Part 2: I’m Sorry Campaign

The following post was written by Kevin Harris, Director of Community Relations at The Marin Foundation.

As we continue to talk with individuals in Chicago and others around the country, we have become very accustomed to hearing Christians from varying theological backgrounds express their remorse over the fact that often times they and the broader Church have not done right by the LGBT community. While our gathering at the Chicago Pride Parade is a rather isolated event in and of itself, we have come to see it as an opportunity to embody the shift that we are seeing within communities of faith today that are giving rise to expressions of remorse paired with a desire to learn and rework the way they have lived in relationship with and to individuals in the LGBT community. Though there has often been a degree of hesitancy and trepidation, we are starting to see more and more individuals pushing past their fears that are cast out by love and a desire that all might experience dignity, love, and reconciliation with faith and each other. So along the lines of acknowledging our failures and shortcomings and moving forward to be the change that you believe Christ wants to see in the world, we are hoping to hear from you and how you plan to make a difference.

To go along with our presence at the Chicago Pride Parade this year, we are starting a video campaign to let our respective apologies give birth to practical steps and actions that we can take in moving towards healing the pain and righting the wrongs that have been brought about by many in the Christian community. The videos can be posted on YouTube including ‘I’m Sorry Campaign’ somewhere in the title. We are looking for individuals to record relatively short two part videos expressing what it is that they are individually and/or corporately sorry for related to how they and the broader Church have fallen short in how they have lived out their faith and often caused pain and hurt for individuals in the LGBT community (1st part) and then letting that lead into what they are personally going to commit to do about it to start to move things forward in their respective spheres of influence and make things better for individuals in the LGBT community (2nd part). Whether you have a more traditional understanding of scripture and sexuality or believe that God blesses same-sex relationships (whether you a Christian that is heterosexual or LGBT) we would love to hear your thoughts and commitment(s) on a video.

In asking for videos to go along with our ‘I’m Sorry Campaign,’ we are in no way trying to encourage animosity towards the broader Church as we realize that it will most likely lead towards the expression of some difficult words that may need to be heard, but we rather would like to start to dig into and give voice to some of the things we are sorry for as we at The Marin Foundation deeply care for the Church and want to see it more closely embody the faith, hope, and love that God has called it to. So in your apologies, let us know what you feel has been placed upon your heart and if you are willing to share and be vulnerable, some of the areas in your own life that you may need to ask forgiveness for related to sins of commission/omission whether they be something like using derogatory language and hurting another person or possibly times that you have stood passively by and not stood up for others or what you believed was right. In your commitments, let us know what you are going to start doing different or seek to change whether it be things like standing up against the bullying of LGBT youth, addressing prejudice towards and stereotypes about the LGBT community in your own life and combating them in public spheres, addressing issues of justice related to the LGBT community, or doing your part to shift the acceptable medium of engagement and how your own community of faith lives out their beliefs in relation with and to the LGBT community.

As you post videos on YouTube with the title I mentioned above, we would appreciate if you let us know about the videos by sending a quick email to info@themarinfoundation.org. We at The Marin Foundation will also be posting a few videos from some of our friends in the Chicagoland area on this blog leading up to pride as examples. After pride, our goal is to start posting some of the videos on our website at www.themarinfoundation.org for individuals to view.

Much love.

www.themarinfoundation.org

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About Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin is President and Founder of The Marin Foundation (www.themarinfoundation.org). He is author of the award winning book Love Is an Orientation (2009), its interactive DVD curriculum (2011), and recently an academic ebook titled Our Last Option: How a New Approach to Civility can Save the Public Square (2013). Andrew is a regular contributor to a variety of media outlets and frequently lectures at universities around the world. Since 2010 Andrew has been asked by the United Nations to advise their various agencies on issues of bridging opposing worldviews, civic engagement, and theological aspects of reconciliation. For twelve years he lived in the LGBT Boystown neighborhood of Chicago, and is currently based St. Andrews, Scotland, where he is teaching and researching at the University of St. Andrews earning his PhD in Constructive Theology with a focus on the Theology of Culture. Andrew's research centers on the cultural, political, and religious dynamics of reconciliation. Andrew is married to Brenda, and you can find him elsewhere on Twitter (@Andrew_Marin), Facebook (AndrewMarin01), and Instagram (@andrewmarin1).

