Coming Out as a Christian

Kim Klein declares the that she is a Christian, calling for all who are religious to stand against the war on women and people of color.

Coming Out as a Christian
6 mins read

The price we pay for being open with our beliefs will be far less than remaining quiet.

Kim Klein is a legendary speaker on fundraising, taxes, social justice, and community-building. She is well-known as a leftist and open about being a lesbian. Here she comes out in a different way:

Recently I shocked some colleagues whom I like a lot. This is what happened:

Colleague A: Can you believe that Santorum? He’s such a clear example of why any intelligent person leaves religion behind.”

Colleague B: “There are some well-meaning religious people, but you have to wonder about someone who believes all that stuff.”

Me (here’s where I shocked them): “Actually, I am religious.” An embarrassed, awkward moment ensued.

A: “You mean you are spiritual.” (that’s okay)

But the truth is that I am not only spiritual, I am religious.

Let me compare coming out as a lesbian with “coming out” as a Christian:

I came out as a lesbian when I was about 19, and as anyone knows who has come out or been close to someone coming out, it is rarely a one time thing unless you are famous enough to be “outed” by the media. You tell some people, and they tell some people, but you don’t know which ones they tell, so you tell some more.

You are asked for the 1,000th time by a well meaning neighbor why you are not married, and you come out to them. Motives for coming out vary from pride to fear to exasperation.

Why do I hesitate to say I am religious?

So I have often asked myself why I am not more “out” as a religious person. The main one is that I am not an evangelist (although I’m not against trying to convert people). I truly believe that when Jesus said, “In God’s house are many mansions,” he meant that there are many many ways to find God and plenty of room for all seekers, including those who seek to be good people without any belief at all. Also, although I am a Christian, I rarely go to church and do not have a regular worship setting.

I also hesitate to say I am religious because my behavior is so often not that of a religious person: I gossip; I am often snarky and snide; I once found a $20 bill and didn’t declare it on my income tax… I am not a big sinner, but I am actually worse: I am a daily little hypocrite.

Someone once asked me why I wasn’t a kinder person since I am religious, and I thought, “If I weren’t religious, I would probably be an extortionist or at least have run a few Ponzi schemes.”

Coming out as a religious person has gotten harder as the religious right has become almost mainstream. Although there is a religious left, we have a very small voice in the religious arena and we don’t assert ourselves as we should.

Studying for the ministry

When I was 23, I went to seminary to study to be a Methodist minister. However, I could not be ordained in my church because I was open about being a lesbian. I was rejected as a ministerial candidate, but I remained a Christian.

Later, I joined the Loretto Community, a Roman Catholic women’s order. I joined as a co-member, which distinguishes us from the women who have taken canonical vows. Our community is now about half vowed and half co-members, and the co-members include a number of men.

I am not Catholic, but I have found home here in this community, whose mission is “Acting for Peace, Working for Justice.” I feel at home and accepted in this community as a feminist, a leftist, a lesbian and a religious person.

My faith

I believe in God and I have had many experiences of God moving in my life. I read the Bible and pray every morning for about half an hour and I pray often during the day.

I believe that Jesus was sent by God and shows us by words and example how we are to live. I think the question, “What would Jesus do?” is a useful one for determining an action. (I also enjoy the joking variations such as “What would Jesus bomb?” and “Who would Jesus deport?” and so on.)

I have decided to counter the religious right by declaring the fact that I am a Christian. It is time for all of us who are religious (and not just spiritual) to come out, warts and all, and to say that we will not stand for all that is good in our religious traditions to be used to in the war on women and people of color.

We will stand up against people claiming to be religious who also claim that corporations are people or that money is speech.

And, like all coming out stories, the price we pay for being out will be far less than remaining quiet.

About the Author

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Kim Klein is the author of five books, including her most recent, Reliable Fundraising in Unreliable Times, which won the McAdam Book Award in 2010. Her classic text, Fundraising for Social Change, now in its sixth edition, is widely used in the field and in university classrooms. She was the co-founder of Grassroots Fundraising Journal and its publisher for 25 years. Kim is a member of the Building Movement Project where she is currently working on a project called Nonprofits Talking Taxes which helps nonprofit staff understand how fair and just tax policy is central to a functioning democracy. She lives in Berkeley with her partner of 23 years.

Articles on Blue Avocado do not provide legal representation or legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for advice or legal counsel. Blue Avocado provides space for the nonprofit sector to express new ideas. Views represented in Blue Avocado do not necessarily express the opinion of the publication or its publisher.

