ELCA NEWS SERVICE
October 28, 2010
ELCA Presiding Bishop Tells Young People 'It Gets Better'
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- In a video essay posted on You Tube, the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) offered reassurance to young people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, saying, "You are a beloved child of God."
The Rev. Mark S. Hanson said he wanted to speak honestly to young people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, and offer hope.
"Your life carries the dignity and beauty of God's creation," Hanson said. "God has called you by name and claimed you forever. There is a place for you in this world and in this church."
Hanson recorded the video in response to numerous recent reports of gay teenagers who have been bullied, with some taking their own lives. The video can be viewed at http://www.ELCA.org/itgetsbetter on the ELCA website.
Hanson said he has listened "with pain and shock" to recent reports of young people who committed suicide, the result of abuse they have suffered because of their sexual orientations.
"I can only imagine what it's like to be bullied for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender," he said. "But I do know how bullying can destroy someone."
Hanson, the father of six children and four grandchildren, told a story about his daughter. He came home one day and found her curled up in a fetal position on the floor weeping uncontrollably. She was struggling to know "who she was as a biracial young woman," he said.
"She felt bruised by words people had spoken about her, words that ate away at her sense of identity and self-worth. I sat down by her on the floor holding her in my arms," Hanson said.
Words have the power to both harm and heal, he said. "Sometimes the words of my Christian brothers and sisters have hurt you," Hanson told viewers, "and I also know that our silence causes you pain."
Hanson recorded his video after results of a survey were released last week by the Public Religion Research Institute. It showed that two of every three Americans believe that people who are gay commit suicide at least partly because of messages sent from churches and other place of worship.
Hanson added that as a Christian, he trusts God is working in the world for justice and peace "through you and through me."
"It gets better," he said.
Hanson's video will be submitted to the recently initiated online video project, "It Gets Better," at http://www.itsgetsbetter.com on the Web. Several public figures and celebrities have contributed video testimonials reassuring young people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender that the bullying and torment they experience in their daily lives, especially in high school, will end, and that there's a better life ahead.
Viewers are also directed to The Trevor Project, a crisis and suicide prevention hotline.
More than 3,000 video essays have been contributed to "It Gets Better." Last week, President Obama contributed a video to the project. The Rev. V. Gene Robinson, a gay man who is bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, also contributed a video piece.
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or firstname.lastname@example.org