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August 31, 2011

Sojourners Passes GLAAD's Advertising Test on GLBT Issues

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) is praising Sojourners for passing its test. GLAAD sponsored an advertisement for the Ali Forney Center, a homeless shelter that aids lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) youth. The advertisement was, in part, a test of whether Sojourners would print an ad sponsored by a group like GLAAD.

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In May, Sojourners declined to place an advertisement for Believe Out Loud, an organization that advocates for greater acceptance of LGBT individuals by churches. The video ad featured two women with a child entering a church where they were not welcomed by parishioners.

GLAAD's director of religion, faith, and values Ross Murray approached Sojourners after the Believe Out Loud decision. GLAAD asked if the magazine would be opposed to advertisements by LGBT organizations who focus on one of Sojourners areas of focus and the organization agreed, according to Murray.

Sojourners president Jim Wallis said the magazine declined the Believe Out Loud ad because it did not address one of Sojourners core issues (e.g., poverty or homelessness). Expanding the scope of the social justice mission of the magazine to include LGBT rights was not feasible, Wallis said, because of a lack of consensus on the issue and limited resources.

“Instead, we have taken this opportunity to affirm our commitment to civil rights for gay and lesbian people, and to the call of churches to be loving and welcoming to all people, and promote good and healthy dialogue,” Walis said. “It is our 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 we typically do not display advertising relating to issues amongst people of faith that have unfortunately, and too often, been reduced to political wedge issues.”

Brian McLaren, a former Sojourners board member, said he empathized with of those were frustrated with the Sojourners decision, but he agreed with it because expanding the magazine's poverty-focused agenda to include LGBT issues. It would damage the coalition of progressive Christians Sojourners represents, he said.

“One can’t lead on other issues that would split the coalition,” McLaren said. “If Sojourners decides to lead on LGBTQ issues, someone else will have to arise to lead a broad coalition on poverty issues because Sojourners will be — as things stand — excluded from the table. Conversely, if Sojourners decides to lead a broad poverty-related coalition, others will need to lead on LGBTQ issues.”

GLAAD partnered with the Ali Forney Center to create an ad featuring a father leaving his young son sitting on a railroad track. The ad features statements about LGBT homeless youth on the high percentage of homeless youth who are LGBT and the greater risks of homelessness, depression, and insecurity faced by LGBT youth who are rejected by their families.

“[The ad] tests the notion of whether Sojourners would really accept an ad placed by an LGBT-focused organization,” Murray said. “It also demonstrates to the leadership and readership the overlap between the LGBT community and poverty, war/peace, and environment. It also continues the conversation about LGBT inclusion in the life of the church and the world.”

Sojourners communication director Tim King said that in addition to the ad, the magazine will be featuring blog posts on LGBT homeless youth and other issues raised in the ad. King said the ad highlights how LGBT youth are disproportionately affected by homelessness.

Prior to coming to Sojourners, King worked for years with homeless youth in Illinois. “I have talked with many teens who became homeless because they were kicked out of their homes or ran away from abuse by their parents because of their sexual identity,” King said. “After their homes became dangerous, they went to the streets, where many were attacked and some were trafficked or forced into prostitution.”

GLAAD's Murray said his organization will continue to advocate that Sojourners address issues that affect LGBT people. “This is a first step on the journey, but by taking this step, GLAAD has found new potential allies and opened their eyes to the realities of LGBT people’s lives,” Murray said.

Sojourners’ balancing act on gay and lesbian issues will likely continue. Its coalition includes some progressives who see gay rights as a social justice issue. It also includes those who hold to—theologically if not politically—conservative beliefs about marriage and sexuality. It includes pragmatists, like McLaren and others, who do not want to see a coalition of poverty-focused Christians cracked by the issue.

Comments

Three observations:

1) "Dialogue" and "conversation" are fine, assuming the LGBT community understands that true evangelicals must be unbending on the Bible's clear stance concerning homosexuality.

2) Isn't GLADD clever in picturing a sad little boy with a teddy bear being abandoned (as if that's remotely close to the truth)?

