Love Thy (Gay) Neighbor: Christian Magazine Stands Up for Homeless LGBT Youth Love Thy (Gay) Neighbor: Christian Magazine Stands Up for Homeless LGBT Youth
Culture

Love Thy (Gay) Neighbor: Christian Magazine Stands Up for Homeless LGBT Youth

by Nona Willis Aronowitz

September 9, 2011

You know that phrase "the good, Christian thing to do"? I always interpreted it as an affirmation of love and acceptance, even amid personal or societal prejudice. Even though I'm a secular Jew, I'm fine with any religion that looks down upon hating or ostracizing anyone else. That's why this full-page ad in the progressive Christian magazine Sojourners, urging parents to accept and love their child regardless of sexual orientation, gives me a little hope for the future.

At eye level, the ad for the Ali Forney Center, an advocacy group for homeless youth, says nothing about religion. It chooses instead to recount saddening statistics about homeless queer kids rejected by their families. But then there's the Bible passage on top, drawing an explicit connection between Christianity and the battle against homophobia.

"We used language that [Christian] people would recognize, language that has a strong resonance for them," Wil Fisher, director of communications at the center, told me. "We're not trying to preach to them what's right, we're actually using language they're familiar with to get our point across."

Many Christians have assured me that they, too, have their religion to thank for their open-minded politics. In fact, that's the philosophy of Sojourners. But the "good, Christian thing to do" has not been the M.O. of an anti-gay rights movement that opposes gay marriage and adoption on religious grounds. It's not the kind of thing behind "pray away the gay" clinics like Michele Bachmann's husband's. "Frankly, a lot of the rejection that young people face come as a result of the conservative religious beliefs of their families," Fisher says.

This ad, and publications like Sojourners, make clear that using Christianity as an excuse to hate is not okay, especially when your own child is involved. Here's hoping less tolerant churchgoers will catch on soon.

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Love Thy (Gay) Neighbor: Christian Magazine Stands Up for Homeless LGBT Youth