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In Theory: The church and gay lifestyles

October 28, 2010

A recent poll by the Public Religion Research Institute asked 1,017 Americans their view on religion and homosexuality, between Oct. 14 and 17, in the wake of a highly publicized rash of suicides by gay people. The poll revealed that most Americans believe churches contribute to gay suicides. Churches, the poll said, communicate "a lot" of negative perceptions of gay and lesbian people. Do you agree with the poll's conclusions? And what grade would you give your church in its handling of the "issue of homosexuality"? Could your church or the church overall be doing a better job at handling the "issue of homosexuality"?

I don't know whether the poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute about the connection between negative attitudes in some Christian churches and the recent spate of suicides by gay and lesbian people is accurate or not. And while I have talked with a number of gay and lesbian people who felt deeply wounded by the condemnations they received from some Christian ministers and congregants, it is not my intention to throw stones at those from other religions. I can only speak from the perspective of my own tradition, Unitarian Universalism.

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As a straight Unitarian Universalism minister, I am proud to say that we were one of the first religious denominations to pass resolutions at the national level in support of equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. And we were one of the first denominations to ordain openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender clergy. Most recently, we have actively supported the rights of same-sex couples to marry and adopt children.

In addition, a large percentage of our congregations have been officially certified by the Unitarian Universalist Association as "Welcoming Congregations" because of their education programs, use of inclusive language and support of those of all sexual orientations and gender expressions. For those reasons we have become known as those who "Stand on the Side of Love."

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