An amazing thing is happening. Some of the nation's most influential megachurch pastors will actually be sitting down with LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) families and their supporters to talk about mutual understanding and reconciliation. Soulforce, an organization that we've supported in the past, is sponsoring the American Family Outing during this these next two months. According to their website:
Between Mother's Day Weekend and Father's Day Weekend, 2008, diverse families from around the country will create meaningful conversations about faith, family, and LGBT people. We seek first to understand, and then to be understood, as we engage the families at six of America's leading mega-churches. We visit these churches because we recognize the enormous influence each has within Christianity and the larger culture, through ministries, radio and television programs, and books that reach millions. We believe these churches have the potential to be a positive force in ending the physical and spiritual violence perpetuated by some religious voices against LGBT people and their families. Some of these churches have exercised inspirational leadership on social issues such as poverty and AIDS, and we believe they can exercise comparable, courageous leadership in ending spiritual and physical violence against LGBT people.
Regardless of one's opinion of whether or not homosexuality is "sinful", I would hope that all Christians could agree that we should be in favor of ending physical and spiritual violence against LGBT people. (I know this will not actually be the case, but one can hope.) I commend the six pastors participating in this for having the courage to engage in this dialogue. I can guarantee that they will take a lot of flak within the evangelical community for even agreeing to do this, and I hope they can each find ways to create healthy dialogue and not just an argument. Imagine what could happen if these well-known leaders can set a new tone for how evangelical Christians engage with LGBT people.
The six pastors and churches are:
- Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church in Houston, TX
- Bishop T.D. Jakes of The Potter's House in Dallas, TX
- Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr. of Hope Christian Church near Washington D.C.
- Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church near Atlanta, GA
- Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago, IL
- Rick Warren of Saddleback Community Church in Orange County, CA
Labels: social justice
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