I’m not a Christian, but I know a lot of Christians. I live in a moderate-sized city in the Midwestern United States, so that’s to be expected. Perhaps surprisingly, my Christian friends and I share some political views. However, the difference is that, as a godless heathen, I have no problem being vocal about my socially liberal views. That’s not necessarily true for my Christian friends. LGBT rights is one of those issues that requires some clarification on their part.
I say requires because I think it’s their responsibility to come out (as it were) in favor of equality. While anti-LGBT bigotry is by no means a purely religious invention, it’s hard to deny that there is a particularly vocal sector that hates the gays because Jesus told them to, or something like that. I tell my Christian friends that, in certain groups, they have much more power than I do. My advocacy can only go so far. There is a built-in reason for religious people not to listen to me, but my dear Christian friends have their foot in the door.
This is why I’m a little bit in love with the NALT Christians Project. NALT stands for Not All Like That. Perhaps you’ve heard a variant of this phrase before. You might be a [insert group affiliation here], but you’re not one of those. Normally, this phrase rubs me the wrong way. It’s usually a harbinger for a No True Scotsman logical fallacy, which is used by people who don’t want to be associated with crappy things a group is doing by saying that no real member of the group would believe or do said crappy things.
Because it brings to mind this fallacy, I think it’s the perfect name for this project. According to the project’s website, NALT was inspired by the It Gets Better Project, which was designed to show LGBT youth that the bullying and harassment they might endure won’t last forever. When Dan Savage, the founder of It Gets Better, was asked about what the biggest barrier to same-sex marriage acceptance in the US was, he responded in part:
[The problem is] all those quiet, timid, and cowardly NALT Christians out there who support marriage equality but have allowed their conservative co-religionists to hijack Christianity. (“NALT” stands for “not all like that,” the phrase you hear from liberal Christians whenever you [complain] about conservative Christians, i.e., “We’re not all like that!” Yes, yes, NALTs—we know. You’re not all like that. Don’t tell us. Tell Tony Perkins, tell the pope, tell Maggie Gallagher, et al.)
It’s the silence that the NALT Christians Project is aimed at destroying. According to the project’s About page:
But Dan was right. For much too long now, anti-LGBT Christians have used the Bible and the pulpit to bully, malign, and shame LGBT people. And not enough LGBT-affirming Christians have stood up to boldly and clearly say how terribly wrong that is—to say that’s not what Christianity is, that the Bible doesn‘t condemn homosexuality, that ”Christian” leaders like Tony Perkins and Maggie Gallagher do not speak for us.
It’s time for us true NALT Christians—the ones who genuinely aren‘t like that—to speak up and be heard, to affirm LGBT people as loudly and clearly as anti-LGBT Christians condemn them. We must stand up for young LGBT people, who are so vulnerable to being bullied into feelings of worthlessness and despair. We must eradicate the culturally inculcated moral underpinnings that serves to support such bullying. And we must bring to the fore a renewed Christianity that, instead of standing for anti-gay bigotry, stands for the integrity and love that Jesus Christ himself so radically stood for.
Yes! Finally! There are very powerful and important Christians who hold very anti-LGBT views, but as NALT argues quite powerfully, it doesn’t have to be that way. The NALT Christians Project gives Christians who believe in LGBT rights a platform to affirm that belief. The website provides resources and a how-to so you can upload your own pro-LGBT video. It’s a populist platform for Christians who no longer want their religion to be tied up with bigotry and hate. It’s wonderful to see, and it’s about time.
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