NALT’s response to the Duck Dynasty controversy

Hi, all. While I was on vacation last week, Wayne Besen and Evan Hurst, my fellow NALT Christians co-founders, issued the statement below, which I thought I’d here share.

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The co-founders of the NALT Christians Project released the following statement in response to the media firestorm around homophobic and racist comments made in the name of Christianity by Phil Robertson, patriarch of the “Duck Dynasty” family.

Controversy arose this week after Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson made homophobic and racist comments in an interview with GQ. He couched his comments in religious language, which has led many conservative Christians to believe that, in protesting his words, and in A&E’s subsequent suspension, Robertson’s First Amendment rights and freedom of religion are being infringed upon.

As is usual in these debates, the real loser is Christianity itself. Millions of Christians around the world affirm the dignity and equality of LGBT people, and their voices go unheard when public figures like Phil Robertson and his supporters in the right-wing media claim that their discriminatory beliefs represent Christianity. As The NALT Christians Project and a growing grassroots movement of loving, supportive Christians shows, this is not the case. Robertson was suspended because he made hateful comments about minorities, not because he’s a Christian. He and others who couch racist and anti-gay bias in religious language do not own Christianity, nor do they even speak for a majority of Christians.

To those whose faith leads them to show love rather than hatred, we encourage you to make your voice heard by making a NALT Christians video, sharing the message with your families and churches and getting involved in the growing chorus of Christians who are Not All Like That.

Signed

John Shore, Wayne Besen and Evan Hurst, co-founders of the NALT Christians Project

For more info or to submit a NALT video of your own, please visit the NALT Christians Project.

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. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • Sean Rahner

    It’s true that Christianity itself loses in these scenarios, but the real victims are those people who are so turned off to Christianity because of this kind of hate mongering. Those people will never hear the Gospel or experience the Good News. That’s the real tragedy, and we Christians are to blame.

    • Rev. M. Vernon Hunt

      Trust me, we’ve all heard the Gospel at this point, some of us hundreds of times. I doubt there’s anyone left, at least in the West, who hasn’t. We’re hardly victims, if that’s the criteria.

      • lymis

        Sean can speak for himself, but that’s not what I heard him saying.

        I’m not sure it’s actually true to say that everyone has heard the Gospel. Everyone is certainly aware that Christianity exists and that there are some things Christians believe.

        But there are plenty of people who have never been meaningfully presented with a Gospel of love and inclusion rather than a message of hate, disapproval, judgment, and exclusion. Yes, anyone who chooses can pursue Christianity and find a different message. And God definitely reaches down and drags some people, kicking and screaming, into the Light of His Love.

        But plenty of people are raised in non-Christian or barely nominally Christian homes, spend their lives in secular settings, or worse, in the kind of churches that reflect the bile that people like Robertson spew, and get a very clear picture of a Christianity they never want to have anything to do with.

        Once they’ve been told by enough people exactly what Christianity is, they are fully justified in not wanting to hear anything more about it.

        And since, for many of us, the picture they’ve been given doesn’t reflect our experience of God, seeing them pushed away and closed down is perfectly characterized as a tragedy.

        I’m not sure what you’re trying to say, but if it’s that anyone who doesn’t have the “right” picture of a loving, inclusive, open, and diverse Christianity based on love has only themselves to blame, I couldn’t disagree more strongly.

        • Rev. M. Vernon Hunt

          What I’m trying to say is that maybe if some folks cared a bit more about living by example instead of trying to sell a religion, it might prove to be more effective in the long run. At this point in history, just about everyone who would be swayed by evangelism alone (in the West) has been covered.

          The gospel is nice enough, but it’s not going to convince too many more people, and that number shrinks with every passing day. More effective to let one’s beliefs show through their actions, and attract people accordingly. If a person is a kind and decent person to begin with, it will naturally draw some curiosity, and then perhaps an opening to discuss spiritual matters.

          Of course, I say this as someone who is fundamentally opposed to proselytizing in the first place. I find it crass and offputting.

          • lymis

            Put that way, I can agree. I’ve always been far more impressed with people who were living the message than by those who were selling it.

          • adam

            the problem is that there is the message of Jesus that doesn’t agree with the message of Paul, even when they are incompatible.

