Where Are the Liberal Christian Voices?

Dan Savage recently said the following in a video:

Sometimes I forget to qualify “Christian” with “fundamentalist evangelical right-wing bats–t Christian.” And I’ll write something taking “Christians” to task for their abuse of queer people. And I’ll get emails and I’ll get calls from liberal Christians, whispering in my ear, “We’re not all like that. Psst, we’re not all like that.” I call them NALTs now, for Not All Like That Christians. NALT Christians.

But the reason so many of us have the impression that you are all indeed like that, and why Christian has become synonymous with anti-gay, is because of these loud voices on the Christian right. And they’ve hijacked Christianity, with your complicit silence enabling their hijacking of it.

And you know what? Liberal Christians, you need to do something about it. You need to tell them you’re not all like that. We know — liberals, lefties, progressives, queers — we know that not all Christians are like that. The religious right: They don’t know. Tell them.

So stop writing me and telling me that you’re Not All Like That, and start doing something about it. Start telling them you’re Not All Like That.

Now, Dan Savage must know that 70% of self-identified LGBTQ individuals identify as Christian. He also must know that there are numerous straight liberal Christians out there who have been working in the trenches of gay rights activism for decades. He must know that there are hundreds of Christian congregations across the country that purpose to be LGBTQ friendly and inviting. He can’t not know this. Therefore, I’m going to assume that he does know this, and that his words here are an attempt to criticize liberal Christians who have only recently come to support gay rights and who are more concerned about not being seen as bigots than they are about actively working to further gay rights.

But I think these comments are worth addressing, because there seems to be this idea held by too many in our society that being Christian goes hand in hand with being anti-gay. Now, I’m not a Christian. Why, then, do I care about this? First, I suppose, because I care about accuracy, but also because I care about gay rights and I think challenging the idea that being Christian means opposing gay rights is important in furthering the cause of equality in what is after all a majority-Christian nation.

So, first, I want to address Dan Savage’s comment that anti-gay Christians don’t know Christians who support gay rights exist. The thing is, when I was an anti-gay conservative Christian deeply involved in the Christian Right, I knew that not all Christians were anti-gay. I knew that there were whole denominations that weren’t anti-gay, and that there were large numbers of liberal Christians who weren’t anti-gay. In fact, we heard all the time about liberal denominations taking steps toward LGBTQ rights. However, as conservative evangelicals we didn’t consider those liberal Christians to be truly saved. Rather, we believed that liberal Christians were deluding themselves and that liberal churches had left true path of Christianity and become heretical, and we took their support of gay rights as one more sign of this.

While Dan Savage is wrong in his assertion that anti-gay Christians don’t know that there are Christians out there who support gay rights, that doesn’t mean I don’t think Christians who support gay rights don’t have anything they need to be saying to anti-gay Christians. Anti-gay Christians already know that there are Christians who aren’t anti-gay. What they may not know as well is why. Liberal Christians have found ways to harmonize their faith with support for gay rights and marriage equality, and they need to be taking this case to their more conservative co-religionists. They need to challenge the conservatives on their own theological ground. They need to make the Christian case for gay rights and marriage equality. They need to be working to change the conversation. Some are currently working to do this, and I sincerely hope more follow their example.

What about Dan’s comments about anti-gay Christians hijacking Christianity, and about liberal Christians being complicit in this? I think we need to take a moment to examine both history and the way media today works in order to examine this.

First, conservative Christians got where they are today by learning how to use media to their advantage. As Joel Carpenter has described, in the 1930s fundamentalists began a love affair with mass media as they used radio and parachurch networks to make up for the fact that they lacked the denominational structures liberal churches already had. Over nearly a century, they and their religious relatives and descendants have been spending their resources building media empires, and I don’t think we can fault liberal Christians for not thinking of that. (This article by Rick Perlstein on how conservatism in general did this same thing is, I think, relevant, especially in examining the hucksterish aspect of all of this.) And beyond that, I also don’t think we can necessarily expect liberal Christians to correct their huge disadvantage they clearly currently have overnight.