105 thoughts on “Coming Out as a Christian

  1. This story struck a chord for me. Where I used to work one time a Jewish co-worker brought in matzoh and told the Passover story at a staff meeting and nobody said anything. But when a Swedish co-worker brought in Christmas candles and cookies and sang a Swedish carol at a staff meeting, people got all upset.

    1. Let’s Get On with it..Jewish have their Agenda. Christian’s, and now then Muslim & Hindu that Lives in USA..So be it

      You American..Make it our Place.You get paid i American $

      Remember the next Generation coming to America are “Lationo”

      1. Thank you Kim, for having the courage to come out, and to remind folks that Christianity can be, and has been, a force for good and an ally of justice-seekers from all traditions. There is no privilege in this, only partnership.

    2. In my experience, any expression of faith, regardless of tradition, can elicit either of the responses your co-workers had. The people who didn’t say anything may have been just as upset that day as the day they said something. Going forward, we can only hope that we can have an honest conversation about all of these expressions of faith without alienating anyone who lives very well without any faith tradition.

  2. Many of us are “Christian&.” I.e. I am a Christian AND I am not like those Christians who are always in the media for negative reasons. My understanding of God and Jesus is very different from theirs.

  3. I really appreciate this article, Kim! Thank you, Jan, for putting it in your newsletter. Such an encouragement to me as a fellow believer. Crystal Sinclair

  4. That’s an interesting I a spiritual, religious, Christian, or perhaps just a moral person? Anyone who aligns themselves with Jesus Christ should be prepared to follow after him and him alone. Too many people today want to repackage Christianity in THEIR own image. We can’t pick and choose what parts of the Bible we want to follow and what ones we don’t

    1. Actually, given the twists and turns and complexities of the Bible, we ALL pick and choose–we are just not all picking and choosing the same things. Following Jesus is not only loving the Lord God with all our heart and all our mind, it is loving our neighbor (even that difficult Samaritan) as ourselves. That trumps everything…. Linda Olsen

    2. AMEN! John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

    3. Exactly. I’m headed out to buy some slaves…

      Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly. (Leviticus 25:44-46)

      1. This is a common mistake. Christians follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, as found directly by first person eye (and ear) witnesses in the New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and the earliest church writings of the rest of the New Testament.
        Leviticus is in the Old Testament, also known as the Jewish Torah. These are part of the Bible because they contain prophesies predicting Jesus’ coming to Earth and they provide bonafides for His claims to be Messiah and Son of God. The laws in the Pentateuch – the first five books of the Old Testament, written by Moses as told to him by God – were for the fledgling Hebrew nation and directed them on matters from diet, to dealing with other nations, to internal conflicts (the reference to slavery you make is regarding a common practice among all Middle Eastern peoples of taking captives from defeated combatants, as well as dealing with individuals who chose to sell themselves into servitude to pay off debts or to make a living).
        These laws are not part of the Christian faith, as clearly outlined in the book of Acts. Christians, especially non-Jewish believers, were only required to believe who Christ taught He was, follow His guidance, and avoid participating in sexual immorality or other religions. We have other directives, as given by Paul in his letters to the new churches, and these are important to follow, but the Old Testament is just that – the old religion just for the Hebrew nation being led under Jehovah God. The New Testament (testament means a statement or a will or an agreement or contract) is God’s plan part two – first He established the nation of Israel, then He opened the doors to everyone else through Jesus. The “religion” of Christianity respects and honors the Old Testament as our past, but is not bound by those rules.

        1. thank you for this thorough and concise explanation of the connection between old and new testaments. as a Christian I have muddled through explaining this to nay sayers but now I’ll use yours!

        2. Parts of what you say are generally accepted by Christians, but others, like "written by Moses as told to him by God" are no longer in that category. A large part of Christianity find this and other claims related to biblical inerrancy quite mistaken and irrelevant to our faith. I understand that to inerrantists my faith seems weak and inadequate, but I feel the same way about those who can't believe any of it unless they believe every word of the Bible. More important, an increasingly common thread across the spectrum of Christianity is the understanding that faith is a lot more about how we live and treat others, about working with the Spirit to spread love, peace and justice than about believing in a prescribed list of interpretations.

  5. Really appreciate the comment. I am a Unitarian Universalist, not a Christian but very much part of the religious left, and we so need these “coming out” stories to claim our existence!

    1. Kim! thank you. I'm 73, a divorced and remarried Catholic (to a different woman!), and a nonviolent activist and community journalist in my home town of Stockton, CA. I left The Whore of Babylon for 15 years, but found I needed the sacraments, Francis of Assisi, Dorothy Day, the Berrigans, John Dear, James Carroll and all that crowd.