            Anyone who actually lives like Jesus, you know homeless, wandering, hanging out with a bunch of other homeless men, owning nothing and not ‘working’ for a living, are seen as the dregs of our society. And don’t really impress anyone.

            Where as the Paulians just have to ‘believe’.
            And they can ‘believe’ themselves to be rich and powerful, and this is where most of the representation of ‘christianity’ comes from in our society.

      • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

        There are more arriving on the scene daily.

        Like our treatment of the environment, we owe them quality allegories and attitude.

        Religion is a new person’s first portal to the Great Way, If it is increasingly corrupted and rusted shut. We have failed them.

        Failed to even greater degree than leaving dead and toxic oceans, in a world of radiated landscape.

  • http://www.dregstudios.com Brandt Hardin

    We can put ol’ Phil up on a cross now and stick a spear in him since he’s the new martyr for the Christian Right. Last year, it was the Chick-Fil-A Chicken being branded as the new saint of Christianity for standing up for all that is Holy Matrimony in the eyes of the Church. These folks want to be on the wrong side of history with their public criticism of homosexuality but cry fowl (pardon the pun) when their own bigotry is examined in a public light.

  • Bill Steffenhagen

    The silence of so many otherwise good Christians in the face of anti-gay and racist bigotry and destructive comments is incomprehensible. It can only be accounted for by their fear; fear that they might be wrong if they speak out against it (which is due to ignorance of their own religion), fear of losing friends in the church, fear that it means loss of their “faith”, just….FEAR! They don’t grasp that it holds the mirror to the fact that they don’t trust in the strength of their faith OR in their God to sort this out thru the Spirit. They don’t trust in the Spirit that is driving this progressive movement. This issue of gays and Christianity is showing clearly that their “faith” is not Faith, but Fear. And it is that realization that they hate most of all.

    • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

      Bill,

      I think you’re right, and I think the fear is justified. Coming out as an ally can have a huge cost.

      One if my dearest friends finally did so by posting a supprtive message on Facebook. Within two hours she was booted from the music ministry she had been a part of for ten years. The reason cited for her dismissal was a “questionable witness”. Within a week, she was relieved of all other church responsibilities.

      I’m so proud of this friend, she’s staying in her congregation and fighting for the dignity of queer people.

      It’s worth noting that the same social coercion that keeps queer people closeted keeps allies silent. It’s also worth noting that it takes time for some allies to find the courage of their convictions in the same way it takes time for some queer people to live authentically.

      My best to you.

      • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

        Yes, fear. Like Peter denying Jesus 3 times. We are flimsy creatures at best.

        • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

          brmckay -
          Precisely. Flimsy creature. That’s me for sure.

          • Jill

            But in a handsome package.

  • Alliecat04

    The real wonder is that people are surprised that ignorant trash is ignorant trash. Did anyone pay attention to the actual content of his “racist” remarks, or is the outrage primarily coming from people too enlightened to actually follow the show? What the man said, basically, was that back in the day, black folks seemed as happy as his family. They picked cotton, he picked cotton. I submit that he has a very low standard of happiness. He’s a dumbfuck. So? Is it particularly startling that he has a poor opinion of the only people he’s ever been allowed to feel superior to in his entire pitiful life? I could throw a rock, where I live in Memphis, and hit half a dozen people like him. He’s not news.

    • lymis

      Possibly, but how many are highly paid entertainers with a popular television show on a network that claims to have completely different corporate values and supports diversity?

      • Jill

        Which IS the problem that people aren’t terribly focused on. Like Allie, I’m pretty over worrying about every last bigot’s message since they’re as common as weeds. Still everyone huddles around the proverbial water cooler to talk about what he said, when they need to be discussing what his employers haven’t succeeded in doing about it.

        I expected more from a cable network that cut its teeth on theater and musicals.

    • Jill

      Your last two sentences made me laugh out loud.

  • Jeffrey A Prieskorn

    I don’t think Christianity is hurt with this, course I really don’t care if it is. Jesus is not hurt. He didn’t start Christianity…….never intented to and isn’t really interested in making sure Christianity thrives. He loves his people that include gays and Phil Robertson and you and me. Remember Christianity is not the solution to anything, Jesus is. No need to promote Christianity or defend it.

    • lymis

      That strikes me as a very odd view, unless you agree that Robertson’s Christianity is the only kind there is.