Next, the media chooses to report is selective. When First Methodist opens a second soup kitchen the same week Faith Baptist declares that they have found a new cure for gays, which do you think makes the news? Our news media today is set up to privilege the extreme, the weird, and the crazy. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, if the idea we get from the media is that Christians all spend their time threatening to burn Korans and talking about how legalizing gay marriage is a step toward banning Bibles. The simple and sad reality is that it’s the most extreme positions that get the most press.

Finally, I think it’s important to remember all that liberal Christians have done over the past decades to further the cause of gay rights and marriage equality. For example, the Episcopalian church appointed a gay bishop in 2003, which set off a bit of a church split as conservative parishes sought to leave the church. In other words, the leadership of the Episcopalian church was willing to lose members if that was the price of making a statement in favor of gay rights. Furthermore, denominations like the Evangelical Lutherans and Presbyterian Church of the USA have been moving toward full endorsement of gay marriage, pushed step by step in that direction by the ardent efforts of members who believe in gay rights and marriage equality.

Further, numerous progressive Christian churches have been working for decades to be open and welcoming places for LGBTQ individuals and many progressive Christians have been working in the trenches of gay rights activism for longer than I have been alive. To name a specific example of progressive Christians’ gay rights activism, the Illinois legislature, which is currently considering allowing gay couples to marry, just received a letter endorsing marriage equality signed by 250 religious leaders in the state. In other words, the idea that liberal Christians have been sitting on their hands here is flat wrong. And it also bears pointing out that 70% of self-identified LGBTQ individuals identify as Christian.

I think Dan Savage is absolutely right that liberal Christians would be better off working to correct the negative image Christianity in general has on issues like gay rights rather than spending their time trying to make sure people like Dan Savage know that not all Christians are anti-gay. After all, actions speak louder than words. In this vein, liberal Christians need to keep pushing their denominations toward full acceptance of gay rights, to keep campaigning for marriage equality, and to keep working to make their churches welcoming places for LGBTQ individuals. They need to be doing these things vocally, and they need to be pushing back against their anti-gay co-religionists.

But I also think it’s unfair to ignore or gloss over the fact that many liberal Christians have been working in support of gay rights for years, and it goes too far to call them, as Savage does, “complicit” in the hijacking of Christianity. Why? Because this is a majority Christian nation, and as long as people believe that being Christian goes hand in hand with being anti-gay, that will serve as a rock in the path of society’s progress towards accepting both equal rights and marriage equality. Pointing out the actions of liberal Christians over the last several decades, in contrast, counters this narrative.

***post edited for clarity***

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • piny

    Radical gay acceptance would be sensational news. Maybe nobody would care about a soup kitchen, but a Christian gay-rights march on Washington? Nationwide church participation in the Day of Silence? That would probably get the cameras rolling.

    Dan Savage is a provocateur; he usually simplifies his statements, and he quite frequently gets things wrong.

    But I don’t think he got this wrong–I think you’re just working from a standard that has been warped by the presence of those vocal, extreme homophobes on the Christian right. For example, I don’t see any mention in here of the large number of Christians who are openly gay themselves. That intersection is more relevant to Savage’s dichotomy than progressive straight Christians.

    And the examples you chose–the Episcopal schism, the movement towards endorsement of marriage–could also be summarized as, “Episcopalians tore themselves apart over the issue of welcoming gay people into their ordained ranks,” and, “Several American denominations are significantly more homophobic than Americans in general.” Endorsement of gay marriage is more progressive than the level of homophobia we associate with conservative Christians, but it’s not really that impressive. Joe Biden endorses gay marriage: it’s a mainstream position now.

