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RUNNING HEAD: LGBT Religion Issues 1

LGBT Religion Issues

Itzayana L. Chapa

The University of Texas at El Paso


LGBT Religion Issues 2

Abstract

The LGBT community includes any individual who labels themselves as lesbian, gay,

bisexual, or transgender. Of course, there are many other categories within this group like,

pansexual or even asexual. This community is a very large group of individuals who have had to

face obstacles with society accepting them for who they are. The main focus of this paper will be

issues regarding religion. The problems and obstacles the LGBT have had to overcome when

they came out to their church, as well as what actions the church took against them and why they

decided to neglect them. Not only will it cover different culture groups, but a point of view of

both the LGBT community and the church. 



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LGBT Religion Issues: A Review of Literature

Queer is the word people label the members of the LGBT. Queer meaning strange and

odd. Loving the same gender, transforming from female to male or the other way around is

considered queer and isn’t normal to todays society. Individuals who identify as a LGBT member

have faced rejection, bullying, and have even been kicked out of their church after coming out

and lost their faith. Religion is one of the things people turn to when they need strength, hope

and guidance. But as these individuals identify as being a part of the LGBT community they lose

their faith and have no safe place they can turn to. There are so many issues the LGBT

community has to face but the one issue this Literature Review will focus on are religion issues.

The obstacles LGBT members have had to encounter and why the church chose to kick out these

“queer” individuals.

Most religions believe that God created man and woman to love each other. So a woman

loving another woman or a man loving a man isn’t the correct way to love. In “Queer Religion”

they provide Paul's letter to the Romans as an example of how Christians belittled those who

desired the same gender. In the letter Paul states, “Paul uses homosexual behavior as an example

of the blindness which has overcome humankind. Instead of the original harmony…” (Johnson

2011.) This expresses how the Christians did not at all agree with love between the same gender

because it broke what God, the creator, intended for us, his children. The book also states how

Paul doesn’t belittle homosexuals but he rather “rejects homosexual actions committed by…

heterosexual persons.” (Johnson 2011.) So although Paul says he has nothing against

homosexuals but rather is against the actions they do with the same gender, christians still
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denigrated them. The author also explains how Christians who identified as LGBT would “result

of their rejection of God.” (Johnson 2011.) So when LGBT came out to their churches they lost

their faith completely. Now, in the book “ Queering religion, Religious Queers” the author

explains how Catholics believe in a “don’t ask, don’t tell.” (Taylor 2014.) So as long as LGBT

individuals do not say anything about their sexuality to a priest or church member they are not

sinning. If they were to say something then the individual must pay for their “sin on their own

time.” (Taylor 2014.) On the other hand, there are religions that do accept LGBT members in

their faith communities. One great example is the Peace Lutheran Church located in El Paso,

Texas. The leader of this wonderful church is Diana Linden-Johnson, a lesbian pastor. She

explained her journey of becoming a pastor and what obstacles she faces as a member of the

LGBT community. She said she loved going to church, she was a member, and then a counselor,

and just loved the work of her pastor. Being a pastor has its own “variety of different gifts like

teaching, preaching and even learning more about our faith each day.” says Diana. So Diana then

decided that she wanted to be ordained and become a pastor herself. She began the ordnance

process at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. Diana was first Entranced which

consists of of writing multiple essays, psychological evaluations, and interviews. She then when

through endorsement which insists of more interviews, writing, and you then have a meeting

with your professor to talk about the capacity you have to fulfill the job of a pastor. Diana passed

her entrance and endorsement and the committee absolutely loved her and believed she was

going to be a great pastor. After this process, Diana decided to come out and write a letter to the

committee explaining her sexuality. When the committee received this letter, they invited Diana
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to have a conversation. The committee basically told her that she was violating one of the rules

from “Visions and Expectations”, a handbook for all members wanting to become a pastor or

leader at church. So the committee told Diana that she was welcome to finish the process but that

they would not ordain her because she was “practicing homosexuality” and they were not sure of

the “morality” of Diana becoming a pastor. Diana was hit hard with the committees response and

left ministry in 2008. It wasn’t until 2009 that the church changed their policy and allowed gay/

lesbian individuals to become leader of any kind at the church. So Diana returned not until 2013

and started the her process again to become a pastor. She is now a pastor here in El Paso and is

such a great and inspiring leader at the Peace Lutheran Church.

LGBT Communities of Different Race and Culture

Religion issues with LGBT members are occurring in many races and cultures. For

example, many African Americans already suffer from discrimination, racism, and inequality and

if they identify as a LGBT they are mistreated much worse.. The documentary “The New Black

LGBT rights and African American communities” perfectly shows the discrimination LGBT

African Americans face in their lives. The Director, Yoruba Richen created this documentary due

to the African American anti-same marriage initiative. Yoruba shows in his documentary how

fighting for LGBT rights is just an extension of the Black Freedom Struggle. Yoruba tries to

persuade his audience to support and fight for notably equality when it comes to African

Americans rights but also equality regarding religion. He tries to show that everyone should have

their right to faith and be able to share the love they have for god and their beliefs with other

people regardless of their skin color, culture, or sexuality. Another video called “Tennessee
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Queer” covers religion and politic issues with the LGBT. As you can see from the title this video

is located in a very small town in Tennessee. A small community where almost everyone knows

everyone. The videos main character Jason Potts is returning from New York in hopes of making

LGBT teens lives easier and better. They cover the main issues regarding religion and how most

churches do not accept the “queer.” The video tries to open the audience eyes and in hopes to

gain more support for the teens struggling to find their way and their faith as a member of the

LGBT community.