3) The caption under the picture says it well: "Every child needs the support and love of their parents." Oh that the gay community could truly come to understand that.

What does this article have to do with Christian values? Please stop posting articles on non-christian religions. Thanks !!

Thank you Ali Forney Center for helping so many young people who have been neglected and abused by their families and churches.

Thanks to GLAAD for supporting their work.

Thanks to Sojourners for following in the footsteps of Jesus by doing what is right and not being afraid of religious zealots.

Thanks to Christianity Today for running this article and bringing this good news to more people.

Homelessness is a sad reality that needs to be addressed by all "social compassion agencies." How much more sad it is that we now have to classify and subdivide its victims. The LGBT community should be ashamed of efforts to "test" the heart of publications like Sojourners. In the end, both entities are cheapened by making public announcements about such activity. I find it deplorable.

Sexual activity between those of the same sex is not a worse sin than any other. For those who think otherwise, you are walking into Paul's trap right at the beginning of Romans 2.
It is sad that a lesbian couple with a child would be unwelcome at any Christian church. (But what real event is the ad based on? And what does "unwelcome" mean?) They surely shouldn't be treated any differently than an unknown heterosexual couple that enters. With or without wedding rings, how do we know if the presumed heterosexuals: are married to each other, if the child is their own, if they were virgins at marriage, and, if not, whether they have repented of their premarital sexual activity. The "lesbian couple" could in fact be two heterosexuals. Or lesbians who live together without having sex--which the Bible does not condemn!

"Sexual activity between those of the same sex is not a worse sin than any other." This should be good news to serial killers, homicidal maniacs, child molesters, and villans of all kinds.

When one liberal group praises another liberal group it is not exactly a surprise, Dr. Grant.

Homosexuals are welcome as long as they don't pretend to be Christians. They can seek the Lord as long as it takes. But if they claim to have believed in the Lord, then they can't defiantly stick to their homosexuality. They have to pick the Lord or their chosen sexual lifestyle. They can't have both.

I would say if two lesbians entered a church with a baby and were thrown out, they should call their local newspapers which would love their story with all the anti-Christian rectoric in the media. This story is a lie, of course. The boy on the tracks didn't happen either, another lie of homosexuals. It still isn't as bad as being in Los Angeles for a conference and getting caught up in a parade outside my hotel where a young boy crying his eyes out was being marched in a gay pride parade with a dog collar around his neck with a man holding the lease. A cop standing nearby refused to help the boy "...because it would start a riot with the homosexuals,lady". I saw the boy which if I did that I would be arrested for child abuse. These people are all about their sexual rights not civil rights and certainly not about poverty since their income doesn't go to poverty but to their advancing homosexual sexual rights with boys and men.That parade was my eye opener to their agenda, believe me.This is what sojourner is letting into their magazine which will no longer be on our church library shelves since we follow Jesus not the religion of homossexual sex.

@OA: "This is what sojourner is letting into their magazine which will no longer be on our church library shelves since we follow Jesus not the religion of homossexual sex." Sojourners are cowards!

There is an erroneous belief doing the rounds that the 'culture war' is over and that the homosexuals have won. Sojourners is just the latest "christian" organistaion to have drunk the kool aid. I agree that it is cowardly, but that seems to be the present stance of the American church.

Jim Wallis & his sycophants at Sojo are faux-evangelicals. They are wolves in sheep's clothing, out to lead the evangelical world into the same departures from orthodoxy that the liberal church has already experienced. I'm not accusing them of being hypocrites. I think that probably most of them are true believers who think they are doing the right thing. But they're sadly mistaken in so much of what they do and advocate.

The amount of the acceptance and love Christ preached so much about is overwhelming in the majority of these comments.

"The amount of the acceptance and love Christ preached so much about is overwhelming in the majority of these comments." Did you hear that Jeremiah and Isaiah and Ezekiel et al? You guys just weren't sensitive to those errant Israelites back in the day. (If I recall correctly Jesus told even the woman caught in adultery to "Go and sin no more.")

It's amazing how by emphasizing 'go and sin no more' the hateongers entirely miss the point of the story.