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New project to highlight pro-LGBT Christians

Videos to give voice to Christians who proclaim they’re ‘not all like that’

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Dan Savage, gay news, Washington Blade

Dan Savage in the debut video for the NALT Christian Project. (Screenshot via YouTube)

A new project inspired by the popular “It Gets Better” campaign aims to give a voice to pro-LGBT Christians who proclaim they’re “Not All Like That,” referring to the anti-gay rhetoric espoused by some conservative Christians.

The effort, dubbed the NALT Christians Project, debuted on Wednesday and will allow Christians to post videos on its website to express support for LGBT people and refute anti-LGBT rhetoric. It’s similar to the “It Gets Better” project, which enabled LGBT people and public figures to tell LGBT youth their lives will improve.

Dan Savage, an LGBT advocate who founded the “It Gets Better” project, created the premiere video for the NALT Christian Project and called on Christians to create videos to demonstrate they’re “not all like that” in terms of holding anti-LGBT views.

“If you don’t speak up, then know that your silence allows the Tony Perkins’ and Pat Robertsons’ of this world to speak for you, and to continue doing real harm not just to young LGBT people, but also to Christianity itself,” Savage says in his video.

Savage says he came up with the term “NALT” after hearing from Christians who told him they’re “not all like that” to distinguish themselves from anti-LGBT leaders who call themselves Christians.

“I heard that so often that I started thinking of the Christians who said that as NALTs, ‘not-all-like-that’ Christians,” Savage says. “Christians who support us on LGBT civil rights. I used the phrase a few times on my blog and in podcasts — and it stuck.”

The initiative was created by Christian author John Shore as well as Wayne Besen and Evan Hurst, activists associated with Truth Wins Out, an organization dedicated to countering widely discredited “ex-gay” sexual orientation conversion therapy.

Besen said he doesn’t think of the project as a shift in his work at Truth Wins Out because he’s always considered the “ex-gay” industry as broader strategy to undermine LGBT people.

“The ‘ex-gay’ industry thrives by exploiting religious guilt and shame to recruit new clients to its programs,” Besen said. “They deliberately contrive a conflict in the hearts and minds of many LGBT people, where they are made to falsely believe they have to choose between their faith and their sexuality. The NALT Chrisitans Project says that no such choice has to be made, and that there are many supportive Christians who will love LGBT people exactly as they are.”

Co-sponsors of the project include: Reconciling Ministries Network, Faith in America, The Evangelical Network, GLAD Alliance, Methodists in New Directions, Covenant Network of Presbyterians, Many Voices and the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists.

As of Wednesday morning, the NALT Christian Project already had 24 videos featuring Christians from around the world, including Presbyterian Minister Mary Lynn Tobin of the Covenant Network.

“I can’t tell how many times over the years I had a giant button that said, ‘I’m a Christian, and we’re not all like that,'” Tobin said. “It drives me crazy that a knock off of Christianity has become an instrument of the right-wing political agenda and become labeled as the real thing by the media. No wonder so many people are hostile to Christianity. I would be, too.”

In another video, Pentecostal Bishop Carlton Pearson said he came to support LGBT people after a long period of soul-searching in which he concluded homosexuality “is not going away.”

“It’s now time for the church — particularly the African-American church — to wake up to the fact that the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ mentality has run its course, and to open up and embrace,” Pearson says. “Because what you fight, you invite, you ignite, and what you resist, persists.”

The website also features a page set up on The Bible with the headline “The Bible does NOT condemn homosexuality” that disputes the notion that the Bible is a rulebook.

“Whenever a specific biblical injunction is found to be incongruous with contemporary mores, a reshaping of the conception of that injunction is not only widely accepted by Christians, it’s encouraged, as long as the new thinking is understood to be in keeping with overriding timeless biblical moral principles,” the website says. “This is why Christian women no longer feel morally constrained to follow Paul’s directives to leave their hair uncut, to keep their heads covered in church, or to always remain quiet in church.”

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District of Columbia

Trial for man charged with assaulting gay men in D.C. park postponed for third time

Indictment says attacker squirted victims with pepper spray

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Meridian Hill Park (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The trial for a 50-year-old man who was arrested July 14, 2022, on charges that he allegedly assaulted five men he believed to be gay at D.C.’s Meridian Hill Park between 2018 and 2021 was postponed for the third time last month and has now been rescheduled for Aug. 19 of this year.   

The arrest of Michael Thomas Pruden came two weeks after a federal grand jury handed down an indictment on June 29, 2022, charging him with five counts of assault on federal park land, one count of impersonating a federal officer and a hate crime designation alleging that he assaulted four of the men because of their perceived sexual orientation. 