      Our country did some things I considered reprehensible under an Administration I had very little respect for. But that didn’t mean I had no reason to defend my country, because I knew that those who were behaving abominably weren’t the whole story. They didn’t have exclusive rights to the concept of patriotism, and just because they had a great deal of influence, it didn’t mean they could define for me what my country means to me.

      I see this as similar. There’s no need to paper over the bad parts of the Christian community, or defend the indefensible. But there’s every reason to defend the fact that those parts of the story are not the whole of the story. Christianity isn’t monolithic. Yes, the parts that are awful should be resisted, but the parts and the people who are not certainly can use some support and promotion.

      I’ll happily agree that organized Christianity is not the only way God speaks in the world, and if it were to self-destruct, it wouldn’t stop the Holy Spirit, but that doesn’t mean we should hurl babies out with the bathwater.

      • http://www.facebook.com/LostInSpaceMan Steve Armstrong

        It’s not the least bit odd when you consider that Christianity is just another religion made by man, while Jesus our Savior was made by God and it’s him we should be lifting up, not some stupid religion that was built around him to keep us from knowing him for who he is! Christianity is no more Jesus than Judaism is God! Both are simply religions built around what God sent to us in his words to us. Until people start realizing that it’s a relationship with God that he wants from us and not some song and dance religion based on man’s idea of him, we’ll keep failing to please him!

        • lymis

          That still seems to be a non sequitur. I completely agree that Christianity is a man-made religion, but I’ll also grant that it, like most religions, is one vehicle through which people find their contact with the Divine.

          Having a relationship with God is not mutually exclusive with participating in a religion. And because some people misuse it horribly doesn’t invalidate it completely. It is what it is, and no more, but certainly, no less, either.

          • http://www.facebook.com/LostInSpaceMan Steve Armstrong

            If you completely agree that Christianity is man-made, then what exactly did you find to be Odd about Jeffery’s statement that Jesus didn’t start Christianity and has no skin in the game of protecting it? It sounds like you actually share his views you just didn’t quite like the way he stated it. And why on earth would you find his statements comparable to Robertson’s when they’re the furthest thing from them?

          • lymis

            There’s a distinction that you’re missing. I probably didn’t articulate it well enough.

            Human beings created the rituals, wrote the Scriptures, and passed on the traditions of Christianity. That doesn’t mean it has no ongoing involvement with God or that those who are Christian can’t and don’t use it as their path to the Divine.

            God can have no particular “skin in the game” of protecting organized institutional Christianity, but that doesn’t mean he has no “skin in the game” of being a part of the lives and salvation of individual Christians as people and as children of God.

            The fact that a given particular specific religion isn’t something God sees as the only one and therefore, specially in need of institutional protection doesn’t mean that it has no value or that God doesn’t speak through it.

            I read Jeffrey’s statement as being that all institutional religion, and Christianity in particular are valueless. If that’s his point, I disagree. But we share the underlying belief that it’s a relationship with God that is the important aspect of it.

            How you read anything I said as supporting Robertson’s views eludes me completely. WTF?

          • http://www.facebook.com/LostInSpaceMan Steve Armstrong

            I didn’t read anything you said as supporting Robertson’s views. WTF! I don’t even see where you got that from my post. As for the rest of your well crafted message, I think you’re just splitting hairs now just to be argumentative when it’s apparent to me that you actually agree with Jeffery and I.

          • lymis

            That’s a novel take on it.

  • Gregt

    Jesus needs to stay strong. This video will help. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87kFgZpTk5A

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Wtf?

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      I watched 14 seconds, I had to stop, My sanity was at risk. Seriously WTF!!! On the 7th day the Lord flexed???? WHAT???

  • Kay

    I had several believer friends uphold Phil on their social media pages, which saddened me for my LGBT friends. I am a straight Christian who believes sexual orientation is not a choice. I read Jesus inferred that in saying there are some eunuchs “born that way” & he didn’t teach against them. I share Dr Cynthia Chappell’s latest of her 3-part presentation here on The Science of Sexual Orientation that more need to review & consider.

    http://houstonsvoice.com/video/thescienceofsexualorientationpartiii/

    Also here is 9-part series done earlier by Dr Chappell on The Biology of Sexual Orientation:
    http://www.pflaghouston.org/vidindex.html


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