Showing posts with label Religion Bias. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Religion Bias. Show all posts

August 2, 2019

BBC Reports "LGBT People are Being Made Homeless Due To Religion"

Dr Nazim Mahmood killed himself in 2014 after his family told him to 'seek a gay cure'Nearly half of young LGBT people who are left homeless after coming out are from religious backgrounds.
That's according to research by the Albert Kennedy Trust (AKT), which supports young people who are at risk of homelessness.
The charity says three in four LGBT people are rejected by their families - and 45% of that number are from a faith background.
The Trust says the majority are from Muslim and Christian families.
For Dr Nazim Mahmood, the pain of not being accepted by his parents ended in the most devastating way.
Five years ago he took his own life when his family told him to "seek a cure" after coming out as gay, because they considered homosexuality a disease.
In reality, so-called "gay-cure" therapies have no scientific evidence to back them up.
In 2018, the government promised to take steps to get rid of the practice in the UK, as evidence shows it is harmful and ineffective.
Strict interpretations of religious texts, from the Bible to the Koran, have been used to argue that being LGBT is a sin.
"He said if his family ever found out that we're together, they'd be praying on the doorstep until we break apart," says his fiance Matt Mahmood-Ogston, who's still dealing with the pain of Naz's death.

'I'm Muslim, is that OK?'

"His smile was incredible, his big brown eyes were so beautiful and the way he spoke. In that moment, my life changed forever."
Love was "instant" when Nazim and Matt met in Birmingham in their early 20s but they soon learned that being in love meant going underground.
One of the first questions Naz asked Matt was: "I'm Muslim, is that OK?"
For Matt it was never a problem but Naz's faith would go on to play a big part in their lives.
Matt and Naz at an eventImage copyrightTHE NAZ AND MATT FOUNDATION
Image captionMatt says he and Naz were each other's first and only relationship and he will remain in love with him for the rest of his life
To get the freedom and life they wanted, they moved to London and kept their relationship secret for 13 years.
Naz would face constant pressures from his family to get married, and when he revealed the truth during a confrontation at home, he was told to get therapy.
"They were basically saying the thing that he cherished the most - his identity, the most truthful thing about him - had to be got rid of for him to be accepted," Matt says.
Days later Naz took his own life at the age of 34.
If there is any anger or bitterness, Matt doesn't show it.
Through his work - The Naz and Matt Foundation - he wants to help others in a similar position change their family's minds. 
Prince William talking at an AKT eventImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe Duke of Cambridge said he'd "fully support" his children if they came out as gay, but would worry about the pressures they could face
Last month one of the UK's most high-profile parents moved the conversation forward.
Visiting the AKT in London, the Duke of Cambridge said he would "fully support" his children if they were gay.
"Anyone that may have been on the fence or indifferent, to see the future king say that, would change a lot of minds," says Leigh Fontaine, services manager at the trust.
AKT works to support anyone who needs help with housing and services.
"People come to us either because they've chosen to leave home due to hostility - from name calling to the extremes of forced conversion, exorcism - or because they've been kicked out."
Do parents ever end up accepting their children? 
"Sometimes. The family sees their child grow in independence and confidence once out of the house and their views start to shift and change."

'Dad, I'm gay'

