Maybe It’s A Good Thing When A “Progressive” Christian Mag Rejects Ads About Loving Homos

This last May the progressive Christian mag Sojourners rejected a Believe Out Loud ad about accepting lezmos into your church because accepting fags in your congregation is apparently “a wedge issue” not related to “working for peace.”

But now Sojourners has finally seen the light by accepting a full-page ad from the Ali Forney Center about homeless gay youth. The group that runs Believe Out Loud doesn’t think this full-page ad means that Sojourners has changed its policy to fully accept homos, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

It’s no surprise really that Sojourners accepted an ad about gay kids—it’s the same reason why so many politicians who would never make a public speech about full LGBT equality feel OK with making an “It Gets Better” issue. Protecting kids, no matter their sexuality, is safer ground to stand on than advocating for repeal of sodomy laws or for same-sex marriage.

But why would a so-called “progressive” magazine refuse to support some of the most vilified and politically disenfranchised people in American society? Brian McLaren—who used to serve as Chair of Sojourners’ Board of Directors for for several years—explains:

Sojourners, as I understand it, is doing coalition work. They are currently focused on building a broad coalition of Evangelical Christians, Catholic Christians, and Progressive Christians primarily around the issue of poverty reduction. And the coalition they’re building is an essential one…

But again, there’s a cost to convening that kind of coalition. One can’t lead on other issues that would split the coalition. (Yes, one can stretch the coalition on some issues, but not too many, not too far, and not too fast.) If Sojourners decides to lead on LGBTQ issues, someone else will have to arise to lead a broad coalition on poverty issues, because Sojourners will be – as things stand – excluded from the table. Conversely, if Sojourners decides to lead a broad poverty-related coalition, others will need to lead on LGBTQ issues.

In other words, “You can’t lead a coalition of progressive Christians without being an outspoken leader on LGBTQ issues. But you can’t lead a coalition that includes mainstream Evangelical and conservative Catholic Christians if you are an outspoken leader on LGBTQ issues.”

It’s important to remember that not every organization, even progressive ones, are ready for a full-throated endorsement of LGBT rights; even though it is the right thing to do. It does everyone very little good when we have an either-or approach to getting support from our allies—that is, either you’re 100 percent pro-LGBT or you’re a bigot and part of the problem.

But how can we differentiate between the progressives who are ready to take up the rainbow flag and those who are a bit more reluctant? Washington Post religious writer Beck Garrison has an idea:

So I’d like to propose a compromise. Why not designate those “progressive evangelicals” who do not feel called to welcome LGBT people into their church communities by advocating equal rites for all as “traditionalist progressives”?”

That will distinguish them from those religious progressives in largely mainline and spiritual but not religious circles who advocate for women’s rights and full inclusion of LGBT people. Such a distinction will allow for funders and followers to have a clearer scope of the organization’s mission, so they can ascertain if this ministry is in line with their values. Also, this shift would be a start toward educating the media and the public at large about the growing multicultural nature of religious progressivism.

Gays And Lesbians Allied Against Defamation (GLAAD) works in coalition building as well, the sort that encourages media outlets like Sojourners and local newspapers to work towards incremental but significant coverage of gay issues. In helping design an ad that Sojourners felt comfortable running, they have taught us a valuable lesson. To win the hearts and minds of swing voters and Republicans who we need in order to successfully continue our fight for civil rights nationwide, it pays to know that our allies may be more sympathetic to certain, less-controversial seeming messages than other more direct messaging about LGBT acceptance.

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #politics #gayagenda #random stories and more


  • Cam

    “”Sojourners, as I understand it, is doing coalition work. They are currently focused on building a broad coalition of Evangelical Christians,””

    So in other words you have to mimic your most bigoted or RE-gressive members in order to work with them.

    The U.N. is the same way, they will continually screw over women and gays in order not to upset countries where both groups are no better than cattle.

  • SteveC

    ‘Progressive christian’?

    Isn’t that an oxymoron?

