This week marks the beginning of an unprecedented media campaign that will challenge Hoosiers to re-examine their assumptions about what the Bible says about homosexuality. The message will be everywhere — on 22 billboards across the Indianapolis metro area, on two thousand yard signs, and on hundreds of t-shirts and bumper stickers.
The 30-day campaign is meant to highlight Scriptures that affirm gay people and their relationships. For example, one billboard message boldly declares: “Jesus affirmed a gay couple. Matthew 8:5-13.” Each billboard and yard sign invites viewers to visit a web site that provides detailed support for the Scriptural claims â€“ www.WouldJesusDiscriminate.com
The campaign is being coordinated by Jesus Metropolitan Community Church of Indianapolis, with critical support from Faith In America and Metropolitan Community Churches worldwide. Faith In America is a national organization devoted to ending religious bigotry against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.
Jesus MCC bills itself as “a church that is passionate about Jesus and the Bible, but not afraid of diversity or independent thought.” It is part of a denomination — Metropolitan Community Churches — with a long history of outreach to the gay and transgender community. Jesus MCC is the largest church of its type anywhere in the Midwest.
Last summer Jesus MCC, Faith In America, and MCC conducted a pilot project in Indianapolis, using billboards and yard signs to ask a simple question: “Would Jesus Discriminate?” This year’s project will be bigger and bolder, moving beyond a gentle question to propose a bold answer that some may find unsettling. “In the past, many Christians misused the Bible to support slavery, oppose equal rights for women, and oppose interracial marriage,” says Rev. Jimmy Creech, Executive Director of Faith In America. “They went so far as to accuse people on the other side of being unbiblical. The same thing is happening again with respect to same-gender relationships. It has to stop.”
Another of the billboards that will appear in Indianapolis proclaims, “Ruth loved Naomi as Adam loved Eve. Genesis 2:24; Ruth 1:14.” Rev. Jeff Miner, Senior Pastor of Jesus MCC, said, “I can already hear tires screeching across Indianapolis as folks see the billboards. Most people have no idea that the Bible contains passages that powerfully affirm gay people.”
The purpose of the Indianapolis Campaign, Pastor Miner says, is to change the whole tenor of the debate over homosexuality. “Right now,” Miner says, “most people think this is a debate between people who love the Bible â€“ conservative Christians â€“ and people who want to throw out the Bible â€“ godless homosexuals. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our Church welcomes hundreds of devout gay Christians who love the Bible deeply. Our goal is to rescue the Bible from misinterpretations driven by cultural prejudice, so its true message of grace, hope, and peace can come through.”
The web site supporting the campaign also addresses Scripture passages sometimes used against gay people. These passages, the web site suggests, are being lifted out of context and applied in ways the original authors never dreamed.
“We need to have an authentic dialogue about what the Bible says,” Pastor Miner said. “I would be willing to discuss this subject in a public forum with any credible pastor who is willing to have a respectful dialogue. Let’s shine a light on this subject, compare our different points of view, and let thoughtful people make up their own minds.”
Says Creech, “In their hearts, people know that discriminating against gay and transgender people is terribly wrong. We want to encourage people to speak up when religious bullies misuse the Bible to berate gay people. Each of us has a responsibility to end the misuse of religion to justify discrimination.”
- Jesus Metropolitan Community Church, Indianapolis, Rev. Jeff Miner, (317) 722-0000
- Faith In America, Jimmy Creech, Executive Director, (919) 606-6736
- Metropolitan Community Churches Worldwide, Rev. Dr. Cindi Love, Executive Director, (972) 358-5907