Faith in America and
The Tyler Clementi Foundation Join Forces to End Religious-Based Bullying

Statement from Mitchell Gold, Co-Founder
and Co-Chair, Faith in America

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Rich Harrington | 603-731-9811 | rharrington@faithinamerica.info

New York, NY (November 13, 2017)—Tonight, at The Tyler Clementi Foundation’s Upstander Legacy Celebration, Mitchell Gold, co-founder and co-chair of Faith in America, and Jane Clementi, co-founder of the Tyler Clementi Foundation and Vice President of TCF's board of directors, announced that their organizations will be joining forces to work together to end religious-based bullying. The following is a statement from Mitchell Gold:

“Faith in America was founded in 2006 to educate the public about the ongoing harm caused to LGBTQ people, especially youth, by faith-based discrimination. In the early years, leaders and funders in our own LGBTQ communities worked against us because they felt the truthful word “bigotry” was too strident. Many thought we could achieve full equality by avoiding religious issues entirely. Despite this resistance, Faith in America grew through donors and supporters who shared heartbreaking experiences of faith-based discrimination, organized around the inspiring vision of a world where religious denominations no longer teach that homosexuality is a sin.

“The Tyler Clementi Foundation has become a critical partner in achieving this vision. Jane Clementi has a powerful voice as a mother and person of deep faith. And now with Jason Cianciotto as its new executive director, The Tyler Clementi Foundation will become an even stronger and more impactful leader. Faith in America wants to be a part of that. By joining forces and using precious community resources more strategically and efficiently, we can hit the grand slam needed to end faith-based discrimination.

“This is why I joined The Tyler Clementi Foundation Board in September and, in partnership with Faith in America’s Board, have begun the process of closing down our operations as a separate nonprofit. All of Faith in America’s programs, staff, and resources will be transferred to the Tyler Clementi Foundation. These include the Save yOur Kids! Campaign, which informs anti-LGBTQ religious denominations and the general public about the immense harm and suffering caused to LGBTQ youth and adults, as well as our College Accreditation Project, which challenges religious institutions of higher learning that include anti-LGBTQ teachings in their programs that graduate accredited, mental health practitioners.

“I want to thank Faith and America and Tyler Clementi Foundation boards and staff for embracing this visionary plan to join forces. Now more than ever, as anti-LGBTQ religious fundamentalists have taken over our highest political offices, we must protect LGBTQ youth from the lifetime of harm caused by faith-based discrimination and rejection from their families and faith communities. I want to be the first to welcome and invite Faith in America’s donors and supporters to learn more about The Tyler Foundation’s programs and services by exploring TylerClementi.org. Please take the #Upstander Pledge, download and implement the #Day1 bullying-prevention program in your school, workplace, or faith community, and follow us on social media.”
 

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Faith in America is a nonprofit organization that seeks to end harmful anti-LGBT religious teachings by directly engaging and informing religious leaders about the real harm they cause. We are directly calling upon all religious denominations to once and for all end the practice of teaching that “homosexuality is a sin.” More information can be found at faithinamerica.org.

Faith in America website:  www.faithinamerica.org

Faith in America on Twitter: @faithinamerica

Faith in America on Facebook: www.facebook.com/faithinamerica

Save yOur Kids website: www.save-yOur-kids.org  

 

Copyright © 2017 Faith In America, All rights reserved. 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Top Mormon Legislator Senator Orrin Hatch: Being Gay Is Not A Sin

Faith in America met with Senator Hatch of Utah and lead singer of Imagine Dragons to discuss LGBT youth suicide and mental anguish.

Contact: Rich Harrington at rharrington@faithinamerica.org
Video Clip from the meeting (35 seconds): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhgxTYCVJNY

Salt Lake City, Utah— On Thursday, October 12th, Faith in America met with top Mormon legislator, Senator Orrin Hatch and lead singer of Imagine Dragons, Dan Reynolds to discuss the staggering epidemic facing LGBT youth across the country. The meeting centered around the shocking statistics that LGB adolescents who are highly rejected by their families during adolescence are more than 8 times as likely to attempt suicide in young adulthood1. During the meeting, Senator Hatch was asked if he thought being gay was a sin. The Senator responded with, “No, I don’t. How could anything that God gives you be a sin—especially something you are born with. Mormons believe in a pre-mortal existence, so if you tell gay kids they are sinners, you are saying that God made someone a sinner before they were born and that is just not right.”

After the cameras begin to record Senator Hatch again reiterated his earlier point saying, “I do believe they [gay people] are born that way. And if they are born that way, then why then is it a sin? because we all come from God and if that is the case—which I believe it to be—it seems we have to work out these problems ourselves without prejudice” (video link above).

“Senator Hatch has taken an extraordinary first step by saying he doesn't believe being gay is a sin. As the top Mormon legislator in the country, he wields enormous power in the lives of thousands of LGBT kids in Utah and across America” said Mitchell Gold, co-founder of Faith in America. “While it is important the Senator and the LDS church understand the epidemic facing LGBT youth, we need them to change their outdated teachings regarding homosexuality. As the LDS church has progressed in terms of polygamy, those who are the most vulnerable among us, need the church to progress on homosexuality.”

Faith in America calls upon the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to hear the words of Senator Hatch and understand the real mental health crisis being faced by young LGBT mormons in Utah and across the country.

Link to Senator Hatch’s release about the meeting: https://www.hatch.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2017/10/ hatch-meets-with-imagine-dragons-lead-vocalist-to-discuss-teen-suicide-prevention

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Faith in America is a nonprofit organization that seeks to end harmful anti-LGBT religious teachings by directly engaging and informing religious leaders about the real harm they cause. We are directly calling upon all religious denominations to once and for all end the practice of teaching that “homosexuality is a sin.” More information can be found at faithinamerica.org.

Faith in America website: www.faithinamerica.org

Save yOur Kids website: www.save-yOur-kids.org

Source: 1. Family Acceptance ProjectTM. (2009). Family rejection as a predictor of negative health outcomes in white and Latino lesbian, gay, and bisexual young adults. Pediatrics. 123(1), 346-52. 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 

Faith in America Remembers LGBT Equality Leader Edith Windsor

Today, Faith in America responded to the news that Edith Windsor has passed away. 

Washington, D.C.—Today, Faith in America mourns the news that Edith Windsor has passed away. 

“Edith spent her lifetime as a leader and a hero who worked tirelessly for all Americans to have equal rights” said Mitchell Gold, Co-Founder of Faith in America. “We owe a great deal of gratitude to her and her work as our movement continues into the 21st century. Future generations will know her sacrifice as the reason for their equal rights and treatment. The world is a better place for having to opportunity to learn from Edith.

Faith in America also recognizes the incredible team that Roberta Kaplan, Faith in America Board of Directors member and counsel for Edith Windsor, made in these seminal achievements for equality.

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Faith in America is a nonprofit organization that seeks to end harmful anti-LGBT religious teachings by directly engaging and informing religious leaders about the real harm they cause. We are directly calling upon all religious denominations to once and for all end the practice of teaching that “homosexuality is a sin.” More information can be found at faithinamerica.org

Faith in America website: www.faithinamerica.org

Faith in America on Twitter: @faithinamerica

Save yOur Kids website: www.save-yOur-kids.org 

Faith in America on Facebook: www.facebook.com/faithinamerica

 

Contact: Rich Harrington at rharrington@faithinamerica.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

POSTPONED: Faith in America Organizes LGBT Leaders and Medical Professionals Around National Suicide Prevention Week.

Faith in America is Hosting a Congressional Reception to Bring Attention to the Staggering Rates of Suicide Among America’s Teens.

Contact: Rich Harrington at rharrington@faithinamerica.org

Washington, D.C.—POSTPONED—Faith in America’s Save yOUr Kids! Congressional Reception cen- tered around National Suicide Prevention Week has been postponed until a later date. The Save yOur Kids! coalition will continue to bring attention to the staggering rates of suicide and mental anguish caused to LGBT youth throughout the country by bringing together LGBT, medical, and allied leaders. Please follow along at www.save-your-kids.org.

