FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
From: Andrew Marin, President and Founder of The Marin Foundation, and author of the award winning book Love Is an Orientation
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It was the summer of 2000 when my three best friends came out to me in three consecutive months. Very quickly I learned there were two options for me:
Work to help make my best friends straight;
Disavow religion, help my best friends disavow religion, then hop onboard to my best friends new out existence.
Being in close relationship with my best friends and with God through my faith, I immediately realized neither of these options were good, healthy, productive or did one ounce of good for broader society. I saw first hand how these options began eroding any amount of unity that LGBTs and those straight person’s of faith, even conservatives, so desperately needed. And, at times needed each other.
So the next year I moved into Boystown, the LGBT neighborhood of Chicago, with two of my newly out best friends to start a journey of figuring out how to, as we put it back then, learn how to live and love in real time. A few years later The Marin Foundation was birthed, the first organization to ever work to build bridges between LGBTs and conservatives.
Our goal back then, as it is today, is to strategically partner with conservative and progressive religious entities and the LGBT community; as well as with churches, NGOs, higher educational institutions and government agencies to make a sustainable difference in today’s religious and secular cultures. Our focus is to individually, corporately and politically shift what is currently seen as the acceptable medium of cultural engagement—the polarizing back-and-forth, win-lose rhetoric—onto elevating the conversation. We do this through a worldview of engagement that all might experience dignity, love and reconciliation with faith and each other. By creating intentional spaces to live in the tension of what theologically, socially and politically divides us, we continually seek productive means that carve new paths forward.
The Marin Foundation came as a response to the initial options presented above; the former referencing the work of Exodus International–co-founded by Michael Bussee, whose initial work has been carried on by Alan Chambers. Over the past thirty-plus years Exodus had successfully permeated the Christian cultural consciousness that sexual orientation could be changed. This message has caused immeasurable harm to well intentioned LGBT Christians, as well as their parents, families and friends–all working under the illusion that with enough prayer, submission to the Lord’s will, reparative therapy or continual attendance to Exodus’ programs that same-sex attractions can be “fixed.” I also saw this harm first hand, how one of my best friends continued to try to force themselves to be straight; even at the urging of the rest of us telling them they are gay, and are loved by God regardless.
It was at this point, around 2005, that I began apologizing to my neighbors, neighborhood and the broader LGBT community on behalf of the church. A few years later this picture was taken unbeknown to me, and at last count, over 33 million shares and over 115 million views later from a variety of social media outlets, the words I’m Sorry became more than a sincere apology, but a new staring point for many conservatives to their LGBT brothers and sisters. Ten years later I feel The Marin Foundation has been able to permeate the cultural consciousness with a new paradigm of engagement in this hostile culture war, as well as set forth new language on how to move forward as reconciliatory agents that are committed to purse that which is culturally, politically and religiously disconnected.
I could not have been more happy to see Michael Bussee’s apology a few years ago, as well as this week, Alan’s apology, and then bold and courageous decision to announce last night that Exodus International will shut down.
I don’t know what is in store for Alan, his employees, or what they will be doing with their new endeavor, reducefear.org (website is not yet live). But if there is one thing, among many, I have learned over the years is: When I started apologizing I knew that was a good start, but means nothing without actions behind it.
That is why The Marin Foundation offers our ongoing work of Living in the Tension Gatherings, Culture War Curriculum, in-person Trainings and Lectures (Current and Past), Scientific Research, and soon to be announced Tension Series–a continuing education live interactive video lecture series.
Without a doubt this is a new day. And moving forward, I want to remind everyone of a few things I cannot repeat enough:
Disagreement does not mean dissent.
Everyone does not have to agree in order to love well.
Differences in cultural, political and theological belief systems does not equate enemies.
Engaging life, faith, orientation or any other topic is less about what you believe, and more about what you do with what you believe.
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