As Olympic torch is lit in Russia, Faith In America's Launches 4Word Initiative

Four words that can end the immense harm to LGBT youth and families

Anti-gay religious stigma and hostility is the No. 1 impediment to full human dignity and full equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, in the United States and across the globe.

Anti-gay religious stigma and hostility is the No. 1 impediment to full human dignity and full equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, in the United States and across the globe.

It is a uniquely harmful form of stigma and hostility, especially to LGBT youth in families, communities and societies in which a certain religious perspective deems homosexuality as sinful behavior and therefore deserves a spiritual and moral stamp of unworthiness and derogation.

Religion-based stigma and hostility is expressed toward LGBT youth and families in a myriad of anti-gay messages. Whether a religious organization seeking exemption from marriage equality or Russian lawmakers declaring homosexuality a threat to children, the foundation for the stigma and hostility is the misguided and misinformed religious teaching that deems homosexuality sinful behavior.

The way all this plays out in the mind of a young individual is as simple as it is insidious – "How do I know it is wrong?" they may ask themselves or others. "Because God says it's wrong," is often the reply they here ether spoken or unspoken.

At that moment and at one of the most crucial times of development in their lives, a horrific conflict has been created in that young person's life – his or her self-worth is pitted against the perceived or expressed derogation from parents, other family members, peers and even spiritual leaders in their lives. Ultimately for the young person reared in a home where spirituality has been an important part of their lives, it means their self-worth is at odds with the very God they view as the author of their self-worth.

A young person reared in a family in which parents seek to instill spiritual values is taught that God loves them, is there to protect them and there to offer guidance from within that still-developing spiritual relationship.

For the young gay or lesbian individual in an environment in which they hear homosexuality is wrong or sinful behavior in the eyes of God, that relationship is torn asunder – "I'm no longer worthy of a relationship with God because of my sexual orientation. He's no longer there for me."

The emotional, psychological and spiritual derogation for that child often may seem unbearable. "I don't feel good about myself because I possess this awful condition of being gay or lesbian," "My parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents, friends and even God no longer see the good in me." "How can I see the good within myself?"

From the hundreds of gay and lesbian individuals and parents that we have spoken with during the previous eight years, there can be no doubt why such self-rejection and rejection from others is the cause of such immense inner turmoil in the lives of gay and lesbian youth. That inner turmoil often results, as recent studies on LGBT youth and rejection have pointed out, to increased at-risk behavior and a much higher rate of suicidal tendencies and suicides among this segment of youth.

But there's a simple four-word sentence that can bring powerfully positive change in the lives of so many gay and lesbian youth.

These four words have the power to make life better for so many gay and lesbian youth. They have the power to resolve the conflict between the young person and their parents and the power to change the conflict between the young person and the spiritual essence that has been instilled within their hearts and minds.

These four words can end the immense harm to so many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth. It can bring peace within a family that has been torn apart by the conflict that results when child must bear the brute force of that spiritual and moral stamp of unworthiness.

Faith In America during the coming months will be speaking those words loud and clear. We will promote that simple four-word sentence to parents, schools, churches, mental health providers and society at large.

Faith In America's 4Word Initiative begins today as much of the world's attention is directed toward the commencement of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia.

Russia's anti-gay social environment has been at the forefront of much of the news surrounding the Olympics and there can be no doubt to the role religion-based stigma and hostility has played in the development of such oppression there.

Russian President Vladimir Putin himself used religion-based bigotry to defend his country's anti-gay social policies. The anti-gay religious industry in America has played a role in the promotion of Russia's anti-gay social climate.

So to Vladimir Putin and all those across the globe who seek to cause innocent LGBT youth and families great harm in the name of misguided and misinformed religious teaching or belief, we offer these four words to the world today.

Homosexuality is not sin.

We ask that you speak these words boldly with us, encourage others to do so and light the torch of goodwill and love for LGBT youth and families.

It will burn bright in those young lives and in those families and may it burn bright for all the world to see.