(or, why it is a problem for progressive Christians to be so exotic....)
"People need to know you guys exist!"
"There aren't enough of you!"
"I am so frustrated with the right-wing politics in my church. Where do I find a progressive congregation?"
"Like, hello? Isn't peace and justice what Jesus was about?"
Dozens of people stopped me with comments like these as I marched in downtown Los Angeles at the Women's March on January 20 with at least 200,000 joyful, positive folks committed to moving our country in a progressive direction. I was carrying the Progressive Christians Uniting banner high, and people loved seeing it. I got nothing but smiles and positive responses. Other PCU supporters in the crowd, wearing their "See, Pray, Act" PCU tee-shirts, got the same kinds of reactions.
These comments were both encouraging and sobering.
The happy shock and surprise that I witnessed reminded me that many if not most folks, at least those of a progressive political bent, assume that Christians are homophobic, misogynistic, xenophobic, and lacking in social conscience. The existence of progressive Christians was news to them.
Clearly, we are not nearly as visible and audible as we need to be... not for our own sake, but for the sake of the poor, the sick, and the vulnerable.
You might have heard this advice to hikers: if you encounter a mountain lion, pull your jacket over your head, lift up your arms, and look bigger than you really are. Well, we're facing down a pack of mountain lions right now in this country. It is a systemic attack on the foundations of democracy. It is a regressive political movement with teeth bared to gorge on the public till, gobble up our natural resources through corporate interests, and strangle the social safety net. Progressive Christians need to look at least as big as we are, in order to do our part to get this fat-cat cabal to tuck tail and run.
So here are some ways that you, and the movement of which you are an integral part, can look BIGGER:
* Pass along this e-mail to your friends and fellow church members. If you are a pastor, sign up for Progressive Christians Uniting's e-news HERE, pass along the e-news to your members, and urge your members to subscribe. Same with ProgressiveChristianity.org. Quote these org's in tweets and Facebook posts, including links to the website and e-news articles - and remember to add the #progressivechristians hashtag at the end. The bigger our network, the wider our social media presence, the more influence that you and all of us can have at a local, regional, and national level.
* Affiliate your congregation with PCU and with Progressive Christianity.org now. Look at the national maps of affiliate churches HERE and HERE. Does your congregation work for social justice, affirm full LGBTQ participation, and respect other faith traditions? Then you belong on the maps. They are ways for people looking for a progressive church to find yours! For the PCU map, to get listed, just email me with your church's name, address, phone, contact email and info, and web address. The more churches affiliate with our organizations, the more effective we can be in putting the message of Jesus into action in our world.
* Use the resources of PCU and of ProgressiveChristianity.org in your congregation or group! Both organizations have a wealth of curricula and other resources for worship, study, and activism. By creating, contributing, and using these resources, we are creating a more and more visible and viable alternative "culture" of progressive Christianity that is identifiable to people in the wider public.
When non-Christians and Christian "exiles" find us, they get excited! So we owe it to them to make our voices heard, our congregations accessible, and our witness palpable in the public sphere. Let's look BIGGER so that we can live out the mission of our faith in the world.