Campaign begins to end religion-based bigotry

Deb Price… God bless her. I love her and her columns; she never fails to write wonderfully on thethe most interesting and important topics in LGBT rights.

Today, she has a column out on the ad campaign just begun by Faith in America. Yesterday I blogged about the religious left. Faith in America, along with similarly-focused groups like Soulforce, are a part of the religious left I was talking about.

FIA Ad campaign image copyright FIAThe ad campaign got underway yesterday, in two North Carolina papers in the Catawba Valley area as well as other papers across the country. The series of ads seek to raise awareness on the issue of religion-based bigotry, something that Faith in America leader, the Reverend Jimmy Creech, calls “spiritual violence.” The ads and the group focus their message on a theme being used by other groups, including Soulforce: Learn from the mistakes of the past.

Many of the ads focus on America’s history of discrimination against African-Americans, much of which was done in the name of God. One ad even pictures a KKK rally with a burning cross; in this ad, the text states: “Remember when the cross was used to promote discrimination towards people of color? Let’s not use it today to promote that same attitude towards people who are gay.”

Another similar KKK-themed ad states: “Remember a time when a symbol of love was used as a symbol of hate? Looking back, it’s pretty sickening isn’t it?”

Deb Price points out what may be one of the most inspiring parts of this ad campaign: The creator of the ads:

“Is that a very Christ-like attitude to have?”

Brent Childers was startled by the question his 62-year-old mother asked three years ago in response to his venomous dinner-table declaration that “You don’t want queers taking over society.”

Childers, a conservative Christian living in North Carolina, was forced to reflect upon his uncharitableness, self-righteousness and acid tone. His mom’s words, he says, were like “an alarm going off. It was like, ‘Hold on. Let’s think about this a bit.'”

Some months later, Childers remarked to another conservative Christian, “I don’t think a homosexual can practice that lifestyle and be a Christian.” The woman immediately disagreed and told him about a friend who was both gay and devoutly Christian.

Nudged for the second time, Childers seriously began to wonder how he could reconcile his attitude that those of us who are gay are “wicked, unclean people with no chance of eternal life” with the loving underpinnings of his Christian faith. His questions propelled him along a spiritual journey that took him away from prejudice.

That journey presented him with an unlikely opportunity last February, when Childers’ advertising agency was approached about creating a series of ads designed to prod anti-gay religious folks into thinking about how religion was used to justify such wrongs as slavery and denying women the right to vote.

After praying, Childers agreed to help create the ads and drew on his own 180-degree transformation in developing them.

Hopefully these ads will help to push just a few more folks over to acceptance and love. I doubt they will make major change, but they are one step in a long process which is going to eventually lead America and the Church to a more accepting and loving existence.

I firmly believe that a great majority, if not all, of the political problems facing the LGBT community are a direct result of the teachings of the Church and of religion. The bigotry, hate and intolerance espoused by many religious and faith leaders are undoubtedly the cause of much of the rejection LGBT people face in our society. So, until we start working from the ground up and we start facing the religious issues surrounding LGBT acceptance and inclusion, we will continue to find it hard to change anything politically.

I’m kind of hoping at least one of the ads will make it into the Winston-Salem Journal or the Greensboro News & Record. Lord knows we need it; between the State Baptist Convention which meets in Winston every year and the Southern Baptist national meeting happening here soon in Greensboro, the Triad area has plenty to worry about when it comes to “spiritual violence.”

You can view more about Faith in America, along with the media campaign at http://www.faithinamerica.infoÂ

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