“Legislators have more impact on preventing teen suicide than they might understand. We need their leadership in legislation and the words they say in their communities to help end this epidemic,” said Mitchell Gold, Co-Founder of Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams and Faith in America. “This week, during National Suicide Prevention Week, we call upon all Democrats, Republicans and independents to open their minds and hearts. It’s especially important for Republican legislators to understand that LGBT teens growing up in conservative homes are far more likely to suffer mental anguish and even suicide.”

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Faith in America is a nonprofit organization that seeks to end harmful anti-LGBT religious teachings by directly engaging and informing religious leaders about the real harm they cause. We are directly calling upon all religious denominations to once and for all end the practice of teaching that “homosexuality is a sin.” More information can be found at faithinamerica.org.

Faith in America website: www.faithinamerica.org
Faith in America on Twitter: @faithinamerica
Save yOur Kids website: www.save-yOur-kids.org
Faith in America on Facebook: www.facebook.com/faithinamerica 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

HAPPENING 9/12: Faith in America Organizes LGBT Leaders and Medical Professionals Around National Suicide Prevention Week. 

Faith in America is Hosting a Congressional Reception to Bring Attention to the Staggering Rates of Suicide Among America’s Teens. 

Contact: Rich Harrington at rharrington@faithinamerica.org

Washington, D.C.—On September 12th, Faith in America is hosting a Save yOUr Kids! Congressional Reception centered around National Suicide Prevention Week. The Save yOur Kids! coalition is working to bring attention to the staggering rates of suicide and mental anguish caused to LGBT youth throughout the country by bringing together LGBT, medical, and allied leaders. 

Save yOur Kids! Congressional Reception Speakers

  • Dan Reynolds, Lead Singer, Imagine Dragons 
  • Jane Clementi, Co-Founder, Tyler Clementi Foundation
  • Stephenie Larson, Executive Director, Encircle; LGBTQ Youth & Family Resource Center
  • Mitchel Gold, Co-Founder Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams, Co-Founder Faith in America

“Legislators have more impact on preventing teen suicide than they might understand.  We need their leadership in legislation and the words they say in their communities to help end this epidemic,” Said Mitchell Gold, Co-Founder of Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams and Faith in America. “Our reception will help to open their minds and hearts. It’s especially important for Republican legislators to understand that LGBT teens growing up in conservative homes are far more likely to suffer mental anguish and even suicide.”

For more information on the event, please contact Rich Harrington at rharrington@faithinamerica.org

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Faith in America is a nonprofit organization that seeks to end harmful anti-LGBT religious teachings by directly engaging and informing religious leaders about the real harm they cause. We are directly calling upon all religious denominations to once and for all end the practice of teaching that “homosexuality is a sin.” More information can be found at faithinamerica.org

Faith in America website: www.faithinamerica.org

Faith in America on Twitter: @faithinamerica

Save yOur Kids website: www.save-yOur-kids.org 

Faith in America on Facebook: www.facebook.com/faithinamerica

Faith in America Meets With California State Assemblymember and Representatives of LGBT Caucus in Sacramento to Expedite LGBTQ Protections and Safety on California Christian University Campuses

Sacramento, CA—On August 22nd, Faith in America Medical Advisory Committee Member Dr. Joshua Wolff and Erin Green, Faith in America’s Program Manager for Religious Engagement and Executive Director of Biolans’ Equal Ground, a fully affirming LGBTQ group on Biola University’s campus, met with California state Assemblymember Evan Low, at the State Capitol. Joining the discussion were Evan Low’s staffers as well as the Legislative Aide to California state Senator Ricardo Lara.

Assemblymember Low serves as the Chair of California’s LGBT Caucus, while Senator Lara serves as Vice-Chair. The purpose of the meeting was to expedite measures that would ensure the safety and protection of LGBTQ students attending these non-affirming universities.

Dr. Joshua Wolff, a former Biola Alumnus, shared critical scientific research evidence which illustrates how anti-LGBTQ policies implemented on Christian campuses can be harmful to LGBTQ students. Erin Green, also a former Biola Biblical Studies student, shared anecdotal evidence. She included her personal experiences of blatant microaggressions and overt aggressions directed toward the gay community by Biola faculty. A number of other LGBTQ student experiences were presented during the meeting which bolstered the scientific evidence submitted to the Caucus.

Some examples of Dr. Wolff’s evidence underscores the current negative mental health impact on LGBTQ students who attend non-affirming faith-based colleges such as Biola University as well ongoing and unreported bullying and harassment for fear of retaliation by the schools. In light of such undeniable proof, Faith in America has requested that a formal legislative hearing be held in order to provide anecdotal evidence, research data, and medical/mental health perspectives regarding the harm induced by university policies which adversely affect LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ students on non-affirming California campuses. We believe that said hearing will aid in better determining and enacting legislative policies concerning LGBTQ communities who attend non-affirming Universities and Colleges.

Both Faith in America and the LGBTQ group, Biolans’ Equal Ground on Biola’s campus, believe that the scientific data and evidence pointing to the continuing harm on non-affirming California campuses as well as the anecdotal evidence demonstrates that LGBTQ students attending these universities remain marginalized and oppressed, which may cause unnecessary and avoidable suffering and harm which is unlike their non-LGBTQ peers.

Faith in America’s meeting with Assemblymember Low is one of the first among many actions that will be taken this year in order to ensure protection and safety for all LGBTQ students on California Christian campuses.

Contact: Faith in America

Erin Green

egreen@FaithInAmerica.org

661.478.6284

 

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Faith in America is a nonprofit organization that seeks to end harmful anti-LGBT religious teachings by directly engaging and informing religious leaders about the real harm they cause. We are directly calling upon all religious denominations to once and for all end the practice of teaching that “homosexuality is a sin.” More information can be found at faithinamerica.org.

Faith in America website: www.faithinamerica.org

Faith in America on Twitter: @faithinamerica

Faith in America on Facebook: www.facebook.com/faithinamerica

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Faith in America to the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission: “Your teachings are harmful, not helpful.”

Faith in America is bringing the Save yOur Kids! Campaign to Nashville to Directly Engage the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s 2017 Parenting National Summit                   On August 24th and 25th.

Media Contact: Rich Harrington—(603) 731-9811—rharrington@faithinamerica.org

Washington, D.C.—Today, Faith in America announces plans to engage and inform members of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) at their annual Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s (ERLC) Parenting National Conference. We are calling upon leaders within the SBC and ERLC to recognize and discuss the real harm they are causing to young LGBT people by spreading outdated biblical interpretations about “homosexuality.”

Here are the shocking statistics:

  • LGBT kids raised in highly rejecting families are 8 times more likely to attempt suicide than their LGBT peers from accepting homes.

  • 40+% of America’s homeless youth are LGBT.

  • More than a quarter of LGBT youth say they have been personally bullied or harassed since the 2016 presidential campaign began, compared to 14 percent of non-LGBTQ youth

The ERLC’s National Parenting Conference claims to give Christian parents the tools they need to raise their children in a constantly “changing culture.” One of the areas of focus is the “Equipping Kids to Understand Same-Sex Attraction & Gender Identity Issues” breakout session that is filled with anti-LGBT speakers. Faith in America’s coalition of affirming religious leaders want to make clear: these “teachings” are harmful, not helpful.

"I am convinced that every Southern Baptist church of significant size has LGBTQ individuals within their congregation living faithfully and silently, some of whom are young people,” said David W. Key, Sr., Southern Baptist minister and Board Chair of AWAB (Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists). “The harm being done to these folks is inexcusable. That is why some of us religious leaders are showing up in Nashville to confront this erroneous teaching coming from the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. It is time for SBC leaders to step forward and address this crisis by reorienting their dangerous rhetoric. I pray they won't be too late.”

Faith in America is in communication with the SBC and ERLC leadership and we are working to get a meeting scheduled while in Nashville. We will continue to try and open a dialogue between our group and the Southern Baptist Convention as long as they continue spreading harmful outdated Biblical interpretations.