  • http://www.briangerald.com Brian Gerald Murphy

    I don’t want your apology unless it is coupled with action. And going to pride isn’t the action I’m looking for.

    I don’t want your apology unless you are going to stand with me and advocate for the full inclusion of LGBTQ people in all areas of the church and ministry.

    I don’t want your apology unless you are going to help save young queer lives by clearly and unapologetically stating that God loves queer kids just the way they are.

    I don’t want your apology unless you’re going to attend gay weddings and confess that they are the same in your eyes (and that you believe in God’s) as straight ones are.

    I don’t want your apology unless you are going to lobby for employment non-discrimination, marriage equality, and immigration equality.

    I don’t want your apology unless you acknowledge that your ambiguity around how you feel about LGBT people regarding sin has given you privilege, access, and a platform that is denied LGBT people and openly affirming straight people.

    Until then it’s not really an apology… it’s just a publicity stunt.

    • Kevin Harris

      The intention of the call for videos that I posted above is not to collect and disseminate an apology from Andrew Marin. Rather, its intended purpose was to serve as a catalyst to elicit apologies followed by practical actions they will take in moving forward from individuals in the broader Christian community (both from cisgender heterosexual and LGBT individuals) in that The Marin Foundation would serve as a medium to display the mentioned videos.

      As our intention is to hear from Christians that are more conservative and progressive as it relates to their understanding of faith and sexuality/gender identity, I’m assuming there will be apologies from individuals that will be committing to work for full inclusion in the church for those that are LGBT along with Christians that simply want to apologize for something like using derogatory language/not calling it out when they have heard it and committing to combat it in the future. Regardless of their views on scripture, they have a right to express their regrets along with committing to take steps to improve life for individuals in the LGBT community that are inside or outside of the Church even if those apologies/practical steps do not match the ideal standards set forth by you or anyone else.

      Regardless of where individuals find themselves on the spectrum of beliefs about faith/sexuality/politics ect. we are asking for their respective apologies (whether they are referencing sins of omission or commission that are individual or structural in nature) and asking them to commit to take practical steps forward while functioning out of their existing belief system to make things better for individuals in the LGBT community. We do not wish to only see individuals that are functioning out of a similar ideological camp working towards making things better, but are rather more concerned with the motivation behind each respective belief system that is striving to bring about positive change (insufficient as it may be) and the capacity inherent in each positive desire to move forward in dignifying and bringing about positive change for the LGBT community.

  • blake

    Sadly,

    I have to say I’m in full agreement with Brian. I have supported the Marin Foundation for a long time but the way you refuse to take a stand or be clear and direct, as well as the Advocate interview is slowly beginning to make me think you see things from a conservative view while “loving ” gay people where they’re at.

    I know a few people who think that you’re talking out of both corners of your mouth. You have to make a stand – its as simple as that.

    I just don’t know how much to accept your ideas when you seem to be unwilling to make a stand. I’m not being a “gay militant” but even Jesus was clear and direct on His agenda. You are not.

  • blake

    And many seem to think you’re in it for the money and publicity and I’m really not sure what to think anymore.

  • K. Belew

    I’m still waiting for you to apologize for lying to us.

    I’m still waiting for you to admit that, in reality, you’ve only advocated for social kindness.

    Tell the Christians that God wants her queer children in God’s house as we are: wonderful, beautiful, and whole.

  • Adam Woods

    What Brian said.

  • Eric

    If you are sorry than you must unequivocally condemn the church for lgbt abuse. Endorse marriage equality and admit being gay is not a sin.

  • http://anarchistreverend.com Shannon Kearns

    I agree wholeheartedly with Brian. As a queer minister we don’t need your apologies unless they are backed by clear action. I’d also like to add that your campaign assumes queer folks are outside of the church. Queer people of faith have been serving their calls for years; doing theology, ministering to people (gay and non-gay alike), all before you started apologizing. We are in the church not standing outside of it.

    I am disturbed that you use your privilege to speak in places that queer voices aren’t welcomed and angered that you don’t invite queer people of faith to stand with you.

