With Christian Right opposition to LGBT rights, and Faith Based Programs in the news and blogs (and on our minds) so much lately, there has been a lot of discussion about the unspeakable cruelty to LGBT people perpetrated by people using their religion as an excuse for bigotry or (worse) sincerely believing that their faith justifies, or even mandates, their behavior.

Nothing can ever justify the cruelty and oppression that has perpetuated over the years in the name of religion, whether directed at LGBT people or anyone else. Nothing can ever undo the harm that has already been done or make the pain it has caused go away. But the climate has changed and is still evolving among many organized religions and there are more religious organizations taking a stand against LGBT discrimination than ever before.

Given the long history of prejudice and discrimination by many, if not most, organized religions, it is only natural (and prudent) that we should be wary, but there are religious people and organizations out there putting their money where their mouths are, both in terms of genuine acceptance of LGBT people and, more importantly, actively working for our rights.

I would like to take a minute to focus on a few of the religious organizations that are supporting our rights and welcoming us with open arms and hearts. We all know about MCC, but there are many other churches and denominations out there who support us wholeheartedly.In some denominations, the work being done is focused on becoming an open and welcoming religious organization, as with the UCC Open and Affirming Congregations and the national advertising campaign they launched several years ago. Sometimes it is as subtle as the simple fact that the vast majority of Unity Churches and Church of Religious Science offered Commitment Ceremonies years ahead of most mainstream churches and have simply and quietly remained welcoming and inclusive. Sometimes the work being done by a denomination is on the level of a large scale social action network, such as the Unitarian-Universalist Church and the Union for Reform Judaism. Sometimes the progress is internal, from the progress being made within the Episcopal Church; Reconstructionist and Renewal Judaism, who have always ordained LGBT Rabbis, and the Conservative Jewish Committee on Jewish Law and Standards granted permission for the ordination of LGBT Rabbis and Commitment Ceremonies in December of 2006 (although they left it to the individual congregations and seminaries whether to participate in these innovations); to the slow but steady progress being made among Lutherans and others*. It also goes without saying that most American Pagan religions have always welcomed LGBT members to their circles.

From the perspective of someone who is very active within the Jewish Community, two recent LGBT positive articles in the mainstream Jewish press  struck me as particularly positive:

Cleveland Jewish News: Jewish, gay and parents: making it work together (Cover story, June 19, 2008) http://www.clevelandjewishnews…

JTA.org. Jewish couples and activists

turnout for Calif. gay weddings. Retrieved July 8, 2008. http://www.jta.org/cgi-bin/iow…

Progress is being made in many ways, shapes and forms; it has been slow to build, but it is happening.

*If you want to see what the less publicized and/or politically active religious organizations are doing or are looking for a LGBT religious organization, All things Queer has a good (albeit incomplete) list of links on their Gays For God page with links to denominations, organizations and individual churches that is worth taking a look at. http://www.rslevinson.com/gayl…

Citations

United Church of Christ. Open and affirming congregations.

http://www.ucccoalition.org/pr…

Unity School of Christianity (main page)

http://www.unityonline.org/

United Church of Religious Science (main page)

http://www.religiousscience.org/

Jewish Mosiac. The Reconstructionist movement on LGBT issues. Retrieved July 2008.

http://www.jewishmosaic.org/pa…

Aleph Alliance for Jewish Renewal (main page)

https://www.aleph.org/

“Conservative Jews Allow Gay Rabbis and Unions”, The New York Times, December 7, 2006.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12…

“2005 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America” http://www.guardian.co.uk/worl…

Susan_F

Susan_F

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