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Progressive Christian Group Rejects Gay Rights Ad

Progressive Christian Group Rejects Gay Rights Ad

It’s fairly unusual to see open controversies between progressive, social justice-oriented Christian organizations and gay rights advocacy groups, but a conflict over a Mother’s Day ad made waves when Sojourners International, a Christian media organization, refused to run the ad on their website.

The advertisement, shown below, was created by an interfaith coalition, and was designed to “help bring recognition to the critical dialogue that needs to happen within the church among congregants and clergy.”  The leaders of Sojourners, including its president, the Rev. Jim Wallis, have spoken out on behalf of gay rights, but they still refused to run the ad.

The director of communications for Intersections International, Joseph Ward, wrote that “our request was ultimately rejected because its message of inclusivity was viewed as too controversial to the publication whose audience is not of ‘one mind’ on this issue.”  He added, rather pointedly, that Intersections International’s audience is rarely of “one mind” on issues either. 

“I can’t imagine Sojourners turning down an ad that called for welcome of poor children into our churches. So why is this boy different?” the Rev. Robert Chase, director of Intersections International, asked in a column last week.

In a puzzling press release, Jim Wallis said that LGBT issues have not been at the “core of [Sojourners International's] calling, which is much more focused on matters of poverty, racial justice, stewardship of the creation, and the defense of life and peace.”  To say that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation does not fit into this laundry-list of social justice causes is disturbing, to say the least.  What kind of message is this progressive Christian organization sending, by saying that dialogue-building around sexual orientation is not about “the defense of life and peace?”

The good thing is, as Ward pointed out, that the controversy has pointed a large number of people to the “Believe Out Loud” campaign.  But I have to say, as a progressive activist who is committed to bringing the causes I’m passionate about into dialogue with Christianity, it’s disappointing to see organizations like Sojourners International reacting in this way.  It’s one thing to try to make sure that social justice concerns reflect the views of most members — but for an organization that says that it does not want to “silence voices,” this seems like a strange and disturbing decision.  Although Sojourners has said that it doesn’t want to “take sides,” sometimes refusing to align is, tacitly, making a statement about an issue that, through its silence, rings out loud and clear.


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Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

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10:51AM PDT on Aug 15, 2011

Great ad.

3:16AM PDT on May 15, 2011

"Stewardship of Creation" - our Mother/Father/Creator God created us ALL. There is no discrimination in God because this implies judgement and in God there is no judgement. God is LOVE. That love includes everyone and everything - no exceptions - no exclusions - no ifs or buts - just quite simply LOVE FOR EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING. This is how I understand "stewardship of Creation". What do you think?

9:03PM PDT on May 13, 2011

"Welcome, everyone!" That is the benchmark.
There is a vast difference between moralistic defensiveness and a morality based on inclusive compassion and love.
Looks like the human race has a bit more evolving to do.

11:00PM PDT on May 12, 2011

@ vicki fellner, yes but many Christians don't do what they are supposed to do, they have been poisoned by the pseudo-Christian philosophy that is running rampant through the various Christian denominations.

6:32PM PDT on May 12, 2011

Disappointing. Excellent ad.

3:51PM PDT on May 12, 2011

Karen E. says, "your King James version was developed to satisfy the king of England's desire to promote a patriarchal point of view to the masses."

Actually, the King James Version was commissioned to unite England's believers with a definitive translation of the Bible, drawing together adherents of the Geneva, Bishops' and Great Bibles, each of which was held sacred by different groups. The purpose was to bring them together, and continue the tradition of making the Bible available in the common language so anyone could read it. It's been a prevalent translation from that time.

"Patriarchy," whatever that means, wasn't really a motive for the seven years of manuscript selection and translation work that yielded the KJV, which was released in 1611 -- four centuries ago this year.

3:27PM PDT on May 12, 2011

It is a lovely ad. That is what they should be doing, welcoming everyone. Jesus wouldn't mind at all, that is what He taught us. I don't get what the problem is.

2:13PM PDT on May 12, 2011

and Paula, when exactly are you going to "take the blinders off" and live as Jesus taught - with love and acceptance and without judgement? Actually the "one and only" true original version of the Bible would be the Dead Sea Scrolls - your King James version was developed to satisfy the king of England's desire to promote a patriarchal point of view to the masses. I;m always amazed that those who thump their Bibles the hardest know the least about it's history and how it came to be.

1:20PM PDT on May 12, 2011

Paula, you sound brainwashed and uneducated. Then again, isn't it the main traits of all those christian fanatics?
A bunch of bigots running around trying to spread the book of lies' word. Pathetic!
I wish the Romans had succeeded in their quest to get rid of those parasites!

12:38PM PDT on May 12, 2011

Gods, that ad made me cry, and me not a Christian! I am familiar though with the feeling of faith and community and acceptance which is supposed to be a cornerstone of the Christian faith. Not all of us LGBQT's (I'm sure I got the stupid dyslexic confounding letters mixed up) are atheists, or like me, self-worshiping heathens.

It's sad they didn't run the ad, but I'm just not going to get into that. It was beautiful, and I'm glad people HERE can see it at least. It's a good thing, to show the side of Christianity that Christ himself would approve of.

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