    When Dan Savage says, “I’m not going to qualify,” he isn’t saying, “There are no liberal Christians.” He’s saying, “What the fuck ever, okay? I can’t get married in more than forty states, and I don’t care if your feelings get hurt by my failure to acknowledge your church’s increasing liberalism towards non-celibate gay clergy. I do not consider your feelings important in the grand scheme of things, because all around me I see homophobia, which I live with every day.” Savage’s indictment of Christianity is an indictment of America: its self-congratulatory moral laziness, its willingness to think of itself as progressive when it’s actually just relatively liberal compared to the batshit hatemongers over there. “But we’re not all like that!” isn’t just useless to gay rights or liberal Christian PR. It’s irrelevant to gay people.

    • http://Patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      Your points are well taken, especially your last point, but I think the chink in your analysis is that there are progressive Christians active in promoting gay rights and marriage equality for decades, not just now when those positions have become mainstream. Mark Oppenheimer has written about Episcopalian support of gay rights going back to the 1970s, for instance.

      • Isaac

        That may be true, but I see some difficulty in liberal Christians being able to do the real work; ie convince conservative Christians. Secularists don’t really need convincing, and since gay marriage has become mainstream, neither do apolitical, mild Christians either.

        I don’t see any possible scriptural basis for freer sexuality, female equality, and a few other issues that affect all of us. Maybe it’s my atheism, but scriptural arguments for liberal Christianity, except for the UU idea of relativistic and historical textual criticism, tend to sound like logical mush and require bending the text quite a bit. I don’t see fundies being convinced- after all, they aren’t convinced by science, which has much clearer and more rational arguments.

        Of course, fundamentalists don’t truly live by the bible either; the oft-quoted rule about mixed fabrics is only one of the laws no one seems to care about, even though it’s in the bible. But preventing gay rights has been made into a life-or-death issue for fundamentalists. I just don’t see them giving it up easily.

      • Noelle

        I wouldn’t say it’s so much as changing the fundy mindset as it is drowning them out and offering an alternative to what your church and parents believe. There are many people who don’t like how their church discriminates against others and having your liberal Christian voices there to counter it can be helpful. You can pull the basics of the Golden Rule and the give people a hand if you can kind of human morality in the Bible. You can ignore old archaic rules about homosexuality and slavery just as easily as the mixed fabrics and mental illness is caused by demon possession nonsense. There are those who want to be kind and do what is right, but don’t want to give up God. Having the Christian liberal alternative is a nice stepping stone for some.

        Libby’s point about fundies taking on the loud and obnoxious media approach over the last few decades to overtake the more moderate and liberal voices is a good one. In my experience, your liberal and moderate demoninations find that whole business tacky and going against their belief systems. That doesn’t make the situation hopeless, but it does make it a more difficult process. I’ve encountered many liberal Christians who do speak out against the conservatives and do work for basic human equality. They should be encouraged to continue.

      • Judy L.

        @4 – I wouldn’t say it’s so much as changing the fundy mindset as it is drowning them out and offering an alternative to what your church and parents believe.

        Yes. Yes yes yes! And I’ve always understood that to be Dan’s real message and it’s also something I talk about with Liberal social justice-focused Christians I know: The problem is that the Christians who focus on the loving-thy-neighbour-as-thyself, clothing-the-naked and feeding-the-poor elements of their faith, those who live their faith through their deeds rather than being satisfied with salvation through faith alone, are the quietest of the bunch. Unfortunately for them (who’ve done nothing to deserve this except being tolerant of intolerance) NALT Christians really have the duty to shout down the loud, bigoted Christian voices who claim to speak for all of them if they don’t want bigoted Christians representing them. If the only Christian voices and messages we hear are from right-wing, anti-gay, misogynistic, patriarchal, gun-loving, dominionist, revisionist-American-history-believing, pompous asses like Bryan Fischer, Pat Robertson, Rick Warren, most of the Republican party, et al, it’s only natural that we assume that they’re the mainstream and the majority. And frankly it’s not up to non-Christians to give NALT Christians the benefit of the doubt. So instead of whispering in Dan’s ear and being meek and mild (I know, it’s ironic, isn’t it?), “Not All Like That Christians” need to stand up and be counted and make themselves heard over the din of the “Like That Christians” who make all the noise and get all the attention.

      • Judy L.

