Lately my Facebook has been bombarded with shares from NOH8. The name stands for “No Hate.” Their mission statement reads, “The NOH8 Campaign is a charitable organization whose mission is to promote marriage, gender and human equality through education, advocacy, social media, and visual protest.” After seeing their photographs shared over and over, I noticed that their campaign has made three major mistakes.
All the Cool People Are Doing It
The first thing I noted was that many of the “shares” on Facebook showed celebrities. The photos included George Takei (formerly Sulu from Star Trek), Pauley Perrette (who plays Abby Sciuto on NCIS), and Justin Bieber (no explanation needed). One person even went so far as to photoshop a picture of Pope Francis, although I don’t believe the campaign has posted it on its website.
So, we must ask this question of the organization: Should I join this campaign because “all the cool people are doing it”? Celebrities may bring us some of our favorite movies, TV shows, music, and even religious sentiments, but are they more enlightened or wise about “marriage, gender, and human equality” than the rest of us? If I don’t believe in same-sex marriage, will celebrities convince me to change my mind by suggesting that my belief is hateful? It’s not that I’m a benighted and horrible human being–it’s that I see the world differently from other people, and certainly in a different way than these celebrities see it.
No More Perfect than the Rest of Us
Second, I noticed that many of the photos are taken in ideal settings. The celebrities are shown in their best light, with perfect makeup, perfect hair, and digital touching up (in all probability) to show off their exquisite features. Even their hair is blown away from their faces in an attempt to lend a “sexy” attitude to the photos and to the campaign itself.
That leads to the second question: What makes these pictures real? They are taken with real people, but these aren’t real situations. There is nothing “ideal” about the world we live in. The attempt to idealize these photos makes them and the campaign for which they are shot appear to be something exalted: a greater good which everyone should chase after, something exquisitely beautiful that we should lose our minds over. The reality they represent is false, because no one in this world is perfect, despite the idealization that the photos scream at us. The supporters of NOH8 are no more amazing or splendid than the rest of us.
NOH8 Misses the Mark
Third, the group suggests that people who don’t agree with their lifestyles actually hate them. It is true that when Proposition 8 banned gay marriage in California, Christians and conservatives in the state rejoiced: It seemed like a miracle that the very liberal state of California would pass a measure upholding Christian and conservative ideals. The NOH8 campaign responded with a silent protest: They claimed Proposition 8 was “silencing” them. They have succeeded in one thing, at least: They aren’t silent anymore. Their message, however, rings false.
Proponents of the NOH8 campaign don’t seem to understand that most Christians and conservatives don’t actually hate them. We disagree – many times strongly – with their choices, but we don’t hate them. We do object to having their ideals, with which we disagree, forced on us in an attempt to show us what is “right.” It may be true that there are people out there who do hate them and act out against them with hate. That is wrong. People should hate the actions rather than the person and treat the person with love, as the Christian faith teaches.
The NOH8 campaign has misfired because it speaks directly to those whom it wishes to alienate. Christians also want no hate in the world, and we do not hate those with whom we disagree. At the same time, we strive to uphold those values which we believe to be good and right according to what God has taught us. Maybe the NOH8 campaign should find another name to prove that it’s different. Otherwise, they may be surprised to find one day that the people they branded as haters will be the only ones who truly know how to love them.