Sameer at graduation with his familyImage copyrightSAMEER POSELAY
Image captionSameer revealed his sexuality while at university and is supported entirely by his family
The idea of telling his family about his sexuality frightened 24-year-old Sameer Poselay.
"I genuinely thought I was going to take the secret to the grave."
He knew he was gay at age eight but with parents of Indian, Sunni Muslim heritage, he says there was a level of expectation: "My parents were really looking forward to having daughters-in-law one day.
"I thought maybe I'd enter a fake marriage as I didn't want to ruin that whole perfect nuclear family. I felt the burden of ruining it."
School - where Sameer says gay people were regularly mocked - didn't help either.
But one night, aged 20, he decided to tell his dad and relieve himself of the burden that had been depressing him for so long.
He'd anticipated being kicked out so had arranged to stay at a friend's.
As his father sat in the lounge absorbed in a TV show, Sameer sat opposite him and said: "I need to talk to you."
Sameer with his dad Lak
Image captionSameer says he is lucky that his family accept him and accept homosexuality
"Honestly, my immediate thought was 'Oh gosh, I hope you haven't got anyone pregnant'," Sameer's dad Lak Poselay says.
When Sameer eventually said "Dad, I'm gay", there was silence.
"I had a delayed reaction and I just said 'Go on, get on with your life' shrugged my shoulders and said, 'Yeah OK'," says Lak.
Sameer was blindsided, and soon afterwards he got all the reassurances he'd ever wanted.
Crucially, his entire family don't just accept him - they fully accept homosexuality.
"I'm sure some would say I'm not a proper Muslim, but it's simple," Lak says wryly. "You're born a Muslim and you're born gay, so you are both."
Sameer as a childImage copyrightSAMEER POSELAY
Image captionSam says growing up he always knew he was "different" and thanks to family support knows his religion and sexuality can both be part of his identity
As for "What will the neighbours think?"...
"I couldn't care less, it's their negativity. I just tell them 'Yes I'm proud my son is gay... and a doctor!'" Lak says.
"I'm a scientist dad," Sameer interjects.
"I know son, but saying doctor is funny because it means more to them doesn't it?" 
"And I'm still an Asian dad," Lak laughs. "So I'd like him to bring home an Asian Muslim man!"
There's a serious message he is keen to emphasise.
"As a parent you can literally destroy your child's life because you made something all about you and not wanting to accept it.
"We're all about saving lives - so save your child's life by saying 'OK, you're Muslim and you're gay'."
Naz's memorial benchImage copyrightTHE NAZ AND MATT FOUNDATION
Image captionNaz's bench bears a quote of his and a poem by Matt
It's this full acceptance that Matt says could have meant a different life for Naz.
He places a bouquet of sunflowers on to the memorial bench to honour the man he says will forever remain his soulmate.
They were Naz's favourite kind.
"All Naz wanted was the unconditional love and acceptance of his parents. 
"Even if one parent changes their minds after hearing us, it would mean everything."
If you've been affected by any of the issues described in this article, you can find help at the BBC Advice pages.

June 26, 2019

Cathedral Catholic High School Succumbs To Pressure From Bishop and Fires Their Last Gay Teacher

Then-Bishop Charles Thompson speaks after he is introduced as the new archbishop of Indianapolis in Indianapolis June 13, 2017.
Then-Bishop Charles Thompson speaks after he is introduced as the new archbishop of Indianapolis in Indianapolis June 13, 2017.

 This was not a case of parents no liking this teacher or students or the fculty. A well respected teacher that happened to be gay. So you fix your dogma to be real Christian or you continue to get church laws adopted by bishops and popes (Men) that are now dead. Or you fix it for the ones thayt are live to day and tomorrrosw. You quote your god Jesus Christ and not passages that had nothing to do with Christianity and "going against these" is going againt me. Jchrist

Indianapolis, Indiana—The Indianapolis archbishop has forced a Catholic high school to fire a gay teacher, just days after another school in the city defied a similar order despite church officials saying they would no longer recognize it as Catholic. The contrasting responses by Cathedral High School and Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School to orders by the Indianapolis Archdiocese demonstrate they ways LGBT Catholics are experiencing workplace pressure without federal laws ensuring nationwide nondiscrimination protections. 

Cathedral High School announced Sunday that it's terminating the teacher's contract to avoid a split with the archdiocese. Leaders of Cathedral High School, a private school affiliated with the Brothers of the Holy Cross religious order, said in a letter on the school's website that disobeying Archbishop Charles Thompson would cost the school its nonprofit status and its ability to have Mass celebrated on campus.

"Archbishop Thompson made it clear that Cathedral's continued employment of a teacher in a public, same-sex marriage would result in our forfeiting our Catholic identity due to our employment of an individual living in contradiction to Catholic teaching on marriage," the school statement said.
This is the third Indianapolis Catholic high school that's faced pressure from Thompson over employees in same-sex marriages since he became archbishop in July 2017. CBS News reported earlier this month that Archdiocesan-operated Indianapolis Roncalli High School has fired or suspended two female guidance counselors in the past year because they're both in same-sex marriages. Both women have filed federal employment discrimination complaints. 
Then-Bishop Charles Thompson speaks after he is introduced as the new archbishop of Indianapolis in Indianapolis June 13, 2017.
On Friday, Thompson issued a decree against Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School because it employed a teacher in a same-sex marriage. Brebeuf leaders said the teacher was a "longtime valued employee" who didn't teach religion. The archdiocese maintained that it considers all teachers, guidance counselors and school administrators to be ministers who must follow church teaching.

