I want to first thank you for your support of Faith in America as a Facebook fan. I’d also like to ask that you consider taking that support one small step forward with a $25 donation by midnight tomorrow.
We’ll be honored to have your support, even if it is a small portion of your advocacy dollars.
I also hope that you will continue to see value in Faith in America as it continues its to effectively engage and confront the No. 1 impediment to equality and full human dignity for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. This year has been an exciting year as we successfully got our message out to a broad national audience through a number of prime time interviews on Fox News, a media that represents the LGBT community very poorly but one that is watched by those who mindsets we must change.
We spearheaded a strategy this summer that resulted in four Faith in America representatives having a 45-minute face-to-face conversation with the leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention about the harm caused by the stigma coming from their churches. It was a historic meeting and several people told us it was pie-in-the-sky thinking to aim for such a result. Our reception on Capitol Hill to talk about the harm to LGBT youth was sponsored by both the Democratic senator and Republican senator from North Carolina. Again, it was a result few would have thought possible considering the topic and Republican Sen. Richard Burr’s history of not being very sympathetic to LGBT equality.
When we began in 2005, one of the premises behind the founding of the organization was that there was a significant opportunity in developing messaging that would confront religion-based bigotry directly but effectively. It was a monumental undertaking and one that many thought would prove unproductive.
In community forums, focus groups, our polling and one-on-one conversations, we have seen over the years how our messaging creates a space from which we can have meaningful dialogue with people who are non-accepting. A profound lesson we have learned over the years is that so many people have honestly never taken the time to think about why they are nonaccepting – and whether their stigma and hostility are truly justifiable even when such justification is based on what they have been taught by their church or the vast amount of negative sentiment coming from religious/political groups or individuals.
Another founding premise was that we sensed our society was nearing a point where many Americans were beginning to understand the moral deficiency in promoting stigma and hostility in the name of religious teaching – an understanding that would allow them to see how religion-based bigotry has been judged by history as a grave social injustice.
When we began in 2005, I can recall Googling the term bigotry in relation to LGBT equality and how it was almost non-existent. Of course, we would discover later that it was in part due to some of our national organizations advising the community not to use that language – and certainly not religion-based bigotry. I say that not to be critical but simply to relay how our efforts have indeed worked to place this messaging at the forefront of the dialogue about human dignity and equality. I dare say a Google search now will produce a wealth of entries in which bigotry and religion-based bigotry are being engaged across this nation.
Your support has helped make all this possible and recent polling has shown what we believe is a result of this engagement – the reaching of that tipping point where a majority of Americans are no longer comfortable with placing a moral and religious stamp of disapproval on the very being of LGBT Americans.
We also believe that the 51 percent of Americans who no longer place moral condemnation on same-sex sexual orientation can be increased at an accelerated rate because of the shift that has taken place and the advances in communications now present in society.
We are extremely excited about a project that we are developing that we believe will assist that accelerated pace toward full equality.
Goodwin Simon Strategic Research, a national public opinion research firm, last month released a messaging toolkit in conjunction with Auburn Media and Fenton Communications. This toolkit shows what their research demonstrates – the need for an approach to move conflicted Christians from a place of standing against LGBT equality to standing for it, in church and state. One of the primary conclusions in the report is that efforts to bring attitudinal change in this demographic must speak the language in a way that resonates with religious mindsets.
The project that we began developing several months ago, deemed “Changing Hearts,” will take that research-driven guideline to another level by not only speaking the language but having spokespersons who once had the same nonaccepting mindset. We believe religious-minded individuals will be impacted in a positive way when they hear “people just like them” speaking directly about the non-accepting mindset they once held. Most importantly, they will talk about how their change of heart – from which they now not only accept but embrace LGBT equality and human dignity – has brought them to a better spiritual place (religious or nonreligious).
In addition, we are developing a project that will assist LGBT youth in families where stigma and hostility is present and reinforced by church teaching. This project will offer advice and instruction from trained professionals – experienced in both theology and LGBT youth counseling and therapy. The aim of this project will be to offer a shield to LGBT youth from the rejection and hostility they feel when their parents place that religious and moral stamp of disapproval on their very being. While we understand there is no way to eliminate the hurt associated with such rejection, we believe offering these youth some of same coping skills offered by LGBT affirming religious counselors in the therapeutic setting could greatly reduce the feeling of hopelessness for these young people.
We believe the impact of these two projects will indeed be powerful and broad.
I would like to ask if you will consider making that small investment in our work now as we are closing out 2011 with our final fundraising campaign. We are only $2,500 short of our goal. Whether $25, $50, $100 or more, we’d be very appreciative of your help in meeting our goal.