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[REV. DR. C. WELTON GADDY, HOST]: Welcome back to State of
Belief Radio, Im Welton Gaddy.
When Matthew Vines came out as gay a few years ago, he was
already searching for a way to integrate his Evangelical Christian faith
and his personal identity. Undaunted by the culture war rhetoric that
usually precludes a more theologically-based study of this issue,
earlier this year Matthew produced a provocative book titled, God and
the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex
He also founded a non-proft called The Reformation Project. Part of
its core mission is to help equip Christians to advocate for LGBT
persons within faith communities and a regional training conference
to advance that mission is coming up on November 6-8 in
Washington, DC. With early registration closing this coming Tuesday,
it's a perfect time to welcome Matthew Vines back to State of Belief
Matthew, it was a pleasure to talk with you when your book came out,
and I'm glad to have you in studio today.
[MATTHEW VINES, GUEST]: Thank you so much for having me,
[WG]: You've really got an impressive list of speakers scheduled for
the upcoming conference. So just start with some name-dropping!
[MV]: All right... Well, I'm really excited about how many diferent
leaders in this conversation in the Church are coming together for the
Reformation Project's conference, which is here in Washington, DC,
November 6th through the 8th.
Our two keynote speakers are Allyson Robinson, who was recently
featured in an MSNBC mini-documentary. She's the Transitions
Pastor at Calvary Baptist, and one of the - I think maybe the only -
openly-transgender clergy member in the country. Certainly the only
Baptist one. She's phenomenal. Also David Gushee, who is a very
prominent Evangelical ethicist from Georgia will be speaking on the
last night of the conference.
Who else is coming? Gene Robinson will be there. Jane Clementi will
be there. Justin Lee of the Gay Christian Network will be there. Frank
Schaefer, the United Methodist Pastor who's in the news this year, will
be there. Danny Cortez, the Southern Baptist pastor who's also been
in the news after changing his position. Ken Wilson, the Vineyard
pastor who's been in diferent articles about changing his position, as
well. Amy Butler, who was recently named the frst woman pastor at
Riverside Church in New York. Also Derrick Harkins, the pastor of
19th Street Baptist here in Washington, DC. Brad Braxton, who works
at the Ford Foundation and before Amy Butler was the Senior
Minister at Riverside Church. We're just going to be bringing in all
sorts of people - Nikilas Mawanda is a Ugandan refugee seeking
asylum here in the United States, living in DC, because he was
essentially hounded out of Uganda because he started one of their
frst transgender advocacy groups there - he's trans. And so just a lot
of really powerful voices that are coming together to show where the
Church is and should be moving, and how others can shift in that
direction as well.
[WG]: It's a great group, and as a matter of fact, it sounds like a roster
of people that we've had on State of Belief Radio, too. I'm glad that
you're drawing on these wonderful resources. Talk about the specifc
subjects that are going be covered in the conference.
[MV]: The conference is primarily a Bible-based training event for
Christians who are LGBT-afrming or at least sympathetic - but who
want and need the biblical tools in order to go back to their pastors,
their parents, their peers, their colleagues and say, "Here is why I
don't just feel this way my heart, but I can actually defend my beliefs
from a Bible-based standpoint. And I'm not giving up on the authority
of Scripture. I am maintaining my belief in the Bible's centrality and
authority, while also arguing that the Bible does not speak to the issue
of LGBT Christians in a way that should require us to exclude them
and their committed relationships from the life of the Church."
So it's very content-focused - all about Scripture, and how do you talk
about Scripture and LGBT issues with Christians who aren't there
yet? Where the bar for persuasion is high, but where the conversation
is possible.
[WG]: Are you going to be doing that not just by talking about
Scripture, but by actually engaging passages of Scripture that people
have trouble interpreting, and understanding the application of that to
the issue?
[MV]: Yes, actually, Jim Brownson is a New Testament professor
from Western Theological Seminary in Michigan who wrote a really
phenomenal book on this subject last year - more of a seminary-level
book than mine is. And he and I are going to be leading the Bible
teaching and training sessions, where we're going to focus - yes, we'll
focus on the six passages, which are sometimes called the "clobber
passages," although that's not a phrase I really use, but the main six
passages - but also more than that, there are foundational,
theological questions and arguments about gender complementarity;
about how we understand gender roles and the role of patriarchy from
the Old Testament to the New Testament to moving into the Christian
church today.
