The Sea Change of LGBTQ Welcome in America’s Churches

After a majority of presbyteries ratified Amendment 10-A approving the ordination of openly lesbian and gay candidates for ministry, the LA Times editorial board wrote, “Tuesday’s stamp of approval from a venerable institution will further influence public opinion…this welcome move by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) indicates that religion has a role to play in this nation’s lurching progress toward gay rights.”

Polls today show that a majority of major Christian denominations support legal same gender marriage. This momentous change from only a decade ago is having a major impact on victories at the ballot box, on state legislators and most recently at the Supreme Court. People of faith, including More Light Presbyterians, have helped facilitate this change with a message that emphasizes Christian teachings about compassion, tolerance and humility.

From The Atlantic:

This change — from most religious Americans opposing gay rights to many of them supporting it — didn’t happen by accident. It is the fruit of an aggressive campaign by a determined gay-rights movement that realized, particularly in the wake of the 2004 elections, that you cannot win politically in America if you are arguing against religious faith. It is a recent development — Jones dates the “tipping point” to 2011 — and it has helped marginalize gay-marriage opponents by discrediting their most powerful claim: that they speak for the religious community.

For gay Americans, the consequences are already profound: a new generation of gay youth that may grow up less scarred by caustic preaching. The political repercussions, still unfolding, hold the key to further progress in the fight to expand gay rights, particularly marriage, nationwide.

After the 2004 elections, the story was that we were losing to the value voters,” said Sharon Groves, director of the religion and faith program of the Human Rights Campaign — a position created in 2005. “Family values were defined, largely, as anti-LGBT. The people making the case for the family values side were religious leaders, and we as a movement were responding with advocates and lawyers.” The message audiences got from that image: Religion was on one side and gay rights was on the other.

Groves spent last weekend manning a booth for her organization at the Wild Goose Festival, an annual gathering of social-justice-minded Protestants in rural North Carolina sometimes dubbed “Woodstock for Evangelicals.” It was the first time the Human Rights Campaign had a formal presence at the festival. Over and over, people came to her tent, burst into tears, and said, “I’m so happy you’re here.”

“I get it all the time,” she said. “People have been told for so many years if you’re a gay person you basically don’t belong in the religious community. And straight folks, too, want to see their religion as a source of love and inclusion that’s making people’s lives better, not shaming people or keeping them out.” …

Central to this outreach has been a message that emphasizes religious teachings about compassion, tolerance, and humility. Religious leaders and followers want to feel that they’re not choosing politics over religion but bringing the two into alignment. When President Obama came out in favor of gay marriage more than a year ago, he framed it as a matter not of separating church and state but of following Christian teaching: “When we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the golden rule,” he said. “Treat others the way you’d want to be treated.” Senator Rob Portman of Ohio wrote of his switch on the issue, “Gay couples’ desire to marry doesn’t amount to a threat but rather a tribute to marriage, and a potential source of renewed strength for the institution.”

Read the full article at The Atlantic.

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