As news of Clay Aiken’s coming out as a gay man reached the mainstream press, over the last couple of days, another statement made by the American Idol’s most famous runner-up has tongues wagging: The article also addresses him as a “born-again Christian.”

Well, we can all imagine the vitriol that erupted as soon as word of Aiken’s Christian faith hit the streets. Aiken, like fellow Christian Ray Boltz, has been vocal about his faith, and built his singing career while in his church and in theatre before hitting the big time on Idol.

While many of us have been vocal in our query as to why he’s taken so long to come out, I suspect the fact that he’s Christian has a huge part of it. After all, the common belief (as oft-quoted in blog comments) is that “gay Christian is an oxymoron.” While I can spend a few hours and several pages on the sheer ignorance of the “oxymoron” catchphrase, it’s an example as to why Aiken’s announcement is indeed as courageous as it is timely.

While Aiken’s faith hasn’t been the core of his career, there’s no denying it. Many of his albums have included contemporary Christian music, and his activist work has been geared toward the “least of these” that Christ called all of us to reach.

To Mr. Aiken, I say, “Thank you for being yourself. Yes, we figured that you were gay, but your courage in confirming that poorly-kept secret is clear. Thank you for standing up for integrity and honesty.”

To those who say, “Gay Christian is an oxymoron,” I say… what the hell am I talking about? They’re probably not even reading this blog. Never mind. But if they did, I’d strongly suggest that they remember that the grace of God is for everyone… even them.

Because if the grace of God covers religious intolerance and ignorance, I know there’s plenty of grace of Clay Aiken, Ray Boltz, and even me.