    Stop apologizing and start acting. A good first step would be to say you believe that queer people are created by God and loved by God just the way they are. Until you can say that and mean it your apologies mean nothing.

  • Peter Macari

    I too am saddened that you stop at words. Although words can be comforting to some, young LGBTQ youth are dying, there are still unequal rights, discrimination remains, individuals think they are hated by God and are rejected by churches. Put these words into action and then we can work on the healing process.

  • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

    I wrote this a few summers ago; I guess I’ll write it again. You have the right to accept or not accept an apology. That doesn’t mean that Andrew and the others shouldn’t offer their apology.

    It’s true that Andrew and TMF have largely advocated what K Belew stated, for social kindness. I think that we too often miss that the larger Church has generally not practiced social kindness towards GLBT people both in and out of the church. The advocacy of bridge building and promotion of social kindness is huge.

    Without social kindness, many in the church will never take the opportunity to get to know or befriend GLBT people. It’s widely accepted by pretty much every GLBT advocacy organization that our best supporters are those who know our stories and who like us and who love us.

    So accept or don’t accept Andrew’s apology. But please accept his apology to offer it.

    • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

      “accept his *RIGHT* to offer it”, that is…

  • http://anarchistreverend.com Shannon Kearns

    @Jon I agree that Andrew has every right to offer an apology. The problem is that, like any apology, if one doesn’t stop doing the action that is harmful then the apology doesn’t hold much weight. If your friend apologized for doing something hurtful and then turned around and did it again, I doubt you would think their apology was authentic.

    Without action behind it Andrew’s apology smacks of being patronizing. He still gets to have all of the privilege he had before; he still gets to go into those spaces where queer people are not welcomed, he still gets to raise lots and lots of money on the backs of queer people’s oppression, etc.

    • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

      I understand your point, Shannon. I’m just not sure how he’s being hurtful, but that’s okay.

      I know Andrew. I believe that he would agree with you that he is speaking from a place of privilege as a white evangelical heterosexual married Christian who has a voice where people like we don’t. I know that there are many in the Church who find his message unwelcome from both sides of the bridge. I know that he has experienced set-backs from former evangelical allies b/c of his relationship with GLBT friends and associates — things he doesn’t talk about a lot here FWIW. Also, I’m not sure how “lots and lots” TMF raises. The current income meter reads at $62,500. That’s for a staff of 2-3.5 people in a downtown Chicago-based ministry.

      • http://www.briangerald.com Brian Gerald Murphy

        Has Andrew told you explicitly he finds your relationship with your husband to be acceptable to God and not sinful? He’s never told me that, I’ve never heard him tell anyone that, I don’t know anyone who has. Implying that you’re living in constant, unrepentant sin counts as hurtful to me.

        If he affirmed your relationship with your husband as righteous, I’d sure like to hear about that!

        • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

          I believe he believes that we’re all living in a state of sin. Then again, I hate to state what others believe and I could be wrong about the nuances of his evangelical belief system.

          Andrew’s told me explicitly that he has no intention or desire to see us divorce or separate or break-up or not live a happy life. He has told us that we’re great parents of great kids. He’s been to our wedding and hung with my family just as I’ve hung with his family.

          All that said, I don’t care if churches don’t support gay families. I have a problem when churches politically rally against our family’s legal protections, but I believe that churches should have the right to decide who leads them and who’s a member and who can be married in those churches, etc. I just want church people to learn how to learn how to better accept that there are people outside of their flock who don’t believe the same and as long as their not being abusive or criminal, they should just back off a bit.

          Andrew’s written this blog for a while now. He’s come out in support of our collective rights to serve in the military and to be welcomed into the church without fear of ostracization and to have the reality of our families validated by Church people even though they might not affirm every aspect of our families.

          I feel like I’m being “Mr. Joe Marin-Booster Guy” right now and that’s partly because I really like Andrew and Brenda and Kevin and the others, but I also truly believe that they’re genuine and that’s because of my experience with them and because I sat back and gave myself the opportunity to ask questions of them and to establish relationship with them. Obviously, not everyone’s going to agree with my assessment of him or them and that’s okay. I’m just giving my perspective, is all.