    The ‘progressive’ christians are almost uniform in their silence in condemning the more wacko christianists.

    And the ‘progessive’ christians still want to pervert our secular democracy by imposing their superstitions into our laws.

    I wish christians and jews and muslime and hindus et al would learn to keep their superstitious beliefs to themselves.

  • CMObrero

    Nope, it’s not an oximoron. SOME christians, especially quaker that include christians, jews and muslims, have fought against slavery, racial discrimination, sexual discrimination and sexual orientation discrimination way before most seculars did. And it’s not against their beliefs, as it is just a matter of interpretation (biblic exegesis).
    I think looking at this matter as a black and white thing is wrong. As Dan Savage Said: gray rights! “Liberal” christians have beliefs, but they can be practical too, according to a reality they live. Since they have not only LGBT issues to care about, they need to prioritize them. So, though I don’t share their view, it’s understandable LGBT issues are not their first priority (poverty is) so this matter can be sacrificed for making temporary alliances to conservative christians in order to achieve more urgent goals.
    So, that’s what I don’t understand very much about fellow gays (and LBTs). Why are they (them, us) so bussy looking at our own belly buttons?
    Well, free of and agenda, except that gay one.

  • SteveC

    How big is the quaker church?

  • the crustybastard

    So “progressive” Christstains are incapable of taking a principled position against bigotry and discrimination because they’re just too darn busy “fighting poverty”?

    LOL. That’s not “prioritizing.” That’s just making excuses.

    Of course, making excuses is what “progressive” Christains really excel at.

  • the crustybastard

    @CMObrero: “SOME christians…fought against slavery, racial discrimination, sexual discrimination and sexual orientation discrimination way before most seculars did.”

    SOME seculars fought against slavery, racial discrimination, sexual discrimination and sexual orientation discrimination way before most Christians did.

    See what I did there?

    Also, you’re ignoring the fact that there were entire civilizations who were not members of any Abrahamic faith who eschewed slavery and didn’t discriminate. Yet there has never been a culture based on the Abrahamic faith that didn’t engage in slavery and discrimination.

    Give that some thought.

  • CMObrero

    Your last argument doesn’t resis analysis. There sure never has. There has never been a culture based on the roman nor greek “faith” (nor scandinavian) that didn’t engage in slavery and discrimination (I mean, even before christianization). Has ever existed a culture that wasn’t engaged in discrimination?
    And yes, you could change words in the first sentence ([…]SOME[…]) but could you tell me there were organized secular groups against slavery and discrimination before there were organized christian groups against slavery and discrimination?

    About your first comment, no. They’re not too damn bussy. They protect strategic alliances for -according to their way of thinking- more important matters.

    I would like to ask you: do you donate to LGBT foundations? Do you go to pride parades? do you respectfuly engage in discussions with frinds, family, co-workers to educate them in LGBT issues? Rrespectfully is the key word. If you just attack them, it’s not worth the effort).

    @SteveC That’s right. They’re a minority. Just like us.

    I don’t see fight agains bigotry here. I see bigotry agains bigotry. That leads nowhere.

  • the crustybastard


    My family and I have and continue to suffer some shocking institutionalized injustice caused primarily by Christians. It is a problem religious people created, therefore they bear the primary obligation to remedy the harm they caused. When “progressive” Christians recognize this injustice but turn their heads or simply cower, they are actually more morally bankrupt than those who persecute us while being utterly convinced their actions are justified.

    That sort of moral cowardice and collaborationism merits no respect, and I will offer none. If Christians cannot bear being held responsible for their actions, that’s just tough shit. Actions have consequences.

    On the issue of history.

    First, you do realize there have been civilizations and cultures that were neither Abrahamic nor Greco-Roman?

    The earliest organized Christian antislavery groups were organized about the same time as some of the great Age of Enlightenment writers began making the secular case for human rights and against religious superstitions and bondage. It would be absurd to argue that some obscure Quaker coalitions exercised a more profound and lasting influence than immortal philosophers whose books are still read and studied today. Yes, a few preachers preached against slavery, but you should be aware that the issue was also being argued in public debates at famed secular universities like l’Académie Française.

