The National Black Justice Coalition along with gay rights organizations Soulforce, COLAGE, and The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches are planning to engage some of the most powerful and influential ministers in America and their congregations in peaceful talk about their contempt for gays and lesbians.
An "American Family Outing" is planned for spring of 2008 at the churches of Bishop T.D. Jakes, Rev. Joel Olsteen, Bishop Eddie Long, Bishop Harry Jackson, Rev. Bill Hybels, and Dr. Rick Warren. Letters were sent to each pastor informing them that a delegation of families with two moms and two dads, as well as supportive heterosexual parents and single parents will be in attendance at each church between May 11th and June 15th to engage in dialogue about faith, family, and the harm done by religion-based discrimination to LGBT families.
"It is difficult for mega-churches to claim to be progressive in the area of Civil Rights and at the same time deny the equal dignity and value of LGBT persons," said Rev. Dr. Ken Samuel, pastor of the 5,000 plus, LGBT-friendly,Victory Church in Atlanta, Georgia.
"Homophobia and heterosexism directly contradict the principles of equality and justice for all God's children, and I think that the younger generation of evangelicals are beginning more and more to see this contradiction."
I think these "talks" are much needed because a lot of the depression and internalized homophobia many LGBT people face are a direct result of the church's treatment of gays and lesbians. However, the obvious resistance by many of these pastors to embrace LGBT people openly cannot be overlooked. Bishop Harry Jackson's reputation for being virulently anti-gay and opposing any legislation that would give LGBT people equal rights and protection under the law should make for a very interesting talk.
I hope this initiative is successful but I have my doubts. What do you think?