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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Time to Seek

The Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice and Healing just released a study guide on all things LGBT for churches around the country. It is a terrific starting point for ordinations to start asking relevant questions about sexual and gender diversity. The guide gives an overview of the science of sexual and gender diversity and is fairly comprehensive. A good old social scientist like myself would have to (out of professional obligation, if nothing else) cherry pick some points of critique here and there, but I will resist. That would miss the important point, that many religious organizations want to start talking about sexuality and have precious little resources they can turn to. The Religious Institute provides an important resource with this guide that I hope will be used widely. And if you cannot open up a discussion in your community, the guide tells you what communities are open and welcoming.

Nevertheless, I miss one thing. If religious organizations are going to open a discussion about sexual and gender diversity, they will have to, at one point or another, recognize the suffering they have caused. We are after all not merely discussing a topic of ignorance. Sexual and gender minorities have been terribly mistreated and prosecuted. At some point, churches and temples will have to atone for the suffering they have caused. Sexual and gender minorities have always been in their midst. They didn't simply appear yesterday. And they have carried a terrible burden. Churches and temples will have to decided not only whether they will get informed, important though that may be, but also whether they will recognize their own role in the suffering of so many. With Yom Kippur coming up, we have a day to begin this attonement. I hope that Christian churches will join in.


  • Thanks for the review and helping us get the word out. But, you seem to have missed the Open Letter to Religious Leaders on Sexual and Gender Diversity towards the end of the guide. It indeed includes such a lamentation.

    Rev. Debra Haffner

    By Blogger Debra W. Haffner, at Fri Sep 28, 06:12:00 PM PDT  

  • Thank you Debra, for all your work. Indeed, the letter does contain a lamentation. In a further converstion with religious leaders, we can perhaps suggest a particular call to action. This lamentation does not actually call on anyone to atone and therefore does not ask anyone to take responsibility for the ways in which they may have contributed to that harm the letter mentions. Perhaps you are right and that should be a next step. It took the Southern Baptist Convention more than 100 years to apologize for their stance on slavery. While I don't have that much patience, I will give the timing over to God.

    By Blogger Niels Teunis, at Wed Oct 03, 06:43:00 AM PDT  

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