Christians who believe that being gay is a sin that violates biblical tenets now have some competition among their own ranks. As the debate over gay marriage continues to intensify at the local, state and national level, a new group has launched with the sole purpose of giving "LGBT-affirming Christians a means of proclaiming to the world" that there's nothing sinful about being gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender.
At the center of the NALT Christians Project (NALT stands for "Not All Like That") is the claim that there's nothing in the Bible that would contradict or condemn a homosexual lifestyle. The organization intends to reach young people, in particular, with its message urging for inclusion and a new view on biblical texts.
Founded by John Shore, a blogger and Christian who resides in San Diego, Calif., NALT also has the support of gay rights advocates Dan Savage, Wayne Besen and Evan Hurst (the latter two work for "Truth Wins Out," an organization that supports the LBGT community). It is Savage's involvement, though, that is most noteworthy -- and for a variety of reasons.
"It Gets Better" founder and "Not All Like That" supporter Dan Savage (Photo Credit: YouTube)
First and foremost, there's his complicated history with conservative Christians. Last year, while speaking to teens, he lambasted the Bible, using expletives in an incident that widely made headlines.
And earlier this summer it was announced that the "It Gets Better" campaign founder will be speaking at the annual Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) convention, yet another surprise considering his involvement in the NALT Christians Project. Savage, who is apparently an agnostic, is putting his full weight behind the NALT project, which will certainly raise some eyebrows.
In a video announcement supporting the new-found project, he said, that the initiative is meant to reach "Christians who support equal rights." And he also noted that he's the individual who coined the "Not All Like That" phrase after interacting with many Christians who said that they do not agree with the hateful tactics that some believers have used in dismissing the gay community.
"If you're a Christian who believe God cares no more about a person's sexual orientation or gender identity than God cares about the color of a person's hair or eyes make a Not All Like That video," Savage said. "If you don't take that step, if you don't step up then your silence allows the Tony Perkins and the Pat Robertsons of this world to speak for you and to continue doing real harm not to just LBGT people, but also to Christianity itself."
Watch his endorse of the project, below:
Savage's views naturally carry through to the group's overarching aims and goal set. The main premise of the project is that Christians have badly handled the gay issue and that there's actually no reason why believers shouldn't be supporting homosexuals.
In a letter published on the NALT website, Shore charged that many Christians have used the Bible and churches to "bully, malign and shame LGBT people," also claiming that those believers who support gays and lesbians have not stood up to these attacks fervently enough. In the note, Shore also called for a "renewed Christianity" that doesn't stand for bigotry and that focuses upon the love that Jesus Christ represented.
"The NALT Christians Project is like a massive orchestra consisting of players who simply walk in, take a seat, and begin adding to a symphony so insanely beautiful that to hear any isolated strain within it -- any solo instrument, any solitary voice -- is to be heartened and uplifted, no matter who you are," he wrote.
Another video comes from Christian Pastor Colby Martin, who explains why he isn't opposed to homosexuality:
NATL's recent launch included 30 videos featuring Christians and others supporting gays and lesbians (watch of the clips here). The challenge, as Time notes, will be for Shore, Savage and others to figure out just how many Christians agree with the notion that gay marriage isn't anti-biblical. The faith has long held, based on the holy book's interpretation, that living a gay lifestyle is sinful.
The project is seeking to temper popular assumptions and to build a support base for the LBGT community -- something that will certainly prove to be no easy feat.