      Few of my friends and fellow activists are religious, let alone Catholic. When I tell them I go to Mass most Sundays they look at me funny, but I'm mostly politically correct so they tolerate me as a weird Irishman. Besides, I tell good Pope jokes. Have you heard the one from Brendan Behan, about the little convent in the West of Ireland…?

      John Morearty, Ph.D. One of my favorite bumper stickers, amid the current rightwing "Christian" environment, is the one: Lord, save us from your followers.

    2. Religious people do not have the corner on nice, moral, or ethical behavior, and your comment that “If I weren’t religious, I would probably be an extortionist or at least have run a few Ponzi schemes” is a good example of the smug-sounding assumption that religion produces better people than atheism.

      1. I hear you, but I don’t think that’s how this was intended. Taken in context, she’s referring to her own moral compass, not extrapolating to all religious people in general. I agree with you though, that we should be careful not to equate faith with morality. One does not guarantee the other!

        1. It’s too bad that her own moral compass does not come from within, but from the fear of retribution from an outside source. We atheists don’t murder, rob, terrorize, etc because we know it’s the right way to be, not because some “higher power” is watching.

      2. I am so sorry my comment read this way to you. I don't think religion produces better people than atheism—the evidence is quite clear that this is not the case.

      3. Thank God for the Atheists or non religious people who speak out. Should I have said it that way?

        I’m not sure if I’m an Atheist, but I don’t believe in religion, and talk about “coming out,” we who have no desire to be part of any religion are really seen as outcasts. Can you imagine an avowed Atheist every being president? How about a Gay Atheist? There’s problems with religion & politics on both sides of the isle.

        I am a very moral person, am on a non profit board, and volunteer for two other non profit organizations (time & money). Why can’t we be acknowledged without being showered with scorn?

        1. You are scorned because bigotry is an active force in personal and group behavior. Even when we overcome our prejudices in one area, it seeps out somewhere else. It’s something that those of us who care–the religious and nonreligious alike–must struggle to overcome throughout our lives.

          1. Thank you for sharing this!

            This is often a topic of discussion among folks at First Presbyterian Church Palo Alto… how hard it is for “progressive” Christians to out themselves during a conversation when it really is their faith that is guiding them on a particular issue/topic.

            It would really help if more left-leaning people who operate, in some part, based on what their faith has taught them, were able to comfortably say that. But… I think the more liberal/progressive people of faith are uncomfortable claiming the “religious” title because we want to be open to all ideas, all sides, and we don’t want to exclude others.

      4. Thank you for this. Atheists are even more closeted than the “religious.” My Catholic father-in-law once told me I was more Christian than most Christians he knows. It was his recognition of my positive characteristics and a challenge from a college to convince me to come out as an atheist. No regrets, and mostly positive and interested responses.

    3. MANY thanks Kim, for all the ways you are a brave and bold leader, and for helping us challenge the assumptions we make. — Another non-Christian, Unitarian Universalist, fellow member of the religious left.

    4. Thank you so much for stepping out with this article. It is time we were all more tolerant toward others.It is what Christ taught his followers after all!

    5. Thank you, Kim! I appreciate your honesty. My Christian coworkers are always amazed when I admit to being atheist. We then discuss what is the meaning of faith, goodness, morals, etc. and what this is dependent upon. I liked your fresh reminder. Jane Cochran, Soulsbyville, CA 95372

  6. Agreed! I am also closeted Christian–also among the liberal Christians. After realizing that being a liberal Christian opened me up for knocks from the left and the right (and knowing few others like myself), I went underground. My most glorious moments with my faith have been private times spent reading, praying, meditating, and practicing my beliefs in the private of my own confidence. But as I have grown, I also realize I have a need to commune with others in faith, as well as to “own up” to my beliefs for all the reasons you suggest and more. So thanks for sharing…I’m encouraged!

  7. Kim! thank you. I'm 73, a divorced and remarried Catholic (to a different woman!), and a nonviolent activist and community journalist in my home town of Stockton, CA. I left The Whore of Babylon for 15 years, but found I needed the sacraments, Francis of Assisi, Dorothy Day, the Berrigans, John Dear, James Carroll and all that crowd.

    Few of my friends and fellow activists are religious, let alone Catholic. When I tell them I go to Mass most Sundays they look at me funny, but I'm mostly politically correct so they tolerate me as a weird Irishman. Besides, I tell good Pope jokes. Have you heard the one from Brendan Behan, about the little convent in the West of Ireland…?

