Progressive Christian Group Rejects Gay Rights Ad

Progressive Christian Group Rejects Gay Rights Ad

An unusual controversy is brewing between one of the nation's largest progressive Christian organizations and a New York-based group that advocates for gay rights.

On Mother's Day, Intersections International launched a campaign to encourage churches to actively welcome gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians to worship. As part of the effort, the group created a video that shows a young boy with two moms walking into church. Nervous, the moms and their son get unfriendly stares from those in the pews, but they are welcomed by the pastor, who says that "everyone" can come to his church. The video ends with a call to church leaders to "believe out loud."

Campaign organizers tried to buy space for the video on the web site and email list of Sojourners, a Washington D.C.-based magazine and Christian organization that describes itself as progressive and social-justice oriented. It's leaders, including President the Rev. Jim Wallis, have often spoken out against discrimination against the GLBT community, but Sojourners refused to run the ad.

"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?" said the Rev. Robert Chase, director of Intersections International, in a column Saturday.

"Does the organization not really believe in welcome for 'everyone' in our churches or do they believe everyone is welcome, but they are afraid to 'believe out loud' for fear of alienating some constituents?" Chase, a United Church of Christ minster, added.

After fielding calls from Chase, Sojourners posted a response Monday afternoon on its web site. The organization, wrote spokesman Tim King, wants to "engage first and foremost in dialogue on difficult issues" but does not accept ads on such issues. The post showed Intersections Internationals' video -- embedded for free -- to "promote a positive dialogue among Christians who might disagree theologically."

In an interview, King said it is "unfortunate" that "issues of sexuality are generally controversial for lots of Christians."

Wallis posted a separate column on the group's web site Monday evening.

"Like the larger church, Sojourners’ constituency, board, and staff are not of one mind on all of these issues. However, we at Sojourners seek to foster honest, fair, and loving dialogue among Christians," he wrote.


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