Mitchell Gold 2012

Posted on: November 17th, 2012 by feyadmin

Interfaith Alliance 15th Annual Walter Cronkite Faith & Freedom Gala
Sunday, November 10, 2012, New York City

Introduction by Chely Wright
Remarks by Mitchell Gold

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This past Sunday, Faith In America Founder Mitchell Gold was recognized for his work by the Interfaith Alliance at its 15th Annual Walter Cronkite Faith & Freedom gala in New York City.

I hope you have taken a few moments to watch the video introduction, listen to the audio clip. I also hope you’ll forward a link to page o someone you know who would like to join this groundbreaking and exciting work.

Mitchell’s vision for Faith in America in early 2005 was profound but at the same time it contained a very simple premise – the harm caused to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people by misguided religious teaching must end. Such teaching simply can no longer be offered any respectability and neither can those who misuse such teaching as a tool of oppression.

A key component of the organization’s effort would be to develop a message that would impact the minds of those people who consciously or unconsciously allow such teaching to prevent them from seeing the harm that has been done – harm that still today is being done in families and communities all across America. Another premise on which the organization’s messaging was developed is that it doesn’t take a theological degree to get people to understand that harm – a simple history lesson indeed can be very powerful and effective.

Mitchell’s “History Lesson” has been one of the most important aspects of Faith In America’s effectiveness in terms of communicating to people how misguided religious teaching at times in this country’s past has been a corrosive agent working within society. We have encouraged others to put that lesson to work in the hearts and minds of people around them. And we are seeing it used more and more. The article below is just one recent example as it relates to some of the recent marriage equality victories.

The greatest task before us today is getting this message to those who need to hear it the most. One of Faith In America’s 2012 projects was to take the effective messaging the organization has developed and put it in a social media format that can be shared with those who need to hear it. I hope you will share this new resource with someone you know who needs to hear it. It may be an LGBT youth yearning to hear the powerful voice of an affirming faith leader or it may be a mother who desperately needs to hear the words of Jane Clementi. Share Rev. Susan Smith’s “history lesson.”

As Chely Wright mentions in her remarks in the audio link above, recognition dinners and preaching to the choir is not what Faith in America’s work is about. It’s about creating dialogue with people who have closed their minds and hearts to embracing a person’s humanity because they have been taught that is the correct moral response when it comes to the LGBT community or LGBT individuals. It’s about creating affirming voices in the life of a young boy or girl who are denied an opportunity to hear such voices.

I know the greatest honor for Mitchell would be if you will help us touch a life or a family in a positive way. Share FaithandEquality.org, subscribe to the website for updates and share the updates with those who you know need to change.

Let’s not forget as we celebrate progress that there are many families in most every state in which misguided religious teaching is closing hearts and minds – and making life miserable for gay or lesbian youth.

On gay marriage, voters got it right even if the church gets it wrong

By C.S. Pearce
Religion News Service

Last week, citizens in Maine, Maryland and Washington state made history with their votes to legalize same-sex marriage. Minnesotans, too, rejected a constitutional amendment that would have banned gay marriage. Since 1998, 32 states have had marriage equality measures on their ballots, and voters have rejected every one of them. The six states that have legalized gay marriage did it through legislation or by court order.

The voters who passed these history-making resolutions on Election Day did so despite significant opposition from Christian churches and institutions that believe their faith requires them to oppose marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. Even though an exceptionally strong biblical case can be made in favor of gay civil rights, these groups generally dismiss such arguments because of tradition.

“If this ‘new’ interpretation of the Bible is true,” as one young evangelical asked me, “how could Christians have had it wrong all these years?”

That’s actually a pretty easy question to answer. All too often, getting it wrong has also been a Christian tradition.

Throughout the ages, various Christian beliefs have been the basis for institutions and actions that were anything but Christian. The Inquisition and the Crusades come immediately to mind, but more recent history also has its share.

For many centuries, “good” Christians used the Bible as a basis to deny women basic human and civil rights, to imply that handicapped people must have sinned to deserve their disability, and to justify anti-Semitism.

It wasn’t until the late 1700s that Christians began to seriously question the morality of slavery. When the U.S. finally abolished slavery in 1865, many sincere Christians still believed it was a valid state for black people, and found biblical “justifications” to back it up. As a result, some Christian colleges in the South continued to bar people of color from attending through the 1960s and 1970s.

Interracial dating, too, was considered taboo for many years because of certain Bible passages. In 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court finally struck down the last of the state laws banning interracial marriage, but it wasn’t until March 2000 that the “biblically faithful” Bob Jones University lifted its ban against interracial dating.

History has shown that harmful beliefs will continue until people begin to question them, even in the church. And the questioning is always controversial at first.

We didn’t begin questioning society’s prejudice against homosexuality until UCLA psychologist Evelyn Hooker first began examining it in the 1950s. In 1957, Hooker’s research concluded that “homosexuals were not inherently abnormal and that there was no difference between homosexual and heterosexual men in terms of pathology.”

There have been many studies since then, and in 1973, the American Psychiatric Association deleted homosexuality from the list of sexual deviances. All major professional psychiatric, medical, psychological and educational organizations have followed suit, based on myriad studies that have confirmed Hooker’s initial findings for gay individuals, and more recently, gay families.Traditions die hard, however, especially in religion. There are only three verses that deal with homosexuality in the New Testament, and many New Testament Greek scholars would argue that those three verses don’t deal with homosexuality as we define it today, but rather with tmple prostitution and other abuses. Unfortunately, because of dated translations, some versions of the Bible imply otherwise.

Furthermore, although Jesus must have been familiar with the various Greco-Roman and Jewish beliefs about homosexuality, he never addressed the subject. But he loved and accepted everyone, especially the oppressed and those whom the religious establishment considered unclean. When he made his statement about a man and a woman becoming one flesh in marriage, he was addressing heartless divorce traditions that excessively penalized women. He wasn’t saying anything about same-sex marriage, which didn’t exist at the time.

An ever-growing number of Christian leaders and laypeople now believe that traditional beliefs about homosexuality are hurting the church, especially its most vulnerable members: young gay people who are convinced that their very essence is sinful. Furthermore, they can no longer support unjust laws that penalize committed gay couples, especially those with children. In fact, a 2011 survey from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that more than half of mainline Protestants and Catholics now favor legalizing same-sex marriage.

As history has shown, when traditional beliefs are clearly causing hurt instead of blessing, it’s worth struggling with the issues involved in order to come out on the other side. If today’s traditionalist Christians thoughtfully and prayerfully examine the evidence, it’s only a matter of time before they unite with the rest of us to join Washington, Maine, Maryland and Minnesota, and come down on the right side of history once again.

(C.S. Pearce is the author of “This We Believe: The Christian Case for Gay Civil Rights,” and the director of media relations for Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Lincoln University.)