CBS News reported earlier in June a statement from the Very Rev. Brian Paulson, who heads the Midwest Province of Jesuits, who said that "Brebeuf's administration and Board of Trustees have determined that following the Archdiocese's directive would not only violate their informed conscience on this particular matter, but also would set a concerning precedent for future interference in the school's operations and other matters."

Indiana is among about 30 states without state nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBT people, according to the gay-rights group Human Rights Campaign. A federal bill for such nationwide nondiscrimination protections passed the House of Representatives in May but appears doomed in the U.S. Senate because of Republican opposition.

New Ways Ministry, a Maryland-based advocacy group for LGBT Catholics, counts nearly 100 employees at Catholic institutions who've lost jobs because of sexual orientation issues across the country in the past decades.

Cathedral administrators said Sunday that its decision to dismiss a gay teacher was "agonizing" but one that was necessary for the 1,100-student school. Cathedral, like Brebeuf, had been in talks with the archdiocese about the teachers for nearly two years. Neither school has identified the teachers involved

The Cathedral letter doesn't defend Thompson's decision, saying it hopes the action does not "dishearten Cathedral's young people." The actions have sparked online petitions and social media debate.

The archdiocese said in a statement Monday that all Catholic schools have been directed to state in employment contracts that all employees must support church teachings.

"This issue is not about sexual orientation; rather, it is about our expectation that all personnel inside a Catholic school — who are ministers of the faith — abide by all Church teachings," the statement said. "If and when a minister of the faith is publicly not doing so, the Church calls us to help the individual strive to live a life in accordance with Catholic teaching."

Brebeuf is operated by the Midwest Province of Jesuits, independently of the archdiocese. Despite Thompson's decree, Brebeuf's principal says it will continue to call itself an "independent Jesuit Catholic school."

August 24, 2018

Only Trump Will Give us A Vice President As Bad as He Is- Meet V.P.Pence


Democrats may not like President Donald Trump, but do they want the alternative?
“That is probably what we hear most from Democrats,” said Kevin Mack, lead strategist for the “Need to Impeach” President Donald Trump campaign. " 'Well, if we get rid of Trump, then we end up with (Mike) Pence.' "
As Trump’s presidency became more endangered this week with the conviction or guilty plea of two of his former aides, a new book about the vice president will stoke concerns about Pence.

1. Is he a 'Christian supremacist'?

In “The Shadow President: The Truth About Mike Pence,” on sale Tuesday, authors Michael D’Antonio and Peter Eisner cast Pence's background – congressman, Indiana governor, Trump VP – in a harsh light, arguing that “the most successful Christian supremacist in American history” is already functioning as a “kind of replacement president” and is preparing to “fashion a nation more pleasing to his god and corporate sponsors.” A flattering preview of the book by New York Times columnist Frank Bruni – that ran under the headline “Mike Pence, Holy Terror” – already has religious leaders and other Pence supporters accusing Bruni and the book’s authors of religious bigotry. Saying he’d “never heard such hatred poured out against such a good man,” evangelist Franklin Graham urged supporters to pray that God will put a “hedge of protection” around Pence and his family.

2. It's not the first Pence warning

The authors are not the first to raise alarms about who is waiting in the wings should Trump leave office – voluntarily or involuntarily.
Arguing Pence has taken advantage of the chaos of the Trump administration to amass “enormous power” under the radar, the Human Rights Campaign launched a campaign earlier this year to highlight Pence’s record on issues important to the LGBTQ community.
Former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman writes in her new memoir that Pence is biding his time until Trump resigns or is impeached.
“As bad as you think Trump is, you should be worried about Pence,” she said on "Celebrity Big Brother" in February after leaving the White House. “He thinks Jesus tells him to say things.”

