Spirit Day actions across the country raised consciousness about the harms of anti-gay speech and bullying. Religious leaders in Arkansas, students at Baruch College and people of faith in “It Gets Better” videos urged churches to be accepting. Bishop Mark Hanson, the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, made history by saying gay people are “The people God created them to be” and should not be bullied.
Two thirds of respondents in a current study blame churches for gay teen suicides and link them to religious messages, and others are implementing policies to make schools safer. Few doubt that there are religious undercurrents in anti-gay bullying. Dr. Irene Monroe connected the dots between anti-gay bullying, witch-hunting and Evangelical “Hell Houses” that happen around Halloween.
Real life rejection by religious authorities can be devastating. And although an independent Augustinian Catholic parish welcomes gay and transgender people, a DignityUSA local chapter in San Antonio can no longer attend Mass at St. Ann Catholic Church after fifteen years of celebrating mass there. Top Vatican officials announced that Catholic politicians who support gay rights must publicly repent. Mormons contend attitudes are a factor in the struggles of gay members. When leaders of the church expressed condemnation, one mother who had experienced the loss of her son spoke out.
Still, people of faith are standing up in the face of bullying. Local Lutherans are working hard to keep their church from breaking away from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which now has inclusive policies. Jewish leaders decried bullying, and Episcopal presiding bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori spoke out for core values such as love rather than hate. Christians joined Jewish and other inter-faith leaders for marriage equality. Gay couples celebrated faith and their marriages, and a NY judge put a stop to a NOM effort to run ads for Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino without publishing the names of donors. NOM was also on the road in Iowa pushing voters to reject judges who decided for equality. Of course, political campaigns are intense, and the election may depend on LGBT voters. But they are not all happy with the Democrats.
Faith leaders committed to social justice are getting prominent positions, and local churches are coming out to welcome GLBT members. A Presbyterian man in Madison, Wisconsin, is seeking ordination as an openly gay pastor, and the video “The Way God Made Me,” about a Presbyterian minister who is transgender, made news.
Internationally, Uganda’s LGBT community just wants to live in peace despite ongoing threats. In Mexico, LGBT-supportive churches are being established. Russia’s ban on a pride event was declared unlawful by a European court. Finns abandoned churches in record numbers after a TV debate about gay people, and in Chile, a conservative bishop was removed from a top Anglican panel because of his interference with the US Episcopal Church after openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson was ordained.