Thursday I spoke at the Kinship Conference in Pomona, California about equal rights for LGBTIQ people and how communities of faith can make a positive difference in the marriage equality movement. Kinship, an International 7th Day Adventist organization, around since 1976, champions human rights for all people. They believe that “everyone is created in the image of God and that no one should be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.” http://www.sdakinship.org
On a side note, the conference was held at the Kellogg Conference Center at CalPoly. Kellogg of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. Kellogg was a Seventh-Day Adventist himself. Observant 7th Day Adventists do not smoke, drink or eat meat and like Orthodox Jews they observe the Sabbath from sundown on Friday night until Saturday evening. This is the cool thing about having a book tour that focuses around outreach to spiritual communities, I get to learn a lot about different religious and spiritual traditions. I enjoy doing outreach so that others can do “inreach” in their communities.
The morning’s conference featured Fritz Guy author of “Christianity and Homosexuality: Some Seventh-Day Adventist Perspectives.” http://www.sdagayperspectives.com Professor Guy, a straight ally, elder in the church, and observant Sabbath observer, spoke eloquently to the international audience of fifty practicing and former Seventh-Day Adventists about love. That God loves everyone and there’s nothing that can take that love from us and nothing we can do to make God love us any more or any less. He emphasized that the true teachings of Jesus were about love.
Professor Guy praised the audience of LGBTIQ people for their continuing to show up with their families and communities in a place of love even when they are treated unjustly and when their church communities don’t practice the teaching of their own faith. While more scholarly than charismatic, Guy’s words echoed the words of Dr. King in Strength to Love. We must continue to love. Our liberation comes from loving the “unlovable,” loving those who have hurt us. Loving those we call the opposition. There is truly power in that.
Following Professor Guy’s presentation a short film entitled “The Last African Taboo” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVp8V1npqyk
was shown. The film shows first hand accounts about the radicalization of Ugandan Christians against homosexuality by the influx of American Evangelicals, especially leaders like Lou Engel of Focus On the Family who also created his own organization The Call which is radically anti-gay. My friend and colleague, Karen Ocamb, has written about him in previous Bilerico Posts http://www.bilerico.com/2008/11/listening_to_the_call.php
Another speaker at the conference was straight ally and filmmaker Daneen Akers. Daneen and her husband, Stephen Eyer, former Seventh-Day Adventists themselves, are working on a new film “Seventh-Gay Adventists.” http://www.sgamovie.com The movie covers the complications LGBT people face within the Seventh-Day Adventist church and the challenges their families face coming to terms with love and loyalty to their family members versus church doctrine.
Religion continues to be the biggest weapon aimed at LGBTIQ and same-sex loving people and why I will continue to do outreach into spiritual communities because this is where the final “battle” will be one. But it won’t be won by making people wrong or calling people bigots. It will be won with love, opening hearts and minds, one person and a time.
Congratulations New York!