March 14, 2018

House Republicans ReIntroduce Bill Pitting Religion Against LGBT

The First Amendment Defense Act, commonly known as FADA, has been reintroduced in Congress by Senator Mike Lee of Utah and 21 other Republicans — despite being called “harmful,” “discriminatory” and the “vilest anti-LGBT religious freedom bill of our time" by gay rights advocates. The bill, Lee said, is “designed to prevent the federal government from discriminating against individuals or institutions based on their beliefs about marriage.”
“What an individual or organization believes about the traditional definition of marriage is not — and should never be — a part of the government’s decision-making process when distributing licenses, accreditations or grants,” Lee said in a statement. “The First Amendment Defense Act simply ensures that this will always be true in America — those federal bureaucrats will never have the authority to require those who believe in the traditional definition of marriage to choose between their living in accordance with those beliefs and maintaining their occupation or their tax status.”
The bill was last introduced in the House and Senate in 2015 but did not make it out of committee. Jeff Sessions, now attorney general and then a senator from Alabama, was one of FADA’s original sponsors, and in December 2016, President-elect Donald Trump said he would support the legislation.
Donald Haider-Markel, a political science professor at the University of Kansas, said the reintroduction of FADA may be more of a political calculation by Republicans than a real attempt at getting the bill passed.
“It gets them on the record in favor, and they get a ‘no’ vote to pin on those Democrats in the general election," Haider-Markel said, adding that "it’s just as important for some Republicans to get a ‘yes’ vote on the record” to enhance their conservative credentials to stave off primary challengers from the right.
“There are plenty of analysts who are saying this is now Trump’s party, but there is still a divide in the party between hard-core (social) conservatives, and those that are more moderate, and the conservatives seem to mostly be behind Trump,” Haider-Markel said. “Their only chance to show their conservative chops on social issues is to get votes on social issues even if they won’t ultimately be successful.”
Gregory T. Angelo, president of the Log Cabin Republicans, a national gay conservative group, said his organization opposes the legislation.
“This is legislation that the evangelical lobbyists have prioritized,” Angelo said. “Outside of evangelical lobbyists, you're not hearing a clarion call for action on FADA from rank-and-file voters.” 
The current bill makes two notable changes compared with an earlier version. It excludes from the bill’s protections publicly traded for-profit entities, federal employees, federal contractors and certain health care providers. The bill also expands its scope to protect those whose religious beliefs put them in opposition to same-sex marriage or any marriage recognized under federal law. The new bill retains text, however, which frames the bill as responding to “conflicts between same-sex marriage and religious liberty.”
LGBTQ advocates say the legislation is not substantively different from previous versions and would roll back anti-discrimination protections for the community.
"The First Amendment Defense Act is harmful legislation that would legalize state-sanctioned discrimination and undermine key civil rights protections for LGBTQ people,” said David Stacy, government affairs director for the national LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign (HRC). “Supporters of this legislation are using religious liberty as a sword to hurt LGBTQ families rather than staying true to our long tradition of it serving as a shield to protect religious expression from government overreach."
According to HRC, FADA would, among other things, permit individuals, nonprofits and many businesses using taxpayer funds to refuse service to same-sex couples; allow nonprofits and some businesses to deny gay and lesbian employees time off to care for a sick spouse, and permit government-funded shelters from housing same-sex couples.
Ian Thompson, a legislative representative with the American Civil Liberties Union, raised similar objections, saying FADA “opens the door to a wide range of taxpayer-funded discrimination.”
“It would let private companies and nonprofit government contractors — which includes a significant portion of social services providers — refuse to provide a service or benefit to people because they do not fit their definition of family, from same-sex married couples and their children, a single parent and their child, or an unmarried couple who are living together,” Thompson said in a statement. “Whatever the sponsors of this shameful legislation may say, this is a blatant example of using religion as a justification to discriminate.”
While Haider-Markel said the updated FADA bill could gain some traction in the House, he said it would likely fail in the Senate. Plus, he added, the expanded scope of the revised bill would make it nearly impossible to enforce.
“The language in this version seems so incredibly vague and very unlikely to stand up in any way, shape or form,” he added. “The whole thing just seems like a performance.”
by Julie Morea
NBC News
It is adamfoxie's 10th๐ŸฆŠAnniversay. 10 years witnessing the world and bringing you a pieace whcih is ussually not getting its due coverage.