“The Christian Church has a long history of getting a lot of things really right. One of things it has gotten right is its ability to correct itself in both belief and action when confronted with new and better information. Often this new information comes to us by way of human experience, even suffering,” said Stan Mitchell, Pastor at GracePointe Church and Director of Religious Outreach for Faith in America. “This information does not override or nullify our received doctrines or sacred text. It does though drive us back to our doctrines and text asking ourselves the vital question, "Have we read and understood this correctly, faithfully." Again and again in these pivotal moments we have been willing to recognize a more faithful reading of the Bible and understanding of matters of great importance. Faith in America believes deeply the anti-LGBT perspective currently held by groups such as the SBC, offers another corrective moment in Church history.”

 

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Faith in America is a nonprofit organization that seeks to end harmful anti-LGBT religious teachings by directly engaging and informing religious leaders about the real harm they cause. We are directly calling upon all religious denominations to once and for all end the practice of teaching that “homosexuality is a sin.” More information can be found at faithinamerica.org.

Save yOur Kids! website: www.save-your-kids.org
Faith in America on Twitter: @faithinamerica
Faith in America on Facebook: www.facebook.com/faithinamerica

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

HAPPENING NOW: U.S. Evangelicals Rush to Dismantle Civil Rights for LGBT Americans Under Guise of “Religious Freedom”

Encouraged by an erratic White House and radical allies in Congress, new “religious freedom” laws target LGBT Americans nationwide.

Hickory, N.C.—On July 26th, Faith in America condemned the actions of President Trump when he sidelined senior military leaders and declared a ban on transgender military service. In the aftermath, Americans learned that Republi- can Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler of Missouri spurred the President’s unexpected action. Unfortunately, when indi- viduals legislate on anti-LGBT “religious freedom” bills and bring their respective religions into the public square, the most tormented groups are LGBT children who are struggling with their sexualities and identities.

Congresswoman Hartzler, a self-described Evangelical, has built a career by targeting the LGBT community. From working as the state spokeswoman for the Coalition to Protect Marriage (which supported banning same-sex mar- riages in Missouri), to fighting the D.C. city council to keep the Armstrong amendment in the Human Rights Amend- ment Act (which allowed religious schools to discriminate against students based on sexual orientation and gender identity), and her most recent fight against Transgender troops, Hartzler has consistently stood on the way of LGBT equality. Hartzler and many of the supporters of “Religious Freedom” policies, have been reenergized by the Trump/ Pence agenda. Just today, the Department of Justice filed an amicus brief arguing that Title VII does not protect les- bian, gay, or bisexual people on the basis of sex. In the year 2017, the federal government of the United States is directly involved in perpetuating discrimination against some of the most vulnerable In our society.

The latest attack on Transgender military personnel is just another example of segregating minority groups based on outdated principles and fear. Less than a century ago, African Americans served in the U.S. military with no promise of equality, but a hope for the common good:

“In our country's history, to our great shame, we once forced a group of people to serve in the military for a freedom that would never be given them” Stan Mitchell, pastor of GracePointe church said. “Later, this same group of people remarkably asked to serve in the very military that had abused their parents and grandparents. They did so with valor. Somehow, in spite of their pained history here, they believed that as a nation we possessed ideals that, though we had yet to realize, we would eventually grow into. The first group served bitterly for the most horrid of reasons. The second served faithfully on the grounds of hope - a hope that many of them never realized. Today, another group of United States citizens are asking to serve on the grounds of that same unrealized hope and are being told, "No. You cannot serve. You would be too much trouble." We are going backwards now.”

Faith in America is calling upon all religious denominations, conservative groups, and legislators, to stop pursuing anti-LGBT discrimination cloaked as “religious freedom” laws. These laws are rooted in deep misinterpretations of scripture and have historically been used to discriminate against minority groups. It is time for ALL religious denomi- nations to end the practice of teaching homosexuality is a sin.

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Contact: Faith in America—Rich Harrington—rharrington@FaithInAmerica.org—603.731.9811

Faith in America website: www.faithinamerica.org
Faith in America on Twitter: @faithinamerica
Faith in America on Facebook: www.facebook.com/faithinamerica Save yOur Kids website: www.save-yOur-kids.org 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Harmful Anti-LGBT Religious Teachings Lead to Harmful Anti-LGBT Policies

From the Texas Legislature to President Trump’s Most Recent Action Regarding Transgender Military Personnel, the Root Cause of LGBT Spiritual Discrimination Lies in Deep-Seeded Religious Misinterpretations.

Hickory, N.C.—All across America, churches and religious communities are teaching homosexuality—and by-extension transgenderism—is a sin. The misinterpretation of scripture seeps into every party of public life, including our elected officials. When communities of strong faith are taught that homosexuality is a sin, transgenderism is ungodly, or same-sex marriages are an abomination, they elect people who reflect those values, from the steeple to the state house.

This year, Texas State Senator, Lois Kolkhorst (R-18), who considers herself a devout Lutheran and attended Texas Christian University, introduced SB 3. Texas Senate Bill 3, which would bar schools from allowing transgender students to use the restroom of their choice and undercut municipal non- discrimination protections for transgender people in restrooms, locker rooms and athletic activities, is just one example of dangerous religious teachings seeping into state and local legislative processes. Yesterday, (July 26, 2017) SB 3 passed the TX Senate 21-20 and will now head to the TX House of Representatives, where it is expected to fail among more moderate House Republicans.

Not coincidentally, President Trump also tweeted out a massive military policy shift targeting Transgender members on the same day of the Texas bill.

“The President’s impulsive twitter attack on patriotic service members is appalling and contradicted by the Pentagon’s own assessment that transgender people are fit to serve.” said Shannon Minter, Legal Director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “It is unprecedented for a President to attack our own military personnel for political gain.”

The reality is that anti-LGBT policies that come out of legislatures or Twitter accounts cause an immense amount of harm and mental anguish to the thousands of LGBT youth trying to navigate a world in which they view themselves differently or in many cases negatively. Faith in America is deeply disturbed by the events that are unfolding all across America. We call upon the Texas House to vote down SB 3, we call upon President Trump to reverse the disastrous anti-Trans military policy, and we call on ALL religious leaders to end the discrimination against LGBT people and once and for all end the teaching that “homosexuality is a sin”.

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Contact: Faith in America—Rich Harrington—rharrington@FaithInAmerica.org—603.731.9811

Faith in America website: www.faithinamerica.org
Faith in America on Twitter: @faithinamerica
Faith in America on Facebook: www.facebook.com/faithinamerica

Faith in America and the Human Rights Campaign Deeply Troubled By Rev. Eugene Peterson’s Reversal On Same-Sex Marriage

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 

From An Encouraging Statement of Support to Condemnation of LGBT Christian Marriages, Rev. Peterson puts profits and popularity above the health and well-being of LGBT Christians of Good Faith.

Hickory, N.C.—Faith in America and the Human Rights Campaign are disappointed by Rev. Eugene Peterson’s retracted statement of support for same-sex marriages of “Christians of Good Faith.” Since 2014, Rev. Peterson has been more affirming toward LGBT Christians (see his recorded dialogue at Western Theological HERE) and responded “yes” earlier this week when directly asked whether LGBT Christians would be allowed to marry in his church. We believe he had a “Joe Biden ‘Meet the Press’ moment” when he just could no longer deny what was in his heart.

Peterson faced intense backlash from anti-LGBT Christians who continue to ignore the medical research and evidence about the profound public health crisis their antiquated theology underwrites. Of particular note was LifeWays threatening Peterson’s income by the loss of a lucrative selling agreement with him. Immediately following this threat, Rev. Peterson retracted his support for same-sex marriages. Peterson released a statement saying that after “reflection and prayer,” he had changed his mind and would no longer perform a same-sex wedding in his church: “To clarify, I affirm a biblical view of marriage: one man to one woman. I affirm a biblical view of everything.” In doing so, the Reverend placed personal financial interests above his responsibilities as a leader in the Evangelical community—endangering the LGBT children and adults in his church and far beyond. Words matter.

