When Straight Christians use Gays only when its Convenient for Them

News broke yesterday when the leading progressive Christian organization, Sojourners, denied an interdenominational LGBT organization, Believe Out Loud, the ability to pay for ad space to run an ad that asks churches to welcome LGBT people and their families (just welcome, not ordinate or promote gay marriage or anything….just welcome them into your churches). You can get the summary of the story here.

When the story hit the internet it hit like an electric bolt and spread, to say the least, very quickly. I find it strange that the leading self-labeled “progressive Christian” organization is now picking and choosing what topics they are progressive on. As Sojourners founder and active leader, Jim Wallis, wrote on Sojourners blog yesterday, he doesn’t see LGBT issues “critical” to progressive Christians or the culture at large, and thus, doesn’t see the need to make it a priority. Ouch.

The LGBT community and the progressive Christian world have been hanging their hat on each other for a number of years recently. They were supposed to be a unified front against those “crazy conservatives.” And now the recognized leader of the straight heterosexual progressive Christian world doesn’t see homosexuality as “critical.” Jim and Sojourners are currently getting thrown under the bus every-which-way by the LGBT community. Rightfully so, in my opinion. If a person or an organization is going to align themselves with a very specific social and theological ideology and take the donations of that very specific ideology’s people and organizations, how can they then pick and choose what constitutes as proper progressively? They can’t.

They tried.

Now it’s backfired.

So Sojourners put out an initial statement talking about love first. No one is going to listen to “love first” when there is no tangible expression of unconditional love or equality in importance of issues in the group of people you align with that these issues are extremely important. It’s like they’re trying to justify their ability to pick and choose what they deem as proper progressivity. Sounds like an awfully privileged thing to do in my book. Then Jim released his own statement (see link above), which was worse than the original because he sets a hierarchy of what is “critical” in progressive issues. LGBT is not on that “critical” list. I also find it interesting that no LGBT people who Jim/Sojourners claim to be friends with have spoken up on their behalf.

But what I find most interesting, more than anything else, has to do with the contributors to Sojourners. Let me break this down for everyone:

There are 41 really well known “progressive” Christian listed as contributors. You can see the list here (left-hand side that says God’sPolitics Contributors).

Out of those 41 people, I personally know 26 of them.

Out of those 26 people, I personally know that 17 of them are very LGBT affirming.

Out of those 17, NONE have spoken up to defend the LGBT community in opposition to Sojourners and Jim Wallis since this gaff happened. (Although I do know that one is about to – Becky Garrison is going to drop the hammer naming names tomorrow.)

Why has only one well known “progressive Christian” listed on Sojourners site spoken up in defense of the LGBT community regarding this critical struggle between the LGBT community and the Church?

Because the majority of well known “progressive Christians” use the LGBT community only when it’s convenient for them!

They’re not saying anything now because in doing so, they would have to slap the hand that feeds them. Or, in this case, defend a group of people (LGBTs) in opposition to the person (Jim Wallis) and the organization (Sojourners) that gives them a huge platform.

Follow the platform. Follow the fear of losing everything – money, influence, etc.

I can’t wait to see how many of those well known “progressive Christians” will say anything. My guess… none besides Becky. Because they’re all too scared to lose something man-made.

To me personally, and to The Marin Foundation, inclusive actually means including everyone from the far left to the far right and everything in between, no matter what the cost.

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).

  • Wes Howard-Brook

    Andrew, thank you for this excellent piece. I was on the phone last night with one of those bloggers seeking a response, and sadly, didn’t get one. This is probably the stupidest thing that Sojourners has even done, at least in the 18 years that I’ve been within their circle. It’s been a latent time bomb for a decade now, ever since Jim made the decision to go mainstream and become the liberal version of Pat Robertson. It makes me very sad indeed.

    • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

      There is a clear difference between a grass-roots movement and something else.

  • Bryan

    Hey Andrew, thank you so much for this excellent, informative post.

    On the one hand, I didn’t know about Believe Out Loud before this and the existence of that group helped restore some of my faith in Christianity. However, to then see a group that is labeling itself as a leading progressive Christian group play favorites like this and leave GLBTs, the people who depend on the progressives most to represent Christ, on the sidelines is so discouraging. I’ll be following this story now, but I certainly hope that Sojourners properly makes amends for this mistake.

  • Jennifer

    You know, I think I can understand why Wallis’ position feels like a slap in the face to many, you included, Andrew.

    But I can also certainly understand the position. Jim started Sojourners primarily to address poverty, as well as broad human rights issues, but mostly poverty. Right now, he still has a voice across a broad swath of Christianity, mainly because while how we address poverty itself isn’t all that controversial (though how we respond to it certainly is).

