Thursday, February 09, 2006

A Bigger Microphone

So here’s one of my FAVORITE soap boxes: We miss an opportunity for evangelism every time we miss a chance to shout out the Good News we have been given to proclaim. We have the will and the vision to offer the Good News of a God who proclaims justice rather than judgment, who embodies inclusion rather than exclusion, who calls us to walk in love rather than fear – and yet the narrow, exclusivist, literalist voices of the Religious Right continue to dominate the Moral Values Debate. The truth is we have faith-based-moral values and they don’t look anything like Pat Robertson’s – and the other truth is: neither do our budgets. We have the will and the vision to offer an alternative – what we have lacked is the bigger microphone necessary to allow our message to be heard over the strident voices of the religious right who have strategically co-opted the term “faith based values” to advance their politically motivated agenda.

Enter the HRC (Human Rights Campaign) who have stepped up and been willing to put their money where our mouths are. Here’s how Harry Knox, director of the HRC Religion and Faith program sums it up: “We must bring faith discussions back to their roots of seeking understanding. A vocal minority is falsely promoting the notion that religious people stand in opposition to equal rights. Our job is to promote the truth that a majority of people of faith believes strongly in fairness and justice.”


Toward that end, Harry and the HRC team have called together a ten member team of what they’re naming “religious opinion leaders” to actively reclaim the language and tenets of faith from the opponents of equality – and I am deeply humbled, grateful and excited to be among their number. They’re calling us the “Religion Council” and we met for the first time last month in Washington DC for an energizing two days of briefings, community building and media conversations.

We are an eclectic lot* coming from different backgrounds, faith traditions and geographic areas and embracing different theologies, polities and liturgical traditions. Yet transcending those differences we came together to share the journey, offer our hopes and dreams and begin to voice to each other what we have been preaching in our pulpits, teaching in our classrooms, publishing in our papers and blogs – finding out that what we have in common is so much more compelling than what we hold in difference.

At the risk of getting all “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” about it, our gathering in the nation’s capital modeled for me what’s best about the religious pluralism that is a hallmark of our American heritage – a value we are in grave danger of losing if the agenda of the radical religious right prevails in its quest to reinvent the democracy we have inherited as the theocracy they envision.

We as progressive people of faith HAVE the vision, the witness and the will to challenge that agenda – to not only enter but to win the “moral values debate.” Partnering with HRC we will now have the resources, access and support we have lacked to get our message out as we work together toward the faith based values that will unite rather than divide, include rather than exclude and will work toward our common goal of turning the human race into the human family.

So now I'll get off my soap box and get back to work!


* Members of the HRC Religion Council include: Rabbi Denise Eger, Bishop Yvette Flunder, the Reverend Penny Nixon, Bishop Gene Robinson, Bishop John Selders, Jr., the Reverend William Sinkford, the Reverend Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, Dr. Mary Ann Tolbert, the Reverend Rebecca Voelkel


Dusty Parker said...

Amen and Amen! Being a gay vestry member in our congregation (along with 3 other gay vestry) we have had a wonderful opportunity to educate members of our church in our adult Sunday school class who, although very gay friendly really have (had) no idea what gay couples are denied as far as visitation rights in hospitals (without power of attn.) right of inheritance, tax benefits etc.

Although our Charleston SC church is viewed as being liberal, it was a learning experience for many of our straight members-who I am sure will share this information with others out side of our Church-it is through this type of education that I hope will make our straight Christian friends as equally "ACTIVE" in making a difference as our gay Christian and non Christian friends.

Thank you for for all that you share through Integrity News -words cannot express how many times you have lifted me up.
God Bless!

Timothy Spaulding said...

Great Blog, the format is nice. I use this service as well. and

Thanks again for the retreat last spring in Kentucky.

Tim Spaulding