article placeholder

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.

article placeholder

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.

article placeholder

Faith & Religion: 10 religious enemies of LGBT rights

Bishop Eddie Long tops the list of LGBT religious enemies

Some claim to love the sinner but hate the sin, while others simply love to hate us. Some think we make God angry enough to cause hurricanes and earthquakes, while others pour millions of dollars that could help needy people into keeping us from marriage.

Their strategies may vary, but their goal is the same: imposing their interpretations of the Bible on our civil rights. Here are 10 of the most anti-gay religious people or groups we face.

article placeholder

Faith & Religion: How to counter anti-gay religious arguments

The Holy Bible

From slogans to the so-called “clobber” passages, verses in the Bible commonly used to condemn homosexuality, we as LGBT people frequently encounter religious objections to everything from our full equality to our very existence.

Rev. Mel White, a former speechwriter for Jerry Falwell turned openly gay religious leader, attacks these arguments head on in “What the Bible Says (And Doesn’t Say) About Homosexuality,” a 24-page booklet available through Soulforce, the organization White founded to counter anti-LGBT religious bigotry with non-violence.

Here are excerpts to help you counter and understand the passages commonly used against us. You can download the entire PDF for free or order a print copy for $3 at www.soulforce.org.

article placeholder

Faith & Religion: Beyond Judeo-Christian traditions

Lesbian Buddhist says meditation helps keep her grounded

While Christianity is said to be the most popular religion worldwide, there are plenty of people — and plenty of LGBT people — who do not follow the teachings of Jesus. This can sometimes be tough, especially when living in the Bible belt, but many in Atlanta’s gay community prefer to believe in other entities — or not believe in any at all.

article placeholder

Faith & Religion: Is religious faith important to you?

Zachary MaxeyZachary Maxey
24 • Riverdale • Gay

“I used to [attend church], but not any more. I’m a student at Georgia State so I do go to that Catholic Church by Underground for Mass sometimes when I have time. … With me and my religion I try not to allow the organized aspect to concern me from having a relationship with God. I separate it because I know that people aren’t God. They say they know, but they don’t know. I just try to live a good life and do all the right things and not really let that concern me.”

article placeholder

Guest Editorial: A spiritual call for LGBT unity

We know the LGBTQIA community has made a great deal of progress over the past 40 years. This progress has come because 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. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is about to become a thing of the past. More states are granting rights to same-sex couples. The national polls show we are making great strides to become an accepted part of society.

The more we are honest about who we are and who we love, the more true is Rev. Troy Perry’s proclamation of 30 years ago: “To know us is to love us!”

In every major faith there are affirming congregations who stand proudly for and with us as a whole people of God. We participate in many sports and excel right next to our straight sisters and brothers. We even run for public office and win.