    John Morearty, Ph.D. One of my favorite bumper stickers, amid the current rightwing "Christian" environment, is the one: Lord, save us from your followers.

  8. Kim, I first learned of you through two good friends – Jean, who was ordained a Presbyterian minister and in the GTU when you were both students, and Rich, who is Jewish. Your faith wasn’t just part of your life, it motivated you and propelled you – and I’m glad to know that remains so. Like you, the Lorettos are a huge influence on me; my spiritual director when I lived in Denver was Sr. Mary Luke Tobin.

    1. You have named some of my most favorite people, who were also propelled by faith. Thank you for your comment and for making that distinction.

  9. Thank you so much Kim for your courage and candor. Your faith is an inspiration, and a good reminder of all the self-aware and loving Christians there are in the world.

  10. God bless you. I have become embarrassed to be associated with the kind of “Christians” so aptly portrayed in GCB or seen disrupting funerals of gay veterans, and why? Because “Christian” has come to mean a kind of elitist or country-club mentality- dishing out premature judgement right and left- who say in effect “I’m saved BECAUSE you are damned.” As if there were limits to God’s love!

    My unchurched friends, like yours, find it difficult to get past the troubling stereotype. I suppose that’s partially the fault of we non-judgmental Christians who keep quiet and let others rant without commenting or getting involved.

    But I think Jesus would be more in sympathy with Edwin Markham’s poem, which reads in part: ” He drew a circle that shut me out… ” “…But Love and I had the wit to win: we drew a circle that took him in.”

    You have given me more to think about. Thank you.

    1. When I read “I have become embarrassed to be associated with the kind of ‘Christians’ so aptly portrayed in GCB or seen disrupting funerals of gay veterans,” closely followed by “I suppose that’s partially the fault of we non-judgmental Christians who keep quiet and let others rant without commenting or getting involved,” it occurs to me that we progressive, social justice-pursuing Christians may not be as non-judgmental as we’d like to think.

      It’s easy to stereotype those whose beliefs we find distasteful, even repugnant. Yet, does GCB really “aptly” portray anyone? Or does it just rely on sensationalistic caricatures that allow us to feel morally superior to others? I think that nearly all Christians would agree that the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church (to whom I believe the writer was referring when she talked of Christians disrupting the funerals of gay veterans) run counter to the teachings of Christ, no matter what their beliefs on homosexuality. Is it accurate to allow the actions of a few to color our perception of millions of conservative Christians who have nothing to do with them?

      I was raised evangelical. As an adult I attend a more progressive mainline denomination. I’ve also been active in Democratic politics, am a feminist, and have a strong interest in workers’ rights. People from my childhood church often think that I picked up these ideas at the liberal college I attended. But I actually learned them from my devout, evangelical mother. She never bought cane sugar because she didn’t think the workers were treated fairly; she wouldn’t let me have a Barbie doll because such thought they promoted the objectification of women; she posits that people who commit human rights offenses “have lost the fear of God,” in other words they don’t believe that they will some day answer to a God who has made all people in His image and loves them as His own.

      When we stereotype conservative Christians like my mother, we are falling into the same easy trap that Kim’s acquaintences fell into when they assumed she couldn’t be religious because she was too liberal or because she was a lesbian.

      Anne Lamott once said, “You know you have created God in your own image, when He hates everyone you hate.” I’m not trying to attach the writer of the previous comment; I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to leaping to judgments about people I don’t really know or don’t like. But I need to remember that God cares about those people as much as He cares about me and that through Christ, God challenges me to see them as He sees them.

    2. Thanks to everyone who has responded positively to this article for sharing your own faith. I hope it inspires us all to discuss who we are more openly. May we also remember that our job is to love each other, not judge each other.

    3. Thankfully I have never met any Christians like that, EVER. I think the far left liberal media loves to portray ALL Christians as judgmental , superior ,or angry people. However, that has never been my experience, most Christians are busy concerning themselves with their own sins and how to please God than thinking about other people’s sins. At least, that is the way I try to behave in my life.

      This is now two people that are embarrassed or thought twice before saying they are Christian…now that is very sad. Don’t fall for what the world is telling you about Christians (obviously the ones acting like that are not following Jesus) and remember that Jesus said ” if you deny me before men, than I will deny you to my father. I would say that the liberal media is winning but we all know God wins in the end.

      God Bless

  11. Great article, I totally agree. I’m ashamed that I am not more forth coming about my beliefs. I do need to come out! Many thanks!

