Faith In America
Why I founded Faith in America to help advance the cause for equality in America and end the harm being caused to young people everywhere.
By Mitchell Gold | Contact
Mitchell Gold is the co-founder of the successful and innovative furniture design and manufacturing company Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. He is renowned for his nurturing management style, his edgy marketing, and his savvy business skills.
Mitchell is also known for philanthropy, particularly to the gay community. He has won numerous awards and honors for his work from the Human Rights Campaign and the National Black Justice Coalition. The Advocate magazine recognized Mitchell as a Person of the Year in 2006, calling him a Bridge Builder for the work of his non profit, Faith in America.
In September 2008, Mitchell released his second book, Crisis: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social and Religious Trauma of Growing up Gay in America.
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Faith In America was founded in 2005 with a mission of educating Americans about the immense harm caused to gay and lesbian Americans – particularly youth – by deep-seated prejudice and hostility within majoritarian religious institutions.
The message platform employs history as a teaching tool in the goal of ending of society's prolonged embrace of a social climate of rejection, condemnation and violence toward gay and lesbian Americans.
It asks the public to examine the deep-seated prejudice within religious institutions that served to prolong society's embrace of slavery, women's suffrage and segregation. It then asks them to recognize the deep-seated prejudice and hostility toward gay and lesbian Americans within religious institutions today.
In recognizing how religious teaching has been misused in the past, our work has demonstrated that religious-minded individuals can reasonable conclude that religious teaching is misused in relation to GLBT individuals and their quest for equality.
During the previous three years, the organization has observed solid movement on the acceptance meter during various polling and focus groups conducted when this message has been presented to the public. We have observed how the public indeed can connect the dots between this commonality of social injustice past and present.
A majority of the California Supreme Court affirmed that history has illuminated the path toward social justice on this issue in its recent landmark ruling on marriage equality. The court addressed the historical precedents of deep-seated prejudice within majoritarian institutions in their discussion of former landmark equality court cases such as Perez and Loving.
With opposition from religious organizations and religious/political organizations recognized as the No. 1 impediment to full equality, many within both the GLBT community and among its straight allies believe an effective challenge to deep-seated hostility and prejudice within religious institutions is long overdue.
The organization has spent the previous three years refining its message so that it confronts religion based hostility and prejudice without offending the religious consciousness of its target audience – the religious movable middle.
In fact, the organization has gathered sufficient evidence during the previous three years to suggest such a message can in fact further move the moveable middle away from the anti-gay rhetoric and attitudes coming from anti-gay religious and political factions. Those factions often portend a close association to faith communities. Yet their politically motivated excoriation of good, decent Americans exposes a form of hypocrisy that most religious-minded Americans can readily recognize.
The organization's underlying assumption – put forth at the inception of the organization – is that the religious movable middle indeed is movable because a majority of those religious-minded individuals simply do not accept the rejection and condemnation that they have heard for so long coming from the anti-gay religious segment of our society.
The California Supreme Court ruling and recent polling indicates the organization's messaging platform is in line with a monumental attitudinal shift in relation to this issue.
Lifeway Research, an arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, surveyed 1,201 adults in April to determine their attitudes about homosexuality. Forty-eight percent responded that homosexual behavior is sinful, but 45 percent said that it is not -- basically a statistical tie when the margin of error is taken into account.
During the previous 12 months, we have seen an acceleration of individuals stepping forward and asking that a new conversation begin in relation to how faith communities relate to the GLBT community. Several of these individuals identify as conservative evangelical Christians.
These recent developments strongly suggest that directly challenging the prejudice and hostility that is deeply rooted in the mindset of religious adherents is not something that the GLBT community and it allies should fear or avoid.
Our organization has been diligent in developing a message that does not appear as contradictory or confrontational to the overall mindset of religious-minded Americans. As many individuals and groups have done over the centuries, we bring awareness to a perceived problem within the faith community while uplifting the many positive benefits these communities bring to individuals and society as a whole.
We share the belief held by Democratic presidential nominee U.S. Sen. Barack Obama that you can work to bring about awareness and understanding to a problem without casting those who hold an opposing viewpoint as the enemy.
Our work has convinced us that the majority of religious-minded Americans are ready to distance themselves from those groups and individuals who for too long have coerced the American public into thinking that rejection, condemnation and violence is somehow of religious or social value.
The capacity of Americans' hearts and minds has been awakened to the harm that has been caused to good, decent citizens whose only difference is their sexual orientation.
Our nation surely is deserving of that change.