By Eric Ramirez
I was raised in a Catholic home and identified as such until I entered high school, maybe even earlier. Today, I identify as agnostic. I’d be lying if I said my sexual orientation didn’t factor into my decision to leave the church, but it was certainly not the only reason.
Several members of the LGBTQ community change, or at least question, their religious views while coming to terms with their sexuality. It’s no wonder why — religious affiliated groups are among the most commonly heard voices to speak out against gay rights.
States in the southeastern region of the country, the “Bible Belt,” still have little to no laws protecting the rights of LGBTQ citizens, unlike the liberal Northeast where seven of the nine states that allow gay marriage are located. Arguments against homosexuality and other “alternative sexualities” are often pinned on religious ideologies.
However, that does not necessarily mean that every religious individual is in opposition of gay rights. And on a similar note, it does not mean that every member of the LGBTQ community is affiliated with agnosticism or atheism.
Unitarian Universalism, a denomination rooted in Christianity, upholds and promotes seven principles, one of which is the “acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth…”
According to the church’s website, “The Unitarian Universalist Association’s LGBT Ministries staff team helps individuals … affirm the inherent worth and dignity of persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities/expressions through programs and resources.”
Then there is the story of Maurice “Bojangles” Blanchard, a man from Kentucky who is set to be ordained at the end of the month. Blanchard grew up the son of a Southern Baptist Minister and is openly gay.
This story may shock some, a gay man being ordained? But he is not the first. There is also a transgendered minister in Oregon, another in Maryland. There are bound to be others, a rare occurrence, yet not unheard of.
In fact, a gay bishop right here in Savannah received national attention after being ordained by the Christ Church. This led to a divide, a local congregation left the Episcopal diocese five years ago over the matter. This sparked an ordeal between the two Episcopal Church groups involving property rights for the church buildings, parking-lot debts and endowment money. It wasn’t until last week that the issue was resolved, the group that left the Episcopal Church will “reincorporate as ‘Christ Church Anglican,’” reports the Savannah Morning News.
In an article published by WFPL News, a local outlet in Kentucky, Blanchard claimed that it would be no small task to reintroduce faith to LGBTQ people who have been hurt so much.
Isn’t that the reason why so many members of the LGBTQ community no longer affiliate with a religion, because they were hurt? With the slowly evolving mindset of the nation, will that always be the case?
There will come a day when LGBTQ individuals are viewed in a light no different from their heterosexual peers. However there is no telling if, on that day, the majority religious ideology will have shifted or remained where they are today.
Should the former be the case, then those who unidentified with their previous beliefs solely on the issue of LGBTQ morality will feel more welcomed.
And should the latter be the case, there are still religious organizations and churches that welcome all with open arms.Contact Eric Ramirez.