          Now that my Nyquil is beginning to kick in, I’m going to hit the sack. ‘Night all! :)

  • http://www.livingitout.com Rachel

    Hi there, ‘I don’t know’ is my answer to the criticisms you point at the Marin Foundation, but I hope these couple of thoughts will be helpful…

    First, those of us who are happily LGB Christians just aren’t news. There is no way the media is interested in us (at least, not over here). So, the anti-gay Christians always get the lions-share of press coverage because they have all the stories! But then the ‘I’m sorry’ campaign turned that on its head. Suddenly there was a great media story, and it was a message to LGB people that God loved them and that the anti-gay Christians had got it wrong. The ‘I’m sorry’ campaing has reached far more LGB people with a message of God’s love than I could ever have done as a lesbian Christian.

    Second, I recently returned from a Christian conference where Andrew was speaking. For part of his session he invited me to join him up front. Now, I would never have been invited as a speaker because I don’t hold the position of privilege that he does (they would never have accepted a lesbian speaker – although they have softened on women in recent years!). But without him in that place, my voice wouldn’t have been heard at all, he used his privilege to give me a voice.

    Of course these points don’t answer your criticisms Shannon et al, but for me I guess they just highlight that it’s more complex than maybe your criticisms recognise…

    • http://www.briangerald.com Brian Gerald Murphy

      I recognize the complexities of the situation. I received an advance review copy of Love Is An Orientation, I’ve followed the work of Andrew & The Marin Foundation, I used to work with The Simple Way (and so I guess I’m always “part” of it since we’re a web of conspiring friends), I’m close friends with many in the Christian speakers/author circle, I work with faith-based non-profits.

      My criticism isn’t that of some angsty loner. It’s thorough, thoughtful, and born out of years of advocacy and activism inside and outside of faith communities. It’s also been formulated through endless discussion with other Christian activists committed to intersectional justice.

  • KlLynne

    Hey I don’t want your apology until you confess to all your crimes against women, all the rapes, all the woman hating language, all the male dominance in the church, all the oppression on the part of men who think they own the church. I don’t want your apology until white straight men get on their knees and beg forgiveness for all the rape, the pornography and the lesbian hatred that is the very foundation of all your churches, your theology, you bible schools your entire cultural domination.

    Wouldn’t that be something. And your apology, well, we want your silence, and women get to speak, and you listen, and you don’t speak again until we have our freedom. Now that’s an apology, and you know what, it still won’t be enough, and we’ll need the second coming of Christ in the female and thus fully human form to judge you white straight men, and lesbians will advice this Christ. See how you like that situation. Hey, there will be no place at all in heaven for you guys after what you’ve done to the earth.

  • just asking

    Wow, the venom of hatred spewed out by those who so desperately want to be accepted. I find it ironic. A sure sign of your unstable foundation is your DEMANDS that others agree with you and accept you unequivocally.

  • Andrew’s tough spot

    Andrew has never agreed to be doing more than trying to get two sides talking. He isn’t trying to change either side. That makes him a friend of very few. He won’t, I hope, publicly come down on “either” side. That’s not his goal. His goal is dialogue. Unsatisfying for most, but that’s what he feels his call is.

  • wondering

    Does anybody know of any other ministry that takes what conservatives consider a sin and try to make a bridge between the church and this group of sinners?
    maybe xxx church and others who are Christians trying to dialogue with the porn industry.
    What I am asking is whether Andrew has an impossible task?
    Can one group (the church) that believes something is inherently wrong (SSA) “dialogue” with a group (LGBTQ) that believes something is inherently right? Is this possible? If yes, what are the outcomes? Yes, what are the outcomes.

    This blog makes it clear that many LGBTQ don’t want dialogue, they want legally enforced acceptance. Are you really sure of who you are if you need armed enforcers (the law) to make people “accept” you? You may force your views in the public square, but you can’t overrun a conscience.

    • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

      Wondering: It’s true that many LGBTQ folks don’t want dialogue. Or they’ve been attacked by those in the church enough or have seen others attacked by those in the church enough so that they don’t trust enough to dialogue. Then again, if you hang out here long enough you find enough Christian people who also don’t want dialogue.

