing) seventy-five people who have taken the time and effort to make a NALT video. One of the craziest things about ushering this project through its first whirlwind week is that neither I nor my partners have even had time to personally respond to those good people who, throughout the week, continued to make us cry through the sheer power of their NALT video testimonies.

This is true: those of us who are vetting the videos before we mount them on the NALT site have an understanding that we can only vet two of them at a time, before we are guaranteed to have to take a, shall we say, tissue break. The videos are that heartrending. One after another, they just … wipe us out with their depth, clarity, honestly, and clear-headed conviction.

One of the reasons that these videos have the visceral emotional impact they do is because it’s so rare in life that you witness a person speaking a truth as extremely intimate to them as are the truths people are speaking in their NALT videos. It’s just … not something that too often comes up in life. About the only place it ever does happen is in movies. Well, NALT videos are movies—starring real people, saying the most real things any person can. And they’re just … mesmerizing. If you’ve watched any one of them, you know what I mean.

So thank you, NALT video makers. It is God’s truth that we feel that any one of the videos now on the NALT website would be justification enough for the website to exist. If I’ve said that once, I’ve said it seventy-five times.

If you’re an LGBT-affirming Christian who hasn’t yet made a NALT, please do. It’s extremely easy. We’re not looking for high production value. We’re looking for heart. And if you have a heart for this issue, don’t remain silent on it. We need your voice. The cause needs your voice. Don’t be shy. Don’t be hesitant. Feel the Holy Spirit moving you towards this, and … get ‘er done. Silence only hurts the young LGBT kids who most need to hear that there’s a place for them within the Christian fold.

I also want to thank some of the bloggers who’ve supported NALT. I wish I had time to read all such posts; I wish I was aware of them all. The six that come to mind because they’ve most recently meant so much to me are these:

NALT: A How-to Manual for Your Church, from Huffington Post’s Gay Voices. Choice quotes from: “But this confiding-gayness-in-secret thing grew tiresome, so my parents said, basically, ‘Why don’t we hold onto our britches and put it all out on the table? We’ll even throw some beef sandwiches in there.’My parents were “NALT” and didn’t even know it. … The first person who ever told me that I was going to hell was a leader at my church. I was 16, and I assure you that nothing haunted me more. Truth be told, I left my church ages ago because I thought my entire congregation saw me as “struggling.” But NALT involvement at your church could override people like that who hold such a piteous outlook on LGBT issues. Break the mold and seek out ways that you can counter Christians who misrepresent what is supposed to be a loving community. Give NALT a chance. It could help kids like me know that not all Christians are ‘like that.’”

A Gay Christian’s Apoplexy: The NALT backlash and the irony of a community’s anger in the face of love. Choice: “My heart is breaking right now, as I listen to video after video.  I’m hearing love and affirmation.  My heart feels as if it’ll burst, and is aching over these people’s goodness. … I am crying for those lost years ago who would have been desperate to hear the loving words of the people in the NALT videos that I’m seeing. Desperate to hear them while they were still on this earth. … As I am listening to and watching the kind eyes in these videos, all that I can do is to hold back tears of gratitude.  And fear isn’t anywhere to be found.  I see… I see, almost a plea of remorse and empathy in their eyes.  My heart hurts for the kindness that I see. I’m listening with a heart full of thanks.”

Christians Speak Up! Let The World Know “We’re Not All Like That” (from the U.K. website Lesbilicious): “On a personal note, I am a Christian woman who identifies as bisexual, and I know firsthand how painful it is when Christians, especially those that are part of your spiritual family, rain down hateful slogans or offer to pray for you, but not in a supportive way. I created the comic Jesus Loves Lesbians, Too [link was broken] as a way to share my story and to provide an outlet for other young Christians who are trying to reconcile their faith and their sexuality, those that feel like they have no one to talk to, no one to understand. Today, confident and strong in my sexuality and beliefs, I find comfort in the videos posted on the NALT site. Ten years ago, these videos and these people could have provided a lot more than that to a young girl who was scared to tell her Christian friends about her new girlfriend. Here’s where you come in, readers. If you are a Christian, and you want other young LGBT people and young Christians to know that we are not all like that, post a video to their YouTube site. If you have Christian friends who have never stopped loving you because of your sexuality, send them the link. Share on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or any and every other site you can think of, and share often. Together, our voices can diminish those loud and few who claim to speak for God and God’s people. Together, we can show those that need our love and support that we are not all like that, and that they are not alone.”

