Here in LGBTQ-friendly Massachusetts, there are not too many places where we are not welcome. We are invited to conferences, schools, public events, and churches. Don’t be complacent, though. Next week, April 23- 25, Christian conservative evangelicals will gather for Q Boston. We are not invited.
The Q Boston conference will take place at the historic Converse Hall in Downtown Crossing Theater District. The conference has come to Boston because we are, as its website states, “the birthplace of revolution”. They are using the patriotic slogan to promote “how to advance the common good in a pluralistic society.”
But, a pluralistic society is the farthest thing from the conference goals. A truer description would be a society where Christian conservative evangelical theocracy bans LGBTQ Christians from worshipping in their faith communities and also bans us from state and federal rights. The conference goals stated on its website does more than merely hint to this:
“First, a desire to be informed and exposed to current culture and the conversations shaping our public discourse. Second, the desire to be restorers, faithfully bringing the love and creativity infused by the Gospel in whatever occupation they hold. And thirdly, they hold the view that it’s a Christian responsibility to renew culture and promote human flourishing for all people in our society.”
I mistakenly thought, given its title, the conference was for us, but was quickly disabused of the notion when I found out the conference was about us, and about how to stop the tide on LGBTQ civil rights.
Not surprisingly, one of Q Boston’s sponsors is Gordon College. Gordon College, a small conservative Christian college on the North Shore, prides itself on upholding the tenets of religious freedom. The college tested its boundaries with last year’s Supreme Court case “Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.” Michael Lindsay, the president, along with 14 influential religious leaders from across the country—asked Obama for an exemption banning discrimination in hiring on the basis of sexual orientation. Lindsay’s book “Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite,” has become the go-to tome in how to clamp down on American liberalism.
Q Boston is correct in stating that Boston is “the birthplace of revolution,” thereby planting the event here just a few days before Mary Bonauto, Civil Rights Project Director at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and Doug Hallward-Driemeier of Ropes & Gray will argue for marriage equality at the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, April 28th is no accident. Bonauto, renown architect of our present-day marriage equality movement, and her team won the country’s first victory for marriage equality in “Goodridge v. Department of Public Health” in 2003.
At present, marriage equality for same-sex couples is legal in 37 states, and including the nation’s capitol.
But if you think the war against LGBTQ Christians is over, especially giving the number to states that have legalized same-sex marriage and the number of churches across denominations that are now open and affirming of various gender identities and sexual orientations just ask Matthew Vines for his take.
Matthew Vines, is a native Wichita, Kansas, who represents, in my opinion, the new generation of LGBTQ Christian advocates. As an openly gay progressive evangelical Christian, Vines, at age 23, founded of “The Reformation Project” in 2013, a Bible-based, Christian non-profit organization that seeks to reform church teaching on sexual orientation and gender identity. His book, “God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships” which was launched in April 2014 is now translated in six different languages. And Vines’s 2012 viral sensation on YouTube “The Gay Debate: The Bible and Homosexuality” has been viewed over 350,000 times generating over 7,000 comments to date.
Vines along with David Gushee, another progressive evangelical, were asked to present at Q Boston; however, when a huge cohort of bible-thumping conservative evangelicals, who will also be in attendance at the conference, heard that Vine and Gushee will be given a platform to present their ideas, it is now to be seen if they will walk through the conference door. This groups labeled the young men as “dissenters from Biblical orthodoxy” for this views on same-sex marriage and LGBTQ rights.
But conservative Christian conferences like Q Boston is getting old, tired and stale because evangelical millennials—straight or LGBTQ like Vine—grew up in a milieu where the human rights of an individual trumps an intentionally static and bigoted interpretation of Scripture.
“If only orthodox evangelical leaders would give up their antiquated beliefs, get more in step with the real Jesus, the church and the world would be better off,” Brandan Robertson wrote in his op-ed titled “How Conservative Evangelicals Misunderstand Millennials.” on “God Politics” blog. And it is this generation of evangelical millennials that should be allowed at Q Boston, like Vine and Gushee, with open arms.
But with a registration fee at $775 per person the price for admission is as repulsive as the goals of the conference.