June 11, 2007
Throughout June, cities around the country will be celebrating Pride Days to highlight the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons to society, with many congregations from a range of denominations holding Pride Worship services. Unfortunately, congregations that fully welcome LGBT persons into the faith community are still too small in number.
Last week, the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing issued an Open Letter to Religious Leaders on Sexual and Gender Diversity that challenges religious leaders to use the pulpit to address the complex realities of sexual and gender diversity and to advocate in secular and faith-based contexts for justice and the full inclusion of LGBT people. The message in the letter reflects the belief that religious leaders who are committed to social justice have the opportunity and obligation to incorporate sexual justice into their vision of a just and loving society. The letter calls on them to teach their congregants to value the gender and sexual diversity within their communities.
The Open Letter, created by a coalition of theologians from Jewish, Christian, and Catholic backgrounds, laments the damage done to gay, lesbian, and transgender people by the silence, or worse, open condemnation of religious leaders. It says, "Some have mistakenly called homosexuality sinful when the real issue is heterosexism or the unjust privileging of heterosexuality. Heterosexism devalues gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, just as sexism and male privilege devalue women."The Open Letter goes on to say that "sexual and gender oppression can no longer be portrayed as virtuous and morally defensible" and that "using the Bible [or other religious texts] to exclude or attack people violates the very spirit of our traditions and is morally unconscionable."