Try digitalPLUS for 10 days for only $0.99

Op-Eds

News Opinion Op-Eds

On gay rights, tolerant Christians need to come out of the closet

"I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." — attributed to Mohandas Gandhi

As Dan Savage tells it, it began years ago when he'd go on CNN or MSNBC to discuss LGBT issues opposite the likes of Tony Perkins. Mr. Perkins heads the Family Research Council, a leading purveyor of the fiction that homophobia and Christianity are synonymous and inextricable.

"And invariably, after I would have an argument with Tony Perkins," says Mr. Savage, "I would get emails from Christians and calls reassuring me that, in these exact words, 'We're not all like that. We're not all like Tony Perkins. We're not all anti-gay, all of us Christians.' And I would write them back and say, 'I know you're not all like that. My mom is a Christian. I have really great friends who are Christians. ... You need to tell Tony Perkins you're not all like that. He's the one out there claiming to speak for all Christians. Get in his face. Don't get in my face.'"

Mr. Savage, a gay blogger and author, coined an acronym for those people. He called them NALT — Not All Like That — Christians.

John Shore, a heterosexual author, blogger and Christian from San Diego who has known Mr. Savage for years, took that as a challenge. He and co-founder Evan Hurst went live last week with a new website, The Not All Like That Christians Project (notalllikethat.org). It's modeled after a site Mr. Savage and his partner founded in 2010.

Their It Gets Better Project (itgetsbetter.org) solicits videos telling bullied and harassed gay and lesbian kids that they're not alone and encouraging them to hold on through the torment. The videos now number in the tens of thousands.

Not All Like That aims to replicate that success. It solicits videos from Christians tired of seeing their faith used as a club to batter gay and lesbian people. The site went online last week with a few dozen inaugural videos.

Mr. Shore is hoping — and, one suspects, praying — to see that number explode. He says he feels a "moral obligation to take Christianity back" from those who use it as a weapon. His target audience: Christians who are struggling to balance compassion with the dictates of faith. "So many Christians in the middle are just in that discernment process right now," he says. "The best message those people can get is, there are a lot of Christians — and these are real Christians — who have a different take on this matter. And that that take is legitimate, it's grounded in real scholasticism; it's grounded in hardcore biblical study."

The view from this pew can be condensed into four words: It is about time. Indeed, it's well past. Jesus of Nazareth was the author of a revolutionary love that crossed lines and resolved separations, that pointedly included the excluded, invited the disinvited, touched the untouchable.

Two thousand years later, we're told that love requires us to demonize and leave aside gay men and lesbians. Worse, many of us who know better have accepted this malarkey in complaisant silence. The NALT Christians Project offers a chance to correct that.

Christians used to get angry at him, says Mr. Savage, who is an atheist, for not telling Mr. Perkins they are not all like that. "It seems to me," he says, "that if you're a Christian and you're not like that, it's your job to yell at Tony Perkins, not my job."

He's right — not so much about the yelling as about the larger point of standing up and being counted. As LGBT people know all too well, there is something isolating about silence, going along with what you abhor, allowing people to believe you're something you aren't.

And there is, conversely, something liberating in standing up, speaking out, saying the truth. To do so is to offer others courage, to give others voice. That's why we lionize gay people when they come out of the closet.

And why it's time NALT Christians did the same.

Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald. His email is lpitts@miamiherald.com.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Religious freedom and the Constitution

    Religious freedom and the Constitution

    What many people forget is that the framers of our Constitution, through the First Amendment, sought to guarantee both freedom of religion and freedom from religion ("Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof").

  • The struggle for gay rights isn't over

    The struggle for gay rights isn't over

    The reasoning behind the "righteous outrage" that commentator Jonah Goldberg uses to describe "know-nothings of every stripe" who are serious about protecting civil rights is twisted at best ("How do 'religious freedom' acts encourage discrimination?" April 3.)

  • Selective reading of Leviticus won't justify bigotry

    Selective reading of Leviticus won't justify bigotry

    Letter writer Adam Goldfinger objected to Eddie Zipperer's references to Leviticus and states that he does indeed try to follow the laws in this book ("Yes, some people do follow the bible to the letter," April 3). I find myself wondering how many people Mr. Goldfinger has personally stoned to...

  • Yes, some people do follow the Bible to the letter

    Yes, some people do follow the Bible to the letter

    In his recent column ("The conservative case for same-sex marriage," March 29), Eddie Zipperer gives three reasons why conservatives should favor same sex marriage. I find his second, poking fun at the Bible, to be both offensive and ignorant.

  • Indiana learns discrimination is bad business

    Indiana learns discrimination is bad business

    The leaders of large corporations have not generally been at the vanguard of civil rights movements in this country. The average CEO is usually more concerned about stock valuations and quarterly dividends than about fighting discrimination. And when was the last time you saw the money-hungry NCAA...

  • Marriage equality can't wait

    Marriage equality can't wait

    In 1967 when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down laws banning interracial marriage in Loving v. Virginia, there was not a single dissent. Never mind that Virginia's anti-miscegenation statute had been in the books since 1924. The justices unanimously found discrimination in the institution of marriage...

Comments
Loading

82°