There are a lot of really foundational theological principles and
applications, as well, that we'll be discussing. So people will defnitely
leave the conference, though - if anybody has ever had a
conversation with a pastor, and they're telling their pastor what's in
their heart about LGBT people, and the pastor opens up his or her
Bible to, for instance, Romans chapter one, and then you don't know
what to say. You just feel stuck. And you feel sick inside, because you
know you don't agree, but you feel like it's a dead end. This
conference is designed to change that, and to make it so that once
you come to this conference and go back home, you can sit in that
room in that chair across from your pastor or anywhere else,
and have so much more confdence. Because they can bring up
Romans one or First Corinthians six, or whatever passage it is, and
you're going to be prepared and actually have cogent, persuasive
responses to continue the conversation. Don't let the conversation
get railroaded or shut down there. And we've been stuck there for so
long... This conference and the tools that we are giving people at the
conference, is designed to change that.
[WG]: Well, I want to make clear - and you've done it there, but I'm
doing it with redundancy intentionally - this is not a conference for
ofcial religious leaders or ordained clerics alone. This is a
conference for people who are interested in this issue and have an
interest in what the Bible really does say about it.
[MV]: Yes, and while we are pleased and honored to have a number
of clergy there, in many ways, it's lay people who can have an even
bigger impact in certain communities. If you're in a church where
there hasn't been an open conversation on this issue, even if the
pastor wanted to change his or her mind on this, it probably wouldn't
be received very well. And we've all seen how this issue can play out
in very divisive, nasty ways.
However, if you're a lay leader in the church, you don't have as much
to lose. You don't have your career on the line. You're in a position
where if you have the right arguments, tools and resources at your
disposal, you can use those to help to open up the conversation;
slowly shift the dynamic; and make it so that over time, your pastor
has more room to work with when he or she wants to be partnering or
collaborating or changing their mind.
[WG]: How do you keep yourself from being distracted by the ongoing
anti-gay messages emanating from the religious right?
[MV]: Well, I don't consider it a distraction, because that is just the
status quo. It is what it is; it's not surprising. It's certainly not good, but
I can't let myself get worn out by that - because the entire reason I've
been doing this is because I know that's the status quo in so many
places, in countless churches, among millions of Christians. That's
the dialogue is, and so that's why we have to be strategic and
intentional and persistent, in order to change that.
If every time something terrible happened you let yourself get of track
- you would just be being beaten around constantly, and getting
nothing done. So you've got to focus on the long term. If you have a
long-term perspective, it's easier to stay grounded.
[WG]: I know that you've had one smaller conference already. Is this
an expansion of that, or is it an intensifcation of it?
[MV]: It is not an intensifcation - it is an expansion. The conference
that we did last year was considerably more intense in terms of its
curriculum than this conference will be. It was for ffty Christians -
application only - who spent more than three months reading ffteen
hundred pages of academic literature, and then came for four days of
what I call the "Bible Boot Camp." That is not what this conference
is. This conference is for people who may not be ready to dedicate
their lives to this cause, but who could really beneft from better
resources and messages.
So there is no advanced curriculum. People do not have to do that
kind of study. You'll have to pay attention in the training sessions at
the conference, but it's just two-and-a-half days, it's not four days.
We're casting a wider net this time.
And from this conference, we will be inviting some of our most
promising attendees to apply for our next leadership development
program, which will be similarly intense to last year's. And that will
happen in early 2015.
And then we're doing our next major regional event in Atlanta in June,
and one in Kansas City in the fall of 2015. And out of each of these
events, we're going to be cultivating and building up leaders: leaders
for the long haul, who we'll be putting through these intensive
leadership programs. But certainly, you don't have to be ready to do
that in order to come to this conference and to get a lot out of it.
[WG]: How does a person register for this conference?
[MV]: If you go to Reformationproject.org, all the information is there.
[WG]: In the months since the release of your book, what's been the
biggest surprise for you on the way the message has been handled?
[MV]: The biggest surprise, honestly, even for an optimist like me, has
been how ready a lot of people are to have this conversation - even in
the Evangelical Christian world. I have been able to, I feel like I have
made more progress, just in terms of the people I've been able to
reach and be in ongoing dialogue with than I expected to by this
I expected that it would be a harder, slower slog. And in some
respects it is; but there have been a number of incredibly encouraging
developments this year that just demonstrate this conversation - not
only is it not going to go away, but it might open up even faster than I
hoped, or that I thought I could hope for.
[WG]: Matthew, a lot has happened, as you've said, during this last
year to you, and you've had some good surprises. I know you've had
some challenges as well. What's the last year done to you,
[MV]: It's been invigorating, it really has. Because I don't mind
criticism in the slightest, especially on this issue, because what it
means is - you have a voice. You're not going to be criticized if you
don't have a voice and if people don't know that you exist. So when I
was frst trying to come out - 2010, 2011 - that was my biggest
struggle, was just to feel like I was visible, and that people even felt
like they needed to engage with what I was saying at all. That's been
the struggle of so many LGBT Christians, is feeling voiceless,
powerless, alone. So to see how much that continues to change is
incredibly encouraging, and gives me a lot of fuel going forward.