The NALT Christians Project offers permission and an invitation, from leading progressive Christian blogger Slacktivist (who awesome NALT video is here): “It always surprises me, and depresses me, to realize how many American Christians — white evangelicals, especially — are desperate for permission to love, for permission to stand on the side of justice rather than on the side of unfairness and injustice. (You are hereby granted permission, officially. There’s a downloadable certificate and everything.) I think the NALT Christians Project is a good way of showing them that they have such permission. Here is the testimony of the faithful. Here are Christians from all over the place “unapologetically expressing their full acceptance of LGBT people.” And look! They’re still Christians. This love and acceptance is an expression of their Christian faith, not a rejection of it.”

A Time To Believe Differently: The NALT Christians Project. From: “The NALT project potentially does two important things. It presents a much-needed counterpoint to the harsh rhetoric of the Christian right who attempt to marginalize people who are gay (i.e., fighting against ‘the normalization of homosexuality’). It also reaches out to people who are gay and suffering at the hands of the church; it’s a way for followers of Christ to stand in solidarity with gay people who seek to live authentic lives with integrity.”

Why I support the #NALT project despite its flaws… From: “This is a theological project: This project is asking people to talk about their faith and how it relates to real life. Not just real life, but one of the biggest, hot-button issues of our time. Not only that but it was a non-Christian who named it, who said ‘Ok, Christians, tell me, what do you think?’ Of course I stand behind that. Somebody wants to know what I think about my faith and what it has to say about this issue? Sign me up.”

Thank you to these bloggers—and to those NALT-supporting bloggers whom, alas, I know that I have missed.

I also want to thank the members of the press who’ve done so much to help spread the NALTy word. To a person they’ve all been kind, thorough, and fair. It means so much to us that they cared enough about the NALT Project to … well, ask us about  it. Their coverage has been amazing.

The deepest possible thanks also to those LGBT-affirming interdenominational Christian organizations and ministries who have partnered with NALT. It is of such vital importance to us that any young LGBT person visiting our site sees represented there the Christian denomination with which he or she is familiar—the one they care about, the one they know, perhaps the one in which they were raised. The power of that ready affirmation cannot be overstated. Right now we are but showing the linked (and hover-named) logos of our partner organizations along the bottom of each page of the NALT website. In development we have a separate page on our site, on which we will present information about each of these important, long-standing, and often trailblazing organizations, each of whom has for so long been so lovingly and diligently leading the cause that NALT has only just joined.

On Wednesday I, NALT co-founder Wayne Besen, of Truth Wins Out, and my wife Catherine, who is so integral to NALT, had an hour-long teleconference with fifteen representatives of the largest and most important LGBT-affirming Christian organizations and ministries in the country. Some of those on the call were from organizations currently in the thoughtful process of discerning what exactly their relationship with NALT might best look like for them. In faith we pray that these organizations continue in dialogue with us, that ultimately they come to find The NALT Christians Project worthy of their name, so that together, hand in hand, we might work with them toward furthering the cause we share.

Last, but most certainly not least, I want to thank those who have taken the time to email or otherwise get to us messages that throughout this week served to so uplift and inspire us to keep doing what we’re doing. Here are some of those heartening communiques:

I have been guilty of thinking all Christians are hateful and all alike. Thank you for showing that I can still learn something new at this late stage in my life.

Thank you so very much for developing this project! I suspect that this will contribute to saving precious lives. I appreciate your courage to pioneer this effort. … I simply cannot express to you the healing that is already taking place in the world by having these videos available. I have already experienced some healing.

