"Christianity Today" two weeks ago rejected an ad that the Faith in America organization had submitted for publication in the print magazine. The ad's message was centered around parents of gay and lesbian youth who might reject their children because of their sexual orientation. The ad, which has an image of a cross filled with faces, reads: "Do you have a child who is gay or lesbian? Do you fully embrace that child just as they are? Christ does. Faith and Equality. Let's End The Harm From The Misuse of Religious Teaching."
At the same time, "Christianity Today" in its September 2012 edition contains a full-page ad from Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization whose president, Alan Sears, in a July 2012 article referred to messages of gay acceptance and inclusion as "insidious inroads in the minds and souls of children."
Even conservative evangelical leaders acknowledge that segments of the Christian faith community have badly missed the mark when addressing the issue of same-gender orientation. One of the most devastating consequences of such misguided religious teaching is the tragic effect it can and does have on gay and lesbian youth and their families.
For many years, segments of faith communities have taught that God rejects the gay or lesbian person because of their sexual orientation. Such teaching has caused parents in great numbers to reject and shun their own children. It has created strife and division between untold numbers of children and parents, between brothers and sisters and other members of family.
For the gay or lesbian youth, this form of emotional, psychological and spiritual violence can take a horrific toll on them and their families. Since 2004, there have been 25 reported suicides involving youth who were bullied or shunned because they were gay or perceived to be gay.
The Family Acceptance Project (FAP), a research and education organization, in 2009 published results of a study about the result of family rejection in "Pediatrics" the official the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. According to the article, the FAP study established "a clear link between specific parental and caregiver rejecting behaviors and negative health problems in young lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults."
The article stated that "higher rates of family rejection were significantly associated with poorer health outcomes" and that "lesbian, gay, and bisexual young adults who reported higher levels of family rejection during adolescence were 8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide."
Our society has awakened to the horrific toll that is being exacted from gay and lesbian individuals, especially youth and families, from a religious perspective that places a stamp of moral disapproval on a person's very being.
If Christianity Today approves ads from organizations that promote hostility toward gay and lesbian individuals, surely it can accept an ad which promotes the ideal that faith and equality are not – and should not be – in conflict with each other.
Many Christians, including ministers and church leaders, have broken with the church's traditional and misguided teaching on human sexual orientation.
There is a new perspective in faith communities across this country which frees people of faith from the prejudice, stigma and hostility toward gay and lesbian individuals that has been expressed for far too long in churches, homes, schools, legislative offices and communities.
That is a perspective Christianity today deserves to hear and we ask "Christianity Today" to publish the Faith and Equality ad.
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