Sojourners is a Christian organization committed to social justice, so on the one hand it makes sense to place ads with them toward LGBTQ equality. On the other hand, their diversity statement makes no mention of sexual orientation. Jim Wallis, CEO of Sojourners, gave this interview in 2008, in which he offers his thoughts on abortion and same gender marriage. There's also a small bit on the time that Sojourners accepted ads from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which also advocates for LGBTQ equality. In that article, Mr. Wallis says they wouldn't run those ads again.
Mr. Wallis also wrote a Huffpo editorial on Christians and Bullying in 2010 in which he basically said that no matter how you feel about homosexuality, bullying isn't acceptable. For those of you who aren't queer, this is not the same as saying that you welcome and affirm LGBTQ individuals, or that you honor and respect their lives and families.
So I want to say that Sojourners does good work in many ways. It is entirely possible to do good work in the world and at the same time contribute to the ongoing bigotry and oppression of queer folk. We all have intersections like that. I'm pretty good at spotting organizations that do good work but don't welcome queer folk, so the Sojourners kerfluffle today was not a surprise.
But here's my challenge to you: I'm also pretty good at spotting churches that welcome LGBTQ folk on their websites. Queer folk who are interested in Christianity sometimes ask me to help them find a local church that is welcoming and will celebrate their queerness. I can tell from a website if this is a church that has decided consciously to welcome queer folk in all aspects of church life. And I can tell you that there are not that many churches who do this. Here are a couple examples from my hometown of Santa Barbara:
And never mind. There are two other churches in Santa Barbara that I know are welcoming and affirming: St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church (a Covenant Network church) and Trinity Episcopal Church. I believe in the past that both churches had clear statements of welcome for LGBTQ folk on their websites, but I don't see it now.
And this is exactly my point. How would a queer person know they are welcome in your church? How would they know that they could come to the potluck and not have to endure another conversation on how the gay are ripping the fabric of America? How would they know they could come to Bible study and know that they could talk about the fullness of their life without people praying that they straighten out. How would they know that you won't look at them and their family as if you'd just eaten rotten fruit? Because it's not on your church websites, friends. I look, and it's not there. It's not on my church website either. We're all just pussyfooting around this whole welcome the gay thing--and golly, I'm a queer pastor!
So if you were offended by Sojourners' refusal to accept the Believe Out Loud ad, don't bother protesting Sojourners--we are not their main funding sources. Rather, give the attention to Believe Out Loud. Take the video you just watched of the two moms and their son to your church board or session and ask them to link it to your church website. Make it part of your church's dedication to welcoming LGBTQ people. And if your board refuses, then at least you have started the conversation.
Because if you're waiting for Sojourners and other big Christian organizations to change their ways, well, please trust that queer folk have already been waiting a while. Change your church, because that's where you have power. In your church you have voice and vote. Your church could sponsor this video.