Debating Religious Liberty

Although there is a large number of individuals against LGBT and whether they should

be allowed to be accepted at church, there is also a number of people who support and believe

the LGBT should have religious liberty. In the book “ Debating Religious Liberty and

Discrimination” authors John Corvino, LGBT rights advocate and the opposing Ryan Anderson,

defender of the traditional view of marriage, debate on Religious liberty regarding the LGBT

community. Focusing on the opposing side and why LGBT members shouldn't be accepted at

church, Anderson says that “religion is a natural human good.” ( Anderson 2016.) He says that

religion should be open to anyone but if you are a LGBT member then that changes. He explains

that religious liberty has it’s “limits beyond the state.” (Anderson 2016.) Limits like, same sex

marriage and LGBT members attending church. Anderson believes individuals who identify as

LGBT members are committing a sin or in other words a Puritan mistake. So although everyone

regardless of sexuality has religious liberty, Anderson believes there are certain limits and lines

LGBT individuals can not cross.


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LGBT Rights

As time goes by the LGBT community grows

bigger. There are many ways todays individuals are

influenced on either coming out or becoming open to

the idea of being with the same gender. As this

community grows there is a bigger push for equality

and what rights should be given to the LGBT

members. The book “Gay Rights” discusses a few

rights the LGBT community should be given. For

example, equal pay when it comes to work. “Gay

Rights” states that LGBT members should “receive

the same benefits from the company that are given to

the married spouses of heterosexual employees.” (Roleff 1959.) If the LGBT are working as hard

as a straight man or woman why should they get paid less? Thats where the saying “Equal Pay

for Equal Work” comes into play. But most homosexual couples do not qualify for this benefit

due to not being able to legally marry. Some companies though have been extending these

benefits to “domestic partners of all of their married employees.” (Roleff 1959.) Giving LGBT

couples compensation as “spousal- equivalent benefits.” (Roleff 1959.) These compensations

cover a broad range of benefits like, medical and dental insurance. These are considered “hard

benefits” and are harder to get for these LGBT couples because some companies are “insured by

outside companies.” (Roleff 1959.) These compensations should be enforced because it doesn’t
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cost the company “any more than it would if the company were to add a heterosexual employee.”

(Roleff 1959.) So the company would not

lose any money or take any risks when

adding a LGBT employee for

compensation. On a different note,

religious rights are a bit harder to

understand for the opposing LGBT side.

According to the author of “The New York

Times on Gay and Lesbian Issues”

religions think homosexuality “as a moral

failing and psychological disorder.” (Burgess 2011.) Catholic churches didn’t believe LGBT or

homosexuality was evil but they thought it was very “unnatural.” They had 2 reason to believe it

was unnatural, 1) homosexual couples couldn’t reproduce and 2) homosexual relationships

occurred outside of marriage since same sex marriage was not legal. As LGBT individuals began

to come out they weren’t always received with open arms by the church. LGBT members were

often told that they could no longer be members of the church unless they did not discuss or

practice their sexuality. With all this said, the relationship between faith and LGBT members

continues till this day. It might be more accepted today but LGBT individuals still struggle “with

church membership, LGBT clergy, and same sex marriage.” (Burgess 2011.)
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In conclusion, the LGBT face ongoing problems every single day. Whether it’s regarding

discrimination, equality or religious liberty. Yes, society has learned to be more accepting of the

LGBT community but some individuals still struggle to understand and accept the LGBT for

who they are. Till this day LGBT are known for being “queer” and sinners for loving the same

gender, all genders, or changing their gender. So a quote to remember and always have in mind is

“Love is Love.” 

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References

Burgess, Susan. (2011). The New York Times on Gay and Lesbian Issues. Washington, DC: New

York Times.

Corvino, J., Anderson, R. T., & Girgis, S. (2016). Debating religious liberty and

discrimination. Retrieved from https://0-ebookcentral-proquest-com.lib.utep.edu

Johnson, J. E. (2011). Queer religion : LGBT movements and queering religion. Retrieved from

https://0-ebookcentral-proquest-com.lib.utep.edu

Kanopy (firm). (2016). The New Black: LGBT Rights and African American

Kanopy (firm). (2016). Tennessee Queer. Retrieved from http://lib.utep.edu/search

Roleff, Tamara. L. (1959). Gay Rights. San Diego, California: David Bender.

Taylor, Y., & Snowdon, R. (Eds.). (2014). Queering religion, religious queers. Retrieved

from https://0-ebookcentral-proquest-com.lib.utep.edu

Diana Linden-Johnson (interview)