    Affirming GLBT’s is controversial, and it is so because because Christians who want to be faithful believe very different things about what it means to be sexually faithful. For so many, it’s a matter of conviction, and Wallis is trying to honor that conviction. He may be doing so clumsily, but I’m glad he’s trying.

    He’s also trying keep the voice he has. Otherwise he’d just be preaching to the choir.

    • Eugene

      Don’t you think that controversial issues are more critical, not less? Controversy means that people need all the support they can get – or at least an opportunity to express their point of view. When gay people don’t get this support even from progressive Christians, what does it tell them about Christianity?

    • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

      Jennifer – I don’t really see Wallis’ position as a slap in my face. It’s not my face he’s slapping. The confusion for me comes in the owning of the label “progressive Christian” – which is a catch all label for all things progressive Christian, of which a huge contingent are LGBTs – and then giving a hierarchy of what is critical. Their website states they are: “progressive Christian commentary on faith, politics and culture which seeks to build a movement of spirituality and social change.” That description is all encompassing. If they said they were “progressive Christians for poverty” that is a different statement then and I wouldn’t have written anything. Thus, if Jim or Sojo don’t want to be progressive Christians with LGBTs, then change Sojo’s messaging on their own website.

      • Jessica

        I just want to add to this discussion, that while Wallis points out that Sojourners primarily exists to address issues of poverty, then racism, then environmental degradation, his statement fails to acknowledge the inter-connectivity of these issues. Jay Emerson in the following blog post (http://queerlychristian.com/2011/05/10/jesus-would-run-the-ad/) says it better then I ever could. He writes, “A far queerer and therefore more Christian approach would recognize all these “issues” as tightly interwoven with each other, including LGBT concerns. Poverty is always already gendered; race is always already sexualized; budgetary policy (can you say “marriage”?) and immigration policy cuts to the heart of many lesbian and gay families and their children.”

  • http://www.twitter.com/AaronMcGallegos Aaron McCarroll Gallegos

    Thanks for this blog post. I’m a contributing writer to Sojourners (magazine, not the blog) and I’ve been trying to speak out on this issue supporting Sojourners generally, but decrying Jim Wallis’ decision to decline the Believe Out Loud ad. I’m LGBTQ affirming and like most people, I think Jim just should have run the ad — it’s pretty innocuous. I think he made the wrong decision on this one. Sojourners has never been as out front on this issue as I would have wished, but I’ve understood that their mission over the years has been to build bridges for dialogue between conservative evangelicals and liberal Christians. Their work in this difficult role has moved a lot of conservative Christians to a new place on poverty, racism, environment, and even homosexuality. IMO, it has been very important work. But is it enough today? I don’t think so and I think those of us who are Sojourners supporters need to call on them to re-evaluate their position on LGBTQ issues.

    • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

      Thanks for writing Aaron! I also agree that much of what Sojo has done over the last few decades has indeed been important work. The problem I have, which I mentioned above, comes in the owning of the label “progressive Christian” – which is a catch all label for all things progressive Christian, of which a huge contingent are LGBTs – and then giving a hierarchy of what is critical.

      Sojo’s website states they are: “progressive Christian commentary on faith, politics and culture which seeks to build a movement of spirituality and social change.” That description is all encompassing. If they said they were “progressive Christians for poverty, etc” that is a different statement then and I wouldn’t have written anything. Thus, if Jim or Sojo don’t want to be progressive Christians with LGBTs, then change Sojo’s messaging on their own website. But to keep that catch-all label, this stuff will keep happening over and over.

      • http://www.twitter.com/AaronMcGallegos Aaron McCarroll Gallegos

        Thanks Andrew. I think part of the problem is that we all define progressive in our own way. On the one hand, Sojourners may not be progressive enough to some just by virtue of being evangelicals; on the other, in many evangelical circles they are too progressive indeed! In my opinion, the key to the mission statement you note above is “seeks to build a movement…” You can build a movement that by gathering people who already believe as you do, or you can work step-by-step to move people to your cause. This is what I think Sojourners is trying to do among evangelicals.

        Like I said, I think Jim Wallis should have accepted the ad. It could have been an important sign of inclusion and a healthy challenge to some conservative Christians. But I am kind of surprised that this incident has caused the backlash it has. For years it’s been posted on Sojourners website that they support marriage as being between a man and woman (http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=about_us.issues_faq#gays_lesbians). I personally have a big problem with that, as does much of the Sojourners staff (in my opinion only, my polling on this is unscientific :-) but it doesn’t mean I’m not going to work with Sojourners in other areas where we find common ground. At some point doesn’t this show the “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” thinking that is exactly what we “progressives” have been fighting against all these years??

        • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

          Aaron – I am good friends with some former Sojo employees and their biggest issue is that there is not a clear definition of exactly what progressive and social justice are, and what components should or should not be included in them.

          I’m not asking you, or anyone else to not work with Sojo because you have differences (if that was the case no one would be able to work for The Marin Foundation either :) ). It’s just a strange sticking point for me when it seems that Sojo’s language is a catch-all for progressive Christians and the very affirming LGBT crowd consider themselves a big part of progressive Christianity. It’s just something that I felt was a big disconnect.

  • Melissa

    I appreciate you, Andrew.

    I’ve been thinking about this “controversy” since it aired yesterday, and though my immediate response was similar to most who are posting on his blog, I think I’m coming around more to the position Jennifer eloquently stated above.

    That said, I think this is an example of a situation where we would all benefit from the difference between affirmation and validation being more widely understood and applied.

    I don’t think it’s an issue that Jim Wallis (or Sojourner’s) is not picking a “side,” but I think he could have done a better job in his message of explaning why he/they haven’t or won’t take a stand. At the end of the day, though, this is tricky stuff with lots of emotions and a unique ability to divide. No one is going to get it completely right.

    Thanks for being you.

    • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

      I totally agree with everything you just said! Much love…

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

    The whole thing reminds me of that United Church of Christ ad that CBS and the other network channels refused to air back in 2004. It was an ad where a couple bouncers were letting folks into church through a velvet rope and keeping out undesirable people like this one gay couple. The networks claimed for some reason that the UCC ad advocated gay marriage and they didn’t allow advocacy ads.

    Wallis in the editorial made a similar claim. SoJo’s doesn’t take sides on gay marriage or on gay ordination. Interestingly, the Believe Out Loud ad doesn’t attend to either issue. It just has to do with church communities being more welcoming to GLBT people.

    In his statement, Wallis made the following statement for SoJo’s: “We have taken this opportunity to affirm our commitment to civil rights for gay and lesbian people, and to the call of churches to be loving and welcoming of all people, and promote good and healthy dialogue”. And yet they reject an ad that promotes exactly what SoJo’s supposedly advocates. Maybe SoJo’s thinks that churches should love and welcome GLBT people *except when they’re actually in the church*. Anything’s possible.

    Anyway, it’s their magazine and they can sell whatever space they want. I don’t subscribe to it anymore. Not because of any boycott or anything. I just let my subscription lapse a couple years back. I do find it interesting to read the comments section on the SoJo site. It’s almost universally against SoJo’s decision and subsequent statement. Even folks like Jay Bakker and Susan Thistlethwaite are disappointed.

    Wallis encouraged dialogue and he’s received it. It’ll be interesting to see how he and the SoJo board respond to this feedback.

    • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

      Jon – You said:

      “I do find it interesting to read the comments section on the SoJo site. It’s almost universally against SoJo’s decision and subsequent statement…Wallis encouraged dialogue and he’s received it. It’ll be interesting to see how he and the SoJo board respond to this feedback.”

      I can’t wait either…

  • http://www.beckygarrison.com Becky Garrison

    Andrew – a few points of clarification …

    1) I have gone public … see nakedpastor.com/2011/05/09/belief-or-deed/ – this is a very well known Canadian blog.

    2) While I have submitted some queries on this topic (waiting to see who might bite), I do not have an outlet where I am planning on dropping the hammer tomorrow and naming names – that wasn’t the gist of our conversation. As of this writing, I don’t see anyone else on the God’s Politics blog contributors list who has made a public statement. (Facebook postings are helpful but they are semi-private as they stay in-network.) I pray others will follow in the days to come. I would encourage people to scour this list and then contact those people whose products you purchase that you will not pay to see them play until they take a stand against what Sojourners has done. Along those lines, if you see a conference line-up, author book tour or some other promotional event featuring a religious progressive leader who markets themselves as a change agent, and they haven’t taken a public stance here, do not buy into their biz and shoot them an email and tell them why.

    3) The one person not on the Sojourners list you referenced that I would suggest folks contact is Rob Bell – he is one of Time Magazine’s top 100 people and has a book out proclaiming “Love Wins” but has yet to take a position here on LGBT inclusion. Will he finally come out and say what I suspect is in his heart?

    4) Yes, taking stands is a good move but so far the funding streams (books, conferences, etc.) are still controlled by straight white males. So I say kuddos to those like Jay Bakker who have taken a public stand re LGBT rights. But it’s time now to put words into action and until the leadership is more inclusive in terms of LGBT folks, people of color, straight women, we are going to have a repeat of same old, same old. (The fact that Wild Goose is held the same weekend as the NYC pride parade is very telling.)

    • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

      Thanks for the clarification Becky! I think you bring up some fascinating points of correlation and am looking forward to reading your work in discovering them!

  • Jeff S.

    Andrew, I just watched the Believe Out Loud video that the ad space was to be promoting, and found it to be impacting, demonstrating that LGBT individuals and families should be made to feel welcome in churches. Yet just a point of clarification: your blog post states this about the purpose of the ad/video – “just welcome, not ordinate or promote gay marriage or anything….just welcome them into your churches”. However, the title of the video on the YouTube site states “Believe Out Loud: A Million Christians for LGBT Equality”. If a church does hold a theological position that does not allow LGBT individuals to have certain responsibilties or position of ministry within the church, this title could mean more than just promoting the welcome of LGBT individuals into a church. It implies an expectation to grant full equality in all areas, even the church. If Jim Wallis and Sojourners do not hold that theological position, then they may have an issue with running an ad that has that title to it concerning equality. One can welcome and love and respect without holding a belief of full equality in terms of leadership and ministry responsibilties, and if Sojourners was not ready to take that position, then they may have chosen not run the ad for that reason since it could raise question amongst their supporters and readers. The ad does also create the impression that the pastor supports same sex relationships, but if we expect LGBT individuals and families to be drawn to the church, then they will have to be welcomed as they are. One can’t expect same-sex couples or families to break up before they step foot in a church.

    • Jack Harris

      “… but if we expect LGBT individuals and families to be drawn to the church, then they will have to be welcomed as they are. One can’t expect same-sex couples or families to break up before they step foot in a church.”

      What did you mean by this quote?

    • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

      Jeff – After seeing what you pointed out (as I did not go to YouTube to watch it, I watched in from Religious Dispatches, which did not show the title), I do agree that there would be a potential domino effect of associations. If that is the case though, I don’t know why Sojo just didn’t say exactly what you said in your comment about it being made up of diverse belief systems from across the spectrum?! That would have made a whole lot more sense than their actual response, which is causing more issues then their original denial to run the ad.

  • Lorenzo

    Dear Andrew,
    Thank you so much for these perceptive lines. I tend not to post online and came across your article by chance. I have no idea who Jim Wallis or Sojourners are (I live in Britain, though this probably a lame excuse) but still wanted to thank you for ridding me of some of my cynicism on the matter. I would not normally trust straight evo guys as far as I can throw them, even those of the progressive kind, as they often turn on one. Just wanted you to know that I will keep you in my prayers, and not as I dutifully pray for my enemies, as commanded. May our risen Lord bless you with peace, strength and much joy.

    • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

      Lorenzo – Sincerely, thank you so much. I am humbled by your words and really appreciate them more than you’ll know. Much love brother.

  • Debbie Thurman

    I see no problem with the ad, itself. But I can understand why Wallis may have had reservations about some of what the organization supports:

    “Using community organizing and social marketing strategies, we support individuals and churches in their efforts toward LGBT inclusion. A partnership of the country’s leading LGBT advocacy groups, both religious and secular, Believe Out Loud seeks to accelerate the existing Christian movement toward LGBT inclusion and significantly increase the number of local churches and denominations that are fully-inclusive of LGBT individuals, both in practice and policy. In doing so, we seek to create a widespread Christian movement for LGBT equality in the church and in broader society.”

    The word “equality” may be one of the sticking points, since it is frequently paired with marriage in the same-sex marriage movement. Many Christians, conservative and progressive, are uncomfortable with endorsing or even appearing to endorse same-sex marriage or an inclusiveness in the Church that would sanction gay clergy ordination or leadership.

    Unfortunately, this move by Believe Out Loud may be construed by some as a way of throwing down the gauntlet and forcing the issue with Sojourners. And Wallis may be bucking that. We’re all just surmising at this point.

    And yes, money definitely plays a role. It does all across the spectrum, from progressive to conservative Christendom.

    • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

      As I just wrote in the comments above with more breathe, I honestly believe that this whole controversy could have been solved with messaging and truth by SoJo that explained their side of the story so much more clear than they did. They have caused themselves many more problems through their responses than ever necessary because they went directly to the defensive trying to prove their themselves right and justified instead of engaging those who are upset. I don’t understand why they did that?

      • http://www.debbiethurman.com Debbie Thurman

        Maybe we’ve been tainted too much by the whole social media/blog culture. What used to be done privately and appropriately now seems to play out in front of the world. No more social grace. Sad.

