How do I approach someone to begin this conversation?
There’s no perfect way to have a difficult conversation like this and it may take more than one discussion to really connect with someone about the topic. That said, here are two recommendations:
- Tell a story about a straight Christian whose heart and mind have changed on this issue, about an LGBT Christian who is very involved in church life, or about an LGBT person you know who has suffered as a result of people whose negative feelings toward LGBT people are due to their religious convictions.
- Be honest. Be direct. Tell the person that you want to have a conversation about faith and what it means to be lesbian, gay, bisexual and trangender. Then, stop talking and listen. Let their reaction direct your responses.
I am not LGBT, but I am a straight ally. Is this tool for me?
Research shows that there are two groups of people who can be most effective in pivotal conversations with conflicted Christians: LGBT people who are close to the conflicted individual, and heterosexual people. Straight allies are particularly effective when they can tell stories of their own transformative journey from antagonism to supporting LGBT equality based on Christian convictions, but if this is not your story, do not worry. The bottom line is that we all need to start these conversations with our loved ones and the research that the Friends & Family Plan provides is relevant for all.
I am a minister and would like to incorporate this research into my sermons. How might I do that?
The recommended strategies and messages you can find on the Friends & Family Plan are great content for sermons and public addresses. When you are composing your sermon, keep in mind the demographics of the majority of your congregation. Enter this information in the tool and incorporate the recommendations and strategies you receive into your talk. Do keep in mind, however, that your audience will always reflect a range of backgrounds and perspectives.
How is the research included in the tool chosen?
The team at Auburn Media, a program of Auburn Theological Seminary, sought recommendations from our national partners and other leaders in the religious LGBT equality movement regarding the best recent research that focuses on moving conflicted Christians in America to support LGBT equality. We continue to gather and input breaking research into The Friends & Family Plan on a regular basis.
I belong to a religious organization and would like to partner with you. How can I do that?
We would love to discuss partnership and broaden the circle of regional and national partners who are using The Friends & Family Plan to move conflicted Christians to support LGBT equality. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to meeting you.
Why does The Friends & Family Plan only focus on Christians?
Approximately three-quarters of Americans identify as Christian. According to research there is a growing number of Americans who know, respect, and even love an LGBT person but do not provide full support for LGBT equality because of their Christian convictions. The Friends & Family Plan has focused on Christians because we believe that if we can help conflicted Christians support the people they know and love who are LGBT without leaving their Christianity behind, we will be well on our way to developing a critical mass in America that stands for equality for LGBT people.
Why is a seminary advocating for LGBT equality?
Auburn Seminary stands for the full equality of LGBT people and places this struggle for justice alongside other historic struggles for justice, including racial and gender equality. Just as the Bible has been used in the past to support slavery and the oppression of women, it is used today to justify the oppression of LGBT people. Auburn Seminary considers it a Christian and educational duty to teach the the Christian ethic of equality in all contexts.