[WG]: Matthew Vines is the author of God and the Gay Christian: The
Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships. Hes the founder
of The Reformation Project, which is organizing a training conference
in Washington, DC next month for Christians who would like to be
better equipped to advocate on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender people in their faith communities.
Matthew, I love the positive spirit that you bring to your work. I really
respect the commitment to Holy Scripture that you have, and the
passion you have for helping people understand the message of
Scripture in relation to the sexual orientation of a lot of diferent
people, and I wish you success in this conference. And in fact, I afrm
and wish you success in all that you're doing, and I appreciate you
taking time to be a part of State of Belief Radio. You'll always be
welcome here.
[MV]: Well thank you so much, Welton. Thanks for having me, and I
hope to see you and your listeners at the event!

Matthew Vines
Matthew Vines is the founder and president of The Reformation
Project. He is also the author of God and the Gay Christian: The
Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships, published by
Convergent earlier this year. In 2012, Matthew delivered a speech at
a church in his hometown of Wichita, Kansas, making the case that
Christians should afrm gay Christians and their marriage
relationships. His speech went viral, having been seen nearly
800,000 times and leading to a feature story in The New York Times.
In 2013, Matthew launched The Reformation Project and hosted an
inaugural leadership training conference for 50 Christians from across
the U.S. and Canada. He is now expanding his eforts with
conferences in Washington, D.C., Kansas City, and Atlanta, as well
as his book. God and the Gay Christian has generated signifcant
media attention, with US News & World Report calling it profoundly
important and veteran religion reporter David Crumm writing that it
is going to be a classic.

Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy

Author of more than 20 books, including First Freedom First: A
Citizens Guide to Protecting Religious Liberty and the Separation of
Church and State, the Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy leads the national
non-partisan grassroots and educational organization Interfaith
Alliance and serves as Pastor for Preaching and Worship at
Northminster (Baptist) Church in Monroe, Louisiana.
In addition to being a prolifc writer, Dr. Gaddy hosts the weekly State
of Belief radio program, where he explores the role of religion in the
life of the nation by illustrating the vast diversity of beliefs in America,
while exposing and critiquing both the political manipulation of religion
for partisan purposes and the religious manipulation of government
for sectarian purposes.
Dr. Gaddy provides regular commentary to the national media on
issues relating to religion and politics. He has appeared on MSNBCs
The Rachel Maddow Show and Hardball, NBCs Nightly News and
Dateline, PBSs Religion and Ethics Newsweekly and The Newshour
with Jim Lehrer, C-SPANs Washington Journal, ABCs World News,
and CNNs American Morning. Former host of Morally Speaking on
NBC afliate KTVE in Monroe, Louisiana, Dr. Gaddy is a regular
contributor to mainstream and religious news outlets.
While ministering to churches with a message of inclusion, Dr. Gaddy
emerged as a leader among progressive and moderate Baptists.
Among his many leadership roles, he is a past president of the
Alliance of Baptists and has been a 20-year member of the
Commission of Christian Ethics of the Baptist World Alliance. His past
leadership roles include serving as a member of the General Council
of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, President of Americans United
for Separation of Church and State, Chair of the Pastoral Leadership
Commission of the Baptist World Alliance and member of the World
Economic Forums Council of 100. Rev. Gaddy currently serves on
the White House task force on the reform of the Ofce of Faith Based
and Neighborhood Partnerships.
Prior to the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist
Convention (SBC), Dr. Gaddy served in many SBC leadership roles
including as a member of the conventions Executive Committee from
1980-84 and Director of Christian Citizenship Development of the
Christian Life Commission from 1973-77.
Dr. Gaddy received his undergraduate degree from Union University
in Jackson, Tennessee and his doctoral degree and divinity training
from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville,

State of Belief Radio
State of Belief is based on the proposition that religion has a positive
and healing role to play in the life of the nation. The show explains
and explores that role by illustrating the vast diversity of beliefs in
America the most religiously diverse country in the world while
exposing and critiquing both the political manipulation of religion for
partisan purposes and the religious manipulation of government for
sectarian purposes.
Each week, the Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy ofers listeners critical
analysis of the news of religion and politics, and seeks to provide
listeners with an understanding and appreciation of religious liberty.
Rev. Gaddy tackles politics with the frm belief that the best way to
secure freedom for religion in America is to secure freedom from
religion. State of Belief illustrates how the Religious Right is wrong
wrong for America and bad for religion.
Through interviews with celebrities and newsmakers and feld reports
from around the country, State of Belief explores the intersection of
religion with politics, culture, media, and activism, and promotes
diverse religious voices in a religiously pluralistic world.