  • Jacob S. Heiss

    Debbie’s pointing out a couple noteworthy things. While your post, Andrew, may correctly represent the intent of Live Out Loud’s ad campaign vis-a-vis asking churches to welcome LGBT people and their families, i.e. as opposed to advocating the ordination of lesbian ministers or promoting gay marriage, the stated focus of the organization is different from that of Sojourners. Whereas Wallace emphasized a commitment to a “social justice position on behalf of civil rights for gay and lesbian people” in his post, Live Out Loud is seeking to foster LGBT equality through community inclusion more broadly considered, hence the multiple resources they make available for perusers of their website to locate a “welcoming and affirming church.”

    Evidently, Wallace made the call that this difference was sufficiently substantial to warrant passing on the ad. Time will tell whether this was ultimately wise or foolish, but likely for different reasons than the rest of your post seems to suggest. It’s a sad fact that even the progressive American church has poorly embraced the LGBTQ community in the past, and Sojourners was calling itself “progressive” before this matter rose to its present prominence in popular conscience–certainly well before anyone of Wallace’s location within the American religious landscape possessed the chutzpah to address the matter on the nose. If Sojourners completely sidestepped the issue today while persisting with the “progressive” nomenclature, that would disingenuous; as things presently stand, it seems closer to being anachronistic at worst and just different at best.

    For these reasons, I experience a visceral reaction to your bold-faced, exclamation that “the majority of well known ‘progressive Christians’ use the LGBT community only when it’s convenient for them!” Someone less familiar with your heart could just as easily claim that you are “using” the LGBT community to sell books! I know that’s hooey because I know you and your history of consistent action militating against such a misbelief. To what history of action supporting your claim might you direct one’s attention? Or are we simply looking here at a plurality of approaches to a complex matter? In what pigeon-hole would Sojourner’s need to roost to lay legitimate claim to the term “progressive” in your purview?

    • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

      Jacob – No matter what other people’s perceptions of me or my work are, I do still stand by what I said. Yes, it was bold. But as I stated, out of the 17 well known progressive folks that I know personally who are very LGBT affirming, at the time of the post none had spoken up! Begs some serious questions…

      As an update, Becky Garrison, Brian McLaren and Nadia have all since spoken up. So, that’s 3. How about all the others if they’re so LGBT affirming? It’s the hypocrisy that makes me crazy. I don’t care if you’re affirming or not, but if you are, then stick up for the people you claim to take bullets for. Word and deed should match.

      • Jacob S. Heiss

        I congratulate your boldness and could agree with the sentiment that serious questions may needs be begged. But questions are different than statements of fact. There are compelling, alternative explanations for Sojourners’ passing on Live out Loud’s ad campaign beyond the allegation that they–along with the majority of well known “progressive Christians” to whom you have alluded–are merely using the LGBT community out of convenience. In the case of Sojourners, we do have a history of sustained activity in line with their convictions, i.e. focusing on the matter of civil rights for gay and lesbian people with the promotion of dialog amidst a diversity of perspectives on how solidarity and inclusion should look within their own ranks. To an observer such as myself, that simply does not reek of patronization. It looks like yet another honest attempt at a “third way” between the path of rejection and marginalization on the one hand versus the path of “welcoming and affirming” on the other.

        I obviously cannot speak for the fourteen prominent yet thus far silent “progressive Christians” who adhere more closely with Live out Loud’s m.o. than Sojourners’. Perhaps you are better aware of some history of failing to stand with the LGBTQ community with integrity on their parts. My only point is that the absence of a disputatious response to Sojourners’ decision is probably a poor litmus test for such integrity. I felt these excerpts from LaTondresse and Stedman’s article that Matt mentioned addressed the matter insightfully:

        “We don’t actually wish to defend Sojourners’ decision not to run the ad. Nor do we intend to diminish the important work of Believe Out Loud. But we would like to defend Sojourners’ right as an organization — especially one with a theologically and politically diverse constituency, who must walk an unenviable tightrope to broker relationships among an unprecedented diversity of Christian organizations and denominations with fundamental theological disagreements about what ‘full LGBTQ equality in the church’ means — to make the kind of decisions necessary to hold their constituency together and advance their mission of seeking out common ground and mobilizing for social justice. We may not always agree with every decision an organization makes, but those disagreements shouldn’t eclipse the important work an organization like Sojourners has done and will continue to do, especially when the question here is not about whether Sojourners agrees that Christians should be welcoming but a question of their ad policy…

        “The two of us may be very different — a heterosexual man committed to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and a queer atheist who spends his spare Sunday mornings dreaming up new tattoos — but we share something more significant than our differences: a common desire to see compassion and reconciliation in the world between people of all religious and nonreligious perspectives. Sadly, controversies like these make it more difficult, rather than easier, to build these bridges and participate in the important work of healing the world’s bitter divisions.

