GLAAD Media Reference Guide - In Focus: Religion & Faith

A common myth about LGBT equality is that it is universally opposed by people of faith. This myth, combined with vitriolic opposition to LGBT people and families by anti-gay activists who claim the mantle of Christianity, frequently leads to media coverage that falsely positions LGBT equality as a matter of "gays vs. religion." Despite increasing religious acceptance of LGBT people, three out of four religious leaders interviewed by the media on LGBT issues come from traditions that have policies or traditions that oppose LGBT equality.

Mainstream religious denominations support LGBT equality. For decades, the Unitarian Universalist Association, the United Church of Christ, and the Metropolitan Community Church have had policies of LGBT inclusion, including ordaining LGBT people, performing weddings for same-sex couples, and advocating for LGBT equality in society. More recently, The Episcopal Church, Conservative Judaism, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Presbyterian Church (USA) have all adopted policies of LGBT inclusion. Their leaders are often vocal supporters of marriage equality, employment non-discrimination, transgender inclusion, and other LGBT issues.

Other denominations are home to robust debate about LGBT issues and equality. Others denominations continue to openly debate issues of LGBT inclusion, the blessing of same-sex couples' unions, and the ordination of LGBT clergy, with growing support for full inclusion.  For example, the United Methodist Church has not changed its policies to be more LGBT inclusive, but several United Methodist leaders have challenged those policies, as well as advocated publically for LGBT equality. Even the Mormon Church has softened its tone toward LGBT people, no longer advocating for family alienation and so-called "ex-gay" programs.

Anti-gay activists are often identified by the media as representing the only "religious" or "Christian" view, while excluding religious voices that are in favor of LGBT inclusion. Anti-gay activists like Pat Robertson and Harry Jackson, as well as groups like Focus on the Family, Family Research Council, Traditional Values Coalition, and the Institute on Religion & Democracy often claim to represent the views of religious Americans. Yet these groups' policy views are not shared by the majority of those they claim to represent. This is especially true for Roman Catholics, nearly three-quarters of whom support LGBT equality, despite anti-gay language and actions from many in the Roman Catholic hierarchy. Large majorities of all Americans, including people of faith, favor inclusive non-discrimination laws, military service, inclusive hate crimes laws, and family recognition (whether by marriage or civil unions) for LGBT people.

Please consider whether anti-gay activists' attacks on the dignity and equality of LGBT people warrant a media spotlight. When such prejudice is newsworthy or must be quoted, please seek out religious voices who support LGBT equality and can effectively address those attacks in the language of inclusive faith.

LGBT people of faith are rarely represented in mainstream media. Groups like Dignity/USA (LGBT Catholics), Integrity (LGBT Episcopalians), Reconciling Ministries Network (LGBT Methodists) and More Light Presbyterians represent affinity groups within some of the nation's largest Christian denominations. The Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, United Church of Christ, Unitarian Universalist Association and Unity Fellowship Church Movement welcome LGBT people and clergy. The Metropolitan Community Church is the world's oldest and largest LGBT denomination, and churches, synagogues and other houses of worship around the country serve LGBT people of faith.

When reporting on religion and LGBT equality, please include the voices of LGBT faith leaders. In addition to the groups mentioned above, GLAAD, the Institute for Welcoming Resources, the National Black Justice Coalition, the Human Rights Campaign, the World Congress of GLBT Jews, and others can help direct reporters to qualified spokespeople.

 

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