The Reformation Project presents opportunity to reframe LGBT and Christian conversation

Starting tomorrow, LGBT and allied Christians will be gathering in Washington, DC, for the conference of The Reformation Project. This conference, under the leadership of Matthew Vines, will bring together LGBT people, allies, Christians of all stripes, and probably more than few people that are coming to listen and learn about the overlap between LGBT people and Christianity.

What's the importance of a conference like this? It's not the first conference of LGBT Christians and their allies, but it comes at a critical time.

Three of the recent major LGBT and religion headlines have been gatherings of religious bodies to talk about LGBT people. Last month, the Vatican held an Extraordinary Synod on Marriage and Family, discussing, among other things, the role of LGBT people in the church. After some initial documents that signaled the possible inclusion of LGBT people, the final report reaffirmed the Church's teaching that denies the reality of LGBT people.

Then we had the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. This gathering gave a standing ovation to a florist who refused to sell flowers to a gay couples, claims that the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard was a hoax, and the insistence that homosexuality is "disordered behavior" and equated homosexuality with things like adultery. However, the leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention also held closed-door side meetings with LGBT Christian advocates. Then, at the closing, Russell Moore denounced reparative therapy, saying that attempts to change sexual orientation has been “severely counterproductive.”

And just days ago, a familiar line up of anti-LGBT figures assembled in Houston for #IStandSunday, presumably to protest the passage and defense of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, but often veered into attacks on LGBT people and their families. The message was any support on LGBT people, whether from government or even from within the church, would be seen as an attack on Christians.

That's what makes The Reformation Project unique and special. It is LGBT people and allies. And it goes beyond the regular talking leadership that we've seen over and over again. The conference will be a opportunity for all Christians who want to advance the dignity of LGBT people, especially Christians in non-affirming churches, denominations, or communities who seek to have more loving, fruitful, and informed conversations with non-affirming friends and family members. The focus is on training the participants to go forth and share their faith, and their support for LGBT people outside of the conference.

As significant media attention was paid to the Vatican, the Southern Baptist Convention, and #IStandSunday, it's time for the media to focus on a conference that doesn't look to examine LGBT people, or to lament that LGBT people are not simply cowering in the corner. The Reformation Project is one of many examples of faithful LGBT people and allies speaking out about faith and LGBT support. Currently, those people are underrepresented in mainstream media, but we have an opportunity to highlight them even more.