December 21, 2017

Pastor Dave Welch Primary TX. Anti Gay Mobilizer of Churches Vs. LGBT Community

Houston made international news in 2009 when it became the largest U.S. city to elect an openly gay mayor. Six years later, Houston voters made a stunning about-face by repealing a city ordinance shielding LGBT people from discrimination.
Behind that electoral backlash was Dave Welch, a sturdy, serious-looking man. He is the executive director of the U.S. Pastor Council, a group that’s adept at mobilizing churches to participate in loud, ugly campaigns against LGBT rights. Welch and the Pastor Council were instrumental in peddling the “No Men in Women’s Restrooms” message that has animated Texas social conservatives in recent years.
Welch, who calls himself a “pastor of pastors,” formed the Houston Area Pastor Council in 2003 with a dozen other Houston-area clergy. As more church leaders joined the cause, he established the Texas Pastor Council and the U.S. Pastor Council, umbrella groups that have pushed the limits of what churches are allowed to do as tax-exempt organizations. They challenge pastors to distribute election guides, register congregants to vote and discuss political issues with churchgoers. By 2008, Welch was writing screeds against abortion, gay rights and Barack Obama for WorldNetDaily, a conspiracy-laced progenitor of alt-right media. In one column he declares war on the “radical sexual-diversity jihad.”
But it was Welch’s years-long grudge match with former Houston Mayor Annise Parker that really raised his political profile. In 2013, a pastor with his group sued to block Parker from extending spousal benefits to same-sex couples who work for the city. That the lawsuit even survived the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling in 2015 hints at the reach of Welch’s message. After first tossing the case, the Texas Supreme Court agreed to rehear it at the urging of Governor Greg Abbott and other leading Texas Republicans. In July 2017, the court issued a brain-wrinkling rulingconcluding that same-sex spouses of government employees still aren’t guaranteed the benefits of marriage in Texas.
Dave Welch
The defeat of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance was an even bigger success. Welch stood before TV cameras to warn of “biological males, with no alterations, entering a woman’s restroom” when Parker pushed HERO, as the ordinance was known, during her final term in office. After City Council passed the law, Welch helped organize a ballot referendum to overturn it. When Parker’s administration made the face-plant move of subpoenaing sermons from pastors involved in the effort, Welch called it “as close as anything I’ve ever seen to Nazi Germany on our soil.” Anti-LGBT activists eventually convinced 61 percent of Houston voters to repeal HERO after a campaign featuring TV ads of men stalking little girls in public bathrooms. Earlier this year, Abbott signed a bill pushed by Welch that shields sermons from government subpoenas. 
Fran Watson, a Houston LGBT rights activist, says Welch’s ability to blend politics and religion makes him a particularly potent force. He “faith-washes” the anti-LGBT message for congregations but also brawls like a political operative. “He was able to get away with saying a lot of ludicrous, hurtful things in public because he masked it with faith,” she said. In one public forum over the equal rights law, when a trans woman asked Welch what bathroom she should use, he asked her about her genitals. When she said it wasn’t his business, he replied, “You’re making it my business.” The 2017 legislative session was both a sign of Welch’s influence and a hint at what may curtail it. Notably, the Pastor Council failed to help pass a bathroom bill amid opposition from a cadre of corporate interests and resistance from fellow believers, including dozens of progressive faith leaders. Welch dismisses his opponents as tools of powerful interests. “This isn’t about discrimination,” he told the Observer. “This is about political correctness being shoved down our throats by corporate fat cats pushing a radical agenda.” 
Welch says his group will continue to mobilize with other anti-LGBT activists against anything that “normalizes the gay lifestyle.”
As the lingering Houston court case shows, just because the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage doesn’t mean people like Welch will stop fighting it. “We have not changed our position that God created marriage, and that long preceded this country and its laws,” Welch said. Marriage equality, he added, “is no more settled than Roe v. Wade.”
Michael Barajas is a staff writer covering civil rights for the Observer. You can reach him on Twitter or at

September 16, 2017

Minister Cancels Straight Couple's Wedding Because The Bride Approves in Gay Marriage for Gays

 Where do so-called Christians get their moral values? I guarantee you not from Jesus if you read everything he is known to have said. What a crooked association which is what the Gestapo did in their days. If you believe a jew should not terminate you did not go enough to be a German 'and you should then joined your friend the jews. Same thing this man and his church is doing. There is a name for it: Guilt by association and Jesus was very guilty of it.

