- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Christians who malign, oppress or harm gays and lesbians are misreading their Bibles and denying the message and purpose of Jesus Christ, say leaders of a new website that aims to become a gathering place for gay-affirming believers.

The NALT Christians Project will afford people an opportunity to proclaim their unconditional love and support for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender friends and family members, said Wayne Besen, one of the co-founders of the site.

Too often, Christians have had to “whisper their support” for gay marriage and equality, said Mr. Besen, executive director of Truth Wins Out, a group founded to debunk anti-gay lies and ex-gay ministries.

With NALT — which stands for Not All Like That — Christians will find faithful allies to stand against anti-gay Christians, Mr. Besen said. It will have “a powerful cultural impact.”

The new project is co-sponsored by some 26 organizations, including Methodists in New Directions, More Light Presbyterians and the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists.

Dan Savage, the nonreligious gay-rights advocate who created the It Gets Better Project for gay youth, did a promotional video for the NALT Christians Project, calling it a platform for people who are “fully Christian and fully LGBT-affirming.”

Peter Sprigg of Family Research Council said Wednesday that it was ironic to see Mr. Savage and Mr. Besen “involved in any project that purports to promote Christian love.”

Christian love “does not require that we allow people to do whatever they want (and subsidize it). Love requires that we seek the best for people, and work to bring that about,” said Mr. Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies for the traditional-values group.

“Perhaps conservatives should mount a ‘Not At All Like That’ campaign, because we are not at all like the hate-filled bigots usually portrayed by homosexual activists,” Mr. Sprigg added.

Despite the emergence of groups like NALT in recent years, many mainstream Christian and Jewish groups remain opposed to homosexuality.

Hundreds of prominent clergy, scholars and leaders of faith-based organizations have already spelled out their views on gay marriage in a public document called the Manhattan Declaration.

The document, written with the help of Princeton University academic Robert P. George and the late Chuck Colson, endorses the sanctity of life, religious liberty and marriage as the God-ordained, conjugal union of one man and one woman. According to the declaration, the “entire Christian community” is called to “resist sexual immorality” — such as homosexual and polyamorous conduct and relationships — while “at the same time refrain from disdainful condemnation of those who yield to it,” it says.

Separately, some 223 rabbis, Jewish community leaders and mental-health professionals have signed the Torah Declaration on gay issues.

“The Torah makes a clear statement that homosexuality is not an acceptable lifestyle or a genuine identity by severely prohibiting the conduct,” the Torah Declaration says. Homosexuality cannot be fixed and unchangeable, it adds, because “the Torah does not forbid something which is impossible to avoid.”

These kinds of religious declarations, however, are precisely the kind of messages the new website seeks to counter.

Nothing in the Bible “is meant as an encouragement to harm, malign or oppress anyone,” Christian author John Shore, a co-founder of the new project, said in a video. “To claim otherwise is to deny the very message and purpose of Jesus Christ.”

Arguing that the Bible “does not condemn homosexuality,” Mr. Shore said the Bible also doesn’t direct people to marginalize and ostracize gay people.

It is therefore “morally indefensible” for Christians to deny LGBT people the sacrament of marriage, show disdain for homosexual relationships or block their access to “the comforts and spiritual fruits of the church,” he wrote.

• Cheryl Wetzstein can be reached at cwetzstein@washingtontimes.com.

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