Political Advocacy Tracker is a roundup of what Christian activist organizations have been talking about over the last week.
Why Wallis Wore Purple
Recent suicides have sparked a wide media discussion on harassment, bullying, and beliefs about sexuality. On Thursday, President Obama released a video to encourage teens bullied because of their sexual orientation. The video is part of the It Gets Better project, a campaign in which over 2,000 gays, lesbians, and others have posted their statements to teens on YouTube.
"Don't feel like you're in this by yourself," said the President. "Things will get better and more than that: In time you're going to see that your differences are a source of pride and a source of strength."
Faith in Public Life (FPL) has highlighted some of the It Gets Better videos by people of faith, and noted that the It Gets Better project has been criticized because some videos are critical of religion and conservative politics.
"While it's certainly inaccurate to paint people of faith with a broad brush, it is true that many harassers believe they have explicit or implicit religious approval of their actions. When conservative religious leaders pull support from political candidates who apologize for hateful remarks and peddle pseudo-science lies in major newspapers to exculpate their intolerance from blame, it's not hard to see why some might look at religion suspiciously," said FPL's Nick Sementelli.
Sojourners president Jim Wallis argued that it was not enough for religious leaders to condemn all bullying and called for widespread condemnation of anti-gay harassment.
"To paraphrase Christ, if you oppose bullying, what reward will you get? Isn't everybody against it? If all you do is say that you shouldn't harass someone until they kill themselves, are you really doing more than others?" Wallis wrote. "The fact that bullies target gay and lesbian people should mean that Christians give extra attention to protecting and standing up for them. The fact that any community or group of people is regularly the target of harassment and hate means Christians should be on the front line of defense against any who would attack."
On Wednesday, Wallis wore a purple ribbon as part of Spirit Day, a day to raise awareness of those who have taken their lives as a result of bullying based on their sexual orientation.
"I wore purple because I am a follower of Christ," said Wallis.
Focus on the Family president Jim Daly also emphasized the role Christianity does and doesn't play in the recent tragedies.
"To violate the dignity of another person, in any form or fashion, is to contradict the very basis of gospel-centered living," Daly wrote on CNN's Belief blog. "And to suggest that an orthodox understanding of Christianity encourages abuse against homosexuals is a sad misreading of the very tenets of the faith. Unfortunately, professed non-believers are not the only ones prone to misunderstanding and misapplying those tenets. The truth is, some self-described Christians do not act in Christ-like ways toward those who are different than they are. Some think God sets certain behaviors aside as 'super sins'; homosexuality, they believe, is of a higher (or lower) order than adultery or covetousness or lying or gossip; put more generally, they save their harshest judgments for the sins they don't struggle with themselves. That is not biblical Christianity in practice."
Chuck Colson of BreakPoint and Prison Fellowship warned that "the gay lobby may well use this tragedy to try to further its agenda and silence those who oppose them." He condemned bullying and reiterated his call "to refrain from disdainful condemnation of those who yield to sexual immorality."