One of the most disliked videos in YouTube history provoked a powerful response from two Christian sisters from Charlottesville, Va.
The Republican presidential candidates have faced a surprising number of questions about gay rights in appearances in Iowa and New Hampshire, a large number of them coming from young people (including one shy little eight-year-old).
But perhaps the most moving confrontation is one that has played out on YouTube, as two sisters based in Charlottesville, Va., sat down to record their first video for the site in response to Texas Gov. Rick Perry's Iowa ad disparaging the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and openly gay service-members. Released six days ago, that ad, "Strong," has now been viewed over 6 million times on YouTube, where it has received more than 661,000 dislikes and going on 21,000 likes, and spawned a wide array of parodies.
Their response video has not been as widely viewed, though it was tweeted out by Meghan McCain, who is known for her advocacy against homophobia within the Republican Party.
In it, Cali Freeman, 26, a second-year law student at University of Virginia School of Law (and the brunette in the video above), and Ashley Steel, 28, who runs their "photography collaborative" business, offer a Christian comeback to Perry:
We're not ashamed to admit that we're Christians, but we don't think that being in a pew on Sunday is what makes you one.
We know there is something wrong in this country when you can spin the name of Jesus Christ, the living body of love and grace, into a political platform. Especially when this platform demonizes the very people who sacrifice their own lives so that you can have that platform at all.
Rick Perry, you said that you'll end the war on religion. We're waiting for a president who doesn't dilute religion into a mere political constituency, but instead embraces it as a powerful way to bridge the gap of vast differences among our fellow Americans.
Grace is what makes us strong, and will make us strong again because not our country, nor Rick Perry, nor either of us deserve it.
We're gay, we're straight,
we're black, we're white,
we're rich, we're poor,
we're conservative, we're liberal,
we're Christian, we're not
...and Jesus loves the little children.
All the children of the world.
We strive to love you all extravagantly... the way that Jesus loved.
We're sisters, and we approve this message.
Reached by email, the sisters -- neither of whom has ever worked or volunteered for a political candidate, they said -- addressed what moved them to respond: "Our video was intended to address not only Perry's video (which was simply the tipping point for us), but the divisiveness that we feel now permeates throughout our country's entire political climate, from all over the spectrum. We've been disappointed watching both political parties attempt to pit groups of people against each other using the message of Christianity, while we believe that THE most basic message of Jesus Christ is the very opposite."
Will any 2012 political candidate address that desire for national unity -- a desire that also fueled Obama's rise in 2008? So far the evidence is not encouraging.