Gay Activists Focus on Faith: No Monopoly for the “Religious Police”

Far too often, faith and LGBT sexuality are seen as polar opposites, necessarily in opposition. The result is that some people of faith see it as their religious duty to promote prejudice or even violence and murder, with tragic results as in Uganda (but also in countless hate crime murders in Western countries, too). Conversely, too many people in the queer community simply dismiss all religious belief and practice as inherently bigoted, incapable of offering anything in their lives. Both positions are fatally flawed.

I liked this video by a young Australian gay Christian, who points out (quite correctly) that the “moral police” do not have a monopoly on faith.

In the video, he makes clear that as a gay man of faith he is vehemently opposed to “Christian political parties trying to be the moral police over the rest of society.”

“I believe it’s a very poor representation of the Lord Jesus Christ to the community, to the gay and lesbian community, to Sydney city in general, and especially to the Christian Church… the church is much bigger than them and their bigoted and limited ideas and understanding,” Grebart blasted Maddon’s actions in drumming up a “battlecry” protest against the Mardi Gras parade.

If Christians (and people of other faiths) need to treat sexual minorities with greater respect and inclusion, then the converse also holds. Gay activists need to recognize the influence that faith exerts in some people’s political thinking – and engage with religious communities on their own terms. A conference of activists in Minneapolis is doing just that:

Gay Activist Conference In Minn. Has Faith Focus

Whenever Nicole Garcia visited gay-friendly churches with large numbers of Hispanic people in the congregation, she would check the brochures and other materials geared toward gay churchgoers and their families and usually find a common theme.

“Typically what I’d see are materials written for white families and translated into Spanish,” said Garcia, a Denver-based transgender activist who works with several gay-friendly faith groups. “That’s appreciated, but you have to understand that you’re talking about a totally different set of issues in many cases.”

On Wednesday, Garcia and several hundred other gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender activists who work within multiple faith communities will gather in Minneapolis as part of the much larger National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s annual conference. Garcia will lead a Latino working group, one of several such groups aimed at a greater diversity in gay religious activism — an arena that convention co-organizer the Rev. Rebecca Voelkel said “has been largely defined by white folks.”

In recent years, gay activists have won some major battles within several traditionally white, middle-class denominations. Both the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Episcopal Church now allow openly gay clergy, and several other Protestant denominations have been moving in that direction.

-Read more at NPR

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