        Eek! My html tags got all farkakte there. @4′s quote was supposed to be in italics, and the only bolded bit was supposed to be “who claim to speak for all of them.” Sorry!

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      BTW I just edited my post in light of your criticisms. :-)

  • Kubrick’s Rube

    I think that in the national conversation, liberal Christians don’t count as Christian, merely as liberal. Even though lots of Christains support marriage equality, the coalition against marriage equality is largely religious and mostly Christian/Catholic. And they have no problem making that connection clear. On the other side, the coalition is diverse and heavily features non-Christians and non-believers, so the connection appears to be one of liberalism, not religion. This breakdown, along with the tendency by liberal Christians to admit that they don’t have a monopoly on Truth, gives the impression that Christians who support marriage equality don’t support it because they are Christian, and therefore aren’t providing a Christian opinion but a secular, pluralistic one.

  • smrnda

    I’m not sure the media does such a bad job of reporting on the existence of pro-LGTB churches; despite not being a Christian and not really going out of my way to get news on specific denominations, I’ve been aware that many have been accepting of gays for a long time (along with the complaints from conservative churches that the liberal churches have sold out.) Perhaps a problem is that liberal churches don’t have their own media empires so they get a little bit of press, but they don’t have their own Focus on the Family since they don’t feel the need to construct an alternative media universe.

  • Marta

    For people who are interested in the struggle between pro- and anti-LGBT forces in U.S. churches, there’s a really great book documenting the struggle, focusing on the United Methodist church in the 80′-00′s. Sounds like Dan Savage should read it.

    Adam’s Gift: A Memoir of a Pastor’s Calling to Defy the Church’s Persecution of Lesbians and Gays by Jimmy Creech

    http://www.amazon.com/Adams-Gift-Calling-Persecution-Lesbians/dp/0822348853

  • Sheena

    A lot of the existing comments on this post are just excellent.
    I think that the struggle for liberal (even moderate) Christians in this debate is very strongly affected by the perception of conservative Christians. Moderate/liberal folks of other (or no) religion, as far as I’ve noticed, tend to consider their Christian collaborators as collaborators first, and don’t focus as much on religious beliefs. I mean, interfaith organizations tend to include the moderate and liberal members (much more than conservative), and the goal of that organization is the focus — feeding the homeless, or helping abuse victims get out of those situations, or providing housing and resources to at-risk teens.
    Contrast that with the stereotypical (often immediate) reaction by conservative Christians when a moderate/liberal person or denomination speaks up — instead of thinking about that goal, their first questions or statements focus on whether that person or denomination is SAVED. If that individual grew up in the conservative church, any beliefs or suggestions outside of the accepted “norm” means that people will question their salvation (and, consequently, their morality). There will be more discussion about whether the Bible “allows” such a project (or how to incorporate a salvation message) than practical logistics.

    Simply put, the moderate and liberal people of faith in any given service project are more likely to suggest locations and advertising methods; they are less likely to preface everything with “well, I’m a Christian, and the Bible says we need to…” or insist on opening events with specific (or any) prayer. The world at large doesn’t notice moderate or liberal people of faith as quickly as they do conservatives, because that individual probably isn’t referring to the Bible (or other religious text) to back up their own or disprove someone else’s points.

    • Christine

      And the more that the conservatives dominate the national awareness, the worse this dichotomy gets. I’m starting out from a position that my Christianity generally isn’t relevant to the discussion. I’ll bring it up in a discussion of the religious position, so that people know where I’m coming from, but that’s about it. But even then, when I have a reason to do so, I tend to be reluctant to mention it. Why? Because the kind of people who come out and say “I’m a Christian” tend to be the most offensive about it. The conservatives are WHY the NALTs are quiet.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lucrezaborgia Lucreza Borgia

    The thing is, every time some ultra-conservative Fundamental Christian makes a statement that makes waves across the blogosphere, the main people who are perceived to react are the secular media. Where is the liberal Christian media presence??

