Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Gay Rights Is a Religious Issue

There is a wise article in the Tikkun Magazine this month, which raises a point that a lot of people on our side, secularists in particular, might not want to have to deal with. The whole article is good, I wanted to post the introductory paragraphs and outline their major points.
Civil rights movements that appeal to religion succeed. Those that do not, fail. Contrast the fates of the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Rights Amendment, or the way African American civil rights was understood before and after Dr. King's religious message. As both pollsters and election results continually remind us, mainstream Americans do not respond to arguments about constitutional rights and equality; they respond to moral arguments, shared values, and religion—unsurprisingly, since over 90 percent of Americans profess a belief in God.

The centrality of religion to civil rights discourse is amplified when the civil rights struggle questions a status quo largely supported by religion. We may no longer remember the musty religious arguments today, but the Bible was once used to enforce segregation as much as to oppose it. God placed the races on different continents, segregationists said. God sanctioned slavery. Africans were heirs to the curse of Ham. And so on. Dr. King and his movement have so succeeded in their reframing of civil rights that these arguments may strike us today as bizarre. But just fifty years ago, they were preached from pulpits around the country. Ten Reasons Why Gay Rights Is a Religious Issue

And so today we have other civil rights struggles, currently the battle for LGBT rights is being fought in the ballot-box and the courtroom. You can argue for fairness or equality or justice -- there are many reasons to ensure equal rights for all people -- but if you're fighting the religious institutions you will lose. And as concepts of fairness, equality, justice, and kindness are at the heart of most of the earth's religions, it should be the other way, religion should be promoting equal rights for all.

Michaelson outlines ten reasons religion should support the progressive side. I am taking his section titles, leaving the explanatory text for you the reader to find when you follow the link above. The titles themselves should light up a few light bulbs.
1. It Is Not Good to Be Alone
2. God Loves Us and Does Not Want Us to Harm Ourselves
3. Compassion Is Holy
4. Justice Is Holy
5. Because the Hebrew Bible Doesn't Say What the Right Says it Does
6. Because the New Testament Doesn't Say What the Right Says It Does
7. Evolution of Religious Doctrine Is Healthy
8. Curbing Brutishness Is the Point
9. Because the Separation of Church and State Helps the Church
10. Sexual Diversity Is a Beautiful Part of God's Creation

We have some readers on both sides of the issue who consider themselves religious. I strongly recommend walking through this well-written article.

It's tempting to quote so much of this. Let me just throw this out there.
These are but ten reasons—there are many more—why full equality for sexual minorities should be seen not as some accommodation of religion to a secular norm, but as a religious value itself. They are intended to be public reasons, that is, reasons that can be explored and discussed objectively regardless of our personal experience. But if there is an eleventh reason I would add, it would be of necessity a "private" one: that every religious sinew in my body leans in the direction of liberation, love, and holiness.


Anonymous Robert said...

God made lgbt people the way we are, and he loves us the way we are.

I think that the counterarguments about choice and change are not really discussions about biology, but attempts to present points about destiny, and God's purpose.

August 10, 2010 2:57 PM  

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