As predictable as the stars and the moon glistening atop mountains on a cloudless midnight in the California Sierras, there is something that every enlightened, compassionate, loving, and inclusive Christian dreads with much cringe-worthy lament: having to listen to a smattering of some of their coreligionists at church spout hateful language that damns their LGBTQ brothers and sisters to Hell based on uninformed readings of the Holy Bible to rationalize, for some, their own unreconstructed bigotry that has no biblical basis whatsoever under the most demanding exegetical scrutiny of contemporary scriptural scholarship.
Usually, when this most unfortunate situation arises, far too many progressive Christians usually mutter—either silently in their heads or in barely audible faint whispers—the following: “Well, Christians are not all like that.” Sadly, whether it’s because of the uncomfortable nature of the circumstance or the reverential atmosphere of the church, far too many progressive and inclusive-minded Christians lack the spiritual nerve and moral courage to walk up to the offending individuals and directly call them out for uttering bigoted anti-LGBTQ statements that (1) have no place in any house of worship that purports to follow the expansive love of Christ, and (2) would be deemed unequivocally hateful by any reasonable measure by Christians if the exact intemperate tone of such rhetoric targeted communities of color or other ethnic minorities instead of the LGBTQ community.
Feeling quite frustrated, for some time now, with this most dismal state of affairs existing in the faith community (especially within my faith tradition: Seventh-day Adventism), I was—as one would imagine—pleasantly surprised last night, however, when my eyes came across an illuminating piece penned by Gabriel Arana (a senior editor at the journalistic flagship of erudite liberal commentary, The American Prospect) playfully entitled, “Christianity: Not Just for Haters Anymore.”
In Arana’s article (a piece I highly suggest that every person of faith should read—particularly among those who care about LGBTQ equality), he chronicles a most enterprising Christian from the pleasurably warm clime of San Diego, John Shore (founder of Unfundamentalist Christians), who sought to fix the problem of a significant number of Christians lacking the courage to confront anti-LGBTQ bigotry (manifesting within their own faith communities) by co-founding The NALT Christians Project. (“NALT” stands for “not all like that.”)
Now, the mission of the NALT Christians Project, as stated by Shore, is the following:
It’s time for us true NALT Christians—the ones who genuinely aren’t like that—to speak up and be heard, to affirm LGBT people as loudly and clearly as anti-LGBT Christians condemn them. We must stand up for young LGBT people, who are so vulnerable to being bullied into feelings of worthlessness and despair. We must eradicate the culturally inculcated moral underpinnings that serves to support such bullying. And we must bring to the fore a renewed Christianity that, instead of standing for anti-gay bigotry, stands for the integrity and love that Jesus Christ himself so radically stood for.
The NALT Christians Project is like a massive orchestra consisting of players who simply walk in, take a seat, and begin adding to a symphony so insanely beautiful that to hear any isolated strain within it—any solo instrument, any solitary voice—is to be heartened and uplifted, no matter who you are. This is the infinitely rich music that LGBT-affirming Christians have been yearning to make and hear ever since anti-gay Christian “leaders” bullied their way onto center stage, ordered the spotlight shined upon themselves, and began their braying chorus of sour, over-amped, painfully off-key bigotry.
If you’re an LGBT-affirming Christian, there is a seat waiting for you in the orchestra of The NALT Christians Project. If you’re a Christian who either believes that God condemns homosexuality, or has not yet decided where you stand on the gay issue, please give our NALT Christians song a listen. It is a song—it is a movement—inspired by Christ’s Great Commandment that all of his followers—that all of us—love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
All I can say to this latest development is simply this: Thank God for John Shore and the NALT Christians Project! (No pun intended.)
Now, to learn more about the NALT Christians Project (NALT), please check out the following videos (with Shore and the organization’s other co-founder Wayne Besen), below, as well as this statement from NALT’s third co-founder, Evan Hurst, the Associate Director of Truth Wins Out (a non-profit organization fighting against anti-LGBTQ religious extremism).
For my fellow inclusive-minded coreligionists within the Seventh-day Adventist Church who support a LGBTQ-inclusive, Adventist faith tradition, please check out these two stellar LGBTQ-affirming resources: Seventh-day Adventist Kinship (the Adventist organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals and their families, friends, and allies) and the marvelously produced documentary from Daneen Akers and Stephen Eyer entitled, Seventh-Gay Adventists.
Note: For more LGBTQ-affirming resources for people of faith, please scroll down on Adventists for Progress to the links on the right-hand side panel of this website under the category “Religion (LGBTQ).”