XXXChurch.com pastor Craig Gross is attending the Atlanta Pride Festival this weekend to apologize for the way religious people have often treated gay individuals.
In hopes of diminishing the disconnect between the homosexual community and the church, Gross is setting up a booth in Piedmont Park with the simple message: "We Are Sorry."
The annual LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) event is the last stop in Gross' unconventional "Jesus Loves You" tour. For the past couple of months, he and Jason Harper have been promoting the simple message to gluttons, criminals, porn stars, the poor and even the religious.
The message is spelled out in their recently released book, Jesus Loves You ... This I Know. They believe Jesus' vision and values have been distorted, twisted and hijacked by political dogma, right-winged sectarians and extremist beliefs. And in the process, many have missed the simple yet profound message that Jesus loves them.
Harper recently lamented to worshippers at Capital Christian Center in Sacramento, Calif., that "oftentimes, people don't have a problem with Jesus. They just have a problem with the people who have spoken on his behalf."
He recalled a time when he and a group of friends attended the Sacramento Pride Festival a couples years ago to spread Jesus' love by handing out bottles of water that were labeled: "Loving people for who they are not where they are."
While distributing water, a truck pulled up to the gay pride event promoting messages of hate and handing out Gospel tracts. Harper told one of the festival attendees that he doesn't know where Jesus would be in the middle of all this, but what he does know is that Jesus wouldn't be sitting in that truck telling them that God hates them.
Harper stressed the biblical passage that "while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." "So such were we at one point. He died for us," he preached.
The Jesus Loves You six-city tour kicked off in August at Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. The church is notoriously known for its hate-filled protests across the nation. Gross and Harper visited the church with signs reading "Jesus loves the gays" and "Jesus even loves Westboro." They were not there to disrupt the church but to simply show love.
The Westboro stop coincided with their chapter "Jesus Loves the Religious." Earlier this month, they showed love to "the disconnected" by giving away a house to a widowed mother of four in Detroit, Mich., where many have been hit hard by the economic downturn.
The simple "Jesus Loves You" message now heads to Atlanta, where the co-authors are putting into action their "Jesus Loves the Outcast" chapter. In addition to the "We Are Sorry" booth, Gross and Harper will also pass out water to parade participants and attendees.