Compass: Beware any who claim to be "The Voice" of Christianity

The news that State Sen. Hollis French hopes to strip away Alaska's voter-backed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage came the same day as the news that that State Sen. Berta Gardner also proposed a measure, this one to bar discrimination of those who are gay, lesbian or bisexual. Both stories echoed bill that have recently been considered around the country that could allow businesses to refuse service to homosexual people.

And then came "The Voice." "The Voice" is used by various people, and is chosen by various media outlets, but it typically claims the same things: "I am the voice of Christianity, and I exclude."

In Alaska's recent stories, The Voice was wielded by conservative activist Jim Minnery, who is "planning an event for Christians later this year to turn around this new culture that has bought this whole gay marriage mindset."

Mr. Minnery is neither a pastor nor a theologian. His training is in nonprofit management, and according to his web site, is a certified fund raising executive. In local reports, his voice has been treated as if it is The Voice of Christianity... But that is not accurate. It is his voice, and the voice of the organization for which he raises money. But this is not the voice of all Christians, and this is not the voice of Christ.

It is understandable why newspapers and TV networks choose a person to represent Christianity. After all, there are an estimated 43,000 Christian denominations in the world, and they can't all be equally represented. Also, today's process of presenting the news doesn't lend itself to nuance. But our cultural shorthand of choosing "The Voice" that represents the Christian perspective is misleading at best.

Christians of deep faith and conviction disagree on nearly every issue, and faithful Christians are active on both sides of the marriage equality debate. To present one side as the Christian side is wrong. It is a lie that must be challenged publicly.

If someone claims to speak with The Christian Voice, there is a simple way to check that. Ask yourself, "does this perspective lead us to act with love?" If not, then it is decidedly not the way of Jesus. There are ways to recognize the Christian voice:

• It speaks against oppression.

• It speaks for justice.

• It speaks against discrimination.

• It speaks for equality.

• It speaks against hate.

• It speaks for love.

There are 216 churches in Anchorage; 856 in Alaska. I venture to guess that there are no two with exactly the same ideology. Can any one of them claim solely to speak the Christian voice?

Rev. Matthew Schultz is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Anchorage.