Recently some readers voiced concerns that the 100 Revs – a group of Christian clergy who’ve signed an apology for the past treatment of GLBT people by their churches – were an inappropriate entry in the Mardi Gras parade and that the group should not be welcomed because of the biblically based reservations of some of the signees.

Considering the persecution of sexual minorities by religious authorities throughout the past 2,000 years – a persecution that is endured by many of us in our own lifetimes and that continues in very real ways overseas to this day – such concerns are understandable.

However, I think it’s fundamentally important that we embrace this group and accept their apology in the spirit that it is offered.

Having read the statement, I too wish it was wider in scope – for example, not just apologising for being “profoundly unloving” and unwelcoming, but also for Christian support for unjust laws over the years. But I understand the signees come from a wide variety of denominations and viewpoints and a form of words had to be found that represented a consensus.

And ironically it’s the source of some people’s concerns that makes this apology so important – many of those who’ve signed are from staunchly conservative denominations or from the conservative wings of their churches.

Many are taking considerable flak for standing up and being counted, with some facing denominational dismissal or disciplinary action, while others have been attacked and condemned by other Christians online. Fred Nile and the Salt Shakers have been particularly vocal in their condemnation.

But as much as it will annoy some to hear it, our journey to equality will never be over until our community is accepted as part of the mainstream of Australian society. That doesn’t mean assimilation, it means integration – where two things grow together. And having groups like the 100 Revs, Surf Life Savers, the defence forces and the police in our parade shows homophobic Australia that it is we who are becoming a part of that mainstream while they are slipping into the fringe.

For those of us who are atheists or have been burned on the way out of Christianity, it may be hard to understand why conditional apologies, or apologies from those who still have reservations, should be accepted.

But shifts like this will mean enormous things for gay Christians, GLBT kids growing up in Christian homes, and for others whose adult relationships with friends and family are strained by religious-based prejudices.

For that reason, in this case it is we who should turn the other cheek.

E: ap[email protected]

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