In California's San Joaquin Valley, where Proposition 8 passed last year by double-digit margins, one gay-affirming church is preparing to challenge fellow resident's prejudices against marriage equality.
Early next year the Valley Ministries Metropolitan Community Church in Stockton plans to launch a "Would Jesus Discriminate" campaign, part of a nationwide MCC initiative under the website banner WhyWouldWe.org. Outreach to conservative counties in California is crucial, given an effort to repeal Proposition 8 next year, led by grassroots groups like Love Honor Cherish, next year is well under way. Marriage equality forces have until April 12 to collect nearly 700,000 voter signatures, though organizers assert they likely will need to gather 1 million signatures.
But the Stockton effort will also tackle other issues of inequality, including discrimination in employment and housing, Valley Ministries MCC Reverend Terri Miller told The [Stockton] Record. "It's meant to open dialogue with other communities of faith. Especially living in the San Joaquin Valley, you have people who I would call very close-minded, who use God's word to beat people up instead of [to] love people."
Other MCC congregations have launched media campaigns, including a Dallas billboard effort that includes slogans like "Jesus Affirmed a Gay Couple" -- a reference to the gospel story of Jesus healing the "servant" of a Roman soldier (his male lover, according to some biblical scholars) -- and "Ruth Loved Naomi as Adam Loved Eve."
The campaign is a play on the "What Would Jesus Do?" bracelet phenomenon, embraced by many evangelical Christians earlier in the decade. The predominantly LGBT Metropolitan Community Church denomination, which has 250 congregations in more than 20 countries, has used the antidiscrimination message in previous campaigns in Texas and Indiana, among other states.