I read about this in the paper today, and I was really excited. I am not a Christian myself, but it’s good to know there are Christians out there like this. One of the reasons I quit Christianity was the hostility toward the LGBTQ community. I’m still not going back for other reasons, but my animosity toward the religion has lessened because of this.

Wonderful! There are so many amazing kids here in the Bible Belt who need to hear from you, NALT Christian allies. This is such an important and much needed project. Thank you.

I read about NALT in an editorial piece by Leonard Pitts Jr. in my local paper. I went to the web site and after watching the various videos I was in tears. As a woman with a transsexual history, and one married to another woman, I and my religious upbringing have been in a raging war within myself. I was tossed out of our Rectory (I was raised Catholic) by my collar at 19, because I “still thought I was a girl and questioned God’s plan for me as a man. Later in life I drifted towards the LDS faith. I had a meeting with my bishop when I started transition. He told me it was acceptable and I could appear feminine at services but that I faced excommunication if I did anything to alter my gender. I told him that that wasn’t an easy thing to do, because I truly felt my gender at birth was female but I had been born with sexual characteristics that defined me as male—and it was those characteristics that I would be altering. Two weeks later I was excommunicated and my name stricken from all church records as well as from their database used in ancestral research. To me the greatest loss I felt transitioning to the person I have always since as early as I can remember was was the loss of my faith. I have watched since my abandonment by what I felt were my basic beliefs in a GOD being used to condemn my very existence as a person. I have listened at Pride events to me being called an abomination and forever condemned to the fires of hell, heard preachers call for internment camps to be built to house those like myself till we die; I’ve heard that transgender people “should be locked up in the far reaches of mental institutions and drugged out of their minds.” It has been this continual barrage of hate filled words that have cause me so much pain an suffering from something that I was raised to believe was a loving and acceptable God and his followers. I have always known that not all people of faith felt this way, but hearing them actually speak out about it was not often something I heard openly spoken. I have always longed for a day when I would no longer only hear from church leaders with their condemnations of LGBTQ people, but that their very congregations would stand up and say that enough is enough. I have have read and heard today, from true Christians, what has finally made me feel a small flickering light start shining into my heart that the belief I once had, and have since lost, might one day be made as bright as it once was.

Thanks for making this stand and going public. I am so with you as the parent of a LGBT. Count me in.

As a straight Christian who believes in LGBT rights, I am so glad to see this. It not only helps the LGBT community to know that not all people of their faith condemn them, but also we Christians who are becoming disheartened by the continual messages of hate sent out by Christians in the media. Thank you for doing this.

I am very excited to see your website… after watching Michael’s video on Youtube, I was more convinced than ever that what I felt in my heart and spirit was true. I am happy to have heard about your site. … Your site is wonderful, and it is enlightening.

This offers peace to me. Thank you.

I want to watch all the videos. I have to say that I supported NALT when it launched because it seemed like a great idea, but I had no idea how happy it would make me to see those videos. I grew up a conservative Christian, and since coming out I’ve had an extremely negative view of Christians. To the point of hate I would say. So seeing these videos, it’s like little pieces of my soul are being healed. And it really doesn’t matter what else happens because of this site, you have produced something that has healed a wound that nothing else could. I think you are a genius for coming up with this idea. It is an incredible gift you are giving as a result to anyone that has ever been hurt by Christianity. Amazing.

Thank you for your message! I’m not Christian, but I have always believe in kindness and compassion to others. It’s great to see organizations like yours that TRULY stress the same thing.

I just read several articles about your group and this project, and I want to express how pleased I am to see this. I was raised in a conservative Christian family but never felt comfortable with the overwhelmingly negative judgment against LGBT people. I ended up pulling away from all things ‘Christian’ because I couldn’t believe in a religion and a savior that was so condemning. The only choice I saw was to accept this view of Christianity or stop being a Christian. Now I believe that the current ‘spokespeople’ for Christianity have misinterpreted the message of Christ, and it is time for the rest of us to speak out about the message WE read of in the Bible. Thank you for creating this project.

When I read Leonard Pitts’ column in today’s Detroit Free Press, I thought, wow, this is great. I do not practice any religion and have not since I was a teenager due to the bigotry, and sometimes outright hatred, espoused by most. I am 78 years old. What you are attempting is thrilling. Here’s to your success.