    • Rosa

      Right there in the mainstream media. The vast majority of Americans are Christians who believe in secular government; they don’t argue things like gay rights in religious terms in public fora very much, they save that for the religious spheres (like the intrachurch debates of the UMC, ELCA, and Presbyterians) where most think it belongs, and use other language – of equality, civil rights, and utilitarian public goods – in the public sphere.

      And that’s my only quibble with your post, Libby Anne – many of the Christians who argue for their own churches keeping openly gay clergy, blessing gay marriage, and countering the anti-gay churches do it not just because they care about gay rights, but because they believe just as ardently as the anti-gay Christians do that they are doing God’s work. I’ve heard MCC pastors speak of healing hurts through love as the main way Christians embody God’s will on Earth, and UMC pastors preach on honoring God’s call to do His work even if it’s difficult, specifically about gay people who stay and try to reform the church.

  • Lassou

    While I find that I rarely agree with Dan Savage, from personal experience I have to say that I imagine his response comes more from a place of frustration or anger than pure reason. When you make a point about the people who are fighting against your rights, and a person’s response is not to react to the spirit of your message, but rather to express concern only for themselves about being lumped in with the offenders… it’s enough to drive you crazy. Christians are the powerful majority, they don’t actually have any existential threats to defend against. I know that some people are doing good work in the vast community of Christians, but I don’t know that their numbers are many. It certainly feels like, if there are so many Christians in this country, and if so many of them were fighting for gay rights on a Christian moral ground, the vast majority of churches would be talking about gay rights, railing against bigotry, and those who try to deny the LGBTQ community their rights would be a condemned minority. It seems far more likely that most people don’t care enough to do or say anything. If human rights are being violated and people stand by, aren’t they responsible for their inaction? Shouldn’t those people whose first response to bigotry is to say, “Hey, I’m not a bigot!” be enlightened to the ridiculousness of their self-centered response? How do you get someone who can’t be bothered to lift a finger other than to defend their image to get some skin in the game without telling them they should be ashamed of their inaction? I don’t know. I come at this from an anti-racist perspective, and nothing drives me crazier than people who shout, “I’m not a racist!” or “Not all white people are racist!” whenever you mention racism or systems of privilege. I guess I’m just saying I get where he’s coming from.

  • http://krwordgazer.blogspot.com krwordgazer

    Part of the problem is that moderate/liberal Christians can say “We’re not all like that” as loudly as they want, but the response from fundamentalist Christians is going to be, “Then you’re not really Christians.” And they’ll say it even louder. Moderate/liberal Christians usually don’t reciprocate by shouting, “Fundamentalists are the ones who aren’t really Christians!” So the general public gets the idea that “real” Christianity is fundamentalist.

    • Sheena

      This is an excellent point. I left a mostly-decent Baptist church because the overwhelming response to many of my questions, thoughts, and ideas was along the lines of “that’s unbiblical” or “…should we be worried about your salvation?”. (I also “outgrew” the All Entertainment, Little Substance approach that particular church had to services, and became very frustrated with its emphasis on raising money to build new church buildings while scaling back on non-religious outreach projects.) And I wasn’t exactly talking about universalism or gender identification or equality (those came with time in the Episcopal church), just little things — like “why is it okay for Annie* to lead a worship service, but Kelly* can’t lead a mixed Bible study”.

      I think that one reason the “fundamentalists don’t represent us vs. liberals aren’t Christians” debate is so frustrating (and doesn’t typically get anywhere) is that each side is coming from a different place entirely. The fundamentalist side is more caught up in theology, while the liberal side is more focused on getting things done (and, yes, I’m speaking in general terms; there are exceptions).

  • Rebecca

    ‘gay’ is not the umbrella term for the LGBTIQ community. As a bisexual women, I am not gay. Some lesbians do not identify as gay. Not all trans* or intersex people identify as gay.

    Although ‘gay rights’ is a popular term, to use fully inclusive language, language that makes the majority of the LGBTIQ community think that you are considering them is important.

    Please consider the queer community or the LGBTIQ community as phrases more suitable in future.