  12. Thank you, Kim! I appreciate your honesty. My Christian coworkers are always amazed when I admit to being atheist. We then discuss what is the meaning of faith, goodness, morals, etc. and what this is dependent upon. I liked your fresh reminder. Jane Cochran, Soulsbyville, CA 95372

  13. Interesting article and I applaud your conviction and bravery for "coming out." I belong to a non-profit orgaination that publishes a magazine. We are struggling with the argument to not publish anything that mentions religion in any form. A person submitted a article about an individual who has been motivated to do certain things by their faith in God.The article does not "preach" that others should do the same thing or to believe in God. The publication editor, who is following an unwritten guideline, does not want any references to praying or God our publication because a very small miniorty had complained in the past. Do we alow the miniortity dictate what can be published? Tim

    1. Kim's article and your comment, Tim, have made me think more about all this. Just as being multicultural and non-racist doesn't mean pretending that we don't "notice" race, being multicultural and non-religious doesn't mean pretending that nobody is religious.

      It's not easy to establish an organizational cultural norm where talking about one's faith or religion can be done without implying that one is trying to "convert" anyone, but simply sharing a personal belief. Surely our belief in the value of diverse views would mean that we would want to know the thinking and belief systems behind what our co-workers and colleagues do and say.

  14. Thanks for "coming out" as a Christian Kim! For most of my adult life–and I am now in my late 50s–I have often found myself more aligned with those on the left of the social and political spectrum than with what appears to be a majority evangelicals on the other end. Thankfully, however, there are a growing number of "us", i.e., Evangelical Christians, who are also "coming out," albeit it bit less publicly than you. I applaud and admire you for your willingness and honesty to "put it out there." Shalom . . . Salaam . . . Peace! Jack

  15. Love it! As a Christian I am finding it more difficult to actually say it. Now days it seems Christian=Conservative=Republican=Anti-Everything!

    1. I am curious…in your everyday life, are Christians hateful and judgmental or is that just the narrative you have been fed through the far-left liberal media? I honestly have never come across these hostile Christians that the media talks about.

  16. Love it! As a Christian I am finding it more difficult to actually say it. Now days it seems Christian=Conservative=Republican=Anti-Everything!

  17. As long as we’re coming out.

    I am a more conservative type of Christian.

    In a million years, I would never disrupt a funeral, or bomb an abortion clinic. Only crazy people do that sort of thing – and all movements attract a few of them.

    I do however believe that we are separated from God by our selfish actions and choices.I believe we can only re-unite with Him by accepting Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and giving our lives to His leading.

    I also believe in the Bible in its entirety – including its disapproval of homosexuality, sex outside of marriage, lying, gluttony, murder, and many other practices that make life harder than God intends it to be.

    Having said that however – I believe it is my job to love you and point you towards God. It’s His place to convict and change.

    Please stop assuming all conservatives are ignorant, bigotted or foaming at the mouth capitalists. I have spent the majority of my adult life working in the social service field, giving and loving to the best of my ability.

    I believe that my job is a gift from God.

    He is the reason I have the ability to suit up, show up and show compassion even in times of shrinking resources and increasingly desperate clients.

    It is my relationship with Him that allows me to go beyond my petty prejudices, hurt feelings, and threatening discouragement – to love folks where they are.

    He’s my power source

    That’s my truth.

    1. So you believe in the Bible in its entirety.

      Here are some of my favorite comments from an “Open Letter to Dr. Laura”:

      Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination … End of debate.

      I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them.

      1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

      2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

      3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

      4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is, my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

      5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2. clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

      6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination – Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?

      7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

      8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

      9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

      10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

      I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

      Your adoring fan

      1. Your questions are all good and pertinent, but asked of the wrong group. You need to direct them to a practicing Jew, not Christians. Those laws do not apply to us. You are confusing the Old Testament, which is the history and laws of the Hebrew nation, with the New Testament, which is the story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection and the creation of a group of followers of His teachings (called Christians). We Christians respect the Old Testament and Judaism as the forebears of Christ, but we are not part of that group, nor are we bound by their laws (see the Bible, New Testament, book of Acts, Chapter 15, verses 6-29 – if you don’t have a paper bible handy, you can look it up on Google) for a clear explanation of the difference between the two.

        The Christian faith, as taught by Jesus Christ and promulgated by the earliest church founders, teaches love, respect, forgiveness, and tolerance for everyone. Jesus equated loving and serving God with doing so for our fellow men and women. Those who call themselves “christians” and do otherwise are just as false as those who call themselves vegans with a mouthful of ground beef! Don’t let the fakers mislead you – read the first four books of the New Testament yourself to see just what Jesus said and did as reported by those who walked alongside him.

