Saturday, August 30, 2008

Faiths' beliefs on homosexuality vary

Aug. 29, 2008, 4:39PM
Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle

Religion plays an important role in Americans' attitudes about homosexuality, but views are shifting. In Gallup's 2008 Values and Beliefs poll, Americans were evenly split on the morality of homosexual activity. In 2000, the majority said homosexuality was immoral.

The issue of gay clergy is hotly debated in many faith communities today. "Clearly we are on a journey," said the Rev. Susan Russell, president of Integrity USA, a national network of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Episcopalians that supports gay ordination.

Integrity is one of a number of groups sponsoring Many Stories, One Voice, the first North American convocation of pro-LGBT Christians, meeting in New Orleans Sept. 4-7. Information:

Here is where some faiths stand on the issue:

• Episcopal Church of the USA: The Episcopal Church has been in a turmoil since the 2003 election of Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, an openly gay priest in a longtime relationship. Some U.S. churches have left over the issue of gay clergy, while leaders in other parts of the 77-million strong, worldwide Anglican Communion asked that the Episcopal Church be sanctioned or expelled. A moratorium on electing gay bishops has been in place since 2006. Ordination of celibate gay clergy is allowed, and some dioceses will ordain partnered gay clergy. That decision is left to the local diocesan bishop. The diocese of Texas does not ordain noncelibate gay clergy.

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