As a happily married heterosexual who identifies as Liberal Christian Democrat, it has been an uphill battle to stand up against fellow Christians’ hatred of gays. And I have literally stood up…in church…to speak FOR love and against my own churches’ crusades. I have left more than one over it, but I live in a hotbed of conservatism and it has been a challenge. So glad to see this movement going SO public. These are things I have been saying for years. Bless you all.

I just wanted to thank all of you for undertaking this project. I’m a gay man who has had his share of issues dealing with Christians who are not like you and are fond of using the clobber passages. I must admit that the experiences left me with an acute case of Christianphobia. Thanks to a seeing a few genuine Christians, I have slowly been able to realize that you really are not all like that. While I doubt I will ever be able to get over my own mental blocks enough to ever rejoin a Christian church, I feel like the effort you are making will heal a great many wounds. I look forward to the day where I can hear the words “Christian values” without bracing for impact. Good luck, and thank you.

As a LGBTQIA ally I’m desperately in love with this concept! I will pitch this to my Open and Affirming UCC church also. I will also talk to my Adult Gay/Straight Alliance group to do this as well. Thanks and praise to all!

I was just telling a rather militant atheist the other day that not all Christians were hateful. That individual told me that if they aren’t, then why aren’t they standing up against the others who are being hateful? To be silent is to condone such actions.

This is awesome. Thank you to all those who speak out on behalf of goodness.

Here is good proof that they aren’t all bad. They are standing up and, even though I am not Christian, I would stand with them.

Just saw this at joemygod.com and wanted to say thank you. I am not Christian but I have many friends who are and they will love this. This is a much needed site. So often I wish I could here more than the rants from the extreme right who have twisted the Bible to something I don’t recognize. I know this will take off and be a very good thing for everyone. Thank you.

This is great! I love the It Gets Better videos and what they represent – strangers reaching out on the internet to people going through bad times, and the classic concept of “what do you wish you could tell your younger self?”. I hope this will be a very powerful message, both to the gay-bashing folks claiming to speak for Christianity, but much more importantly to the people suffering as a result. I hope it takes off, and that many voices join in support!

Thank you so very much for starting this I am A 46-yr-old gay man and have had bad experience with church Christians. I was raised with the Assembly of God church and it is good to know that there are Christians out there who truly show Gods love. Thank you.

As a Seminary student at Lancaster Theological Seminary and a long-time member of the United Church of Christ, I thank you for this platform to get our voices heard. I plan to listen to the videos over the weekend and hope to upload a video of my own. While I was attending our local community college, I undertook an independent study which allowed me to explore the “clobber” passages as well as interview various clergy about their thoughts/feelings. This was about 6 years ago. I like to believe we are making strides toward being inclusive and following Jesus. I hope this platform will help the world understand that we are not all like that!!!

Thank you everyone involved in NALT. What you are doing is important. Many of the videos have moved me to tears. I pray this project snowballs until the voices of hatred and bigotry are finally put in their place. It looks like Christianity is finding a way forward.

I do not make videos , so am writing my support. The anti LGBT rhetoric supporters claim to be Christian really goes against the most important Christian teachings. Christ the radical taught us not to judge others because our own lives would not bear scrutiny. Christ taught us to love and welcome others, that the last will be first, and especially to treat others as we would want to be treated. I am one of those considered likely to be anti LGBT: a grey-haired lifelong Roman Catholic. There are many more of us who know our religion should be welcoming, not alienating. Someday the hierarchy will need to follow us.

I am a Catholic and I’m NALT. Thank you and know that there a plenty of people who support you.

I’m not sophisticated enough to make a video, but I wanted to let you know that I am one of those Christians who is definitely “Not Like That”!!!

I do not know how to do and send a video primarily because of my age, 70, but I am so glad this website exists. For the life of me I do not understand how the message of Jesus can be interpreted to exclude and judge, though I do see the contradiction when I judge the fundamentalists. To me Jesus was so inclusive and radical that few people have had the courage to truly follow him.

