guest blog article by Nicole Wick on Matthew Paul Turner's "Jesus Needs New PR" blog. Her post talked about her recent invitation to visit the Focus on the Family headquarters. Wick is not a huge fan of Focus on the Family and has openly disagreed with them on a variety of subjects. Regardless, Focus on the Family reached out to her and appeared receptive to her direct critiques of the organization and their policy over-reaches. Ultimately, she came away from the visit feeling much more positive about the organization.
This isn't the first outreach effort by people from Focus on the Family. Just recently, Focus on the Family staff agreed to meet with people from Soulforce after years of avoiding them. Once again, Soulforce members left their meeting feeling like Focus on the Family staffers got that they were causing harm through their active anti-gay stances, among other issues.
At the end of her post, Wick asked if readers could extend grace to Focus on the Family. She also asked what the group would need to do to change others' opinion of them.
I was initially glad to learn that Focus on the Family was actively reaching out to those who disagree with them. Can I extend grace to Focus on the Family? Yes.
What would they need to do to change my opinion of them? Well, pretty much what they're doing right now.
Unfortunately, my initial feel-good reaction to Wick's post was almost immediately shattered by news that Focus on the Family is pushing through a "license to discriminate" constitutional amendment in Colorado. If this passes, individuals and businesses will be free to ignore any law that they determine burdens their religious beliefs.
I immediately complained about this news in the comments section. Esther Fleece, assistance to the President; Millennial Relations at Focus on the Family quickly responded to my complaint. She assured me that the proposed Religious Freedom Amendment "has nothing to do with the LGBTQ community." According to Fleece, it's about birth control and abortion. Catholic Charities of Colorado has already expressed it clear desire to discriminate against gay and lesbian families in Colorado and One Colorado has been warning people about the effects of this amendment on GLBT people.
I subsequently thanked Fleece for assuring me that this amendment "will have no ramifications for GLBT people or our families" and sought assurances from her that Focus on the Family will publicly back us up should this amendment pass and be used against us. I'm still waiting for that assurance from her.
Maybe Focus on the Family will get it someday. Maybe they will understand that you cannot reach out to people with one hand while writing legislation with your other hand that outright harms them. Until then, I don't see much fruit coming from Focus' current outreach campaign.