|Does Sojourners "welcome everyone" ?|
Sojourners, a Christian group that advocates social justice, has banned an Advertisement for Mothers day showing the a young boy with two lesbian parents being welcomed at a church service to the discomfort of the congregation. At the end of the Ad, the presiding Pastor said "Welcome Everyone".
The Ad was created by "Intersections International" who responded to the rejection of the paid Ad ""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?" "Does the organization not really believe in welcome for 'everyone' in our churches or do they believe everyone is welcome, but they are afraid to 'believe out loud' for fear of alienating some constituents?" said Rev. Robert Chase, director of Intersections International.
As the controversy escalated, Sojourners responded with an article on 09 May 2011 entitled "Love Comes First" by their Communications Director, Tim King where the above Youtube video was embedded for "free". The responses were varied with some Christians audaciously putting salt in the wound claiming that gays were persecuting christians. The issue has always been that Christians being the powerful and dominant religious group was persecuting and denying basic rights of a small minority. Hence the article by Sojourners seems awkward as one cannot easily call for Love yet historically and till to-date go out to cause harm and limit the basic rights of others when we ourselves take this right for granted and even abuse them. Love is not the question, but hypocrisy.
With so many straight couples getting divorce, we don't even allow gays to get married to cement their love for each other. When they can't love their loved ones because we break up their relationships, why should we not be taken to task! There were strong response from many GLBT people, some clergy, who have been kicked out of churches because of being gay! So the response calling for love when so much hate and harm have been perpetuated by the church in the name of love and religious faith seems inconsistent.
The problem for Sojourners was that it was a paid Ad and Ads in generally should not be taken as a policy statement of support by any hosting site. Secondly, does the Ad causes harm or incite violence, hatred or bigotry which will be reasonable grounds of rejection. It does not! Instead, it promotes a Welcome to the GLBT community which has hitherto been grossly rejected by the mainstream churches. Whats so wrong with "Welcom(ing) Home" Gay people to the church was has so long been kicked out of the church.
Without a "Welcome" there are no mutual grounds for discussion and dialogogue proposed by Sojourners because it would not be a safe environment where people are treated with dignity and humanity. It's so easy to talk about the rights of others as if we were God making judgement when the same rights we abuse and take for granted yet we deny others and insist on examining it on the grounds of "love". It is not for the GLBT community to prove that they should have the basic rights of existence (in many countries, they still criminalises same sex) and marriage, but for the Christian Community to justify beyond reasonable grounds why they should be restricted failing which their very same rights should be revoked.
I wonder whether if it had been two men with the young boy that was shown in the video, it may have had a better chance of being accepted because there is an unusual love hate relationship with lesbians by my straight male friends. They seem to enjoy watching porn which have scenes when the women themselves are making out with each other after having sex with the man. Perhaps the video was just too dignified for the straight men manning Sojourners!.
Alas, even a progressive Christian group such as Sojourners dares not "welcome everyone" especially gays even out of Christian love. However, Sojourners had started on the road to redemption by writing articles on how gays are badly treated and suffering injustice at schools and rebuking Christians in Africa for killing of gays in Uganda.
When the gay tribe finally comes for a visit to our homes, we had opened the door at the door bell but quickly closed it as to "see no evil". The issue with Sojourners and the Christian church is that gays will continue to knock at the door and each time we open the door, they will be there. Perhaps God is talking to Sojourners! - the issue is not about love nor about dialogogue on the basic rights of others which should not be negotiable, but how we respond and are we brave enough to say "Welcome Everyone". It may not be today or tommorow, but one day the decision for basic social justice and rights must be taken by no less a great organization for the weak and the poor such as Sojourners.
Change is coming even for the Progressives.