        “We trust that Sojourners and Jim Wallis know this, and attempts to publicly shame them for trying to build broad coalitions make their job, and all of our jobs, that much harder.”

        Thanks for the thought provoking post, and great job last night on KKLA.

  • http:mattnightingale.blogspot.com Matt

    I thought this article was worth mentioning. It’s from the Huffington Post, written by a queer atheist and an evangelical Christian… http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christopher-latondresse/the-sojourners-and-jim-wa_b_860523.html

  • http://thepangeablog.com Kurt W

    Andrew, I became familiar with your work at YS about 4 years ago. I think what you represent is amazing. But, I think you have some facts that are a bit blurry, as they seem to be all over the web.

    To promote Believe out Loud’s welcoming campaign would have promoted their organization. They are clearly both “welcoming and AFFIRMING.” This would have made Sojo no longer credible to the group they are trying to win over – conservative evangelicals. Had this ad and the group’s agenda been about finding a “third way” like you talk about, then Sojo would have been wrong not to run the ads… but, they clearly have a progressive theological view that they are trying to get others to embrace.

    If it were only a site / group encouraging evangelical churches to be a safe place for LGBT people, that would not be a big deal for sojo, but the fact is that they give resources for 1) finding an open and affirming church in your area, 2) theological discussion resources for the progressive interpretation of the texts http://www.believeoutloud.com/tools/become-welcoming-church and 3) The mission statement says: “Believe Out Loud seeks to accelerate the existing Christian movement toward LGBT inclusion and significantly increase the number of local churches and denominations that are fully-inclusive of LGBT individuals,both in practice and policy.”

    This would have driven away all of my conservative friends who have been flirting with social justice and nonviolence from Sojo.

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

      One ad would have had those conservative friends fleeing from SoJo? Do all of your conservative friends scour each and every ad on the SoJo website and magazine for their full mission statement? Do they so heavily scrutinize their advertisers’ websites and mission statements? Do they have to approve of every message and mission before being receptive to Sojo’s social justice and nonviolence mission?

      If so, I didn’t realize that evangelical Christianity was so fragile. Or that they were so fickle that they can’t support a social justice mission that accepted one advertisement from the GLBT Christian group.

      • http://www.thepangeablog.com/ Kurt W

        These are turbulent times for evangelical faith. We need to be wise as we discern our way forward. Wallis made the right call. Perhaps he could have communicated it better, but yes… if Sojo comes out as theologically “affirming” you will hear conservatives say “O, I guess their was a liberal theological agenda the whole time.” If wallis still cares about helping move conservative Christians into social action, he made the right choice.

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

          I question those evangelical Christians’ commitment for social justice if the acceptance of one “affirming” ad makes them give up the mission. Maybe they’re just looking for an excuse to turn away from assisting the poor or promoting environmental responsibility. Either way, I find that very, very sad.

          • http://www.inamirrordimly.com ed cyzewski

            While I understand your frustration at the more conservative evangelicals Jon, I’ve read quite a bit from supporters of the LGBT community who have dumped on Sojourners for not running the ad. So it seems that one side or the other would have dumped Sojourners depending on what they did with this ad.

            I know a lot of folks are disappointed with Sojourners because they didn’t take what they deemed the most progressive stance here. However, they did run the ad on May 9th in the context of a blog post explaining the complexity of this issue for evangelicals. http://blog.sojo.net/2011/05/09/love-comes-first/

            This wasn’t what the LGBT community wanted, but then there were probably some conservative folks bothered by it. So now nobody is happy.

            Does running an ad in a blog post instead of the sidebar nullify Sojourner’s credibility? I don’t know. I go back and forth on this. While I don’t want the LGBT community to feel unwelcome in the church, we have to figure out a way to move on in a less than perfect world and work for the Gospel and God’s Kingdom. I have to work with Christians who don’t think women are equally made in God’s image, which I think is also a social justice issue to a certain extent. I could spend my time writing blog posts about them or I could ask for God’s grace and go to work with them in the prisons and rough neighborhoods doing God’s work together. The Gospel compels me to do the latter, even though I find their beliefs unacceptable. So I ask, can you work with Wallis, even if you think he was wrong about this ad?

            • http://www.debbiethurman.com Debbie Thurman

              “I could spend my time writing blog posts about them or I could ask for God’s grace and go to work with them in the prisons and rough neighborhoods doing God’s work together. The Gospel compels me to do the latter, even though I find their beliefs unacceptable.”

              Well said, Ed.

              • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

                Ed and Debbie – The quote that Debbie left I have a few thoughts….

                This is a b-l-o-g. Meaning, on a blog you write commentary about situations. That’s the whole point of a blog.

