In the coming weeks, families around the country will be gathering together for the holidays. But in far too many cases, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) members of the community are made to feel that there is no place for them at the table. The primary reason for this rejection: the misuse of religious teachings to justify denying the equality, and even the basic human dignity, of LGBT persons.
In response, Faith in America has launched Faith and Equality, a website that provides information and resources to LGBT youth and their families who are seeking to overcome the emotional, psychological, and spiritual harm that results from this misguided religious perspective.
Faith In America has worked since 2005 to educate the public about the harm caused to LGBT youth and families when certain religious teaching is used to promote attitudes of hostility and rejection. The new Faith and Equality site has been developed to offer a new perspective to youth, parents, family members and others – a perspective that embraces faith and equality together as a singular value within society. The information presented on the site is what youth, parents and others have told the organization is most important in order to bring better understanding to families and communities of faith.
Said Brent Childers, founder and executive director of Faith in America: “Christmas celebrations are for many a time of togetherness, a time for family, and a time to focus on the spiritual significance of the holiday. But for the LGBT youth in those homes, feelings of joy and peace are replaced with sorrow and anxiety because of the stigma and rejection that is present. The mindset that faith and equality are opposing forces is most often responsible for inflicting that type of harm, whether consciously or not.
“For the young LGBT person in those homes, nothing takes Christ out of Christmas like being made to feel as though he or she is undeserving of the basic humanity that is celebrated in so many Christian homes at this time of year. Therefore, you can imagine what a wonderful gift it is for that young LGBT person to know that their sexual orientation is not something that their parents, family and friends deride or demean, but rather embrace as just one part of the wonderful person they were created to be.”
Among the testimonials and stories featured on the Faith and Equality website is that of Jane Clementi, mother of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, who committed suicide in fall 2010.
Said Clementi in a video testimonial for the site: “Our family has come to understand just how devastating it can be when a young person feels that society, their peers, and others place a stamp of rejection and shame on their very being… Sadly, our own church promoted the notion that a gay or lesbian person is broken and separated from God solely because of their God-given sexual orientation. I can only hope today that my son knew in his heart that my own personal religious beliefs could never prevent my full and complete affirmation of such a gift.”
Other voices featured on the site include: Shari Johnston, an evangelical Christian mother from Texas, who came to accept her lesbian daughter and her partner; Rev. Jimmy Creech, co-founder of Faith in America and a former ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, who speaks on his stand in support of welcoming LGBT people and embracing the right to marry; Dr. Jack McKinney, a pastoral counselor in Raleigh, NC who works closely with LGBT people; and Rabbi Fred Guttman of Temple Emanuel in Greensboro, NC, who speaks about his congregation’s welcoming approach to LGBT individuals, and how his interpretation of scriptures differ from those faith leaders who use verses from the Old Testament to attack LGBT persons.
Source: Faith in America