    • http://krwordgazer.blogspot.com krwordgazer

      Rebecca, I wonder if you can help me with this. It seems more letters get added to the designation all the time. I just recently started noticing that “LGBT” had become “LGBTQ,” but this is the first time I’ve seen “I” added to it. What does the “I” stand for? I ask because I want to honor LGBTIQ people by calling them what they want to be called.
      Also, is it ok for a non-LGBTIQ person to use the word “queer”? I know it used to be a derogatory term. I had always thought that, like the n-word in the African-American community, it was not to be used by those not part of that community. Do all LGBTI people also consider themselves “queer”? It does seem to me that “LGBTIQ” is starting to become cumbersome as more letters get added.
      Your input on this is appreciated.

      • Tyro

        “Queer” has been largely reclaimed; as far as I’ve seen it’s no longer derogatory, but YMMV. “I” probably stands for “intersexed”.
        On another note, the comments are especially amazing today. One of the main reasons I love Patheos blogs so much is the consistent high quality of commentor. LJF is especially nice in this regard <3

      • http://thaliasmusingsnovels.com/ Amethyst

        “Queer” is basically used as an all-encompassing umbrella term these days. In that sense, it’s acceptable. You’ll see colleges offering courses in queer studies, but I doubt any institution that offered a course in n-word studies would be long for this world. lol Some people still use it as a derogatory term, but they’re the same people who use gay as a synonym for stupid. As a bisexual cisgender woman, I’m comfortable identifying and being identified as queer.

        On the subject of bisexual erasure, I noticed the Barna study only referred to heterosexual and homosexual subjects. I wonder whether bi people were excluded altogether or asked to pick one or the other. If I were asked whether I were straight or gay and told I could only pick one of those answers, I would have to either not answer or lie.

      • Paula G V aka Yukimi

        Don’t forget the A for Asexuals =)

      • Carys Birch

        I’ve seen it reordered as QuILTBAG which is funny, but doesn’t strike me as particularly serious. It is however, a useful mnemonic so I don’t leave out any letters.

        I try to be careful with words, so i really would rather not throw around terms that are dismissive or disrespectful thoughtlessly. Being cis, straight, and raised in a totally intolerant setting, I have a very hard time identifying hurtful terms sometimes.

      • http://blogs.bluebec.com Rebecca

        I = Intersex

        QUILTBAG
        Q = queer
        U – undecided
        I = intersex
        L = lesbian
        T – Trans*
        B = bisexual
        A = asexual
        G = gay
        (S (if included) = straight)

        I think that queer has been widely reclaimed, though there are those from older generations who may still find the word hurtful. I’m much happier being described as queer by someone than being described as gay (which I’m not).

    • Isaac

      While I hate to nitpick, I do agree. Bisexual erasure particularly is so common it sometimes even slips under the radar of the more enlightened among us.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

        Doesn’t help that the community that’s supposed to be, you know, welcoming and supportive just turns around and dumps on us, too.

    • Seda

      Rebecca, why the “*” after Trans? (Trans*) I’m a trans woman, and I don’t know why people do that, so it kinda bugs me.

  • http://dukesofearl.blogspot.com Joy

    “Liberal Christians have found ways to harmonize their faith with support for gay rights and marriage equality, and they need to be taking this case to their more conservative co-religionists.”

    The problem is that this case (or cases, there are more than one way to approach this) tend to use hermeneutics or other assumptions that fundamentalists and conservatives explicitly reject. Also the willingness of conservative evangelicals or fundamentalists to acknowledge liberal Christians as Christians at all is limited at best (I joke half-seriously that the annoying thing about being a liberal Christian is that both fundamentalists and atheists are convinced that you’re actually an atheist). The most convincing case a liberal Christian can make is the separation of church and state / civil rights argument, which is not a theological argument, but a political and philosophical one. I have found, once embarked down it, that many reasonable conservative Christians will allow they have no legal problem with gay civil unions, but there is deep emotional resistance to allowing the use of the WORD “marriage.” It’s all about the word–they have no problem with the substance (or can be persuaded to have no problem with it, once presented), it’s the word itself that appears to be a sticking point.

