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25th September 2014

The LGBT World and Religion—Friends or Foes?

David Brierley has written us a short piece on whether or not the LGBT community can coexist with religion without issue.

At the age of thirteen I recall being a die-hard atheist, dismissing thousands of years of religious belief in overly generalised statements. I’d like to say five years of maturation has quenched that somewhat.

I used to think that people who fell into the LGBT spectrum were, by birth, at odds with the mainstream religions of the world—that homophobia was a product of religious fundamentalism. And yet, I have met gay Christians and homophobic atheists.

But, we must accept that no matter the personal faiths of those we meet, the doctrine of many world religions—especially those of the Abrahamic faiths, have little good to say of LGBT people. I have known fundamentalist Christians who are accepting of minority sexual groups—but even they seemed constantly concerned for the wellbeing of those who fell outside the heteronormative majority. Is it therefore possible to balance an adherence to scripture and an acceptance of LGBT people?

I am not a religious person, and my study of the Abrahamic texts is biased at best, but I believe it is possible to balance these. It is entirely possible to be a devout person of faith, and a tolerant and open-minded person; to say the two are mutually exclusive is itself close-minded.

Fundamentalism and extremism are not the same thing—and the news reports of the actions of Islamic State should not be seen as anything but individuals twisting doctrine. I, for example, do not think you have to become close to hospitalization to have a good time—but I’m not going to go preaching about that because, quite simply, it doesn’t bother me.

This is the distinction between disagreement and intolerance. We are all fundamentalist about something. It could be as trivial as the best Pringle flavour, or as comprehensive as animal rights. Even if you believe something is ungodly, that doesn’t force you to be an enemy of its people, or treat them with disdain.

Similarly, just because someone has disagreed with something that defines you, doesn’t automatically make them your enemy. Intolerant attitudes towards a part of a human being, a part that makes up a tiny proportion of a multifaceted human being is wrong. Intolerant beliefs and hatred towards a person because they disagreed or act otherwise should never be seen as the same.

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