        1. I guess I am confused, I didn’t realize there are two Bibles…… When someone states “I also believe in the Bible in its entirety -” I didn’t understand “entirety” only meant a portion of it.

          Oh well, maybe I can just go to confession and admit everything bad I have ever done and be done with it.

          No hypocrisy at all. Religion, you gotta love it!

      2. I thought we were talking about allowing people the freedom to express an opinion. The previous comment is full of sarcasm and close minded. Why not read the WHOLE BIble. What is referred to as the Good News is that because of the sacrifice of Christ, we are no longer living under Old Testament law whereby forgiveness of sins could only be gained by sacrificing a lamb. The New Testament still refers to behaviors that God deplores. God loves us but He didn’t allow His only son to die so we could keep on living sinful lives. Read the New Testament, my friend.

      3. Jesus redeemed us from the curse of the law being made a curse for us so those Old Testament “laws” don’t apply.

  18. Kim, you have helped so many of us grow in our non-profit work. Now I realize you are a double blessing! Thank you so much for the way you reflect our God! Sister Pat Davis

  19. Thank you, Kim. And thanks, Jan, for reminding us that diversity is only valuable if we openly share our qualities that our different from others…and appreciate – perhaps even learn from and take joy in – qualities of others that are different from ours. Who wants a greyed-down 'diversity' when we could live in vivid technicolor? Julien Phillips

  20. Liberal neo-pagan here, but raised in the evangelical church with extremely conservative and religious parents. (Which is mostly why I am where I am. 🙂

    I work with several liberal Christians and until this job, I didn’t know such a thing was possible. I agree that you need more of a voice to counter the religious right.

    Those of us in minority faiths need a voice, period.

  21. Most down to earth piece of writing I have read in a long time. Thank you young lady. You are precious indeed. David

  22. “All roads that lead to God are good” was in a poem I read as a teenager. People of faith have strengths that support improving life and valuing others.

    1. I think it is problematic telling people you are a Christian or a Muslim, etc. nowadays, without also specifying that you absolutely don’t support the particular religion or denomination, or saying which aspects that you strongly disagree with and are working against.

      For instance, for myself, I find it absolutely chilling when people say they are Christian–without mentioning the above-type disclaimers–because I know how flat-out against women in leadership the majority of Christian denominations are.

      I am of an age, even possibly younger than Kim, when jobs used to be advertised BY GENDER in the newspaper! I’m not kidding; it was not that long ago. It’s amazing that a secular government called out gender Discrimination and outlawed it, while so many supposedly loving Christian organizations stood by doing nothing, and still discriminate internally.

      Finally, I love the recent New York Times article by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, asking how in the heck Catholics can remain members of the Roman Catholic Church, given that particular church’s values and implementation of such. Even if you were to declare all the above disclaimers about how you disagree with them, it is an absurdity if you have liberal social values. At some point, you/we can’t have it both ways–you’re either with them or against them. (Personally, I wish American Catholics would leave and start their own American Catholic Church–it would be a great institution!)

      So, I hope everyone with liberal social values will be very cautious when discussing their faith so as not to contribute to the longstanding ongoing oppression practiced by the religious institutions that share their faith.

  23. Well said! I am a religious theatre techie, which even in the fairly religious State of Texas puts me in the minority of my profession. Like you I’m neither right nor evangelical, but when I taught Stage Management last Fall, I spent 15 minutes of one lecture on being a Christian techie and being open to everyone’s beliefs. Several students thanked me, one profusely as he was really struggling with the issue. Keep the faith!

  24. About 4 years ago, I chaired a meeting at Evergreen Baptist called "Can We Talk?" to have a public dialogue with an open Asian American Christian gay man and his journey; it was an eye-opening event for many people who came to hear (about 300 attended) without judgment and to try to understand with more compassion. We are trying to get a video made of that meeting but it has been moving slowly.

    We are also thinking of having a one-time helpline call-in session directed to Asian American Christians who are struggling with sexual identity and try to gauge the extent of this concern. It is certainly one of the key issues within the Christian church and needs to be addressed more openly.    Bill Watanabe

  25. First of all, thank you.
    Second of all, as some of these comments will suggest, we have a long way to go before religious tolerance is truly embraced — in this sector, in our culture.

  26. “Someone once asked me why I wasn’t a kinder person since I am religious, and I thought, “If I weren’t religious, I would probably be an extortionist or at least have run a few Ponzi schemes.””

