Is religion the enemy?

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Is religion the enemy of gay people? No, it is not the enemy, but is has been a source of oppression and a disguise for tribalism and a way to legitimize “us-versus-them thinking,” which is ironic because located at the center of Christianity are the teachings of love and inclusion by Jesus.

For all the harm it can do, a religious community can also be a source of strength and healing. Liberal religion can serve to grow a person’s sense of the sacred and their ability to respond to it. It is hard to go it alone and forgo the spiritual nourishment that comes from being in a vibrant spiritual community that grows your soul. GBLT folk are finding that while there are some oppressive religious communities, there are also those that are welcoming, and I would put first among them the Unitarian Universalists.

Being in a liberal, religious, welcoming, spiritual community is important for several reasons. Alone, my vision is too narrow to see all that must be seen and responded to. Alone, without a faith community, it is too easy to fool myself and put off my spiritual work until the ever present tomorrow. A vibrant church with vibrant and affirming worship waters the spirit and moistens our political responses as we challenge all harassment and assault upon our dignity as human beings. Activism borne of the spirit makes our own political and social advocacy less brittle and dogmatic. It also nurtures us so that there is less burnout and more support for the work we are called to do to transform this injustice and work for the full dignity of all people.

Religion is too important to our souls to cede our ground to those who would distort the doctrine of love. It is time to let go of all the old stories that say gays and lesbians do not deserve God’s love or a vibrant caring religious community that provides support for them to grow as spiritual beings. Now is the time to live into our stories of healthy connection and love.

Life is too hard to go it alone. It is an ugly truth that too many religious communities do condone and encourage violence against gays and lesbians, which is why responding to, confronting and challenging these unholy, unwholesome, unhealthy statements and behaviors has so much extra meaning when religious groups do it. That is why I am so pleased to serve as the minister of Unitarian Church North, a church that has been standing on the side of love for a long time. Whoever you are, whatever the flags of your heritage, whoever you love, you are welcome at Unitarian Church North.

The Rev. Julie Forest
Unitarian Church North