"Rev. Peterson's initial statement provided hope and affirmation to many LGBTQ Christians searching for inclusive faith communities, a fact that makes his recent reversal that much more disappointing," said Mary Beth Maxwell, HRC's Senior Vice President for Programs, Research and Trainings. "Despite Rev. Peterson's hurtful reversal, we know that a a majority of people of faith do support LGBTQ people and every day more and more Christian leaders and laypeople open their hearts and change their minds in their own faith journeys to more fully embracing the dignity of all God's children.”

“The reality is everyone now knows what’s in Rev. Peterson’s heart. And we also know that he puts his own personal financial gain ahead of the sanctity of LGBTQ people’s lives. So he really put himself in a lose/lose situation. His credibility and integrity will be questioned forever.” Said Mitchell Gold, Co-founder and co-chair of the Faith in America board. “It’s particularly a shame for this to happen in his golden years. He should have followed the golden rule!”

“The Message (Eugene Peterson's famous paraphrase of the Bible) has been an important part of my life and ministry for almost a quarter of a century.” Said Stan Mitchell, Pastor at GracePointe Church and Director of Religious Outreach for Faith in America. “Peterson himself has been a particular inspiration for me at various and pivotal moments through the years. His recent retraction has been a particularly difficult gut-punch for me, 1) Because affirmations like the one Dr. Peterson made are desperately needed as the Christian Church is irrevocably but all too slowly moving toward a complete reversal on the matter of our LGBTQ+ siblings and their full inclusion in the Church and 2) because I personally relate to the excruciating pressure he has now caved to, an unremitting pressure experienced by pastors and ministers everywhere. Frankly, it was this type of powerful familial/vocational/financial pressure that was the last hurdle for me personally to cross on this matter only a few years ago. Since my decision, admittedly the consequences for me have been a mind-numbing mix of punishment and reward. I must say, though, the losses, while severe, have paled in comparison to the gains - not the least of which has been the relieving gift of a clear conscience. Sadly, it appears now that one of my heroes is going to miss out on this same reward.”

Faith in America and the Human Rights Campaign call upon Rev. Eugene Peterson and all non-affirming religious leaders to end the discrimination against LGBT people and once and for all end the teaching that “homosexuality is a sin” as that is the root of all the animus towards the LGBTQ community.

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Contact: Faith in America—Rich Harrington, rharrington@FaithInAmerica.org, 603.731.9811

Contact: Human Rights Campaign—Sarah McBride, sarah.mcbride@hrc.org 

Faith in America Makes History With Volunteers and Message About Saving Kids at Southern Baptist Convention

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Media Contact: RHarrington@faithinamerica.org, RBrockway@hmapr.com (Phoenix)

Medical Professionals, Clergy, and Volunteers Have Arrived in Phoenix to Ask Southern Baptist Messengers to Save yOur Kids!

Phoenix, AZ -- Today, Faith in America has organized medical professionals, clergy, and a coalition of volunteers in Phoenix in an unprecedented effort to focus the nation’s largest protestant denomination on what they must be doing to not harm and, instead, protect America’s teens and kids who are LGBT.

America’s LGBT teens and kids are in crisis. For example:

  • LGBT kids raised in non-affirming religious families are 8 times more likely to attempt suicide than their LGBT peers from accepting homes.
  • Nearly half of America’s homeless youth are LGBT.
  • More than a quarter of LGBT youth say they have been personally bullied or harassed since the 2016 presidential campaign began, compared to 14 percent of non-LGBTQ youth.

Faith in America (FIA), an organization that exists to end religious-based harm to the LGBT community, realizes Americans can no longer sit by while our children and teenagers are being hurt. FIA has launched a 3-year program called “Save yOur Kids!” (SYK). Our SYK project is developed to address religious-based practices that condemn our teens and youth, creating hostile environments both at church and home, places most needed by our youth.

“This is an historic moment and we, at Faith in America, are taking action,” says Mitchell Gold, FIA co-founder. “We ask the media to cover this with the seriousness this deserves. This is not about conflict and division. It is about speaking the truth, and standing up for our kids and teens being hurt. It is also about finding common ground around our children and youth.”

Faith in America is in communication with Southern Baptist Convention leadership and a meeting is pending scheduling.  They are aware of our presence beginning on June 13 at their Phoenix meeting of SBC Messengers. While the SBC has initially articulated their disagreement with FIA regarding homosexuality as a sin, they also offered their desire to meet and find initiatives and ways forward that do not harm our youth. We find the potential progress here and look forward to soon meeting with SBC leadership.

FIA ACTIVITIES AT SOUTHERN BAPTIST PHOENIX CONVENTION:

Medical Professionals will be engaging Southern Baptist Messengers and talking to the media about the health crisis our LGBT teens and kids are living through.

  • Jack Drescher, M.D. – Professor Psychiatry, New York Medical College. Past President of the Group for Advancement of Psychiatry, and a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Dr. Drescher is an expert media spokesperson on issues related to gender and sexuality. He has published and teaches extensively around this subject at New York Medical College and New York University. 
  • Joshua Wolff, Ph.D. – Asst. Professor, Adler University. Dr. Wolff is a professor of psychology with significant published work on the role social stigma on LGBT hostile religious campuses plays in the attendant mental health and substance abuse challenges afflicting the college students.
  • Robert Hoffman - Co-Chair and acting Executive Director for Faith in America. A former Fortune 500 Apparel Executive, Hoffman now works professionally as Managing Partner of Piedmont Counseling and Development Group and is an MPH candidate at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine.

Clergy with Open Affirming Churches will be engaging Southern Baptist Messengers and talking to media about their theologically based decisions to open their doors, affirm all believers, and support who God made them to be.

  • Pastor Stan Mitchell, GracePointe Church, Nashville
  • Pastor Aaron Sprietzel, One Church, Phoenix
  • Pastor T. Anthony Spearman, Greensboro, NC
  • Pastor Lara Forbes, Faith Evangelical Lutheran, Phoenix
  • Pastor James Pennington, First Congregational UCC, Phoenix

Thirteen coalition groups are joining Faith in America to add their direct experience working with and supporting LGBT children who have been forced out of their homes onto the streets and who are at the greatest risk of trafficking and suicide.

  • The Trevor Project
  • Nomad Partnerships
  • Matthew Shepard Foundation
  • Tyler Clementi Foundation
  • Soulforce
  • The Reformation Project  
  • Campus Pride
  • Equality California
  • Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists
  • Auburn Seminary
  • PFLAG
  • Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church, Phoenix
  • First Congregational United Church of Christ, Phoenix

Jane Clementi co-founded the Tyler Clementi Foundation alongside her husband Joe because she wants to make sure that our society learns the consequences of discrimination and bullying, as she learned all too personally through the loss of her son, Tyler. Jane speaks passionately to parents and community leaders about the need to not merely “accept” or “tolerate” children who come out as LGBT, but to embrace them as wondrous creations of God. Jane, a registered nurse, speaks on the need for parents of LGBT children to come out and speak openly of the love they have for their children, and in doing so each one of us can impact the world around us and create accepting environments.

Billboards, static and roving, throughout Phoenix reminding Southern Baptists that all our children matter and we must stop harming them.

Volunteers will have handouts and kind words for the Southern Baptist Messengers and will be on the streets and visible throughout the entire Southern Baptist Convention meeting.

A robust social media campaign incorporating real time updates and videos, facts, and photos will be taking place, as well, throughout the SBC event.

“Science is clear: LGBTQ youth are at risk and need our help. People of faith unhappy about these findings may deny them, and some may even distort them. Unfortunately, denial and distortion of science can expose their LGBTQ children to potentially harmful practices and interventions,” according to Jack Drescher, M.D., of New York Medical College.  “We know parents love their children and want to keep them safe, regardless of religious beliefs. We join FIA in formally calling upon SBC’s leadership to alter its course of religion-based harm to one of religion-based help. Faith communities can be sources of great support to LGBTQ youth if they stop condemning them and begin instead to embrace these children with unconditional love."

