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About homosexuality & bisexuality


The impacts of religion on the lesbian,
gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT)
community, mainly in the U.S.:

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Evelyn Hooker's pioneering studies during the 1950s investigated the mental health of persons with a homosexual or bisexual orientation. Rather than analyze lesbians and gays who are undergoing therapy or who are in prison, she studied them during everyday life. Before her study, there was a near consensus in North America among theologians, therapists, heterosexuals in the general population, etc. that homosexuality was a mental illness and that same-gender sexual behavior was disordered. Most felt that same-sex sexual behavior should remain criminalized.

About a generation later, Hooker's studies played a major role in the American Psychiatric Association's (APA) decision in 1973 to remove homosexual orientation from their list of mental illnesses. Other large professional therapy organizations have since followed the APA's lead. Today, with the exception of one very small conservative group -- the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), all national mental health, social worker, and educational professional associations of which we are aware regard homosexuality to be one of three normal and natural sexual orientations -- the two others being bisexuality and heterosexuality. This put some pressure on religious communities to at least review their traditional position on lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB or GLB) individual rights, protections, access to marriage, and other issues. Also emerging is an interest in gender identity involving transgender persons and transsexuals. They are individuals who identify as being of a gender different from their biological sex as identified at birth.

Psychiatric, psychological and other science-based professional groups are evidence-based. They conclude what is "truth" after examining experimental, interview, survey and other evidence. However, "truth" as viewed by faith groups are often based on a more complex evaluation. Faith groups generally establish and change their policies based on four considerations. Generally, in decreasing order of importance, they are:

  1. How theologians within the faith group have traditionally interpreted the meaning of passages in their holy book -- e.g. the Bible. (There are six "clobber passages" often associated with same-gender sexual behavior in the Bible.)
  2. The faith group's traditional teachings.
  3. Personal experiences.
  4. Scientific findings.


bullet Liberal and progressive religious groups, like the Unitarian Universalist Association, United Church of Christ, United Church of Canada, etc., secular Humanists, other secularists, and NOTAs -- those who are NOT Affilliated with an organized faith group -- tend to emphasize factors 3 and 4. Some of these faith groups have opened offices of LGBT concern.

bullet Conservative religious groups like fundamentalist and other evangelical Christians tend to emphasize factors 1 and 2. Most have continued their anti-LGBT beliefs and policies.

bullet Mainline denominations tend to be split internally with their members using various criteria and reaching diverse conflicting conclusions. However, there is a growing acceptance of homosexual/bisexual orientation and behavior


bullet Progressive religious and secular groups generally accept minority sexual orientations as normal, natural, unchosen, fixed, and morally neutral for a minority of adults. They recognize that sexual behaviors that are unsafe, manipulative, or non-consensual are sinful, whether done by persons of the same sex or opposite sexes. Most advocate marriage equality -- making marriage available to all loving committed couples, whether they consist of a woman and man, or two persons of the same sex. They are also active in promoting equal human rights and protections for persons of all sexual orientations.

bullet Many conservative groups have retained their beliefs that minority sexualities are abnormal, unnatural, chosen, and -- with some effort -- changeable. Further, they consider same-sex behavior to be intrinsically morally abhorrent, regardless of the nature of the relationship. Most took an active role opposing same-sex marriage, and continue to oppose equal human rights, benefits, and protections for persons of minority sexual orientations, and their children. In the U.S. -- since the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in mid-2015 -- much of the organized opposition to the LGBT community has shifted to attacks on transgender persons and transsexuals.

bullet Mainline denominations are experiencing a split within their membership on same-sex marriage and human rights. They are often experiencing divisions among members of different ages -- teens, young adults and seniors -- as well as geographical divisions, and an urban/rural split. The general trend is towards acceptance.

One very interesting exception to the above are the Mennonite communities. They have traditionally been conservative theologically. However, they also have a long tradition of concern over human rights. Almost alone among the conservative wing of Christianity, there is an active dialog underway within their group. If they are able to reach a near consensus in the future, other conservative denominations may be able to follow their lead.

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Topics covered in this section: (Important topics are marked with ">>"

bullet >> A brief essay comparing beliefs about homosexuality & its cause(s) among religious conservatives, religious liberals, researchers, & others.

bullet >> Six common viewpoints by religious folks about LGBs


>> Recommended books covering a broad range of Christian beliefs about the LGBT community

>> Recommended books covering the LGBT community and Islam

bullet Dialoging about LGBs: should religion trump human rights?
bulletA conflict between anti-homophobia education and religious freedom
bullet Religious belief & the desire to criminalize same-gender sexual behavior
bullet>> How religions established, changed, and continue to change their teachings on sexual orientation, slavery, the role of women, and other topics
bullet Why conservative and liberal Christians differ so completely on LGB matters.

>>Christian teachings & beliefs about homosexuality by the full range of Christian faith groups: fundamentalist and other evangelical Christians, Roman Catholics, manline and liberal/progressive Christians

bullet >> Individual faith groups' policies and beliefs about homosexual orientation
bullet >> Shifts within U.S. conservative faith groups concerning race, gender, homosexual orientation, and gender identity.
Impact on faith groups membership

bullet >> Positive beliefs by 19 individual clergy & theologians -- mostly mainline and liberal

bulletConflicts among conservative, mainline & liberal wings of Christianity
bullet A gay group facilitator says opposition to organized religion is not the answer
bulletWho is correct about homosexuality? Religious conservatives or others?
bulletTeaching about homosexuality and homophobia in public schools
bullet Conflict over Ipod "apps," mainly involving Exodus International, LGBT's and Apple

bullet>> Within mainline denominations, is compromise possible, or is schism inevitable? An examination of the homosexual conflict in various Christian denominations
bullet The Bible and homosexual orientation:
bullet >> What the Bible says about homosexuality -- interpretatons of the famous "clobber" passages

bulletWhat the Bible says about same-sex marriage (actually, not a lot)

bullet>> The diversity of family and marriage types in the Bible


>> A presentation by Matthew Vines and subsequent interview on same-sex relationships and the Bible

bullet >> One writer's beliefs: a three part essay donated by John A. Dixon: Part 1  Part 2  Part 3
bulletRoman Catholicism, homosexuality and the priesthood:
bulletHomosexual orientation among priests

bulletHomosexuality among seminary students

bullet Exclusion of Roman Catholic candidates for the priesthood from seminaries
bullet Fundamentalist and other evangelicals' beliefs and practices:
bullet >> Conflicts and change about homosexual orientation among evangelicals

bullet>> Is opposition to homosexuality based on hate or love?

bullet"Ex-gay" newspaper & TV ads


Anti-gay statements by Phil Robertson, star of the TV program Duck Dynasty: Part 1  Part 2

bulletAnti-gay hate sites on the Internet

bulletPromoting anti-homosexual legislation

bullet 2014-SEP: Launching of a new non-profit tolerance group: Evangalicals for Marriage Equality

bullet 2012: Resolution by the Southern Baptist Convention that same-sex marriage is not a civil rights issue:
bullet An angry exchange between evangelical Christians and gays & lesbians

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Copyright © 1996 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Last updated 2014-JUN-01

Author: Bruce A Robinson

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