Wow. This website is fantastic. Although I no longer belong to any religion, I was raised Catholic. I am not LGBT, but I have many dear, close friends who are. One of my oldest friends has been with his partner for 17 years — they own a beautiful home, two rescued greyhounds, and are an active part of their community in multiple ways. Another one of my dear friends is planning his wedding in Vegas for next March! Another one of my young friends (I’m old enough to be her mom) came out to me a few years back — I was the first person she told, and was honored to be such. All this to say — it hurts me to see/hear hateful and ignorant comments directed towards my friends and those in the LGBT community, particularly when those making the comments use Jesus Christ/God as an excuse for their own prejudices. So thank you, thank you, thank you for this website!

I hope a lot of Christians take the opportunity presented by this platform to show the love.

I love it! I want to share this with the whole world.

Just thanks and god/dess bless you.

I am so glad to have [the NALT Facebook page] page called to my attention. We need to make known far and wide that there are countless Christians who are supportive and fully accepting of LGBT persons. We need to flood the media with this message!

I used to be a Christian. I am saddened by the disparity between what Jesus taught, and what too many “Christians” practice in His name – this includes the attitudes of my extensive family. I applaud Dan Savage and those who are helping to make us more aware of LGBT issues, including Leonard Pitts Jr’s recent article. I am caring for two 94-year-old parents, so my time and money are totally limited, but I appreciate this opportunity to at least state my support of your efforts. Thank you!

Please keep speaking out! Too many Christians across this country, and most especially in small towns and communities, have kept quiet out of fear of being ostracised by homophobic bullys. The Shadow of the Cross should be a place of refuge, love, and redemption …not a vantage point from which to knowingly and willingly hurt, harm, or marginalize others. Keep encouraging, motivating, and promoting the real ideals of Christianity!

It’s about time.

Fantastic. How do we go about supporting you?

Powerful stuff! Christians, by the power and love of all that is true, we must all unite!

Thank you so much! I am so absolutely happy to know that this page exists! I thought I was alone. I have felt alone for a very long for being believer in God but still being an LGTBQ ally. I live in La Grande, Oregon. Sadly our claim to fame in the world is a mayor who made anti-gay remarks on facebook and the suicide of Jadin Bell. I live in a town full of hatred against the LGBTQ community and for so long I have avoided church for just that reason. This page and project makes me so happy. Thanks!!

So happy to have found your site and this page. So many of us grew up hating ourselves mainly because of our religion and the “Christian” beliefs spewed from the pulpit, and from our families who, unknowingly, taught us to hate ourselves from a very young age. It’s not something that you get past overnight…I still have a hard time walking into a church because of all the pain organized religion represents to me.

Great! Very glad to see this.

This organization is life-giving and life-saving!!!

It warms my heart to think that those who need to hear these words of love might learn of the NALT Project and see & hear the voices of Christians who are Not All Like That!

This is a site my Christian friends and family who follow Christ’s words and deeds could get with.

What a great project. Thanks NALT!

Oh for heaven’s sake. Through my tears I thank you so very much for this project.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! My wife and I will be submitting our video this week. Also, we attend an open and affirming church in Atlanta. Can we, as a church, do a video, letting people know where they could go locally to find support? Or are there other ways we could stand with you as a church?

Thank you so much! Looking forward to making my NALT video! Thank you for this project!!!

How do I order window stickers? Also – will t shirts become available?

I just have one question, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN!?!

Dear angry evangelical Christians
40 Questions for (fear-mongering) pastor Kevin DeYoung, now stomping the rainbow flag
The real reason anti-LGBT Christians are so obsessed with sex?
Please be a Christian sex therapist
About John Shore

More and more I'm communicating with my readers through my free (and ad-free) email newsletter, which is just a simple, direct and personal email from me that I send out every three weeks or so. If you would like to receive this email in your inbox, subscribe to it on my website, or by using the subscription box about halfway down the column on the right. I wouldn't think of using your email address for anything but my e-newsletter (to which you can always unsubscribe with the click of a button). Thanks, and looking forward to communicating with you in this more intimate way.

