THE OASIS is a justice ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark with
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Straight persons, their families and friends, regardless of
age, race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, class, ability, economic or
An editorial by Ross Murray, Director of Religion, Faith & Values, at GLAAD, in the Huffington Post wonders how it is that the mass media seems to only find conservative (read: anti-gay) sources when reporting about religion and sexuality. While entertainment programming now features a wealth of gay and lesbian characters that both affirm and defy stereotypes about who we are, when it comes to religion, the good news that many denominations have a welcoming movement is a well-kept secret during prime time. The overwhelming message is that the church is no place an LGBT person would want to be, and we witness the effects in our interactions with the unchurched.
While it is hardly surprising that figures like the Pope, Pat Robertson and Cardinal Dolan's words carry weight. They represent millions of followers, many of whom disagree with their stance on social issues but remain faithful for other reasons. However, others like Tony Perkins, whose extreme anti-gay reviews have earned his Family Research Council a designation as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, are still called upon by MSNBC and other outlets for a "Christian perspective."
Where is the countering argument? Within our own church, there is no lack of reasoned, educated resources at the media's disposal, some of whose names -- like Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Bishop Gene Robinson -- are household words. Our Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts-Schori, who is also a doctor of oceanography, brings both scientific and theological credibility to the table in her stance on issues of biblical interpretation and human justice. We have groups like Claiming the Blessing and the Chicago Consultation which have published opinions on these issues many times.
Other mainline traditions have equally articulate representation, and their existence is not a secret. The Institute for Welcoming Resources was born of the United Church of Christ in 2002 and is now a program of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. It provides a wealth of educational materials, many of them free, to help churches understand and equip themselves for welcoming ministry. The IWR partners with GLAAD and the LGBT-advocacy groups in fourteen Christian denominations in Believe Out Loud, an ecumenical campaign to promote LGBT inclusive churches.
The movement towards inclusion is happening in evangelical circles as well. The Rev. Jay Bakker, son of Jim and Tammy Faye and pastor of the Revolution Church in Brooklyn, has spoken out in favor of LGBT inclusion. The Gay Christian Network under the leadership of Justin Lee, has been providing support to thousands of people across a broad theological spectrum.
And impressive credentials are not always required to make a valid point. Murray also points
to a 19 y.o. student named Matthew Vine, whose careful study and
unpacking of the traditional "clobber passages" puts proof-texting to bed:
In short, there is really no excuse for the fact that a balanced argument is not presented when Christian leaders are speaking about human sexuality. The story which is told to the public is incomplete, and does not reflect the good news being shared from many pulpits: that God loves everyone and there is a place for everyone at the table. There are many wise voices ready to help the news media present a more realistic picture: all they need to do is ask.