The Secretive Shake-up at the Gay Christian NetworkPosted: July 29, 2017
As far as Im aware, prior to the teen years of the twenty-first century, there was no widely recognized centralized hub for gay Christians, other than so-called “ex-gay” groups such as Exodus International. Other than “ex-gay”* groups, there were denomination-based GLBT groups like Acceptance, for Catholics, and More Light for Presbyterians, and denominations like MCC , which are essentially inherently gay, but there was no well known group that brought together specifically LGBT Christians across denominational boundaries.
But in the mid teen years of the 21st Century (the year 2015?), one group began to be recognized as filling this role; The Gay Christian Network. Those who had become figureheads for GLBT Christians, such as Julie Rogers, and straight allies such as Rachel Held Evans, started attending the annual conference of the Gay Christian Network, of Eastern USA, and blogging about it. And attendance figures at the annual conference, grew in leaps and bounds each year, so that over 1000 attendees would participate from around the world. The Gay Christian Network (GCN) had long been basically an online forum with approximately 1 real employee; its head, Justin Lee. But the organisation began to take off, and the conference began to be promoted as “the world’s largest annual LGBT Christian event (ref.).”
It had probably not been mentioned in mainstream media until around 2015, when it’s size became notable. But now, only a few years later, we find that its executive director, who has steered the ship from all the way back at inception 16 years earlier, has been dismissed due to what GCN described as “irreconcilable differences”. And a board member has reportedly resigned in solidarity with him.
What’s intriguing about this, is that the management team have signed an agreement that they wont say why he was ejected. Which raises the question of why the secrecy is needed. The organisation is regarded by its supporters as a ‘ministry’, IE an organization that takes donations in order to thrive. And charities are supposed to be transparent, arnt they?
Board member Danny Cortez has written on facebook to GCN supporters that
“we also hear that you’d like us to be more transparent. And we want you to know that transparency is important to us. But as it stands, we are legally prohibited from sharing more information with you. We unfortunately cannot reveal anything further regarding Justin’s departure. We grieve that this has caused frustration for you.”
Others have responded that it’s unfortunate that GCN have put themselves in a position where this is needed.
Long-time columnist on LGBT Christian matters, Eliel Cruz has written that he has tried to report on the situation, but most outlets dont want to run a story on it. That’s understandable I guess, because as Cruz wrote on Facebook, nobody will go on record about it –
But why will nobody go on record? Do they have something to hide?
Cruz has reported comments from GCN that the organization will continue as before, and notably, quoted a GCN board-member saying that “there will be no abandonment of Side B.”
GCN have long referred to Side A Christians and Side B Christians, where Side A are the Christians who believe that homosexual relations (sex) is not inherently sinful, and Side B are the Christians who believe that it is. GCN has long had significant proportions of GLBT supporters from both sides – which of course would not be easy given how each view tends to be an anathema to the other (Side A supporters sometimes claim that Side B views result in GLBT suicides, while Side B supporters tend to suspect that Side A views lead away from eternal life). For many years, Lee claimed to take an objective stance, representing both points of view. However, over the 16 years that the organisation has existed, Lee has increasingly expressed that his personal opinion lies on side A and not side B. As we have noted on this blog previously, this has rendered his claimed objectivity, as being merely diplomacy, while he happily expressed the truth behind the mask, when it suited him.
So the question on the minds of many now (already expressed by some, as perhaps indicated in the screenshot below), is whether Lee was finally wanting to give up the pretense of being at peace with having firm Side A views, while still holding out open arms to those from Side B? Was that the reason he was ejected?
Because those of us who are old enough, are aware of the general trajectory of the gay rights movement. We remember how commonly they cried out in the 1990s for “tolerance”, and then once they got it a decade or two later, they changed the demand to “acceptance”, and then eventually moved on to actually be intolerant of views that dont affirm homosexuality. Has secular LGBT intolerance now bled across and caused an implosion in Christian circles?
Lee has said in a blog that there are projects that he had planned for GCN, which he will now be undertaking himself separate from GCN. At the time of writing, these projects have not been articulated. But it sounds like they were rejected by the GCN board, meaning they would be indicative of the division. Thus it sounds like the cause of division, will become clearer.
*”ex-gay” was a term used to refer to groups such as Exodus International, which taught that gay people can loose their same sex attractions and no longer be gay. Towards the end of it’s life, Exodus International stopped teaching that it is realistic to loose same-sex attractions. Today groups with similar teachings, exist, and are still sometimes referred to by some as “ex-gay”, but they tend now to teach that gay people should ignore and control their same-sex attractions, rather than expecting the attractions to disappear.