A Victorian church refused to marry a young couple and cancelled their wedding plans because the bride-to-be expressed support for same-sex marriage on Facebook.
The 26-year-old bride and 25-year-old groom were to be married in November at their Presbyterian church, Ebenezer St John's in Ballarat, by minister Steven North. 

After a bride posted a comment on Facebook supporting same-sex marriage, a Victorian Minister called the couple to say he can't marry them anymore.

In early August, when the Turnbull government announced the postal survey on same-sex marriage, the bride posted a Facebook status declaring her support for change.
"I know it's something not everyone will agree on and that's fine but this is what I stand for and frankly it doesn't affect [sic] my relationship with [my partner] one bit," she commented. 

Days later, the couple was summoned to Mr North's office and were told he would no longer marry them, nor would they be allowed to hold their ceremony at the church.
In a letter to the bride, provided to Fairfax Media, Mr North said the views expressed in the Facebook post had "practical consequences" for the wedding.

"After the pre-marital counselling that you attended and the sermons delivered at Ebenezer on this subject, you must surely appreciate that your commitment to same-sex marriage opposes the teaching of Christ Jesus and the scriptural position practised by the Presbyterian Church of Australia and by me," he wrote.

"This conflict of views has practical consequences in relation to your upcoming wedding.
Minister Steve North, pictured in 2014, refused to officiate the wedding and banned the couple from getting married at his church.

Minister Steve North, pictured in 2014, refused to officiate the wedding and banned the couple from getting married at his church.

"By continuing to officiate it would appear either that I support your views on same-sex marriage or that I am uncaring about this matter. As you know, neither statement is correct.

"Also, if the wedding proceeded in the Ebenezer St John's church buildings, the same inferences could be drawn about the Presbyterian denomination. Such inferences would be wrong." 

Fairfax Media has spoken to the couple but has agreed not to name them, in line with their wishes. The couple did not seek media attention about the case – Fairfax Media was informed by a friend of the family.

Ebenezer St John's did not return multiple calls. John Wilson, clerk of assembly at the Presbyterian Church of Victoria, said decisions about officiating marriages were at the discretion of individual ministers. He did not wish to comment further.

But Presbyterian ministers and churchgoers are under clear directions to oppose same-sex marriage. Mr Wilson, who is also moderator-general of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, published a blog post committing the church to the "no" case and calling on attendees to campaign actively.

"There are many powerful voices clamouring to tear down what God declares to be holy. The church must not be silent on this," Mr Wilson wrote.

However, other church sources suggested the Ballarat experience was uncommon. Darren Middleton, convenor of the Church and Nation committee and a Geelong minister, said it was the first such case he had encountered.

"This is a decision for individual ministers to make. My guess is most probably would have let the wedding go ahead," he told Fairfax Media.

"It's not normally a requirement to get married that you subscribe to particular views. I would want to talk to them about their views … but that wouldn't be a bar to them getting married. That's a separate issue in my mind."

David Burke, the moderator of the Presbyterian church in NSW, also said these were matters for individual ministers but his approach would be to talk it through with the couple.

The Ballarat couple had already sent wedding invitations to friends and family but were able to find an alternative, secular venue for their November wedding. The ceremony will be officiated by a retired minister.

In an emotive written response to Mr North, the couple said they would no longer attend Ebenezer St John's church as a result of the minister's decision.

"We feel this decision is absolutely disgraceful and is a disgrace to you and all the church, especially when we have been loyal and valued members of this congregation for 10 years," they wrote
"You were made aware from the beginning of our proceedings that we had gay friends and also that people in our wedding party were gay. How could you assume that we would abandon them or degrade them with regards to same-sex marriage?

"We understand we did agree with the teachings of the church in our marriage counselling but just because we agree with that for our own lives, doesn't mean that we have to push those beliefs on others."
The church's decision had caused "a great deal of stress and upset" to both families, the couple wrote. 