WHAT DO WE WANT:

Ultimately, we at FIA believe LGBT people should be removed from the sin list. We know interpretations and new revelations come to light. We believe the Church will one day stop diminishing the lives of those who are LGBT and we strive to help this come to pass. We are optimistic people and see the glass 75% full!  We appreciate and respect how the SBC has changed teachings and interpretations based on new, important information. We applaud how in 1995 the SBC issued a formal apology to People of Color for their role in the inhuman practices of slavery and segregation.

We also have a simpler, direct request: let’s stop hurting yOur kids and teens. We can’t deny the impact condemning religious teachings have had on people’s beliefs toward those who are LGBT. If we deny the Church has had any influence, we would be kidding ourselves. This means negative as well as positive impacts must be claimed.

We know Baptists care about yOur kids and we believe we can start a conversation and find common ground and common purpose. No one wants these LGBT SBC kids to feel they’d be better off dead or on the streets than with their family and community. And, we would like to discuss what we might do to help ensure no child ever has to feel that way.

“The level of depression and anxiety existing in the lives of LGBT teens and kids is sadly outpacing those maladies in other groups,” says Rev. Stan Mitchell. “We use the word “condemning” to describe the churches that are bad players and hurt LGBT teens and kids with harsh messages that alienate, diminish, and stigmatize. This hurts youth and creates animosity within the hearts of parents, siblings, and other kin that, in turn, also serves to abandon our youth, leaving them feeling alone in a cold world. These teachings create bullies.”

“Faith in America believes there is a great work to be done through us,” added Robert Hoffman, FIA Executive Director. “We have made ourselves available to grasp and follow our calling, to go and join in the work where it’s most needed. Along the way, we hope to build new bridges, make new friends, and serve a purpose higher than us all.”

####

Faith in America website:  www.faithinamerica.org

Faith in America on Twitter: @faithinamerica

Faith in America on Facebook: www.facebook.com/faithinamerica

Save yOur Kids website: www.save-yOur-kids.org

Faith In America Billboards Highlighting Impact on Kids from Religious Condemnation Surround Southern Baptist Convention

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Media Contact: RHarrington@faithinamerica.org, RBrockway@hmapr.com (Phoenix)

During SBC, Most Billboards Surrounding the Convention Will Educate on Dramatically Higher Suicide and Homeless Rates Among LGBT Kids in Non-Affirming Families

PHOENIX -- Faith in America unveiled its campaign of digital and truck billboards that will surround the Southern Baptists Convention this week, highlighting the impact of religious condemnation on LGBT Kids.  The two key messages of the billboards center around the fact that LGBT kids in condemning households are 8x more likely to try to kill themselves, and that 40% of all homeless teens are LGBT.

“We have pastors, parents, and counselors from all over America joining Faith In America in Phoenix because of the crisis our children are facing,” said Robert Hoffman, FIA co-chair. “We know the Baptist pastors, parents, and counselors attending the SBC care just as deeply about their kids and hope that a conversation about how to end this harm to children can open new doors for dialogue.”

Along with billboards surrounding the Convention Center, Faith in America’s Save-yOur-Kids campaign will have pastors, doctors and leaders seeking meetings with SBC leadership and volunteers handing out information and opening dialogue with convention attendees. 

To view the billboards, click here.

The Media packet for the SBC event can be found by clicking here.

Faith in America (FIA), an organization that exists to end religious-based harm to our LGBT community, realizes Americans can no longer sit by while our children and teenagers are being hurt. FIA has launched a 3-year program called “Save yOur Kids!” (SYK). Our SYK project is developed to address religious-base practices that condemn our teens and youth, creating hostile environments both at church and home, places most needed by our youth, as well as in schools and society at large.

####

Faith in America website:  www.faithinamerica.org

Save yOur Kids! website:  www.save-yOur-kids.org

Faith in America on Twitter: @faithinamerica

Faith in America on Facebook: www.facebook.com/faithinamerica

Faith In America Announces Coalition Partner Organizations Joining Save-yOur-Kid Campaign at Southern Baptist Meeting

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 
Media Contact: 
RHarrington@faithinamerica.org, RBrockway@hmapr.com (Phoenix)

Thirteen Key Church and National Organizations Team with Faith In America to Draw Attention to the Harm to LGBT Kids from Non-Affirming Religious Denominations and Seek Solutions

Phoenix -- Today, Faith in America announces the coalition partners joining together to engage non-affirming religious denominations around solutions to the harm religious disapproval cause to LGBT children.  The coalition groups will add their direct experience working with and supporting LGBT children who have been forced out of their homes onto the streets and who are at greatest risk of trafficking and suicide.   

“We are honored to have the support of such compassionate and effective organizations, who bring their direct experiences as child advocates working with these suffering and abandoned children to the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix,” said Mitchell Gold, FIA co-founder. “We believe that refocusing the conversation on the suffering and harm to these innocent, vulnerable kids creates an opportunity for common cause, and are hopeful that we can work toward real solutions with the SBC because we know they care deeply about their children.”

Coalition partners include:

  • The Trevor Project
  • Nomad Partnerships
  • Mathew Shepard Foundation
  • Tyler Clementi Foundation
  • Soulforce
  • The Reformation Project  
  • Campus Pride
  • Equality California
  • Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists
  • Auburn Seminary
  • PFLAG
  • Faith Evangelical Lutheran Phoenix
  • First Congregational United Church of Christ Phoenix

At the foundation of the Save-yOur-Kids campaign is the understanding that religious disapproval harms kids and that we should be able to come together across our differences for the sake of our children.

  • LGBT teens from non-affirming families are 8x more likely to take their lives than those in supportive ones.
  • LGBT youth make up nearly half of America’s homeless teens.
  • LGBT children are 70x more likely to become victims of trafficking than their peers.
  • 50% of trans kids have considered suicide.

Find more details here: www.faithinamerica.org

Faith in America (FIA), an organization that exists to end religious-based harm to our LGBT community, realizes Americans can no longer sit by while our children and teenagers are being hurt. FIA with collaborative partners has launched a 3-year program called “Save yOur Kids!” (SYK). Our SYK project is developed to address religious-base practices that condemn our teens and youth, creating hostile environments both at church and home, places most needed by our youth, as well as in schools and society at large.

####

Faith in America website:  www.faithinamerica.org

Save yOur Kids! website:  www.save-yOur-kids.org

Faith in America on Twitter: @faithinamerica

Faith in America on Facebook: www.facebook.com/faithinamerica

Faith In America Announces Clergy Traveling to Phoenix to Speak for LGBT Youth During Southern Baptist Meeting

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: 
BStrider@eleisongroup.com

FIA Organizes Clergy to Offer Their Testimony to Nation About How They Became Accepting, Affirming and Outspoken for People who are LGBT; Prepared to Speak with Southern Baptist Messengers and Media in Phoenix

Washington, D.C. --Today, Faith in America announces details regarding clergy participating in the unprecedented effort to focus the nation’s largest protestant denomination on what they must be doing to not harm and, instead, protect America’s teens and kids who are LGBT. America’s LGBT teens and kids are in crisis. For example:

Condemning families and religious communities have caused enormous harm to LGBT people, especially young, vulnerable teens.

  • LGBT teens from condemning families are 8x more likely to commit suicide than those in supportive ones.
  • LGBT youth make up nearly half of America’s homeless teens.
  • LGBT children are 70x more likely to become victims of trafficking than their peers.
  • 1-in-4 trans teens have attempted suicide.

Find more details here: www.faithinamerica.org/medical

Faith in America (FIA), an organization that exists to end religious-based harm to our LGBT community, realizes Americans can no longer sit by while our children and teenagers are being hurt. FIA has launched a 3-year program called “Save yOur Kids!” (SYK). Our SYK project is developed to address religious-base practices that condemn our teens and youth, creating hostile environments both at church and home, places most needed by our youth, as well as in schools and society at large.

Part of the SYK project is to offer fact- and faith-based information to the media and the public. The Clergy Advisory Committee SYK has created includes some of the leading ministers in the nation who have found in their theology a transformative message to accept and love people who are LGBT instead of condemning and harming.

