Religion News Summary - June 13, 2014

Baptist news has been difficult for the transgender community lately. A resolution was passed at the Southern Baptist Conference this past weekend officially condemning transgender people; while in California, a transgender woman, Domaine Javier, sues California Baptist University for expelling her for putting "female" on her forms. In contrast, Baptist stories of acceptance of same-sex relationships have springing up all over the media in recent weeks. A church in Kentucky is the first Baptist church to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples, despite its lack of legality in the state and lack of acceptance in the official dogma of the Southern Baptist Church. A Baptist church in California reverses its position to support being gay after the pastor's son comes out in a touching video:

See below for the pastor's full statement on why he changed his stance on being gay. Furthermore, Baptist as well as Jewish congregations join the United Church of Christ's protest against the marriage equality ban in North Carolina. Even regarding the radical Westboro Baptist Church, the deceased founder Fred Phelps allegedly may have had a change of heart towards being gay shortly before his death.

On the Mormon front, two Mormon activists are threatened with excommunication for their social justice work advocating equality for women and the LGBT community. Rock singer Tyler Glenn goes public with his struggle but determination to remain both Mormon and openly gay. Last week a three-day conference with North Star International was devoted to conversations on this issue of being LGBT and Mormon. An article from Salt Lake City News is worth a read to get a sense of the diversity in viewpoints at the conference, which advertises itself as being neutral on efforts to change sexual orientation and gender identity, and the types of discussions that were held.

Mormons aren't the only ones split on the issue. A group of over 80 clergy members from the United Methodist Church recently released a statement citing a crisis over same-sex marriage and gay clergy debates. The pastors who released the statement wrote that the disagreements were irreconcilable and that the only solution may be an official schism of the church.

Recent news also features many cases of Christian schools kicking out teachers and students for being gay. Such victims include distance runner Anthony Villarreal of William Jessup University in California and high school band teacher Flint Dollar of Mount de Sales Academy in Georgia. Dollar's case was one among a string of incidents of teachers being fired from Catholic schools, prompting these teachers to pair with the Human Rights Campaign and write a letter to the Pope.

From a more positive vein, several books have been penned lately by religious people reconciling their genders and sexualities with their faiths: Naomi Zeveloff's Transgender and Jewish, Matthew Vines' God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships, and Jennifer Knapp's Facing the Music: Discovering Real Life, Real Love, and Real Faith.

More projects reconciling faith and queer identity include Samra Habib's Queer Muslim photography project; and Tufts University student Jordan Dashow's essay on having pride in being both Jewish and queer. Al Jazeera America recently featured a gay man from Togo living in Harlem in a poignant article highlighting the intersection of race, religion, and sexuality.

Danny Cortez's sermon on why he changed his stance on being gay: