Ah, yes, religion and the LGBT+ community: two of the most seemingly incompatible communities on the face of the earth. One of the most widely acknowledged stereotypes for religious people is that they are all heterosexual and homophobic because of their religion. Many religious denominations in the public eye claim that their higher power is anti-LGBT+ and that being LGBT+ is unnatural. So, religion is often associated with homophobia. Because of this, it is assumed that if you are LGBT+, you most likely aren’t religious. This association can be due to many factors, including representation in the mass media and personal experience. In many religions, being LGBT+ is seen as a sin or something that goes against God. Although this is not blatantly taught in most religions and denominations, people tend to use religious beliefs, false or not, to excuse their prejudice. Those who are not outwardly homophobic tend to act as if their less obvious prejudice against the LGBT+ community is a heroic act. They say they believe in things like the Bible and don’t support LGBT+ rights, then contradict themselves by claiming that they still want to be friends with LGBT+ people and aren’t judging them.
Although it may seem like LGBT+ people aren’t common in religion, the reality is actually the exact opposite. Many members of the LGBT+ community are raised in religious homes. Although some leave their faiths because of discrimination, others find comfort and solace in their faith. In fact, about 51 percent of LGBT+ Americans are religious. Several Christian denominations, such as Episcopal, Evangelical Lutheran and Presbyterian churches ordain LGBT+ clergy. Outside of Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Conservative Judaism, Reform Judaism and Reconstructionist Judaism all ordain LGBT+ leaders.
Along with ordaining LGBT+ leaders, many religions support support same-sex marriage and perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. Among them are Conservative Judaism, Episcopal Christianity, the Society of Friends and the United Church of Christ. Several Christian denominations have also either been founded as a safe space of faith for LGBT+ members or as a branch of religion that is accepting. The Metropolitan Community Church was founded in 1968 for the LGBT+ community and is the first to perform same-sex marriages. The Unitarian Universalist Association was founded in 1961 but began as two groups in 1723 and is a liberal religious group that promotes diverse and inclusive worship. They ordained their first gay minister in 1973 and began performing same-sex marriages in 1984. Both denominations are staunch activists for LGBT+ rights and marriage equality.
Although the presence of LGBT+ people in religious communities isn’t blatantly obvious, such a thing does exist. LGBT+ people who want to be religious will be religious, no matter what. The only thing religious communities can do is to stop using their higher power as an excuse for prejudice and start doing what all religions teach: love everyone no matter what.