Here’s a snapshot of the speakers at yesterday’s NALT Christians press conference, held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., as a “prebuttal” to the shameful (and for some reason illiterately named) Values Voter Summit, which starts today. From left to right are: Andy Lang, Executive Director, United Church of Christ Coalition for LGBT Concerns; Brent Childers, Executive Director, Faith In America; the Very Rev. Gary Hall, Dean of the Washington National Cathedral; author Frank Schaeffer; Vivian Taylor, Executive Director, Integrity USA; NALT Christian co-founder Wayne Besen, from Truth Wins Out; myself and my wife Catherine (co-founders of NALT). Not shown is Michael Keegan, President, People for the American Way. (Behind the camera was Aliza Worthington.)
A great and comprehensive article about the press conference is: LGBT Affirming Christians Issue Prebuttal to Values Voter Summit. Yesterday we also debuted NALT Christians videos from Bishop Gene Robinson, Jay Bakker, Ray Bolz, Mel White, Randy Roberts Potts, and Justin Lee. You can view those videos (and read a a bit about their makers) here.
Here is what Catherine and I said at the podium:
JOHN: After my wife Catherine and I had spent six years as members of the very first church home for either of us, we were elected deacons of that church. But before we could become deacons, our church surprised us by asking us to sign a document asserting that we personally believed that no “unrepentant homosexual” should be allowed to hold any position, of any authority whatsoever at our church. As both of us had lifelong gay friends, we declined to sign this document. The following Sunday our pastor placed in the lobby of the church stacks of an article he had once written about how Christians who don’t hold the “correct” view on homosexuality are heretics.
That’s the word he used, repeatedly: heretics. And every person at our church knew who he was talking about.
Being forced to choose between our conscience and our church, we lost our first church home.
Cat and I turned to the Bible. What we realized is that Christians do not obey small passages of the Bible if those passages conflict with the overriding biblical principles of love, compassion, and conscience—if they run contrary, that is, to The Great Commandment. For example, in contradiction to the Bible, Christians DO allow women to speak in church, DO accept divorce, and do NOT believe adulterers should be sentenced to death.
Christ proved he wants us to always choose compassion over legalism when he healed the man at the pool at Bethesda. He did that in violation of the fourth commandment not to work on the Sabbath. He broke the law for love.
Christians do not take every passage of the bible literally. For instance, the Bible says that it is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven. Yet Christians do not believe that the rich are irrevocably bound for hell.
CAT: The Family Research Council claims to speak for Christian families. But LGBT persons are our families: they are our brothers and sisters, our sons and our daughters. The anti-gay Christian preoccupation with fighting LGBT equality negatively impacts both our straight and gay youth, encouraging intolerance and bullying in one, and profound struggles with self-esteem in the other.
A recent study by the Family Acceptance Project found that parents who identify as “strongly religious” were significantly more likely than any other group to reject their LGBT children. According to the Center for American Progress, there are an estimated 300,000 homeless LGBT youth in our country, and the leading cause of their homelessness is family rejection.
The relentless anti-gay-Christian messaging is damaging to Christianity itself. According to a BARNA survey, 91% of non-Christians ages 16 through 29—and 80% of Christians the same age—first associate Christianity with “anti-homosexual”—an association followed closely, in both the non-Christian and the Christian groups, by the words “judgmental,” “hypocritical,” “old-fashioned,” and “too involved in politics.”
What these young people are responding to is the manifest hypocrisy in straight Christians spending all that time, all that energy, and all that money condemning the one and only perceived “sin” in the Bible that they themselves are not tempted to commit, rather than utilizing those vast resources to serve the biblical mandate to care for the poor, the sick and the persecuted.
JOHN: Jesus said the most important commandment of all is to love God with everything you have, and to love your neighbor as yourself. Most Christians get that. Increasingly, Christians understand that because being gay is a God-given attribute and not a choice, it is anything but Christian to deny LGBT people full equality.
The vast majority of the negative messages in the media about LGBT people come from anti-gay Christians. We launched the NALT Christians project so the whole of the Christian community could be more accurately represented. LGBT-affirming Christians kept telling me how deeply they yearned for a platform from which to refute the anti-gay Christianity that too many people think is the only Christianity out here. NotAllLikeThat.org is that platform.
It’s purpose of The NALT Christians Project is to give any and all LGBT-affirming Christians a means of sharing their belief that there is nothing anti-biblical or sinful about being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. That Christianity is the Christianity of the future. And The NALT Christians Project is one big step toward that future.