  • Elizabeth

    Getting to know Evan and Dan (and you, John, you big dork) was one of the best experiences of my life. Don’t just make a video for them. Do it because the process will pay you back tenfold.

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

    Hey, who you callin’ a duck?

    Oh. Dork. Never mind.

  • http://www.theworthingtonpost.net Aliza Worthington

    Brava! So proud. Xoxoxo

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

    I know my story is not near as powerful as some shown on the videos, but that doesn’t stop me from being in full and complete support of this project.

  • SeattleKim

    I am a member of a strongly supportive Open & Affirming church. I had the choice to create my own video, or bring the church members on board and have us together create a video. While it would have been way faster for me to make my own, I wanted to have this important video be from all of us. So we are making the video this Sunday, and it will be edited and finished the following week.

    I also sent an e-mail to our conference newsletter, and I’m pretty sure they will add a story about the NALT project in the newsletter.

    Thank you all for creating this site. Hopefully it will take off and become wildly popular.

  • http://Fordswords.net David S.

    John,

    I can’t thank you and your partners enough. It’s time for the Church to believe in a way that doesn’t cause harm. You are doing the tough work of illuminating the path that leads us there. You’ll never know how grateful I am.

  • Jill

    Seconded.

  • LindsayC

    I always feel like I’m the cheesiest person on the planet, and so I always get so embarrassed seeing/hearing myself. But I bucked up and made a video anyways. I probably didn’t say things in the best of ways, or was very eloquent either. I almost didn’t put it up for fear of backlash.

    But then I said WTF, put it up, put the comments on moderated and see how it went. I have 37 views, and got 2 comments that made me feel like it was all worth it, and I don’t regret making the video.

    Reading all these responses just makes it all the more better. I’m so happy this is going this way.

    I want to thank you guys for giving us the space. And obviously to say You’re Welcome :)

    -Lindsay from Edmonton.

  • Matt

    I love this project so much! I wish I could make a video, but I am job-hunting and applying to nursing school at the moment. Being outed as trans could make me a very undesirable potential employee and/or student. It only takes one asshole to ruin my prospects, unfortunately, and I work with the public so extensively that there is bound to be more than one.

    But I watch every video, because each of them is like having a beautifully intimate conversation with some very smart people. Each one of them in their way is exactly something I needed to hear right at that moment. It’s just magnificent.

  • Elizabeth

    Hey Matt. I know the feeling. Saying both ‘Christian’ and ‘straight-ish’ were terrifying enough. I needed to contact some people before I even started. I have a big mouth, as you know, and it wasn’t the forum to unintentionally out anyone. A lot of the vitriol lobbied at NALT is that it doesn’t include everyone. It’s a double-edged sword. ‘Everyone’ is often in a position like yours. That’s what John, Evan, Dan and company are trying to change.

    I hope some day in the future you can add your voice. It’s a good one. :)

  • Matt

    Yeah, I’ve gotten very frustrated with the response from the extreme left, just because the project’s leadership doesn’t check off every minority demographic box. A lot of them seem to be very unfamiliar with John and Evan’s work, and write it off just because Dan is involved. My view towards Dan has significantly relaxed ever since I learned that he genuinely realized his past comments were harmful and doesn’t say that anymore.

    Thank you for that endorsement, Elizabeth :). It’s very frustrating to essentially be gagged by my circumstances, especially because some of the people I have to fear most are my own family. But I just keep thinking that it won’t be forever, and I have enough people in my corner to keep going forward.

  • http://rindle.blogspot.com/ Lyn

    Last I looked, I didn’t have any comments on my video. It makes me kinda sad, yet somewhat relieved.

  • Elizabeth

    94 views, no comments. Not that I’m paying attention or anything. ;)

  • http://rindle.blogspot.com/ Lyn

    Heh. I look every so often so I know if there’s something I need to respond to. I have 6 upvotes and 1 downvote, but no comments.

  • Elizabeth

    Um, hello. Now you know how hard it was to say “Christian.” http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/09/harboring-young-atheists/279095/


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