'We must bring faith discussions back to their roots of seeking understanding,' said new HRC Religious and Faith Program Director Harry Knox.
WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign announced today that Harry Knox, a 1989 graduate of Lancaster Theological Seminary and longtime advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, will be the founding director of HRC's newly created religious and faith program. While seeking ordination in the United Church of Christ, Knox started a conversation within his denomination's local association that 10 years later resulted in the church's historic ordination of three lesbian ministers.
"We must bring faith discussions back to their roots of seeking understanding," said Knox. "A vocal minority is falsely promoting the notion that religious people stand in opposition to equal rights. Our job is to promote the truth that a majority of people of faith believes strongly in fairness and justice. Through HRC's religious and faith program, I will work to transcend boundaries and open a dialogue with all people of faith."
The new program will seek to organize and harness communities of faith on the journey for LGBT equality. The program will also provide information on affirming faith communities and organizations, encourage full participation of LGBT people of faith and establish a speaker's bureau that cultivates appropriate spokespeople and messages to discuss LGBT issues in a religious context.
"Harry's longtime advocacy for equality is based on his own spirituality," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "We're honored that he'll be joining our team. We come to work for LGBT equality because we all feel the same deep need to work for justice, and many of us, like Harry, have our own religious beginnings. It's important to ensure that our voices are part of the nationwide discussion that's happening around faith and justice."
Most recently, Knox was program director at Freedom to Marry, the national coalition working to end the denial of marriage to same-sex couples. Knox's primary focus was empowering state and local leaders and helping to mobilize people of faith and people of color communities. Knox is the recipient of the 2000 Cordle Award for Promotion of God's Diversity and Lancaster Theological Seminary's 2005 Robert V. Moss Medal for Excellence in Ministry.
"Harry has built his own ministry that tears down walls separating neighbor from neighbor and gay from straight," said Loyde H. Hartley, professor of religion and society at Lancaster Theological Seminary. "He has built a solid career on the basis of excellent scholarship and deep faith. I can think of nobody better qualified to take on this challenging endeavor."
Knox - a native of Cordele, Ga. - previously worked as executive director of Georgia Equality, a statewide LGBT advocacy organization. He was also pastor of Uvalda United Methodist Church in south Georgia.
"HRC's efforts in religious and faith communities will be that much more exciting and engaging under Harry's leadership," said Lawrie Demorest, co-chair of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation Board. "There is no better time to be focusing on this issue. We're proud to be putting significant resources and energy into our religious and faith program."
Knox will start his new position at HRC in mid-July.
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