Prosecutors with the Office of the U.S. Attorney for D.C. filed a motion in court on Jan. 10 of this year opposing a request by Pruden’s defense attorney to postpone the most recent prior trial date set for Feb. 26. 

“Following indictment in June 2022, the defendant has delayed the trial in this case several times, including by firing two prior attorneys,” the prosecutors’ motion states. “While the government has not previously objected to any continuance, no further delay is warranted,” the motion says. “This is a straightforward case that should proceed to trial as currently scheduled.”

The indictment against Pruden by a U.S. District Court for D.C. grand jury provides some of the details surrounding the case.

“After nightfall, Meridian Hill Park was informally known in the Washington, D.C., community to be a meeting location for men seeking to engage in consensual sexual encounters with other men,” the indictment says. “This practice is colloquially known as ‘cruising,’” the indictment continues. 

“Michael Thomas Pruden frequented Meridian Hill Park after nightfall and on multiple occasions, including those described below, assaulted men in Meridian Hill Park by approaching them with a flashlight, giving them police-style commands and spraying them with a chemical irritant,” the indictment states. 

Virginia court records show that the D.C. indictment against Pruden was handed down 11 months after a U.S. District Court jury in Alexandria, Va., found him not guilty of a charge of assault with a dangerous weapon for allegedly pepper spraying and hitting in the head with a large tree branch a man in Daingerfield Island Park in Alexandria, which is also known as a gay cruising site. 

Federal Public Defender A.J. Kramer, who is representing Pruden in the D.C. case, said in his own motion calling for postponing Pruden’s Feb. 26 trial date that he has at least two other unrelated trials coming up soon and what he called voluminous documents recently provided to him by prosecutors made the latest postponement necessary. 

“Firstly, while Mr. Pruden prefers to go to trial as soon as possible, counsel cannot be ready by February 26, 2024,” his motion states. “Given that the case against Mr. Pruden is actually five cases spanning a three-year period, the discovery is extremely voluminous, in excess of 7,000 pages,” he states in his motion. “Due to this as well as counsel’s other pending matters in the coming weeks, counsel is unable to effectively prepare motions and prep for trial under the current timeline.”

By the 7,000 pages of “discovery” documents, Kramer was referring to the requirement that prosecutors turn over to the defense attorney in advance of a trial details of the evidence prosecutors plan to present at a trial. U.S. District Court Judge Jia M. Cobb approved Pruden’s request for the postponement in a Feb. 5 ruling. 

Court records also show that Pruden was released on personal recognizance following his arrest into the custody of his mother, who lives in Norfolk, Va., where he has been staying since his release. Among other things, conditions for his release prohibit him from having any contact with the individuals he is charged with assaulting and require that he always remain inside his mother’s residence from sunset to sunrise. 

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Texas

Abbott tells UN to ‘pound sand’ amid criticism of anti-LGBTQ policies in Texas

Governor signed seven anti-LGBTQ laws last year

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Texas Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signs the “Save Women’s Sports Act” on Aug. 7, 2023. (Photo courtesy of the Office of the Governor)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Sunday dismissed news coverage of a letter issued last month to the United Nations that expressed alarm over the “deteriorating human rights situation” for LGBTQ people in the Lone Star State.

Signed by Equality Texas, ACLU of Texas, GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, and the University of Texas at Austin School of Law Human Rights Clinic, the letter details how Texas legislators introduced 141 bills targeting the LGBTQ community, passing seven into law.

“The UN can go pound sand,” Abbott wrote in a post on X.

In 2023, the governor signed a ban on gender affirming care for transgender youth, a ban on diversity, equity, and inclusion programs at public universities, a ban on transgender athletes competing in college sports, a law allowing schools to use religious chaplains for counseling services, a ban on “sexually oriented performances” on public property accessible to minors (which targets drag shows), a law allowing schools to restrict LGBTQ books, and a ban on nondiscrimination ordinances by local governments.

The groups argued in their letter that these policies constitute a “systemic discriminatory policy” in violation of international human rights laws, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a multilateral treaty whose tenets are enforced by the UN Human Rights Committee.

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National

WATCH: Washington Post grills transphobic Libs of TikTok creator

Chaya Raichik reaffirmed anti-trans views

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Chaya Raichik, founder of Libs of TikTok is interviewed by Washington Post journalist Taylor Lorenz.in California. (Screenshot/YouTube The Washington Post)

Grilled on a range of topics during an interview with Washington Post journalist Taylor Lorenz, Chaya Raichik, spoke about the great replacement theory, the death of Nex Benedict, a 16-year-old nonbinary in high school student in Oklahoma, why she won’t delete her false accusations about the Uvalde shooter and other mass-shooters, her views on gender, feminism and more.

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