It’s perhaps unsurprising that the headline “New Rainbow-Themed AiG Resources” on the Answers in Genesis website caught my eye. The rainbow has become such a ubiquitous symbol of the LGBTQ movement that Bryan Fischer, head of the fundamentalist anti-gay American Family Association, labeled the rainbow flag a “hate symbol.” Given this, what is Answers in Genesis doing?
Answers in Genesis, a young earth creationist organization popular among evangelical and fundamentalist Christians, has used rainbow symbology in ways that have sometimes baffled onlookers for years. There was the choice to light the ark up in the colors of the rainbow, for example. “Ark Encounter thrills gay community with rainbow light display,” USA Today declared.
In a short article last week, Answers in Genesis explained the introduction of their new rainbow-themed resources as follows:
The rainbow is a symbol of God’s promise in Genesis 9:13 that he would never again send a worldwide (i.e., covering the entire globe) flood. It’s a message of his judgment on sin yet his mercy to save us from judgment. Sadly, a form of this symbol has been adopted by the LGBTQ community as a symbol for their rebellion and sinful lifestyle. Well, at Answers in Genesis we’ve been “taking back the rainbow” to remind people of its true meaning.
In a time when the rainbow is being used to promote a sinful lifestyle, we need to teach our children about the rainbow’s real meaning and point them toward the mercy of our Savior. To help you spark these conversations, we now offer several rainbow-themed resources you may find helpful including the following…
Even as some denominations have shifted their positions to become more LGBT friendly, Answers in Genesis has retained a hardline on this issue. And the organization is not happy that the “sinful” and “rebellious” LGBT community has taken possession of the rainbow; Answers in Genesis views the rainbow as the property of creationists. The Bible, they point out, states that God created the rainbow after the flood to seal a promise that he would never flood the world again.Answers in Genesis’ new rainbow-themed resources include this shirt and this bumper sticker. Each features the slogan “Taking Back the Rainbow” in a rainbow of colors, along with the Bible reference Genesis 9:13.
These resources, Answers in Genesis informs its supporters, have the potential to help broach the gospel. Presumably, that is because someone may ask what “taking back the rainbow” means, thus opening a conversation. As they explain:
The rainbow really can be a segue into the gospel message. This colorful natural phenomenon reminds us that God judges sin and man’s wickedness—he did so at the time of the Flood, and he will do so again. But his coming judgment won’t be with water—next time it’s with fire. The good news is that God is a merciful God. Just as he provided a way of salvation for Noah and his family from the Flood, so has he provided a way of salvation for us today.
If this was an attempt at proselytizing, it went down hill quickly. Don’t worry, no more flood—fire next time! (It’s worth noting that the Genesis does not say anything about fire). Check out just how tone-deaf Answers in Genesis’ “take back the rainbow” language can be:
“The rainbow is a reminder God will never again judge the wickedness of man with a global flood,” Ken Ham’s tweet reads. “Next time the world will be judged by fire.”
In other words, Answers in Genesis’ message to the LGBTQ community is “the rainbow is actually a symbol that you will burn with fire for your wickedness.” That’s not exactly a message designed to win converts. It’s also a perverse reimagining of the symbology. It’s not merely a statement that the rainbow is ours, not yours, but a statement that the rainbow is a literal symbol of your destruction. You will die in fire for your sinful lifestyle!
And evangelicals wonder why the gospel isn’t more attractive to those outside of their immediate circles. This is why.