A new ad campaign called “All God’s Children” is aiming to rally support for LGBT equality in Mississippi, where a same-sex marriage case is in the hands of a federal judge. The campaign quickly drew criticism from Baptist church officials.
The ads were released by the Human Rights Campaign, which calls Mississippi the “most religious state in America” and notes that Baptists make up 55 percent of the state’s population.
“It would be nearly impossible to successfully engage a large majoring of Mississippians about LGBT equality without discussing it in the context of faith,” says HRC’s fact sheet, which notes that the campaign “is intended to change hearts and minds, improve the public perception and overall awareness of LGBT people, begin to reduce the painful stigma that many face in their daily lives, and help future efforts to enact pro-equality legislation.”
Indeed, one ad (watch below) begins with Mary Jane Kennedy introducing herself as a born-again Christian. Then, tearfully, she shares her family’s story.
Here’s what she had to say:
“I am a Bible-believing, born-again Christian. I was blessed to have three sons — love ’em to death. My middle son was about to graduate from college. He said, ‘Mama, I’m gay.’ Nothing in my life had ever prepared me for that. I said, ‘What’s gonna happen? This is gonna tear our family apart. Your daddy will die.’
“It’s hard to talk to somebody and tell them something you know is gonna break their heart. And it was the first time in my life that I’d ever seen him cry. And he said, ‘Well, they’re my boys, and I love ’em.’
“One of the main things that I want to happen is to open the arms of Jesus Christ to people that have been pressed out of the church. We closed our doors to people who need us the most. God called us to love each other.”
The Southern Baptist-affiliated Baptist Press ran an item in which many church leaders blasted the “pro-gay ad blitz.” One minister told the Baptist Press that “there is an inherent rejection of the Gospel when we do not affirm [the] biblical [vision of] human sexuality, especially as it's portrayed in marriage because marriage is the greatest illustration that God has given us of Himself and how He loves the church."
Earlier this year, HRC announced it was embarking on an $8.5 million initiative to support LGBT equality in Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas.