Founded in 1974, the Women’s Center was established to:
Dismantle, from a feminist perspective, all forms of oppression, including but not limited to those based on ability, age, class, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Advocate for an equitable environment free from violence and harassment based on gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Create an anti-racist, non-sexist, queer-affirmative space where all people can feel valued and safe.
Facilitate and strengthen connections among people across lines of difference through programming and educational campaigns.
Integrate an appreciation of Women's Gender and Multicultural Studies across the disciplines.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Religion and Acceptance

This is a guest post by Kim Halloran.

My topic for this post is religion. I realize that this can be a sensitive subject for many, but until recently I could never understand why, now I understand perfectly. I am a freshman in college and I am trying to get involved with a religious organization on campus, which I never knew would be so difficult. The reason I find this group so trying is because they continually bring up subjects that I feel have no place in any sort of worship service.

Exhibit one, at a combined meeting with several other religious organizations from about a dozen or so other college campuses, approximately two hundred of us listened to testimonies of how God touched and transformed a few individual’s lives. One of these testimonies was told by a fellow college student who had identified as gay until he recently found God, but now he has repented of his sinful ways. At this point in the service, everyone felt so moved by the Spirit that they had to give this poor young man a standing ovation, showered with plenty of “Hallelujahs” and “Amens”. (I personally felt so distraught that I was close to tears.) But wait - it gets better; with a triumphant smile upon his face, this poor boy rejoiced over the fact that he now has a girlfriend and together they pray for each other. (I’ve never realized that the point of being in a romantic relationship was to have a prayer partner.)

After the service was over, one of leaders in our campus’s group asked me what I thought of the testimonies, because she had apparently seen how appalled I was. I simply told her that I had never heard anything like that before in church and I’ve been an active Christian for my entire life. I continued that I am affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) who recently allowed members of the queer community to be pastors. Additionally, over winter break I attended “Jesus Camp” in North Carolina (Bible belt USA), where one of our speakers identified as a lesbian, and the overall consensus of the hundreds of conference attendees, also college students, was that we were so happy that she was able to share that with us. And sometimes the Bible is not always meant to be taken literally, because some of the references apply directly to the time period in which it was written. Her response to me was that although some passages in the Bible are not meant to be taken literally, these ones are, because being homosexual is referenced as a sin several times throughout the Bible.

I later researched, how often the Bible actually states that homosexuality is a sin. Although I was surprised the New Testament had a couple verses, the issue is only mentioned a handful of times throughout the entire Bible. It’s not like it’s referenced as many times as God’s infinite forgiveness and love. Besides one of the verses, Leviticus 18:22, “You must not have sexual intercourse with a male as one has sexual intercourse with a woman; it is a detestable act.” First of all, this is only addressing same-sexual relations between males and is only addressing a male audience in general. Does that mean that because there several references stating the inferiority of women, that women are truly inferior as well? Second of all, I am not positive, but I’m pretty sure that it’s anatomically impossible to have sex the exact same way one would have intimate relations with a woman as one would have with a man. Plus, I feel it should be noted that in Leviticus (19:19), it also states, “'Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.” I don’t know about everyone else, but I have definitely sinned every day of my life, by wearing both cotton and denim.

I now find myself with a personal dilemma, should I remain in this religious organization or not? The people are really quite nice, when they aren’t inconsiderately ignoring anyone else’s viewpoints. But I don’t know how much longer I can take being classified as a “liberal”, because I have no moral objections with being alone in a room with someone of the opposite sex. However, if I am following their logic correctly, that if alone with someone, you must clearly be having sexual relations with them, which is of course forbidden unless married, wouldn’t it then be more objectionable to be alone with someone of the same sex then, because that would be a greater sin?

I would like to make a final note that if anyone is queer or questioning and has had a negative religious experience; I promise that not every religious individual is so unaccepting(some of us actually believe, “Judge not lest ye be judged.” [Matthew 7:1]), please do not let them deter you from God, if He is what you want, and I apologize on their behalf.

I find it so amusing that the members of this religious group claim to question their faith in the presence of nonbelievers, because the only thing recently that has caused me to question my faith is this so-called religious organization.

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