Michael Koziol is the immigration and legal affairs reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based in Parliament House

Sydney Morning Herald

September 3, 2017

New Report from Pews: "LGBT Reject Religion and That is a Good Thing"

When a book such as Matthew Vines’ God and the Gay Christian becomes a smash hit it might lead you to think that there is a large contingent of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians out there clamoring for acceptance.
But a new report from the Pew Research Center suggests that this is not the case.
As it turns out Vines’ book (and others that seek to reconcile LGBT lives with fundamentalist Christian teaching) is only a big deal to insiders—or to a voyeuristic public that doesn’t have any real skin in the game.
As for the LGBT community, Pew researchers found that at least 41% could give a rip if the evangelical church welcomes them in their pews because they’ve given up on religion anyway—at least that type of religion.
Given the media’s attention to LGBT people and religion, it might come as a shock that such a large bloc of the LGBT community does not identify as religious. But within the community, it’s simply confirmation that Christianity has already fouled its nest when it comes to trying to attract LGBT people back to church.
The reason so many LGBT people have fled the church tracks closely with why millennials, in general, have abandoned sanctuaries across the country—a perception that churches are filled with judgmental and hypocritical people.
survey last year by Pew found that 73% of LGBT people perceived evangelical churches to be unfriendly and 79% said they felt unwelcome in Catholic churches.  As for non-evangelical mainstream churches, the survey found that only 10% of LGBT folk viewed such churches as friendly while 44% perceived them as unfriendly.
However, according to last year’s data, one-third of LGBT people who are religious said there was a conflict between their religious beliefs and their sexual orientation or gender identity. This, I believe, shows that many LGBT people continue to go to unwelcoming churches simply because they do find religion important—or they remain conflicted about their own sexuality or gender identity because of the mixed signals coming from the pulpit every Sunday.
This year’s survey found that among the 24% who say they believe nothing, in particular, 10% say religion is still somewhat or very important to them. This opens a huge opportunity for LGBT religious communities to offer alternative forms of spirituality to this community in particular. Those whose beliefs have slipped, as well as those who are still searching for something—anything—are in desperate need of communities of faith to serve them.

It’s not the churches that LGBT people are leaving, it’s Christianity in its current form that repels them.

Sadly, what they find too often in the LGBT religious landscape is what I call “evangelical lite” churches that offer the same theology, liturgy and worship styles as most non-welcoming evangelical churches, minus the judgment. Having been involved in many of these evangelical lite churches over the years, though, I can affirm that there are still many who remain conflicted about their faith and sexuality or gender identity even in a more welcoming environment.
I believe that’s so because while evangelical lite churches may be missing the judgment they still perpetuate the overall sexual shame that is inherent in much of traditional Christian theology. Even though it may not be overt, that shame is still being taught even in predominantly LGBT churches—so it’s not really the churches that LGBT people are leaving, it’s Christianity in its current form that repels them.
Much of this style of worship and theology continues even in the predominantly gay Metropolitan Community Churches—which makes sense, I would argue, because founder Troy Perry was raised in a fundamentalist tradition. His influence remains strong in the MCC and other gay-friendly evangelical churches that still exist (and continue to thrive in some places such as the south) today.
This, however, is where I see a ray of hope for LGBT people of faith. There is an opportunity here, for any faith community up to the task, to truly reform the Christian church into what it was meant to be in the first place—a community that accepts people where they are and offers them genuine love and support.
There are many independent churches that are already doing this. And even some mainline churches are flying under the denominational radar to give LGBT people of faith the connection and community they crave.  My own small congregation, Jubilee! Circle, in Columbia, S.C., is offering an alternative theology centered in the Creation Spirituality of Matthew Fox, that attracts both LGBT and straight people who may otherwise describe themselves as “nones.”
I think the key is to begin our theology in a different place—not in the dark place of original sin (a doctrine cooked up by Augustine to rid himself of the guilt of his own sexual dysfunctions)—but with what Matthew Fox calls original blessing, in which our bodies are “dwelling places of the Divine.”
How revolutionary it would be for the LGBT community, which has already led massive social reforms around marriage, to become the new reformers of Christianity—turning it from a religion of shame and guilt into the living embodiment of God’s beauty and unconditional love.
As Mark D. Jordan has powerfully offered, in these pages: “There is no gay church, there is only church—which is never reformed, only reforming.”
Much respect to Vines and his supporters, but why must we in the LGBT faith community beg for acceptance in an already theologically bankrupt institution when the time for reformation is ripe?

Candace Chellew-Hodge is the founder/editor of Whosoever: An Online Magazine for GLBT Christians and currently serves as the pastor of Jubilee! Circle in Columbia, S.C. She is also the author of Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians (Jossey-Bass, 2008)

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