                I could as easily say, “you could spend your time reading this blog about them or you could not pay any attention to it and go and work with Sojo in the prisons and rough neighborhoods doing God’s work together.” Which obviously, because you’re reading this blog, you’re not doing then. And if you are, isn’t it amazing how you’re able to multi-task… reading blogs and doing God’s work – just like I write blogs and do God’s work.

              • http://www.debbiethurman.com Debbie Thurman

                I don’t think Ed meant to denigrate this blog, which obviously dovetails with the hard work TMF does. I read his comment as saying that folks who just bellyache rather than roll up their sleeves and seek to work alongside their brothers and sisters, even if they disagree, are adding to the problem. If I am interpreting him incorrectly, he can correct me.

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

              “So I ask, can you work with Wallis, even if you think he was wrong about this ad?”

              Yes. I don’t refuse to work with ECOT Christians on issues of commonality. I think it’s sad when the opposite happens.

              I’m more interested in the controversy over the rejection of the ad rather than the rejection itself. As I noted above, it’s SoJos right to reject the ad. I think it’s a bad idea, but it’s their idea to make.

  • wackywilliams

    I feel I am fighting a simular battle in my church right now, the senor paster told me he is on bord & backing me in my desire to reach out to the GBLT commuinity in our area but also has chastised me about making sure we in no way apear afferming & I have to basicaly have all the scripters memerised that deal with issue so I can make sure anyone who works with this out reach will know where we stand, he has from the pulpit & our privite conversations exspressed fear that some GLBT people will attend (exspeshily his sister who is in a long term relationship with a women & is presuing marrige) becuse then it will be on his sholders to preach the truth to them & he dosen’t want to have to face the possible confertation, & rejection, he has also made the comment when asked what if someone that is transgender shows up cross dressed that if they want to stand out & be strange then of course there might be snickers & pointing, there doing it to them selves. the other two co pasters have been fighting concern as well, I have been able to answer the questions of the yongest pater & get his support but the other one from what I know is still uncertin. I was told I could address all three pasters in a meeting & answer there questions & adress there conserns but after two months, writing a mission stament, & guide lines for the ministry I am still waiting to have the meeting. I had a chance meeting with a couple of men that have been in a relationship for 25 yrs & a pre opt transsexule & worked with them for over a month in secret fearing my sr paster would be disapproving, but when I finly admitted I was working with them, my sr paster said he thought is was great & he was willing to talk with them, when I told him all three were very skiddish of the church due to past hurt & were very nevios of being rejected or worse, he made a joke of it. sadly I made the mistake of menioning that my paster was willing to talk with them about there questions & as a reselt I have lost contact with them for over a week now. I am at my wits end! I feel once more that I am being torn in two by my passion for the GLBT & my faith belefs. sorry I got off topic I just started spilling my guts. anyway I can understand the confusing messige being given & the heartacke that accompnys it.

    • Mrs T

      It’s good to hear from you. I heard your talk at Roscoe’s last year & I’m glad to hear of what you are doing.
      Well, God did ordain the local church, but not every drop of ministry we do has to be in the church or directly related to it. Maybe at this time, you can just have good friendships & bridge-building with these guys(& others you may meet) & let the Holy Spirit lead in the situation. They need your friendship & your testimony, not more churchianity! I hope you can reconnect with them. Don’t rush what God is doing! I hope to see you again soon…..

      • Jacob S. Heiss

        Wackywilliams — I feel like I can really relate to what you’re saying here, speaking as one with some parallel, frustrating experiences as a church member and more recently also as a pastor. I just want to encourage you not to give up on either side of this equation, reaching out to your LGBT friends on the one hand and your pastoral leadership on the other. There’s a reason why Andrew and his buddies host events every single month with the title, “Living in the Tension”!!!

        I’ve seen people give up on churches that don’t get on board with a program of embracing the gay community fast enough for their liking, and I’ve watched people leave my church when they conclude that my pastoral colleagues and I have insufficiently drawn the line between “welcoming” and “affirming.” These are all words we throw not just at a complex situation but at real people, all for whom Christ died and, even more, rose and prays for still (Romans 8:34). I pray that God continues to reinforce that bridge even when opinions and circumstance keep conspiring to tear it down. Hang in there! It is a tough journey, but it is worth every single step.

        • wackywilliams

          thank you so much Jacob! that is a grat encougement to me!

      • wackywilliams

        thank Ms T. yah I will try to be pationt & just be a frind for now.