    However, there were much, much earlier antislavery arguments made by secular groups. For example, the Stoics (who predate Jesus by 300 years) were extremely anti-slavery. After 800-some years of success, the Stoic academies were outlawed by the despotic Christian Emperor Saint Justinian the Great for being incompatible with Christianity.

    Also, the subsequent enslavement and destruction of Africa and the Americas was done at the hands of pious Christian rulers with the Pope’s encouragement and blessing, yet slavery was ended in the West in secular political assemblies and courtrooms.

    If you’d like to learn more about historical facts versus Christian propaganda, spend a little more time in the library and a little less time in church.

    Have a super day.

  • Hyhybt

    So: speaking generally and avoiding what the specific issues are because that only serves to cloud the question and inflame people’s anger…. is it not possible for people who disagree on some things to work together on issues they *do* agree and believe to be important? Must people fight against *everything* they don’t like all at once, even when that leaves you with too few allies to get anything done?

  • CMObrero

    @crustybastard I don’t spend time in church. I am an atheist.

    And I don’t deny the horrors christians and religious people has done over history. It’s impossible to do that. I have and continue to suffer some shocking institutionalized injustice caused primarily by Christians, not my family because they are part of those christians. The conservative ones, not the liberal ones.
    I don’t judge them, though (liberal christians, not my family). I understand that some people has to do what @hyhybt says (without been too condescendent). I understand they could FEAR their actions agains homophobia could sabotage their actions towards other issues they could consider equaly or more important. So I don’t judge them. I don’t have the right to, even though they have caused me harm. Injustice against them, through generalization, demonization, whatevers, is not justice.

  • Ogre Magi

    Christians are all turds, even the liberal ones!

  • DannyB

    @Ogre Magi
    I am a liberal Christian. I said that on
    queerty before. As a result, whenever
    I visit queerty I get offensuve ads from
    Liberty University. So I be sure to
    ALWAYS click those ads. I get a good
    feeling that a hate university pays
    ad revenue to queerty.

  • DannyB

    Er… I meant offensive ads. Stupid smartphone keyboard.

  • B

    No. 1 · Cam wrote, ““”Sojourners, as I understand it, is doing coalition work. They are currently focused on building a broad coalition of Evangelical Christians,”” So in other words you have to mimic your most bigoted or RE-gressive members in order to work with them.”

    …. What the “in other words” really means is that you have to shut up about some of your beliefs if you are going to build a coalition that includes groups that would have a cow if you express those beliefs.

    As John Godfrey Saxe said, “Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made.”

  • lemon-lime

    @Ogre Magi: I am also a liberal Christian gay. Take your hatred elsewhere. Acrimony and hatred never solved any of the worlds problems. That goes for you too @the crustybastard.

    I, for one, am really glad to see progressive christian groups get on board with this ad. It shows that there is still room for compromise and working together for common goals in a world where there seems like so little of that is left.

  • the crustybastard


    The only belief every Christian shares is that all the other Christians are doing it wrong.

    You self-proclaimed liberal Christian assholes are as bad as the rest, because you think you’re so special that everyone needs to join together, hold hands, and kiss your asses.

    How about you take your sanctimonious bullshit elsewhere?

  • Henry

    “Traditionalist progressive” is an oxymoron. There must be a better way to describe Christians who want gay people to “slow down” in the struggle for equality. Oh, here’s a word for them. “Moderate whites.”

  • Queer Supremacist

    @Henry: I agree and that’s why I hold white liberals and all Christians, whether conservative or liberal, in contempt.

  • Ogre Magi

    @lemon-lime: What the crustybastard said goes double for me!

  • lemon-lime

    @Queer Supremacist:
    @Ogre Magi:

    An Ogre and a Supremacist claiming the gay Christian asking people to tone it down and stop hating is being an asshole. Too rich! Thanks for the laugh, guys.

Comments are closed.