The Clergy Advisory Committee will serve as media surrogates to speak on behalf of LGBT kids and teens. FIA will inform and encourage media to engage these ministers and provide a voice that is distinctly faith-based and can address the anti-LGBT voices from the religious right and other right wing groups who have preached hate on this topic over the years in the media.

This also includes directly dialoguing with religious organizations and individuals. Five of the pastors on the FIA Clergy Advisory Committee will be part of the FIA delegation of doctors, a country music star, parents, local and national volunteers, bound for the Southern Baptist meeting in Phoenix beginning on June 13.

“Sin is about making wrong choices and actions,” says Pastor Stan Mitchell. “So the more we can get religious people to the realization that sexual orientation is an innate part of a person, a natural part of a human’s being, not a choice, that dramatically undermines the basis for viewing homosexuality as behavior-driven immorality or some perverse proclivity. And it further undermines any justification a person might feel for their condemnation or proactive prejudice.”

The ministers who will be engaging Southern Baptist Messengers and talking to the media about the spiritual crisis our LGBT teens and kids are living through are:

  • Pastor Stan Mitchell, GracePointe Church, Nashville
  • Pastor Aaron Sprietzel, One Church, Phoenix
  • Pastor T. Anthony Spearman, Greensboro, NC
  • Pastor Lara Forbes, Faith Evangelical Lutheran
  • Pastor James Pennington, First Congregational UCC, Phoenix

“This is an historic moment and we, at Faith in America, are pursuing an important course,” says Mitchell Gold, FIA co-founder. “I live and work, and have traveled amongst many people who are incredibly good, well- meaning folks.  But they simply do not know the harm they are causing innocent kids and will never know unless we take the time to share this life saving information.  We ask the media to cover this with the seriousness it deserves. These ministers have been standing up. They have transformed their churches in red states to sanctuaries of acceptance and love, beacons of hope. They are changing America and FIA is delighted to facilitate their efforts.”

We know Baptists care about yOur kids and we believe we can start a conversation and find common ground and common purpose. No one wants these LGBT SBC kids to feel they’d be better off dead or on the streets than with their family and community.

####

Faith in America website:  www.faithinamerica.org

Save yOur Kids! website:  www.save-yOur-kids.org

Faith in America on Twitter: @faithinamerica

Faith in America on Facebook: www.facebook.com/faithinamerica

 

My Story: Rich Harrington

My name is Rich Harrington and I am a Program Manager for Faith in America. If you have a spare moment, I would like to share a bit about my personal journey and the reasons I am so passionate for our work.  

I grew up blessed--and lucky.  I was raised in a progressive form of Catholicism and my grandmother led the way as the matriarch of our family.  Like many young men in New England, I grew up in a large Catholic family of Irish and Canadian-French descent and attended Sunday mass every week. But I knew from a young age that I wasn't like what I thought was every other New England Catholic boy—I was gay. 

My church never taught me that being gay led to condemnation.  I did, however, feel the cold realization that being gay led to be being “immoral”—the true beginning of my journey on the road of “Catholic guilt.”  I was 12 when I started to realize something about me was different. Like many other young, closeted gay teenagers, I thought my life was over. I remember making a pact with God that if I wasn't “changed” by the time I turned 21 years old, I would end my life. 

At the age of 16--one month before I was scheduled to be confirmed in the eyes God, my family, and my community--a teacher brought me into a hallway during the middle of catechism class and said to “stop acting like a faggot.” This phrase was shouted at me by my teacher—a self-described family man responsible for a classroom of young students. Unable to cope with the impossible pressure to remain closeted and still pursue my faith, I left. Luckily, I had a family network that rallied around me and confronted the church and our priest directly—ultimately leading to his dismissal. 

Now 24 years old and happily out, I recently accepted a position with Faith in America, a non-profit working to end religious based-prejudice under the visionary leadership of Mitchell Gold. We are working directly with medical professionals, religious leaders, elected officials, and LGBT and allied organizations to change the narrative around sexual orientation within religion and end the practice of teaching children it's a sin to be gay.  

In three weeks, we are traveling to the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix, Arizona to directly challenge Southern Baptist Church leadership and present them with the hard medical data showing LGBT children who grow up in religiously condemning households are 8 times more likely to try and end their lives. Through an aggressive media and grassroots campaign, we are bringing light to the issues facing some of our community's most vulnerable. 

We need everyone working together to ensure that no child--not a single soul--ends his or her life because religion teaches homosexuality as a sin in the eyes of God.

With Love, 

Rich

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Faith In America Announces Medical Professionals Traveling to Phoenix for Southern Baptist Meeting

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: 
BStrider@eleisongroup.com

FIA Organizes Medical Professionals to Offer Fact- and Science-Based Information to Nation Regarding Health Crisis Our LGBT Kids and Teens are Experiencing; Prepared to Speak with Southern Baptist Messengers and Media in Phoenix.

Washington, D.C. -- Today, Faith in America announces details regarding medical professionals participating in the unprecedented effort to focus the nation’s largest protestant denomination on what they must be doing to not harm and, instead, protect America’s teens and kids who are LGBT.

America’s LGBT teens and kids are in crisis. For example:

  • Condemning families and communities have caused enormous harm to LGBT people, especially young, vulnerable teens.
  • LGBT teens from condemning families are 8x more likely to commit suicide than those in supportive ones.
  • LGBT youth make up nearly half of America’s homeless teens.
  • LGBT children are 70x more likely to become victims of trafficking than their peers.
  • 1-in-4 trans teens have attempted suicide.

Find more details here: www.faithinamerica.org/medical

Faith in America (FIA), an organization that exists to end religious-based harm to our LGBT community, realizes Americans can no longer sit by while our children and teenagers are being hurt. FIA has launched a 3-year program called “Save yOur Kids!” (SYK). Our SYK project is developed to address religious-base practices that condemn our teens and youth, creating hostile environments both at church and home, places most needed by our youth, as well as in schools and society at large.

Part of the SYK project is to offer fact- and science-based information to the media and the public. The Medical Advisory Committee SYK has created includes some of the foremost physicians and researchers in the nation who have been directly involved in much of the science around sexual orientation over the past couple of decades.

The Medical Advisory Committee will serve as media surrogates to speak on behalf of LGBT kids and teens. FIA will inform and encourage media to engage these doctors and provide a voice that is distinctly fact and experienced-based and can address the anti-LGBT voices from the religious right and other right wing groups who have misled on this topic over the years in the media.

This also includes directly dialoguing with condemning religious organizations and individuals. Three of the leaders in this field and on the FIA Medical Advisory Committee will be part of the FIA delegation of clergy, a country music star, parents, local and national volunteers, bound for the Southern Baptist meeting in Phoenix beginning on June 13.

“Science is clear: LGBTQ youth are at risk and need our help. People of faith unhappy about these findings may deny them, and some may even distort them. Unfortunately, denial and distortion of science can expose their LGBTQ children to potentially harmful practices and interventions,” according to Jack Drescher, MD, of New York Medical College.  “We know parents love their children and want to keep them safe, regardless of religious beliefs. We join FIA in formally calling upon SBC’s leadership to alter its course of religion-based harm to one of religion-based help. Faith communities can be sources of great support to LGBTQ youth if they stop condemning them and begin instead to embrace these children with unconditional love. “

The three medical professionals who will be engaging Southern Baptist Messengers and talking to the media about the health crisis our LGBT teens and kids are living through are:

  • Jack Drescher, MD – Professor Psychiatry, New York Medical College. Past President of the Group for Advancement of Psychiatry, and a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Dr. Drescher is an expert media spokesperson on issues related to gender and sexuality. He has published and teaches extensively around this subject at New York Medical College and New York University. 
  • Joshua Wolff, PhD – Asst. Professor, Adler University. Dr. Wolff is a professor of psychology with significant published work on the role social stigma on LGBT hostile religious campuses plays in the attendant mental health and substance abuse challenges afflicting the college students.
  • Robert Hoffman - Co-Chair and acting Executive Director for Faith in America. A former Fortune 500 Apparel Executive, Hoffman now works professionally as Managing Partner of Piedmont Counseling and Development Group and is an MPH candidate at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine.

