Have Gay People Vilified The Church?

Lewis Shepherd

Photo by Ant Rozetsky

For as long as anyone can remember people have been in a constant battle with each other for one reason or another. Different countries have waged wars against each other, we’ve seen celebrities involve themselves in public slagging matches, and there’s usually one mega corporation suing another over a patent or something similar. Minority groups have also found themselves warring with multiple institutions such as the government, but one battle that has gone on for as long as anyone can remember is the battle between the Church and the gay community.

There are a multitude of reasons behind this on-going battle, with many people of religion finding homosexuality a sin or life choice, and fighting endlessly in the battle to prevent gay marriage around the world.  Some members of the religious institution have compared homosexuality to heinous acts like paedophilia and bestiality.

Just last week the new Pope, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio or Pope Francis, commented on same-sex marriage and gay adoption saying it was a “destructive attack on God’s plan.”

But one thing we don’t appear to have considered in this endless tirade of name-calling and accusations is, have gay people completely denounced the Church and brandished them as an eternal villain?

With comments such as this by the leader of the Catholic faith it is easy to say that the hatred expressed towards the Church by many gay men and women is deserved, but not everyone who has a faith or follows religion should be tarred with the same brush.

We have seen several news articles and feature pieces over the last decade that have discussed topics such as gay vicars or priests and how many gay people, just like the heterosexual community, believe in religion. There’s even a group called Christians for Equal Marriage that support the right for gay people to marry just like their straight counterparts.

Just last week the American LGBT religious organisation, Faith in America, spoke out about how the Church must stop harming LGBT people. The groups spokesman, Brent Childers, who was aligned with the anti-gay religious industry said in a statement: “It is critical for all to understand the devastating effects to a young person when their church leadership teaches that homosexuality is a sin and that they are not God’s best.”

“I have come to learn the unintended consequences of those that believe they are teaching what it is to be a good Catholic or Christian. In fact they are the very reason why LGBT teens suffer an unusually high rate of depression, attempted suicides, and worse, suicide.”

Various churches from around the globe have also addressed the issue of gay rights with a particular focus on gay marriage. Many have fought for the cause of the LGBT community, and have shown that not everyone is using God’s name to discriminate. Only last week a Church in North Carolina stated that they would not conduct weddings for anyone until they were able to hold same-sex weddings as well, and a chapel within the Palace of Westminster may be changed so that it can perform equal marriage ceremonies.

Also, in what would appear to be a slight turn in events, a poll conducted by an anti-LGBT rights Christian campaign group found that the majority of American’s believed that, “homosexuality is a civil rights issue like gender, race and age”.

Although there is a clear signifier that many people with a religion, and many within religious institutions around the world, believe in the right for gay people to marry and gay rights in general, there are still a number of people out there using God’s name to justify an anti-gay rhetoric.

We have all seen or heard the rants from the most famous anti-gay group, the Westboro Baptist Church, whose “God Hates Fags” slogan has become a symbol for just how unaccepting many people with faith or religion can be. There’s no doubt that their presence within the media has turned many gay men and women away from the Church as they view it as an ever present evil.

This week alone Washington Times columnist Jeffery Kuhner, accused President Obama of waging a war on the Church with his support of gay rights, he wrote: “Pope Francis is the opposite of a modern American liberal. In fact, he probably finds much of the Democrats’ agenda repulsive. President Obama is waging a war on Christians and on Catholics in particular.

Mr. Obama supports homosexual ‘marriage.’ He has allowed homosexuals to openly serve in the military. His pro-homosexual, pro-abortion and pro-contraception policies violate basic Catholic doctrine. He is an enemy of the church.”

Despite the progression of LGBT people in wider society, it does appear that the combat with the Church will continue for some time, with a number of people within the Church and many who use the word of God to support their own views actively trying to prevent LGBT legislation in a number of areas. However this not only harms LGBT people with faith, who may become conflicted in what they believe, risking psychological harm through this conflict, but also to the Church as it further becomes an outdated institution. However, the LGBT community must remember that not everyone in the Church, or with faith is out to get them, and remember that most people with faith believe that everyone should be treated equally.

That being said, the tense and conflicting battle of rhetoric between religious communities and the LGBT community is clearly far from over.

About Lewis Shepherd

Lewis Shepherd is a freelance journalist who has covered a wide range of subjects in his work such as: film, music, television, travel, health, relationships, LGBT affairs and student news. He currently writes for a number of websites including the Huffington Post.