Tuesday, May 10, 2011

An Open Letter to Jim Wallis on LGBTQ “Civil Rights.”

I am taking a break this morning from my meditations on coming out, which shall continue soon, to express my disappointment in Jim Wallis & the Sojourner's Board's decision not to run an ad supportive of LGBTQ people submitted by the Believe Out Loud campaign.

10 May 2011

Dear Jim,

I was among those who were disappointed by your response to the Sojourners Magazine’s “editorial” decision not to run the Believe Out Loud ad that is supportive of LGBTQ Christians.  Unfortunately, a lot of people who call themselves progressive seem to have taken this as an opportunity to give you and Sojourners the old heave-ho as having anything to do with progressive Christianity.  This is unfortunate, as was your response that attempted to backtrack and promote a position that is, in fact, contrary to the one that you and Soujourners has taken with this ad.  You state:

"Given the time Sojourners is now spending on critical issues like the imperative of a moral budget, the urgent need to end the war in Afghanistan, and the leadership we are offering on commitments like immigration reform, we chose not to become involved in the controversy that such a major ad campaign could entail, and the time it could require of us. Instead, we have taken this opportunity to affirm our commitment to civil rights for gay and lesbian people, and to the call of churches to be loving and welcoming to all people, and promote good and healthy dialogue."  (This is taken from your longer response, found here.)

The Believe Out Loud ad is merely proclaiming that we, too, as LGBTQ people, should be welcome in Christian churches of our choosing, and that we have as much of a place in pouring forth our ardent prayers, and bearing the mutual burdens of our brothers & sisters in Christ, as those who would keep us from the altar and deny us God’s means of grace.  Although many could agree with the feeling of being excluded or looked at funny when they newly enter a church, this is especially the case for LGBTQ people. 

It is unfortunate to see that words mean more than actions to you and the Sojourners Board in this case.  Not only because you seem to think that the only urgent needs lie outside of the realm of sexuality, but because you would say that you’re in favor of civil rights, while seeming not to care that millions of individuals are using the name of Jesus to torment and even to kill LGBTQ persons here and throughout the world. 

This is a teachable moment, Jim.  It is a moment in which you can publicly state that what is happening in Minnesota with our legislature near a vote to ban same-sex marriage in our constitution is wrong not only from a civil standpoint, but a moral one as well. 

This is the moment in which your voice should be the voice calling Uganda to account for its seeking to introduce a law that will lead to a holocaust of LGBTQ lives in that country, and should be condemning the use of Jesus’ name to condone and even initiate the deaths to come in that country.  Is this something that would embarrass you to say, and detract from your work of justice in other areas?

It saddens me to say, Jim, that your words of support have no currency with those to whom they would count as long as your actions do not match them.

But, if you wish to be helpful, but cannot be, Jim, don’t worry:  We are working tirelessly to liberate you and thousands like you who do not yet feel you can help us, for reasons of controversy or whatever other business considerations you might have. 

We are also tirelessly working to liberate the Gospel of Jesus from the hands of those who would use it to condone violence here and throughout the world.  Because it is a matter of justice that the Lord of Life not be used as the Demon of Death. 

You are needed, Jim, and so is Sojourners.  The welcome of the Christian Church here and throughout the world is not ornamental to the cause or justice, nor is it merely a civil matter.  The name of Jesus is at stake here, as are the lives of those who could perish under it.   

I will be praying for you.

In Christ,

Chris Wogaman
Minneapolis, MN


  1. Chris,

    Nicely said "We are working tirelessly to liberate you and thousands like you who do not yet feel you can help us, for reasons of controversy or whatever other business considerations you might have. "

    Love this!


  2. Outstanding, articulate, courageous. Thank you.

  3. Chris, you have blessed us with and through your words. Thank for sharing them. And blessings to YOU!