Progressive Christian organization Sojourners refused to run an advertising campaign created by Believe Out Loud, a trans-denominational group working to increase acceptance – and attendance – of LGBT people at churches worldwide.
The editors released this short statement:
I’m afraid we’ll have to decline. Sojourners position is to avoid taking sides on this issue. In that care [sic], the decision to accept advertising may give the appearance of taking sides.
The “taking sides” that they were referring to is whether or not Christians can accept gays. The following video was the centerpiece of the campaign, launched on Mother’s Day, and is supported by a massive slate of display ads and a robust website with dozens of resources.
From Believe Out Loud:
Progressive Christians across numerous denominations believe that Jesus’ message of justice, compassion and love compels them to be fully welcoming of all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Now is the time to speak up and remind the world that it is possible to be Christian AND believe in LGBT inclusion. This Mother’s Day, Believe Out Loud is inviting mothers and children everywhere to break the silence.
There is quite the controversy brewing among religious bloggers about why Sojourners denied the ad – and what it means for the welcome of LGBT people to congregations worldwide. Carl Gregg talks about how this is basically throwing gays and lesbians under the bus, while Reverend Robert Chase argues that there isn’t even a side to take when it comes to welcoming new people to church:
I called the folks at Sojourners and asked what the problem was, what the “sides” in question might be. The first response was that Sojourners has not taken a stance on gay marriage (the ad is not about gay marriage); or on ordination of homosexuals (the ad is about welcome, not ordination); that the decision, made by “the folks in executive” (why such a high level decision?) was made quickly because of the Mother’s Day deadline. The rationale kept shifting. The reasoning made no sense.
Sojourners’ communications director Tim King, blogged that they will stick to discussing these issues editorially rather than via advertising: “We wish to engage first and foremost in dialogue on difficult issues within our editorial pages and we typically do not sell display advertising relating to issues amongst people of faith that have unfortunately and too often been reduced to political wedge issues.”
Nonetheless, we are pleased to see such vital and important discussion happening in the religious community. It’s long overdue, and we know that this dialogue – however painful – is essential to the gay right struggle.