“This is an historic moment and we, at Faith in America, are pursuing an important course,” says Mitchell Gold, FIA co-founder. “I live and  work, and have traveled amongst many people who are incredibly good, well- meaning folks.  But they simply do not know the harm they are causing innocent kids and will never know unless we take the time to share this life saving information.  We ask the media to cover this with the seriousness it deserves. This is not about conflict and division. It is about speaking the truth, and standing up for our kids and teens being hurt. Our doctors are experienced and their fact- and science-based message is essential to ending the harm being caused to innocent lives.”

Studies have shown that if a person believes sexual orientation is a choice, they are 70+% more likely to be against LGBT equal rights (2007 Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs Survey). Conversely, if a person understands sexual orientation is part of how you are created, they are 70+% more likely to be in favor of LGBT equal rights. 

“The choice vs. nature argument is especially significant when engaging persons who view homosexuality as a sin. Sin is about making wrong choices and actions,” adds Pastor Stan Mitchell. “So the more we can get religious people to the realization that sexual orientation is an innate part of a person, a natural part of a human’s being, not a choice, that dramatically undermines the basis for viewing homosexuality as behavior-driven immorality or some perverse proclivity. And it further undermines any justification a person might feel for their condemnation or proactive prejudice.”

We know Baptists care about yOur kids and we believe we can start a conversation and find common ground and common purpose. No one wants these LGBT SBC kids to feel they’d be better off dead or on the streets than with their family and community.

“Faith in America believes there is a great work to be done,” added Robert Hoffman, FIA acting Executive Director. “We have made ourselves available to grasp and follow our calling, to go and enjoin in the work where it’s most needed. Along the way, we hope to build new bridges, make new friends, and serve a purpose higher than us all.”

####

Faith in America website:  www.faithinamerica.org

Save yOur Kids! website:  www.save-yOur-kids.org

Faith in America on Twitter: @faithinamerica

Faith in America on Facebook: www.facebook.com/faithinamerica

Faith in America Releases Plans for Bringing Message of Protecting LGBT Youth to Southern Baptist Convention

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: 
BStrider@eleisongroup.com

FIA Organizes Medical Professionals, Clergy, Country Music Stars, Volunteers to Converge on Phoenix to Ask Southern Baptist Messengers to Save yOur Kids!

Washington, D.C. -- Today, Faith in America announces an unprecedented effort to focus the nation’s largest protestant denomination on what they must be doing to not harm and, instead, protect America’s teens and kids who are LGBT.

America’s LGBT teens and kids are in crisis. For example:

  • LGBT kids raised in condemning religious families are 8 times more likely to attempt suicide than their LGBT peers from accepting homes.
  • Nearly half of America’s homeless youth are LGBT.
  • More than a quarter of LGBT youth say they have been personally bullied or harassed since the 2016 presidential campaign began, compared to 14 percent of non-LGBTQ youth.

Faith in America (FIA), an organization that exists to end religious-based harm to our LGBT community, realizes Americans can no longer sit by while our children and teenagers are being hurt. FIA has launched a 3-year program called “Save yOur Kids!” (SYK). Our SYK project is developed to address religious-based practices that condemn our teens and youth, creating hostile environments both at church and home, places most needed by our youth.

"This is an historic moment and we, at Faith in America, are taking action,” says Mitchell Gold, FIA co-founder. “We ask the media to cover this with the seriousness this deserves. This is not about conflict and division. It is about speaking the truth, and standing up for our kids and teens being hurt. It is also about finding common ground around our children and youth.”

Faith in America is in communication with Southern Baptist Convention leadership and a meeting is pending scheduling.  They are aware of our presence beginning on June 13 at their Phoenix meeting of SBC Messengers. While the SBC has initially articulated their disagreement with FIA regarding homosexuality as a sin, they also offered their desire to meet and find initiatives and ways forward that do not harm our youth. We find the potential progress here and look forward to soon meeting with SBC leadership.

FIA ACTIVITIES AT SOUTHERN BAPTIST PHOENIX CONVENTION:

Medical Professionals will be engaging Southern Baptist Messengers and talking to the media about the health crisis our LGBT teens and kids are living through.

  • Jack Drescher, MD – Professor Psychiatry, New York Medical College. Past President of the Group for Advancement of Psychiatry, and a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Dr. Drescher is an expert media spokesperson on issues related to gender and sexuality. He has published and teaches extensively around this subject at New York Medical College and New York University. 
     
  • Joshua Wolff, PhD – Asst. Professor, Adler University. Dr. Wolff is a professor of psychology with significant published work on the role social stigma on LGBT hostile religious campuses plays in the attendant mental health and substance abuse challenges afflicting the college students.
     
  • Robert Hoffman, M.A. - Co-Chair and CEO of Faith in America. Former Fortune 500 Apparel Executive. Hoffman now works professionally as Managing Partner of Piedmont Counseling and Development Group.

Clergy with Open Affirming Churches will be engaging Southern Baptist Messengers and talking to media about their theologically based decisions to open their doors, affirm all believers, and support who God made them to be.

  • Rev. Stan Mitchell
  • Rev. Jeff Clark
  • Rev. T. Anthony Spearman

Country Music Star Ty Herndon, will be engaging Southern Baptist Messengers and talking to media about his decision to come out, how it has impacted his life, and the essential importance of standing up against harm caused to our teens and kids from religious-based sources. Ty will perform in free venues as well.

Jane Clementi co-founded the Tyler Clementi Foundation alongside her husband Joe because she wants to make sure that our society learns the consequences of discrimination and bullying, as she learned all too personally through the loss of her son, Tyler. Jane speaks passionately to parents and community leaders about the need to not merely “accept” or “tolerate” children who come out as LGBT, but to embrace them as wondrous creations of God. Jane, a registered nurse, speaks on the need for parents of LGBT children to come out and speak openly of the love they have for their children, and in doing so each one of us can impact the world around us and create accepting environments.

Billboards, static and roving, throughout Phoenix reminding Southern Baptists that all our children matter and we must stop harming them.

Volunteers will have handouts and kind words for the Southern Baptist Messengers and will be on the streets and visible throughout the entire Southern Baptist Convention meeting.

A robust social media campaign incorporating real time updates and videos, facts, and photos will be taking place, as well, throughout the SBC event.

“Science is clear: LGBTQ youth are at risk and need our help. People of faith unhappy about these findings may deny them, and some may even distort them. Unfortunately, denial and distortion of science can expose their LGBTQ children to potentially harmful practices and interventions,” according to Jack Drescher, MD, of New York Medical College.  “We know parents love their children and want to keep them safe, regardless of religious beliefs. We join FIA in formally calling upon SBC’s leadership to alter its course of religion-based harm to one of religion-based help. Faith communities can be sources of great support to LGBTQ youth if they stop condemning them and begin instead to embrace these children with unconditional love. “

WHAT DO WE WANT:

Ultimately, we at FIA believe LGBT people should be removed from the sin list. We know interpretations and new revelations come to light. We believe the Church will one day stop diminishing the lives of those who are LGBT and we strive to help this come to pass. We are optimistic people and see the glass 75% full!  We appreciate and respect how the SBC has changed teachings and interpretations based on new, important information. We applaud how in 1995 the SBC issued a formal apology to People of Color for their role in the inhuman practices of slavery and segregation.

We also have a simpler, direct request: let’s stop hurting yOur kids and teens. We can’t deny the impact condemning religious teachings have had on people’s beliefs toward those who are LGBT. If we deny the Church has had any influence, we would be kidding ourselves. This means negative as well as positive impacts must be claimed.

We know Baptists care about yOur kids and we believe we can start a conversation and find common ground and common purpose. No one wants these LGBT SBC kids to feel they’d be better off dead or on the streets than with their family and community. And, we would like to discuss what we might do to help ensure no child ever has to feel that way.

