Nov 10, 2010

FAITH IN AMERICA: ¨Religion-based bigotry causes enormous harm to LGBT people, especially young, vulnerable teens¨

Countering Religious-Based Bigotry Against LGBT People
Religion-based bigotry is the greatest barrier to LGBT rights, says Steve Hildebrand, advisor to Faith in America (FIA), a group formed to counter such prejudice.

Part of the problem, says Hildebrand, is that many LGBT advocates are afraid to confront religion-based arguments. They may feel unprepared to engage someone who has religious training; they may have past negative experiences with religion themselves, and want to avoid discussing it; or they may fear being seen as anti-religious.

FIA has just issued a new report aimed at helping LGBT advocates get over their fears. It offers "tested, effective messages that FIA has used successfully in communities across the country." The three core messages are:

1. Religion-based bigotry causes enormous harm to LGBT people, especially young, vulnerable teens.

2. Sexual orientation is a natural part of a human being, whether it be heterosexual, bisexual or homosexual. Same-sex orientation is not a choice to go against God’s will. It is a normal, natural and healthy expression of human sexuality that is innate for some people.

3. Religion-based bigotry against LGBT people is wrong ... just as it was wrong to use religious teachings to justify discrimination against Native Americans, African Americans, minority religious groups, women and interracial couples.

The first point takes on extra urgency at the moment, given the recent media coverage of teen suicides related to anti-LGBT bullying. Even before these stories hit the headlines, though, religious intolerance was causing pain for LGBT youth. The 2008 book CRISIS: 40 Stories Revealing The Personal, Social, and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing up Gay in America, by furniture maven and FIA founder Mitchell Gold, tells of even more cases where this was true.

We must address religion-based bigotry, whether we ourselves are people of faith or not. Just as important as the core messages above, however, is how we convey them. FIA recommends:

1. Use your own experience or story

2. Challenge the harm, not the person’s faith

3. Remember that ending religion-based bigotry has a positive impact on us all

4. Speak to the movable religious middle, and engage boldly but with patience

The full report has even more helpful hints, such as not using the word “homophobia” with people of faith. “Homophobia,” FIA explains, "is defined as an irrational or unreasonable fear of homosexuality." For many people, however, being gay is a sin, and "there is nothing wrong or irrational about fearing sin." Using the phrase "religion-based bigotry" instead, FIA says, is generally more effective in helping people of faith to understand the impact of anti-LGBT actions. HERE

· Thanks to Faith in America, Achieving Equality HERE
· Thanks to Steve Hildebrand
· Thanks to Mitchell Gold
· Thanks to Change.Org, Gay Rights
· Thanks to Dana Rudolph
· Thanks to Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Laurete
 LGBTI murder is ¨all to common. This must change¨

"Today I pray for people in Africa and throughout the world who long for freedom because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender," starts the letter. "It grieves me to be retiring at this crucial moment in history, so I write to you in this open letter, to invite you to pick up the work that remains to be done. More than 70 countries still imprison or execute gay and transgender people, and bullying and murders are all too common. This must change." HERE

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