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The gradual abandonment of racism, sexism,
homophobia and transphobia by faith groups.

Part 3:
A shift within conservative faith groups
towards less discriminatory beliefs
about sexual orientation & the LGBT
community.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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Overview (repeated from this section's menu):

Many faith groups have promoted racist, sexist, homophobic, and/or transphobic beliefs and policies in the past. Some still do. However, the long-term trend -- as measured over decades or sometimes even generations -- is for faith groups to follow the leadership of secular groups and more liberal faith groups, by eliminating discrimination. Thus, there has been a gradual evolution towards: "... one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." 1

One example is described in this essay. It is homophobia, which is discrimination based on minority sexual orientation or same-gender sexual behavior.

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3. Homophobia: Restrictions on civil rights of lesbians, gays, and bisexuals (LGBs):

There is no consensus in North America about homosexuality:

  • Virtually all religious and social conservatives define homosexuality in terms of behavior. That is, a person engaging in same-gender sexual behavior is considered a homosexual.
    • Some religious and social conservatives view same-gender sexual behavior as a crime. They would like to re-establish the laws that were in place prior to 2003 when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized such consensual behavior by adults in private across the U.S. Most conservatives now view such behavior as immoral and sinful, but not criminal.

    • Many conservatives still view homosexuality is either a disorder or a chosen addiction that can be corrected through personal repentance and trusting Jesus as Lord and Savior, particularly if supplemented by reparative therapy and prayer. This sub-group is shrinking in numbers, particularly since Exodus International-- the largest organization promoting such "cures" -- went out of business and apologized for the massive amount of harm that it had done to lesbians, gays and bisexuals in their unsuccessful attempts to try to assist them in changing their sexual orientation.

    • Many conservatives do not fully recognize bisexuality as a sexual orientation. They often consider only two behaviors: heterosexual and homosexual.

  • Virtually all human sexuality researchers, mental health therapists, medical practitioners, religious liberals, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, etc., define homosexuality in terms of the gender(s) to whom a person is sexually attracted, as well as the person's fantasies, and self-identification. It is not something that a person does; it is a major part of who they are.

They view homosexuality as one of three normal and natural sexual orientations. It is discovered by the individual, not chosen. It is fixed in adulthood, and probably earlier in life as well. They generally accept it as a genetically caused a trait, like left-handedness. Of course, homosexual acts -- like heterosexual acts -- can be sinful and sometimes criminal if they involve manipulation, coercion, lack of consent, a significant danger of infecting a person with an STD, etc. However, most view both homosexual orientation and same-gender sexual acts as free of sin and as a positive activity for both partners if it is consensual and particularly if done within a loving relationship.

Homosexuality is mentioned in the Torah and Bible, in the Qur'an, in writings of the Baha'i Prophet Baha'u'llah, and in other texts considered sacred in various world religions.

The Bible's teachings on homosexuality are found in seven passages, three in the Hebrew Scriptures (a.k.a. Old Testament) and four in the Christian Scriptures (a.k.a. New Testament). They are often called "clobber passages." They appear to be ambiguous. When learned, intelligent, dedicated, sincere theologians approach these passages, they typically reach very different conclusions about what the passages actually say and mean:

  • Religious and social conservatives typically interpret all same-gender sexual behavior as a very serious sin, despised by God. They typically believe that:
    • Genesis 19 condemns all same-gender sexual behavior, whatever the nature of the relationship.
    • Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 also condemn all such behavior. Leviticus 20:13 calls for the death penalty.
    • Romans 1:26-27 condemns such behavior as unnatural.
    • 1 Corinthians 6:9-10: Sexually active gays & lesbians will end up in Hell. God will convert them to heterosexuals if they are saved.
    • 1 Timothy 1:9-10 condemns all same-gender sexual behavior.
    • Jude 1:7: Sexually active gays & lesbians are committing sexual immoral acts and will end up in Hell after death.