  • Skjaere

    I don’t identify as Christian any longer, but I still have such fondness for the Episcopal Church where I was raised. They are indeed good folks doing good work.

  • Pingback: Hey, Dan Savage – I’m Not Like That, And Neither Are Our Conservative Allies « Amethyst Marie

  • Christine

    I wonder if Dan Savage is aware of the history of same-sex marriage in Canada. The only reason the law got changed as soon as it did was that a United church minister married two same-sex couples. (This wasn’t really legal, but she used the loophole which lets churches read the banns instead of requiring a marriage license, and then presented the marriages as a fait accompli, and long story short, the federal definition of marriage got changed.)

    What I really don’t understand is how even conservative Christians can justify (theologically or otherwise) spending this much effort opposing legal changes in the definition of marriage. If you want the legal definition of marriage to match what your church performs, it’s way too late. That boat sailed a long time ago. For example – if you’re single, you could meet someone on the street, get married as soon as you can find an opening in the officiant’s schedule (without ever having discussed finances, sex, family background, having kids, etc), stay married for a couple of years, mutually decided that you don’t want to be married anymore, file some paperwork and cease to be married. You can repeat that process as many times as you want. How does allowing this to happen with someone of the same gender really make a difference? What is described above wouldn’t be approved by any church anyhow.

  • http://belljaimie@ymail.com Jaimie

    Oh they are still out there but in lesser numbers. I know many so-called liberal Christians and most have left the church. It’s actually a very interesting sociological phenomenon to watch.

  • Kiki

    As a member of an Episcopal Parish with openly gay clergy I can tell you that attempts at dialogue with fundamentalists are frequent but not very fruitful since they are usually only interested in monologue. We do have discussions with members of the reform Synagogue nearby and share an openly gay cantor. We have had great panel discussions with Buddhists from the local temple and have many members who sit with both groups in meditation. We do a great deal of inter-faith work with other liberal Christians for Habitat and other organizations. Our integrity chapter marched in the gay pride parade last year and they were led by our Bishop. It’s not a national march but it is a statewide march that joins in spirit with similar marches across the country. It’s a day by day, person to person in the community across countless communities struggle for equality, justice and radical acceptance based in love and compassion that will change things and there is no need to resort to screaming matches or out of context proof texting duels.

    • Noelle

      :) Mebbe give Mr. Savage a call next time and invite him along, as he seems to think y’all are only whispering to him.

  • http://www.christianvagabond.com Christian Vagabond

    Part of the problem is that Liberal Christians are less likely to self-identify as Christians in casual conversation. It’s a different mindset. If you ask a fundamentalist to describe themselves, they’ll probably say “Christian” first, and their faith influences their vocabulary as much as their worldview. Liberal Christians are more apt to see themselves as part of a diverse community (like the CoExist bumper sticker), so they ted to eschew overtly religious labelss. Savage wants Liberal Christians to be just as passionate and loud about their faith, but generally their faith is quieter and more modest.

  • Eliza

    Agreed that fundamentalists (referring to the movement from a bit over 100 years ago) and those on the Homeland Security watchlist with a penchant for quoting verses make for better entertainment than a Methodist hospital with an indigent fund or a soup kitchen operating out of a United Church of Christ building.

    What’s referred to as “Liberal Christianity” is alive in my neck of the woods. The churches are as old as the town and most are state historic sites. Ministries such as free childcare for low-income families and drug rehabilitation programs receive many referrals from secular social services programs (As opposed to the fundamentalist congregations, some of which send the bulk of their money to developing nations rather than help the large portion of homeless people in our own city).

    Good works are used as a starting point for respectful conversation. I think “liberal Christians” get stuck on evangelizing (spread the word, not the pressure fest it has become) because of the negative association. Some could benefit from capitalizing what they have – there are people who might find the spirituality found in “liberal Christianity” haven’t been reached because they feel Christianity always equals intolerance.


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