On a Friday afternoon last November, I walked into the lobby of Family Research Council.
I carried with me documented research regarding the impact of rejection on the mental and physical health of gay youth. Of course I knew I would not be welcome, so I donned my “Christian homeschooling mom-blogger from Nevada” bumpkin persona and asked if I could speak to someone about policy.
“Of course, but it is too late in the day. Most of the staff has gone home,” said Leo Johnson, the Building Operations Manager on duty at the counter. “Come back Monday when staff is here and you can talk with someone.”
I probably should not have given him my business card, because when I did return Monday morning at 10 a.m., it was clear that I was not welcome.
As I approached the counter, a second guard came from behind a glass door; there was that almost imperceptible “no-not-her!” nod. Someone had checked me out.
“I have some important research here that I would like to share with someone on staff,” I said.
“I think we can all agree that children are precious, all children. The impact of rejection on gay youth is harming them and here is the research to prove it. Would you promise me that you will get this in the hands of someone today? I will be only a few blocks away at museums and can get back here within 15 minutes if someone will just give me 15 minutes of their time.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Leo said.
I left the Family Acceptance Project booklet with very convincing data.
I went to a few close by museums and waited for the call from FRC; the call never came.
I tweeted Tony Perkins repeatedly the entire next week. “I left you research on the family. I thought you would be interested in family research.” No answer. No email. No interest.
That individual I spoke with in November, Leo Johnson, has now been shot. Along with every major LGBT activist group that quickly and sternly denounced the incident, I join them.
But the FRC, not surprisingly, has taken the low road in its public statements.
FRC President Tony Perkins is blaming “reckless rhetoric” and Southern Poverty Law Center’s categorization of FRC as a “hate group” as the cause.
Disagreeing with public policy is not the entry ticket to the hate groups list — lying and spreading false, destructive propaganda are.
There is absolutely no doubt that FRC, along with more than a dozen other “Christian” based organizations lie about LGBT people.
And this is the root of the escalating tension: the propagation of lies. This does damage. This oppresses fellow humans. Those who continue to do this all use the Bible to validate their oppression, making it extremely vile to many Christians. You can only push on and denigrate people for so long before it boils over.
FRC and the lot continue to add fuel to the fire. When they say they are interested in civil debate, they are lying. When they say they are the victims of unfair labeling, they are lying. When they speak about LGBT people, they are lying.
FRC and the ilk are the modern day Pharisees that Jesus was so angry with. They probably will not dialogue. But people can. You can.
Part of my target audience is the straight Christian community. I tell them repeatedly: “Do relationship with LGBT people, get to know them.”
That is the bottom line answer in all this mess. You don’t need to start with theology or the latest slick handout from FRC. Start with a cup of coffee or bottle of wine.
Relationship leads to compassion. And that is the beginning of the healing and the end of the violence.