  • Religious & social liberals and secularists 2 typically interpret the identical passages as referring to rape, pagan rituals, heterosexuals engaging in same-gender sex against their basic nature, abusive pedophiles, and persons who have sex with non-humans. They conclude that the Bible is silent on consensual same-gender sexual activity, and sex within a loving, committed same-sex relationship. They typically believe that:
    • Genesis 19 condemns the attempted rape of strangers in order to humiliate them.
    • Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 condemn gay ritual sex in a Pagan temple and/or two males having sex in a forbidden location -- a woman's bed.
    • Romans 1:26-27 condemns heterosexuals engaging in same-sex behavior against their nature during pagan orgies. One might interpret this passages as condemning gays and lesbians who attempt to engage in opposite-sex behavior against their nature.
    • 1 Corinthians 6:9-10: Condemns abusive adult pedophiles.
    • 1 Timothy 1:9-10: Also condemns abusive adult pedophiles.
    • Jude 1:7: Condemns the men in Sodom and Gomorrah who attempted to engage in bestiality -- having sex with another species. In Sodom, they attempted to rape angels.

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The main battleground between these groups is currently concentrated on the legalization of marriage for loving, committed same-sex couples.

  • Most religious and social conservatives consider same-sex marriage to be an attack on "traditional" or "natural" marriage. That is, the marriage between a woman and a man. National groups like the National Organization for Marriage, Family Research Center, American Family Association, Culture News, etc. commit all or a major part of their effort to opposing marriage equality.

  • Conservatives are also concerned that human rights legislation in many states can occasionally result in charges before human rights tribunals if "public accommodations" refuse to perform services or refuse to sell products for a wedding involving a same-sex couple. Public accommodations are typically retail businesses that are set up to do business with the general public. In these cases, they include wedding cake bakers, wedding photographers, limousine services, reception hall renters, and other companies in the wedding industry. Human rights legislation in many states require public accommodations to not discriminate against customers on the basis of skin color, gender, race, nationality, sexual orientation, and perhaps other grounds. Many religious conservatives consider such legislation to be a serious infringement on their religious freedom to discriminate.

  • On the other hand, Conservatives do not appear to consider the Golden Rule as it applies to companies receiving requests from same-sex couples for marriage-related goods and services. The Golden Rule is the Christian Ethic of Reciprocity which defines how humans should treat each other. It is found in various places in the Bible, and requires Christians to do onto others as they would wish to be treated themselves. Presumably owners of companies wish to be able to buy goods and services from other companies. Thus the Golden Rule would seem to imply that they should supply goods and services to all of their customers -- including both same-sex and opposite-sex engaged couples who are preparing to marry. During our research, we have never seen this conflict with the Golden Rule mentioned on any conservative Christian information source.

  • Conservatives are also concerned about children in families headed by same-sex couples. They often quote the results from a study by Mark Regnerus, an evangelical Christian and an associate professor of sociology. The study appears to conclude that children thrive much better in families led by opposite-sex parents when compared to families led by same-sex couples. However, it appears that the Regnerus study was based on a sample size of two families, and thus cannot give any meaningful information on the child-rearing abilities of same-sex parents. The study was repudiated by the University of Texas' Department of Sociology where Regnerus is employed. Its results contradict dozens of similar studies made on larger numbers of families by other research teams. The results of the Regnerus study have been rejected by at least one federal District Court as unreliable.

According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) -- the leading national LGBT equality organization, -- Luis E. Tellez played a major role in obtaining financing for the Regnerus study, The HRC describes him as:

"... the co-founder and president of the ... Witherspoon Institute and a founding board member of the National Organization for Marriage ... In approaching the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in a fundraising letter in April 2011, Tellez explained that the intention of the study was to affirm the notion that same-sex parenting is bad for children as an argument against same-sex marriage. Tellez told Regnerus early on in the project that he wanted the study to be produced quickly in time to influence any Supreme Court decisions on same-sex marriage." 3

Quite often, when studies are designed to prove a specific result, that this is the result that is achieved.

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Related essays on this web site:

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. The last nine words of the Pledge of Allegiance, from 1892 to 1954.
  2. We use the term "secularist" to include freethinkers, Agnostics. Atheists, Secular Humanists, and other non-theists.
  3. "The Regnerus Fallout," Human Rights Campaign, 2013, at: http://www.regnerusfallout.org/

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Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance 
Originally written: 2014-JUN-01
Latest update: 2014-JUN-01
Author: B.A. Robinson

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