In the early 1990s, the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family raised the ire of LGBT groups by backing Colorado’s Amendment 2, a measure — ultimately struck down by the Supreme Court — that would have allowed local governments to discriminate against gays.
A quarter-century later, that episode was history as Focus President Jim Daly and gay activist Ted Trimpa sat down together to celebrate their friendship and more recent collaboration on sex trafficking laws at an evangelical conference in Denver called Q, which stands for questions.
Only a few dozen worshippers attend Boston’s Tremont Temple Baptist Church on a typical Sunday, but the historic church was once so prominent that legendary preacher Dwight L. Moody called it “America’s pulpit.”
This week, Tremont’s massive auditorium played host to influence once again when 1,300 Christian leaders gathered for the Q conference to discuss the most pressing issues facing their faith. There was no official theme, but one strand wove its way through multiple presentations and conversations: America’s — and many Christians’ — debate over sexuality.
While at least three other Christian conferences during the past year focused on same-sex debates, this is the only one to bring together both pro-gay speakers and those who oppose gay marriage and same-sex relationships.
“The aim of Q is to create space for learning and conversation, and we think the best way to do that is exposure,” said Q founder Gabe Lyons.
“These are conversations that most of America is having, and they are not going away.”
Which is not to say Lyons’ decision was without controversy.
Eric Teetsel, executive director of the Manhattan Declaration project that aims to rally resistance to same-sex marriage, urged Lyons to rescind his invitations to pro-gay panelists, whom he called false prophets professing to be Christians. Owen Strachan, president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, echoed the sentiment and tweeted that he was “shocked that @QIdeas features pro-‘gay-Christianity’ speakers.”
Lyons did not respond publicly to the criticism, but said such positions were rooted in fear.
A campaign to arrest an African warlord generated awareness in more ways than the effort’s co-founder Jason Russell could have ever imagined.
The “Kony 2012″ campaign captured widespread attention for its push to arrest Joseph Kony, head of the Lord’s Resistance Army, which abducts and forces children to become soldiers. For a grass-roots video project that suddenly went viral, it was a phenomenal success.
Two weeks after the group Invisible Children released the video last year, Russell, the group’s co-founder, was detained and hospitalized for erratic behavior after he was found running naked and cursing the devil in the streets of San Diego.
Many of today’s evangelical Christians seem to be taking to heart the words traditionally attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.”
Or at least they were at the recent Q Conference here, a gathering of more than a few of the most influential and innovative mover-shakers of the evangelical world.
Over the course of two days in a format similar to the popular TED talks, the speakers spoke passionately more about what they were doing to make the world a better place than they did about getting more butts into pews on any given Sunday.
Images from Day 1 of the 2012 Q Conference in Washington, D.C., Tuesday April 10, with speakers including Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis, philanthropist Roberta Ahmanson, the Rev. Joel Hunter, researcher Ed Stetzer, NYT columnist Ross Douthat, Michael Cromartie and Q founder Gabe Lyons.
Just a few years ago, Ross Douthat earned the distinction of becoming the youngest regular columnist the New York Times has ever employed. He also has the unique position of being a conservative Christian in the belly of what some Christians might consider the proverbial “beast.”
So, how's that going for him?
“It’s been wonderful,” he told Michael Cromartie, Vice President at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, during an onstage interview at the Q Conference in Washington, D.C. Tuesday evening.
The conversation focused on the themes of Douthat’s new book, Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics.
How different would the state of our political system—and the tenor of the election season—be if voters and politicians on both sides decided to speak civilly?
Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis and the Southern Baptist Convention’s Richard Land spoke at the Q conference Tuesday on the topic “What Can We Agree On?”
The intention is to acknowledge difference but—as Christians—focus on the areas of agreement based on our biblical understanding.
The annual Q conference has begun. In it’s 5th year, the conference has come to Washington, D.C. and brought together about 700 thought, spiritual and cultural Christian leaders.
Modeled after the “TED Talks,” the conference gives opportunity to a wide variety of speakers short segments, between 3, 9 and 18 minutes, to express ideas that can—or should be—shaping Christianity and the broader culture.
Gabe Lyons thinks Christian culture warriors are on the wrong path.
His sixth annual Q Conference, which opens today in Washington, D.C., is an attempt to do things differently. With 700 participants gathered in a stately downtown auditorium, Lyons will play host to a distinct kind of Christian conference, one that seeks a respectful, constructive conversation on a host of issues confronting the nation.
Q, which stands for “question,” will allow 30 different culture leaders — from New York Times columnist David Brooks to Florida megachurch pastor Joel Hunter — to present their ideas for the common good during a two-and-a-half day confab.
“We feel we have a role to play in renewing the culture and holding back the effects of sin,” said Lyons, founder of Q, a nonprofit organization based in New York City. “We’re not to do it in an antagonistic way. We hope to do it in a hopeful way that gives witness to the rest of the world in how things ought to be.”
In a video address Tuesday, President Obama told hundreds of young evangelical Christian leaders gathered at the Q Conference in Washington, D.C., that they had a partner in the White House in their humanitarian and social justice efforts.