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Opinion

Opinion

Opinion: ‘Other’ Christians need to speak up

September 8, 2013

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“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. 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 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.’”

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 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 Project” (notalllikethat.org). It’s modeled after a site 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.

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 Savage, who is an atheist, for not telling 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 Jr., winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a columnist for the Miami Herald. He chats with readers from noon to 1 p.m. CDT each Wednesday on www.MiamiHerald.com.

Comments

patkindle 7 months, 1 week ago

Christians have lost such a foothold they will never regain the only thing that keeps the Catholics ahead are the Hispanics the Muslims will pretty well have the majority in a decade or so

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Currahee 7 months, 1 week ago

I am a non practicing Catholic. I only take a few messages from the bible. Be a good neighbor, treat others the way you would want to be treated, etc. The message of love everyone conflicts with the anti homosexual ideology carried by radical Christians. If I face a God when I die, I would rather want to be judged by how I treated others rather than rendering judgement unfairly. This isn't just Christians though. Any ideological group will have its fair share of radicals who end up spoiling the image for the sane people.

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Eph289 7 months, 1 week ago

Your article seems to imply that their are 2 classes of Christians: Those that hate, bully and harass LGBT people, and those that are "NALT" Christians, which are those that love and accept LGBT people, their lifestyle and their agenda. How about those Christians who love LGBT people, but believe that homosexuality is a sin and are against their LGBT agenda. I believe this group represents the great majority of true Christians around this country and the world. A true Christian believes that the Bible is God's word to us. God says to us through the Bible that we are to love our neighbor, which would also include LGBT people. God also says that Homosexuality is a sin, just like any other sin. Therefore, as a Christian we are to love the person enough to tell them that the LGBT lifestyle is against God. It is in their best interest that they turn from this lifestyle and receive the loving forgiveness that Jesus offers them. Fortunately, here in America an LGBT person can, and should, live as they choose, without fear of persecution, as long as it does not infringe on another person's freedom. We also have the right to disagree with the LGBT lifestyle and agenda, based on freedom of speech and freedom of religion. This is not hate or bigotry. This is freedom to chose what you believe to be right and wrong, but I am commanded to love you even if I disagree with you. The concern Christians have is that the LGBT agenda will take away religious freedoms. We already see this happening in our country. In places such as Massachusetts, New Mexico and Oregon there have been businesses that have closed down for choosing not to reject their religious beliefs. Also, the Department of Justice now has a brochure which requires that employees speak out in favor of the LGBT agenda, among many other requirements, and that silence will be interpreted as disagreement. This is titled, "LGBT inclusion at work: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Managers". This forces people to go against their freedoms of speech and religion. I also have a request for Mr. Pitts - Can you also wright an editorial on LGBT rights in the Islamic world? As you may know, Islam is much less tolerant of LGBT people than Christians. Where is the outcry against Islam?

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rtwngr 7 months, 1 week ago

In recent years there has been an over humanization of Jesus. Most Christians like to choose the nice things that Jesus preached and then reject the difficult ones. What Pitts and all the other commentators on this blog seem to forget is that Jesus was also divine. He is God. The distinct meanings of his teachings get lost in the translation of modern day vernacular. We try to interpret his teachings through the modern day prism of semantics. This is not possible and does not render the true meanings of his teachings. It comes down to this. Jesus stated very clearly two things; 1) I am God. 2) If you're not with me then you're against me. There is no middle ground.

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rtwngr 7 months, 1 week ago

I will tell you this, Lenny, Jesus was not a nice guy. He was kind and merciful but he was demanding.

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Liberty275 7 months, 1 week ago

Mr Putts, there are no Gods. Delete that part of your life and move on. Feel free to ignore the ramblings of people that believe in Dark Ages mythology.

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Cait McKnelly 7 months, 1 week ago

There's a huge difference between Christians and "Christianists". The latter practice what my cohort calls "Cafeteria Christianity"; cherry picking verses and parts from the Bible that support their views and then loudly trumpeting it as the only valid path. The real truth is that, to quote a friend, "If Jesus ever did come back, he'd spend the first three days puking at everything ever done 'in His name'."

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Ray Parker 7 months, 1 week ago

The new 666: Sign on to endorse the homosexual agenda, the Mark of the Beast, if you want to buy or sell or keep a job or hold office or remain in military service. . . . . In a fit of unparalleled anti-Christian bigotry and venom, the San Antonio, TX city council, voting 8-3, has barred Christian businesses from city contracts or any business dealings with the city, and barred Christians as candidates for city office. A San Antonio business must sign on to the homosexual agenda to be qualified for city business, as must a candidate for city office. Resist, refuse, reject, and renounce every part of the homosexual agenda, every way you can.

N perverts

N perverts by parkay

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yourworstnightmare 7 months, 1 week ago

I am a GLWT atheist -- good luck with that NALT christians.

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Ron Holzwarth 7 months, 1 week ago

"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."

I don't think that statement expresses the truth very well. Jesus taught very little that was not Jewish thought contemporary to His time, or could be found in some of the teachings of the Essenes, of which He is believed by many or most scholars to have been a member.

Of course, except for the teachings of Jesus that can save you from Hell, which did not exist before the time of Jesus. There is no mention of Hell at all in the Tanakh, which could be called the 'Jewish Bible', or the Old Testament with the books sorted out into their correct categories.

In Jesus' time, as today, there were different movements (Very generally, Jewish = movement, Christian = denomination, Islam = sect) within Judaism. Of course, they all had different teachings. That is also true of the other two Abrahamic faiths, Christianity and Islam, today. There is no mention of Judaism or Islam in this article, but I'm sure the required length had everything to do with the decision to not discuss them. It's rather obvious that this short article could be expanded to be the length of a somewhat short book.

I consider it to be a problem that many Christians generally use only the Bible for source material, and exclude consideration of the writings that predate parts of it and others that supplement it. But, since some people consider the Bible to be the "infallible word of G-d, inspired by the invisible hand," and use it for the sole source for the teaching and understanding of Christianity, that makes sense, at least to them.

But, as with anything else in antiquity, we don't really know a lot of things for sure. It's very difficult to separate Jewish thought at the time of Jesus from early Christian thought because for about 50 years, Christianity was a movement within Judaism. If you wanted to be a Christian, first you had to convert to Judaism, and then you could select the Christian movement. But after about another 50 years, Jewish and Christian teachings had became so different in a large number of ways that they split into two different religions. Both Judaism and Christianity have evolved a great deal over time. That is why they have survived, and also adapted to our modern times.

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tomatogrower 7 months, 1 week ago

Exactly!!! Great post, Mr. Pitts.

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