May 9, 2011
Sojourners Declines LGBT 'Welcome' Ad
Some progressive sites are criticizing Sojourners after it declined to run an advertisement urging mainline churches to welcome gay members.
Robert Chase took up the issue at Religion Dispatches where he noted that the ad came from Believe Out Loud, a mainline Protestant parachurch organization.
So, you can imagine our dismay when Sojourners refused to run our ads. In a written statement, Sojourners said, “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.”
Taking sides? ... 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?
Jim Naughton at Episcopal Cafe says that Jim Wallis no longer speaks for progressives, if he ever did.
It would seem to me that if you can't bring yourself to say that LGBT people shouldn't be chased out of our churches you have no business passing yourself off as a progressive leader, Christian or otherwise. In fact, based on recent polling on the far more sensitive subject of same-sex marriage, you have no business passing yourself off as a moderate leader, either.
CT spoke with Sojourners founder Jim Wallis about advertising issues back in 2008.
Are you concerned, though, that taking advertising in Sojourners magazine from Human Rights Campaign [a gay-rights group] makes it seem that it is a bigger issue for you?
Advertising is always a difficult question. I had real mixed feelings about those ads. We probably wouldn't do it again, because when you take advertising it implies you might be sympathetic to the advertising. But we don't take a position on this except promoting dialogue. At Sojourners, we've decided to have a safe place for dialogue and even disagreement on our staff and in our constituency.
Update: Sojourners' communications director Tim King posted a blog post where he said he was encouraged by initiatives such as Believe Out Loud. He also posted the video of the ad and an editor's note at the end.
Sojourners stresses the importance of dialogue amongst those on all sides of these issues. It is our utmost hope that differing viewpoints are not silenced, but are lifted up in a display of Christian and often interfaith sisterhood and brotherhood. It is for this reason, that 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.
Another update: Wallis has posted a statement.