    Oh hey there intrinsic bias and judgement. You really tried hard, you did, but this line clearly exposes you as yet another Christian-who-is-religious-to-feel-superior-to-others. You might be less specifically harmful than people like Santorum, but I still cannot wait for the day when the earth is rid of your holier-than-thou kind.

    1. Read this in context. The author is talking about her perception of her own weaknesses. There is no reason to think she is extrapolating this to everyone else who is not a Christian.

      You seem to be so certain no Christian can be broad-minded and humble that you read things into her words that confirm your own bias. This kind of judgmental attitude, seeing someone as no more than a stereotype of what you expect them to be, is exactly what people deplore the typical evangelical Christian for, so don’t fall into that trap yourself.

  27. As a lesbian minister in the wonderfully open and affirming United Church of Christ, I can appreciate your story. In the UCC, we honor anyone’s baptism as well as whatever position they may find themselves in on life’s journey. Thank you for the reminder that the religious left (or the perceived left, might I say) needs to continue to speak out against the fundamentalism that is taking over the definition of “religious.” Here here! Keep up the good work!

  28. Excellent reflection! Thank you for sharing this. As an Episcopal priest, I can say that there are more people that think along these lines than it seems. Like you say, we don't tend to be as loud and vocal as members of the Religious Right tend to be. Again — thanks for sharing this. – David

  29. Excellent reflection! Thank you for sharing this. As an Episcopal priest, I can say that there are more people that think along these lines than it seems. Like you say, we don't tend to be as loud and vocal as members of the Religious Right tend to be. Again — thanks for sharing this. – David

  30. Holy Moly! get your VooDoo on! This is the weirdest thing I have read in this forum yet. I read this to get away from fairy tales and "belief" and to get facts that will help nonprofits and their genuinely needy clients–Please keep your personal magic to yourselves. Andy M –How about them "anonymous writers?!?!

    1. Andy —

      No one forces you to read the posts or to comment.

      If you don’t care to read them, you are free to pass by, but it seems a bit much for you to take the time to hop in and mock the posters. I hope you enjoyed it.

  31. The problem with the religious right is that they have been co-opted for political reasons and reproductive justice is the rallying cry to get them to vote. I, too, am a person of faith AND I work at a women’s health clinic, preventing pregnancy and terminating it if a woman so chooses, precisely because of my faith. My religious faith does not lead me to believe that life begins at conception. And rebgardless of their religious fervor, Catholics and other evangelical Christians are not entitled to impose their religious belief on me. I am entitled to believe as I do, without judgment, without political repercussions. And I can argue with every bit as much moral certainty as the radical right that women are entitled legally and morally to control their own bodies.

  32. In my opinion, being a lesbian is not a choice, being religious is a choice. There’s a distinct difference between coming out about something that is and something that is not a choice. I’m generally nervous when someone discloses their choice of religious affiliations or beliefs to me without any context.

  33. To accept Jesus Christ as "Lord" will establish a relationship with Him as my God! Therefore, I must seek to do all that He commands me to do. This is not being religious! This relationship is a matter of Obedience to the Will of God. In the New Testament book of Romans Chapter 1, a lesbian lifestyle is condemned by God. No immoral person will inherit or reside in the Kingdom of God. A homosexual lifestyle does not make you or me acceptable to Almighty God. You must repent and turn truthfully to God, accept the totallity of His God Breath Word the Bible. Seek to be Santified, and Washed by the Word. Then, you can live a "Christian Life", that is following Jesus Christ as our example. You can then, and only then, please God by your lifestyle. No amount of good works will be sufficient to reside in God's Mansion. There is only one way, As Jesus said, John 14:6, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no man comes to the Father but by Me ( Jesus). Dr. Napoleon Washington, Jr.

    1. Dear Dr. Washington,

      I am Christian, and, as it turns out, heterosexual. When I read Jesus’ words and the reports of Jesus’ actions I see someone who was showing by word and deed that love is a miracle, and that compassion, kindness, and care are the most important thing next to loving God, and honoring the flicker of his Spirit within us.

      Indeed, Jesus horrified the faithful of the day by doing something they considered breaking the sabbath (and, therefore, the 4th commandment) in order to love and heal. I do believe that we must enter into relationship with the expectation of honoring the love that is there, and that truly honoring the miracle of enduring, respectful love will require further help from God. I don’t think God much cares where that love appears. After all “God created men in His own image, male and female he created them.” When it comes down to what kind of underpants the person I married wears…. I think that is a detail far less important than the love, commitment, and respect we aspire to. I think God has got to be concerned by the appalling behavior of the uncommitted and disrespectful, and by those who treat marriage as much as a great way to celebrate that they’ve been dating a while, and they’d like to throw a big party and get some good gifts.

