In a response to a study that finds that the an overwhelming majority of religious voices in the media come from groups opposed to marriage equality or any tacit acceptance of LGBT people into the Church, Susan Russell writes that it matters that the voices of the acceptance are missing.
“Our missing voices matter because the traditional Biblical values we proclaim — justice, love, and compassion — offer an antidote to the judgment, literalism, and condemnation of the religious right. Our missing voices matter because there are legions of folks out there yearning for a spiritual community and thinking they know enough about being a Christian not to want to be one. And who can blame them when everything they know about what Jesus taught is what Jerry Falwell said or Pat Robertson preached.
When I wrote my open letter to the “purpose driven” [sic] pastor, it got over 700 comments, many of them from people expressing amazement that there are Christians who support LGBT equality, economic justice, and contraceptive freedom. Our voices matter, because when we let Rick Warren speak for Christianity, we let Jesus down.
Our missing voices matter because there are LGBT youth growing up with no clue that there’s a God who loves them just the way they are, and that there are communities of faith that would support and encourage them as they grow into the full stature of their gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender adulthood. As my friend Bishop Gene Robinson said, “These are kids who couldn’t find Leviticus if their life depended on it, and they end up suicidal because they’re convinced God thinks they’re an abomination.” Our missing voices matter because no child should ever believe he or she is beyond God’s love, and our voices offer a lifeline to kids who think their precious lives aren’t worth living.
Our missing voices matter because in town halls, state houses, and the halls of Congress, legislators are lobbied by those determined to write their theology into our democracy. Our voices matter because in order for the First Amendment to protect our freedom of religion, it must also protect our freedom from religion, and the best rebuttal to the rabid religious right is a mobilized messaged religious left.”
The study that Russell is responding to shows that, intentionally or not, the news media is silencing the voices of religious tolerance. It would be a wondrous thing if we were to wake up some morning soon and discover that this has changed, but that’s probably unlikely. So what more can we do to make our voices heard?