“The level of depression and anxiety existing in the lives of LGBT teens and kids is sadly outpacing those maladies in other groups,” says Mitchell Gold. “We use the word “condemning” to describe the churches that are bad players and hurt LGBT teens and kids with harsh messages that alienate, diminish, and stigmatize. This hurts youth and creates animosity within the hearts of parents, siblings, and other kin that, in turn, also serves to abandon our youth, leaving them feeling alone in a cold world. These teachings create bullies.”

“Faith in America believes there is a great work to be done through us,” added Robert Hoffman, FIA CEO. “We have made ourselves available to grasp and follow our calling, to go and join in the work where it’s most needed. Along the way, we hope to build new bridges, make new friends, and serve a purpose higher than us all.”

####

Faith in America website:  www.faithinamerica.org

Faith in America on Twitter: @faithinamerica

Faith in America on Facebook: www.facebook.com/faithinamerica

Save yOur Kids website :www.save-yOur-kids.org  

Faith in America to Lead Resistance Against President Trump's Newest Executive Order

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: 
BStrider@eleisongroup.com

Robert Hoffman Issues Statement on the Most Cynical and Constitutionally Damaging Executive Order Ever Signed By An American President

Hickory, NC – The media is reporting that on Thursday, President Donald Trump will sign an executive order with sweeping consequences for the nation regarding religious freedom. The executive order would open the door to widespread discrimination inside America's religious-based organizations. Robert Hoffman, Co-Chair and Interim CEO of Faith in America, an organization dedicated to fighting bad players in the faith community who are against the freedoms of LGBT Americans, released the following statement:

"The reported Trump executive order is not about religious freedom, but rather about political exemptions.  Exempting people from the Constitution for political favor is not an American value. This would be the most cynical and constitutionally damaging executive order ever signed by an American President. The American faith community holds a broad set of civic and political views. When our nation would protect the constitutional rights of pro-life Christians, for example, over those of pro-choice Christians, then the so-called protection is unconstitutional. And, that's what this executive order does. And, it does it across the board.

Americans who are LGBT stand to greatly suffer. We already live in a nation where LGBT teens and kids are 8 times more likely to kill themselves as compared to their straight friends. This is because of the condemnation received from their faith and their families influenced by condemning faith. Depression and self-hate is an outcome of religious practices that demean LGBT citizens. This executive order would not only set up LGBT teens and kids to face discrimination and fewer services but it would serve to send a signal of what America is and what's okay, and our nation would move backwards, with diminishing freedoms and attitudes. This reported executive order is bad. Faith in America urges President Trump to reconsider, and if it is signed we will fight back with all we have.”

###

Mitchell Gold Takes Aim at North Carolina's HB2 in Statement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact:
BStrider@eleisongroup.com

Faith in America calls on North Carolina legislators to leave religious beliefs on LGBT people at the door

Hickory, NC -- Mitchell Gold today released a statement opposing North Carolina's Legislators and NC clergy and churches that offer despair and exclusion to NC LGBTQ youth. HB2 must be repealed and North Carolina's youth must be embraced:

I'm writing today as Co-Founder and CEO of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams Home Furnishings, and Co-Founder and Co-Chair of Faith in America to express my support for a FULL repeal of HB2 immediately.  As leaders in our state it would immediately signal that NC is open for business to everyone, and more importantly send a lifesaving message to the vulnerable LGBT teens in North Carolina that you care about their lives.

Today in North Carolina, you can still be fired, denied housing, or refused service simply for being gay or transgender.  It's bad for the economic sustainability of North Carolina.  We have close to 1 million SF of manufacturing and warehouse facilities and over 600 employees in western North Carolina where we proudly make all our upholstered products. We can't afford to have barriers in place when it comes to attracting and retaining the top talent we need to succeed.  Especially for senior level talent, competitors in other states already have these protections in place, giving them a distinct advantage in recruitment and attraction.  Recent decisions by the NFL, NCAA, and NBA to move or not award big events to places lacking equal protections has made this issue even more salient when it comes to North Carolina’s reputation and economic sustainability.  

The principles of non-discrimination are rooted in core conservative values of fairness, equality, and opportunity.  Everybody should have the chance to earn a living and provide for themselves and their families.  Nobody should have to live in fear that they can be legally fired for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance.

I want to state clearly that the issue of risk associated with transgender people using the restroom of their choice is an irresponsible and reckless witch-hunt.  If you are concerned about safety for a problem that has not existed (and believe me, transgender people have been using the restroom of their choice for years), then implement stronger harassment or peeping Tom laws. But don’t underestimate the immense harm you are causing to vulnerable transgender people. Put yourself in their shoes! Have compassion for a transgender teen who suffers mental anguish from the pressures of their everyday life.

Finally, those who would like to be able to discriminate do so with a foundation in religious beliefs that LGBT people are sinners and consequently immoral and not deserving of full equality.  These kinds of outdated religious teachings are extremely harmful to the over 1.5 million LGBT teenagers in America.   LGBT teens are 4-6 times more likely to suffer immense mental anguish, attempt or commit suicide, or abuse drugs and alcohol than their straight peers.  In conservative or anti-LGBT religious homes and churches, these numbers jump to 8 times.  You can bet that is the statistic in North Carolina. Equal rights legislation says to these precious individuals that the state recognizes their worth. I know from personal experience such leadership saves lives.

As you might be faced with opposition to full repeal, please look carefully into who and why they are opposed to treating LGBT people with dignity. We know from history that using religious teachings to cause harm or marginalize others was mistaken.  Please don’t allow yourself to fall prey to their pressure.

Thank you for your commitment to a North Carolina that respects, protects, and celebrates all who live, work, and play in this great state.

Sincerely,

Mitchell Gold

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Gorsuch Must Answer Key Questions on Corporate Religious Freedom

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact:
CJechura@eleisongroup.com

Faith in America Encourages Senators to Explore Faith & Corporate Discrimination in Hearings

Hickory, NC—As Senators prepare questions to better understand Neil Gorsuch’s legal views, Faith in America is asking them to make sure to fully explore the potential ramifications of his Hobby Lobby decisions to the rights of LGBT individuals.  Judge Gorsuch attends a strongly LGBT-affirming church, but his Hobby Lobby decision opens the door for extreme corporate discrimination which he needs to clarify in upcoming hearings.  

“Religion has been a force for much good in society, but it has also been used as a justification for actions of condemnation and exclusion that have caused great harm to different minority groups in the past and to LGBT youth in America today,” said Mitchell Gold, Co-Chair of Faith in America.  “Judge Gorsuch laudably attends an affirming church, but his Hobby Lobby decision raises dangerous questions he needs to address about how corporations might use faith as a shield for significant harm and discrimination.”

Faith in America has published a list of questions for Senators to probe how Judge Gorsuch would apply his legal theories on Hobby Lobby in the context of discrimination against groups and individuals, and whether corporations should be held to a higher standard in how they can apply their “faith,” given the greater influence they exert over the lives of employees and customers. 

LGBT kids from religiously condemning households are 8 times more likely to commit suicide and make up nearly half of America’s homeless teen population.  Faith in America’s mission is to equip LGBT advocates and directly engage with religious leaders and congregations to confront and address this crisis, building from the shared belief that no child should ever be made to feel they are better off dead or on the streets than with their families at home. 

Faith in America Questions:

“Under your interpretation of the Constitution, would the religious freedom protections granted to corporations under Hobby Lobby allow them to deny service or employment to customers based on their faith, gender, or sexual orientation?  Could McDonalds claim its ‘faith’ prevented it from serving burgers to gay people, Wells Fargo use religious freedom as a justification for not placing women in leadership roles, or Mayo Clinic claim treating Muslims violates its faith?”

“Given the greater influence and power corporations hold in society and over the lives of American citizens they employ, should they be held to a higher standard before claiming religious freedom protections from laws?”

“How should the courts balance the rights of individuals who can be directly harmed by a corporation’s exercise of religious freedom and the rights you believe corporations have to not follow laws or recognize the rights of others if doing so violates their “faith?”  When it comes to a choice between an individual worker or customer’s rights and a corporation’s, what rules would you apply to deciding which should prevail?”

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