Dear Pastor Warren,
I would like to ask you to stop and think about the pain your words and attitude towards me, are causing myself and those I love. When my family hears individuals such as yourself, compare me to pedophiles, can you stop and think for a moment about the pain inflicted, when you cause them to think about me in such an ugly context.
My father can no longer show me his love as he once did, because his church teaches him that my sexual orientation is act of choosing to live a sinful lifestyle. But I’m the same little girl that used to lean against his side, on so many Sunday mornings. He believes my salvation is in question, and I know that must make him incredibly sad. It hurts me to know I am causing him sadness. We no longer talk like we once did, there’s a wall between us now, because he believes I chose to be gay.
My sexual orientation was not a choice for me, Pastor Warren, no more than your sexual orientation was a choice for you. Can you understand the spiritual violence that you are inflicting upon me and others? If I were your daughter, would you still say I was the equivalent to a pedophile? Would you still use your Bible to condemn and reject me as an unrepentant sinner? Would I still not be welcome as a member of your church? Can you accept me, just as I am?
Announcer: Mitchell Gold, author of “Crisis.” Forty stories revealing the personal, social, and religious pain and trauma of growing up gay in America.
Mitchell Gold: Dear Pastor Warren,
I’m Mitchell Gold, founder of an organization that works to help people understand the harm caused to gay teens and adults, and their families and friends.
We recently delivered to you a collection of personal stories from individuals who speak to you about the harm caused, when religion based bigotry and prejudice is used to justify rejection, condemnation, and discrimination, to gay Americans. You’ll find additional stories in a copy of my book “Crisis,” which I have also sent to you. I hope you will take the time to read them.
Pastor Warren, the issue is not about denying gay Americans the same rights as other Americans enjoy, although that is certainly something that for which we very strongly advocate. And the greatest harm does not come from you saying we shouldn’t marry. What causes so much pain, is when you say we are inferior, and when you look upon us as unworthy to share the same rights as others. More damaging is when you promote such rejection and condemnation, as the right thing to do if you’re a person of faith.
We’ve been down that road many times before. People of faith once were taught that rejection and condemnation, toward women, people of color, minority religious groups, or interracial couples, was the right attitude for them to hold. We know today those past examples of religion based bigotry and prejudice, have been proven wrong.
As you’ll recall, the Southern Baptist Convention, your Christian denomination, formally apologized to people of color on June 20th, 1995, for their role in the horror of slavery and segregation.
Why is that pastor Warren? I hope you can agree that it was because Americans of all faiths, realize the harm that was being done to those individuals targeted by such bigotry and prejudice. The pain felt by a young African teenager when saw individuals and institutions look upon him as unworthy and inferior, is the same pain, that millions of young gay teenagers feel today, when you say they are unworthy, inferior, and unfit to be fully welcomed by their family, friends, coworkers, or church. And make no mistake about it, your words do that.
Pastor Warren, I am sincerely and respectfully asking you place on your heart, the immense pain that is being brought to bear in the lives of gay Americans, in the name of traditional church teaching. It is my hope that you will come to understand that such harm can no longer be justified, and have the fortitude, to join others, including those in your own faith community in calling for its end. It’s important for you to connect the dots of the history of discrimination in America. I call upon you to say that religion based bigotry has no place in the soul of your church, or in America.
by Dr. Rodney N. Powell
Former Civil Rights Activist
Dear Mr. Warren,
I am certain that you are aware of harm and history of religion based bigotry in the U.S., particularly related to black Americans, women, and homosexual Americans today, of all races and ethnicities. Therefore, I must assume that you do not care about the negative consequences of religion based bigotry, and the devastating social and psychological harm done to the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans. Especially vulnerable teenagers, who are just beginning to discover and understand sexual orientation and sexual identity.
Your religious beliefs and attitudes that cause you to be intolerant of the lives, opinions, behaviors, and identities of gay Americans, is not the issue. This issue is the actions you and others take regarding these beliefs. I steadfastly support your right to hold these religious beliefs, including your belief in the inerrancy of Biblical condemnation of homosexuality. However, your religious beliefs do not give you the right to oppress gay Americans, and encode your religious beliefs into customs, and codify them into laws that deny justice, equal civil rights, and first class citizenship to other Americans. When you seek to force your views and intolerance on others, you are no different from racists, segregationists, sexists, anti-Semites, and other bigots throughout America’s history of religion based bigotry.
Dr. King, vigorously and harshly, challenged and rejected the acceptance of institutions and persons who advocated and advanced religion based racial persecution, and its resultant bigotry and hate. It is astounding to me, and I am certain, to other former student leaders of non-violent protests, during the civil rights movement, such as congressman John Lewis, that you will deliver the keynote address at the Martin Luther King commemorative service, at Ebenezer Baptist Church.
Mr. Warren, I do not believe Dr. King would find your spiritual leadership unifying, and I am certain he would not find it to be part of his vision for America, of the beloved community.
I suppose you will say you motive is to honor or please the god you love, however, I must ask whether attitudes and actions derived from misunderstanding, and bigotry, and deeply hidden prejudices please your god. Does it honor your god when innocent persons, especially teenagers, are devastated by words of condemnation and rejection.
Emmet Till and Matthew Shepard were innocent victims of hate and bigotry, and their deaths are directly related to such words spoken by religious leaders.
What I do know, as someone who learned the meaning of justice from Dr. King, is that both religion based bigotry and political expediency that exploits it for votes, perpetuate hate and injustice. And both, miserably fail Dr. King’s vision of the beloved community.
Mr. Warren, your pastoral leadership would not please Dr. King, and it certainly does not honor him.
Also, note the many letters from others that Faith In America sent to Rick Warren, intro:
Dear Rev. Rick Warren,
Faith In America is a nonprofit organization that works to educate Americans about the harm caused by religion-based bigotry and prejudice.
Several weeks ago we began collecting examples of that harm as it exists in the lives of gay Americans, their families and their friends. Most are from people who have experienced the pain of rejection and condemnation but some are straight allies who, like more and more Americans, understand why it can no longer be allowed to flourish in our society.
We hope you will take the time to read these examples and open your heart to an understanding of why we can no longer allow religion to be used in a way that exacts such a horrific human toll on the lives of so many Americans.
Mitchell Gold, founder