[Ed. Note — Like all newspapers, qnotes strives to ensure our opinion and editorial pages are open to community discussion and thought-provoking conversation. Such openness isn’t limited to only our LGBT and ally readers. Below, you will find a response from anti-LGBT activist and religious leader Dr. Michael Brown, to my editorial, “Anti-gay Pride outreach was spectacular failure,” in the Sept. 13 print edition (goqnotes.com/24888/). Letters to the editor (approximately 200 words) and guest commentaries (approximately 600 words) are always welcome and can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. — Matt Comer, editor]
According to qnotes editor Matt Comer, the outreach I helped organize at the recent Charlotte Pride event was a “spectacular failure.” I beg to differ, and with good reason.
Matt was referring to the outreach involving students and grads from FIRE School of Ministry. They used a survey entitled “Are You Open Minded” to gain insights into the views of those participating in Charlotte Pride, as well as to ask them if they needed prayer for anything.
In years past, we had been involved in different ways at the event, making clear that we had our differences with many gay activist goals while at the same time demonstrating genuine, Christian love in the midst of our differences.
Four years ago, when nearly 500 of us prayed and worshiped across the street from the event, we were joined by a local lesbian activist with whom I subsequently shared a meal. She told us that when she interacted with our group, she met with “radical love.”
Two years ago, several hundred of our friends and colleagues (including families with their kids, all wearing “God Has a Better Way” T-shirts) handed out bottles of water that said, “Jesus Loves You.” According to one local gay activist with whom I had dinner last year, our presence at the event was the “gold standard” for a “model Christian protest.” So yes, we have our differences, but we will conduct ourselves with love and respect.
In fact, this same activist had organized a protest outside of our church in Concord in August 2012, but after a short time there, he called off the event, saying that our congregants were too nice to deserve a protest. He even called my radio show the next day to state that he and his group met with the “perfect love of God” and he wanted to apologize for the protest.
I told him that I was happy to forgive him, but honestly felt he owed us no apology — after all, he was simply acting on his convictions. The big question I had was this: Since we both have deep convictions and live in the same city, how we can be better neighbors? It was this question that led to our subsequent dinner.
This year, as I prayed about what involvement to have in the event, I felt that we would not be obtrusive in any way. Rather, about 40 of our students and grads would ask people if they wanted to answer questions to a survey, telling anyone that asked them that they attended FIRE School of Ministry, also informing anyone who asked that we would post the results of the survey on my website, AskDrBrown.org, as well as mention the results on my radio show that Monday.
There was obviously no intention to mislead in any way, and although Matt says he spoke with some attendees who felt tricked by us — something for which I immediately and without hesitation apologized for when he shared it with me — our students came back with very different reports, saying that they did not have one hostile conversation, that many of the folks they talked with wanted prayer and that some were open to hear more of the gospel.
According to Matt, in the past, my colleagues and I have “interacted with attendees, prayed with attendees and spread harmful, false and hate-filled messages — driving an already outcast community further away from the church rather than closer to it.”
In all candor, what is harmful, false and hate-filled is Matt’s description, further driving a wedge between us.
But don’t take my word for it. Visit one of our church services; sit down and have a meal with me and my friends; invite us to attend one of your church services; or help schedule a private dialog among peer leaders, where we can honestly and candidly address our differences face to face.
Our door is open. : :
— Dr. Michael Brown is host of the nationally-syndicated Line of Fire broadcast, which airs Monday-Friday in Charlotte from 2-4 p.m. on 960 AM and 105.7 FM.