  • http://www.Charismanglican.com The Charismanglican

    Glad I didn’t have to make that call. Based on the content of the ad and my own personal convictions, I would have ran it. But then I’d have a slew of conservative evangelicals scouring the ad’s website and asking me all sorts of questions that I would probably respond to in a bumbling blog post that makes me look like a coward to a large part of my readers/donors. Damned if you do…

  • Lacee

    No one wants to lose their place on the “Progressive Christianity” Celebrity D-List.

    I don’t know what is worse, silence or defending Jim Wallis:

    http://sarcasticlutheran.typepad.com/sarcastic_lutheran/2011/05/my-response-to-sojourners-.html

    • Lacee

      I’m sorry, that was rude. I would erase it if I could. I’m sure Rev. Bolz-Weber is a good pastor and a genuine person.

      Going to church is one of the things that keeps me from being a complete asshole, which is a problem since I can’t find a queer-inclusive church that I like.

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

    I submitted an article to Sojourner about a year ago. I think I might now have an idea what it was ignored despite being recommended to them by a friend of mine who is a contributing writer. Just as well, I suppose.

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

    Is this real? When I think of “straight Christians who use gays only when it’s convenient for them,” your name comes instantly to mind.

    You benefit from being a straight person who talks about LGBT issues without being explicitly affirming. You advocate a “be nice to them” approach which placates some LGBT people (though, certainly not all) and allows anti-gay Christians to feel better about themselves without enacting any real, lasting, systemic change that will benefit queer people. I don’t need Christians who believe being gay is a sin to smile at me or “love” me… if they love me, I need them to fiercely advocate for my right to be married or ordained, I need them to actively defend my full humanity, I need them to thoroughly affirm the inherent worth my relationships.

    What I don’t want or need is a “it’s not my place to judge” or “we’re all sinners” platitude.

    If you want to stand up for LGBT people when it’s inconvenient, say that it’s OK to be gay, say that we should be able to get legally married, say that our marriages should be affirmed by the Christian community, say that we’re not a product of the fall, say that we’re a valued and valuable part of God’s creation, say that our gender identities and sexual orientations are the intentional part of God’s creative diversity for humanity.

    You might loose some donors, InterVarsity Press might not publish your book, you might not get invited to some of the Christian schools.

    Otherwise, you’re just another straight Christian using gays when it’s convenient. And you’re pointing fingers at others?

    • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

      Your assessment is definitely taken as legitimate. Unfortunelty for your argument I don’t really make any money from this work as I barely scrape by, as do the other few people that work for The Marin Foundation, including the gay man and lesbian woman who work for us. I’ve posted on this blog every year exactly how much we bring in, how much we spend and exactly what we spend everything on. You can find those links here:

      http://www.loveisanorientation.com/2010/the-marin-foundation-2010-donations-and-expenses/

      I know you have tried launching a few web campaigns against us, and there are many, many LGBT people who love and support us, and our work. It’s ok you don’t feel the same, but I truely believe that we are all sinners, the Lord loves all of us the same, and if you have a problem with me spreading that message in conservative circles that would never listen to you say those same words, then I’m sorry. Much love.

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

        I don’t think disagreeing with a few times (twice?) constitutes launching campaigns against you…

        It’s also possible–and this was my point–for a person (in this case you) to benefit even without making lots of (or any) money. You may be just scraping by (whatever that means to you), and you also do this full-time, you also can call yourself a published author; you are also invited (as you pointed out) to speak at colleges, universities, conferences, and elsewhere; you also have a non-profit named after yourself which brought in $160,000 in donations in 2010. You may not be a millionaire, but you do receive benefits from your positioning to/with gay people. And you’re also only willing to go so far. There’s a line which you can’t/won’t/don’t go past… a point at which it becomes too inconvenient or uncomfortable or simply not where you are… That’s my point.

  • SheilaG

    I don’t think there is a whole lot of profit in this work, compared to what Focus on the Family or Joel Ostein brings in per hour Brian. However, we do need to be aware as a lesbian and gay community, that we are not financially supporting our own churches, online ministries etc. as much as we could be. So we need to know what gay and lesbian run Christian institutions, churches etc. are out there, and generously support these institutions. I think straight people can help a lot too. Heck, we’ve been giving to their institutions for decades without much in return.
    Liberal Christians are a weak group, and yes they flip flog and prevaricate.
    this whole “everyone is a sinner” or even an idea of original sin itself was an invention of St. Augustine I believe. So we need to be a bit suspicious as to the origins of all this “doctrine.” As GLBT issues take center stage even in presidential politics, a lot of straight people are going to want a piece of the action. But the best people who suppprt inconditionally gay and lesbian marriage rights, our families and our love are other gay and lesbian owned cristian churches. Without question, a gay or a lesbian institution will put it’s people as number 1. So give to number one, but encourage wavering young conservative straight people to check out Marin…. it’s a continuum.


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