      In that context, can you help me better understand your statement above? How do we know Jesus is against homosexuality? Why are American Christians so particularly focused on homosexuality as the most horrifying of all the sins over even, say, serving profit over God, or, if we’re focusing on the sexual, promiscuity?

  34. I figured the “Church Lady ” was due to make an appearance sooner or later..Napoleon fills the bill. Thanks for the comic relief.

  35. I’m appreciative of this discussion and have found it causing me to reflect on my beliefs about Christianity and other religions. Thank you Kim for sharing such a positive experience in a very complex time.

  36. Kim,
    Thanks for your courageous “coming out!” As an out lesbian pastor of the Montclair Presbyterian Church in Oakland, I am wondering if you would come and share your “coming out as a Christian” story with my congregation? It’s a very progressive congregation made up of a very theologically diverse group of people. Those who identify as Christian are not all out! We would love to hear your story and your encouragement. Our website address is if you’d like to contact me. Thanks!

  37. I would have appreciated this article more if it had been more directly connected to not-for-profit workplace issues.

  38. Therefore, we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.
    For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:9-10

    I’m saved by grace, by the sacrifice of Jesus, and live in newness of life because of His resurrection and the empowering of His indwelling Holy Spirit. However, salvation isn’t a free ticket allowing me to live however if I like. I make it my ambition, as Paul says, to live a life that’s pleasing to Him. I know one day I will have to answer for the way I’ve lived my life, not out of fear that I would somehow lose my salvation, but motivated because I love Jesus and have been entrusted with the responsibility of sharing the hope of eternal life, not only with my words, but with actions that should be evidence of Him living through me.

    I am glad to know that I am not alone in the nonprofit world following Jesus – only sorry I’ve taken so long to get around to reading this article!

  39. Thank you Kim. This was amazing and I am so glad that you addressed it. I have noticed how uncool it is to be Christian. But you are right, We all need to come out.

  40. Thank you Kim. This was amazing and I am so glad that you addressed it. I have noticed how uncool it is to be Christian. But you are right, We all need to come out.

  41. What a great conversation! I'm reading this article loooooong after the time it was written so comments may no longer be being taken. I just want to comment on the general tone of the back-and-forth exchange. Often conversations about faith and activism (or faith and anything really) quickly degenerate into name calling and angry exchanges. I truly appreciated the thoughtful responses by so many people. As an ordained United Methodist minister who has served in non-church settings most of my career – i.e. nonprofit justice organizations – my advocacy work grows directly out of my faith. For me, following Jesus necessitates working for justice. I would also add that many of my Jewish and Muslim friends, gay and straight, find that the long traditions of justice and love in their faith traditions under gird their work for justice. The fact that Scriptures have been misused to to beat people up is sad, frustrating and the cause of great pain for those of us who draw strength from that which is good in our traditions. Kathryn Johnson, Washington, DC

  42. Thanks for this stimulating, provocative, insightful discussion. As a retired, "recovering" United Methodist pastor, I have long affirmed everyone who is open, uncloseted, religious and spiritual. And gay! Very proud father of a daughter who went through "the biggest" church wedding, only to work through, ended in divorcing, then coming out in her 20's, then partnering over 30 years now – both of them Ph.D's in women's studies and criminal justice, tenured in a Chicago universities, heads of respective Sociology departments, and adoptive parents. Now only 80 years young ourselves, we're approaching 59 years of wedded bliss, tempered by reality. Considering myself either a "pragmatic mystic" or a "mystical pragmatist," I still practice disciplines within a local church, but thoroughly committed to interfaith, inter religious connections – beyond the boxes, if you will. God blesses us "to be a blessling."

  43. Kim, thank you SO much for this post. I’ve been struggling with the idea of “coming out” as a Christian for the very same reasons that you put so succinctly. I have a more liberal point of view, and in this day and age, it seems that to be a Christian, you have to be at war with immigration or a woman’s right to proper family planning, for example. You have given me a roadmap with which to navigate these treacherous waters!

  44. I like what you said about churches that are co-owned. My wife and I just moved to a different state and need a new church. We’ll have to opt for one that has a smaller congregation.

  45. I like what you said about churches that are co-owned. My wife and I just moved to a different state and need a new church. We’ll have to opt for one that has a smaller congregation.

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