      There are cycles in the discussions on this blog. We see periods where Andrew and TMF are attacked by GLBT folks and we see periods where they’re attacked by Christian folks. And then there are other times where people just discuss whatever blog topic is current on the front webpage.

      I’ve written (in this particular thread of discussions, no less) that I don’t want Christians to “accept” my family. At least, I don’t need them to totally agree with it. But I do want them to back off a bit and “accept” that it exists and not be constantly attempting to legally neuter it. I would imagine that most people would be defensive if they felt that other groups were trying to legally neutralize their families.

      But I also respect church communities to practice their faith. You don’t need to eliminate my legal marriage to my husband or to discriminate against me in the workplace, for example, to practice your (generic “your”) faith. See my earlier comment for on that.

      As far as outcomes? Maybe we’ll just learn how to get along better without quite so much fighting. Maybe GLBT people who’ve completely turned away from Christ will discover that they’re not cut off from Him as they’d previous felt. Maybe Christians will learn how be potential friends with GLBT people without feeling like they’re compromising their faith.

      We get what we want from all this. Not everyone is on the same page and some may never get to that page. The question is whether or not we give up the effort if we discover that some folks on either side of the bridge aren’t willing to cross it.

  • http://gayhomophobe.wordpress.com/ Sans

    I don’t accept the apology because neither Andrew, nor TMF has done anything to me that warrants an apology. (Yes, I understand that’s not the point of the apology…roll with me here.) My point is that we’re so “apology-centric” these days. Whites have to apologize to blacks for slavery. Men have to apologize to women for sexism. Roman Catholics have to apologize to the world for The Inquisition and the entire Christian church has to apologize to EVERYONE for EVERYTHING!!

    It’s really stupid when you think about it long enough. Seriously, what good is an apology anyway, no matter how sincere it is? It doesn’t repay a debt. It doesn’t right a wrong. It doesn’t justify and injustice, so why is everybody so hopped up about apologies? They’re actually quite pointless!

    –Or, are they?–

    I have, in my life, apologized from time to time. Once, I backed into a lady who was parked behind me at the grocery store and I apologized because she was there and it seemed like the right thing to do. I apologized to my best friend’s mom the other day because I forgot that I was supposed to meet her to get something that belonged to him. I even apologized to my mom 12 years ago because I’d never give her grandchildren.

    I owed all three of those people an apology. The woman I hit was owed the apology because it cost her time and money. My friend’s mother was owed the apology because it wasted her time. My mother was owed the apology not because I did anything wrong, but because there was a loss of expectation that would never be realized.

    However, I refuse to apologize for things I’ve not done or said. I didn’t kill any Muslims during the crusades, so I won’t apologize for that. I didn’t kill any Jews during the holocause, so I won’t apologize for that. I didn’t own slaves, so I won’t apologize for that and I never hindered or hurt a woman in any way, so I won’t apologize for that! Apologies are only appropriate when they are owed.

    Honestly, Andrew, I wish you and TMF would come up with a different campaign. Clearly there are people who just don’t get the point of this one. Not only that, however, you don’t owe the GLBTQ “community” an apology and (stepping into controversy) neither does the church!

    But, we’ve gotta start somewhere, I suppose….

  • http://gayhomophobe.wordpress.com/ Sans

    *holocaust*

  • Joel Glyn-Davies

    I can see why folks think what Andrew is doing is ambiguous and suspicious, but I can see the value in it. If he was fully accepting of LGBTQ, then he would never get to promote their side of the story, better relations and understanding, in more Conservative Churches and Festivals. They wouldn’t give him the time of day.

    But then if it came out that he personally had a more conservative point of view about LGBTQ issues, then that community would not speak to him and not engage with any of the work that he was trying to do bringing both the groups together.

    I understand that there is deep, deep hurt and resentment from the LGBTQ community about the way the Church has treated them in the past, and can well understand why many are asking for Andrew’s clear statement on the issue. But then what would that achieve? It would just Ostracise one group at the expense of the other. That’s pretty much what’s been happening forever now. We don’t really need someone else to do that. We need to know more about where each side is coming from, and learn to be more gentle and loving with each other as we do so. Keep on going Andrew :D

    Joel xx


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