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By the numbers: Faith & Religion

60 Percent of gay adults who describe faith as “very important” to them, compared to 72 percent of heterosexuals. 70 Percent of gay adults who identify as Christian (85 percent for heterosexuals). 27 Percent of...
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Faith & Religion: Many options for LGBT worshippers

Rev. Glenna Shepherd (left to right), Rabbi Joshua Lesser, Rev. Paul Graetz and Rev. Antonio Jones are among LGBT faith leaders in Atlanta

Gay and lesbian people of faith are in the midst of a modern Great Awakening. Once deemed outcasts from the majority of religions, they now have more opportunities to worship in affirming environments — whether gay churches, gay-friendly congregations and even more traditional churches that have tempered their hostility to homosexuality — than ever before.

Many LGBT worshippers and religious leaders are also re-examining their position in spiritual circles, moving from the fringes into more mainstream areas in order to keep up with rapid generational changes in society’s views of God and gays. Some are choosing to be advocates for gay inclusion in traditional congregations, while others are switching denominations in an attempt to join into “one body” with heterosexual members of their faith.

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Faith & Religion: LGBT Atlantans who won fights to remain in their denominations

Rev. Erin Swenson and Pastor Bradley Schmeling

Rev. Erin Swenson

In 1973, Rev. Eric Karl Swenson was ordained by the Presbytery of Atlanta. But some 20 years later, Eric Swenson knew he was continuing to live a lie that he struggled with since early childhood. And so he began his transition from male to female and in 1996, Rev. Erin Swenson, after a few years of hard work, was able to keep her ordination. She made national news as the first known mainstream Protestant minister to keep her job during a gender transition.

Today, Swenson continues her work in the Presbyterian Church as well as advocacy for transgender people throughout the country. While the Presbyterian Church is currently struggling with gay and lesbian clergy being able to openly serve, Swenson continues to also work for the day when openly transgender clergy can also become ordained ministers in the Presbyterian Church.

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Faith & Religion issue

From inclusive worship to how to counter anti-gay religious arguments, our new print edition spotlights spirituality

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Religion blog: We must come together now more than ever to obtain full equality

We know the LGBTQIA community has made a great deal of progress over the past 40-plus years. This progress has come about because for the most part the community as a whole has stepped far out of the closet into the every day world.

There is no place one can go and not find well-adjusted and successful folk. Hell, we have even made it into commercials to sell almost every conceivable product and are main characters in the TV and movie world.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” is about to become a thing of the past. Every time one looks up there is another state granting either marriage or at minimum “civil unions.”

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Religion blog: Christmas 2010

I want to share this obvious observation: Even if there were some remote chance I could become pope... they would never let me.  The reason is simple and it is not because of my progressive views of Christian theology, or the fact that I am unapologetically gay or even the fact that I do not believe the bible is the inerrant word of God.

Nope, it's because I believe December 25th is one of the biggest frauds ever pulled on humanity.

Those who are pastors know that what I am suggesting is very true. Y’all went to seminary and know saying Jesus was born on December 25th is like saying there is a real living breathing Santa Claus.  This fraudulent claim has made our jobs and life during this time of the year a living nightmare of endless days of no sleep and one crisis on top of another.

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‘Traditional marriage’ group wants Christians to reclaim rainbow symbol from ‘gay lobby’

Christian group aims to reclaim the rainbow symbol

Well, this is just rich. An anti-gay group wants Christians to reclaim the rainbow from the queers because the rainbow symbolizes God's covenant with man. And we all know God doesn't like the gays, especially if we fly a rainbow flag on our front stoop.

In an interview with One News Now, a division of the American Family Network, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of the Ruth Institute — a project of the National Organization for Marriage, which was recently named a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center — says supporters of Prop 8, the ones who voted to make gay marriage illegal in California in 2008, are the original "rainbow coalition."

"Proposition 8 was passed by a great grassroots coalition that included people from all across the religious traditions, and also people of every race and color," Morse said in the interview. "We are the real rainbow coalition. The gay lobby does not own the rainbow."

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Religion blog: How about some common decency?

Last week I really found out just how difficult the world has become.  How a couple of bad choices can change one’s life forever.  How being in the wrong place at the wrong time can make it damn near impossible to get a job or find housing.

We had a young man show up at the church looking for help.  For the sake of privacy we will call him Tad.  At the time he came to the church I was out on a hospital call and the church secretary was the one who heard his story first.

Now under normal circumstances the secretary would have given Tad some food, maybe a MARTA pass and let him use the phone to make whatever contacts he needed to make and sent him on his way.

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Gay mega-church pastor draws praise, condemnation

Our coverage of Bishop Jim Swilley’s recent decision to come out, with the support of his wife and family, touched off vigorous debate in comments on our website.

Re: “Swilley’s story: A gay pastor, his wife, and a deeper ministry” (Nov. 12)

"This article is articulate, sensitive and wonderful. Thank you for writing it with the Spirit it deserves. These people are my friends, my church family and leaders and I love them. God bless you."

"Thank you. I miss my church family and my work in youth ministry so much. Since I came out I have felt abandoned by a faith that I proclaimed my whole life. I needed this today. I never doubted that God loved me until a Christian told me that he didn’t anymore."

"Since Jim has memorized scriptures, he thinks that he is ready to “take on” anyone. Sound familiar? The devil quoted “it is written” to tempt Jesus in the wilderness. Problem is, he twisted scripture to obtain his own desire, which was to have Jesus Christ bow the knee to him. The devil hasn’t changed: still doing the same thing today, leading people to twist scripture to justify the desires of the flesh."