Western religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), as evidenced in both their scriptures and their historical practices continuing to this day, tend to be chock-full of sexism and homophobia.

While there are some modern religious groups, such as some United and Unitarian churches in Christianity and the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) and the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) within Reform Judaism, that tolerate homosexuality, these are exceptions and tend to simply ignore anti-homosexual passages in their own religious texts or drastically reinterpret them. I am not aware of any modern Islamic group that is tolerant of homosexuality, though Sufism, in the past, seems to have had its moments. And while predominantly Hindu and Buddhist cultures (I'm thinking specifically of India here, though it may apply in other parts of Asia) seem to have been more tolerant of homosexuality in the past, this certainly seems to have changed a great deal with Western colonial influences as there is plenty of homophobia to be found among adherents of these religions today.

Given the pervasive sexist and anti-homosexual views expressed in both religious texts and in practice, I have often been puzzled by the number of out GLBTQI people who nevertheless insist on adhering to theistic beliefs and remaining committed to their respective religions. Should the discrimination they face, and the very solid basis in their religious texts for such discrimination, not be enough to turn them away from religion?

So I put the question to you, whether you identify as GLBTQI or not: 1) do you find that more members of the GLBTQI community (I know it is problematic to speak of a GLBTQI community, but no more so than speaking of an atheist community) leave religion than stay, and 2) of those who remain religious, how have they defended their adherence to a religion that cannot tolerate them unless they edit and water it down drastically?

I am also curious whether any of you, my fellow atheists, left religion in part because of sexism and homophobia.

I look forward to the ensuing discussion.

Tags: adherence, homophobia, intolerance, religion, selective, sexism

Views: 82

Replies to This Discussion

Most religions which I have been exposed to, indicate a strong intolerance and/or virtual hatred of homosexuality.
Much like Adriana, I cannot imagine why gay people would consider accepting or as your post states "adherence to a religion that cannot tolerate them unless they edit and water it down drastically".
I have never been involed in religion and can't imagine comfort from these beliefs.
I do not respect these beliefs. Respecting these beliefs suggests that they have value.
Christopher Hitchens book "go is not Great, how religion posions everything" offers numerous instances of these "beliefs" leading to atrocities condoned by a diety.
Thank you for the discussion thread! Like you, I have a sense that many in the atheist community are GLBTQI. In fact, my brain has already begun (involuntarily) profiling people to predict either their orientation based in part on their religious beliefs or vice-versus, predicting their religious affiliation based on their known orientation.

I don't have any genuine statistics to share, but I can confess that my personal (biased) assessment would conclude there are more atheists in the GLBT community. That begin said, you would be amazed to watch the Pride Parade here in Atlanta and to realize how many religious floats and kiosks there are. Every church wants to embrace us. I'm seriously considering putting up a float or kiosk to represent the Atheist / Freethinker / Humanist / Agnostic perspective. I've got to compete with those churches for minds!! hehe

As for the question of how they defend there adherence, my experience is that many people are selective in their beliefs. So, for example, while Leviticus damns homosexual behavior, he also damns eating shellfish, wearing clothes made from two materials, sleeping in the same bed with a menstruating woman, eating dairy products with meat products, etc... but you rarely find the Westboro Baptist Church picketing outside of Red Lobster restaurants. My conclusion is that religious GLBTs simply ignore Leviticus assume he just didn't get it right or that he only damned homosexual behavior in pagan houses of worship or, or, or.... In short, they discount the dissonance and soldier-on because it pays other dividends for them in terms of spiritual security, etc.
As for the question of how they defend there adherence, my experience is that many people are selective in their beliefs. So, for example, while Leviticus damns homosexual behavior, he also damns eating shellfish, wearing clothes made from two materials, sleeping in the same bed with a menstruating woman, eating dairy products with meat products, etc... but you rarely find the Westboro Baptist Church picketing outside of Red Lobster restaurants. My conclusion is that religious GLBTs simply ignore Leviticus assume he just didn't get it right or that he only damned homosexual behavior in pagan houses of worship or, or, or.... In short, they discount the dissonance and soldier-on because it pays other dividends for them in terms of spiritual security, etc.

Any modern liberal Christian (leaving aside the modern adherents of other religions) has to be quite selective in what to accept and follow from the bible and what to disregard. They often ignore the stuff of Leviticus and other OT commandments, unsavoury by modern standards, by claiming that Jesus brought in a new law, or by pointing to the story of Paul's dream about pork which he interprets to mean that Christians may disregard OT commandments. Yet at other times, especially when the infallibility of their god's word is being challenged, they will quote Jesus thus: "For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled."

Most liberal Christians have to ignore sexist and misogynist references from the NT as well--beating the wife, women should shut up in church, man is the head of the household, etc. And queer Christians have to be even more selective, as there are NT references also that speak against homosexuality, though they usually reference Leviticus.

Why do they then keep going, despite all the dissonance? I think, Eric, you are right that it pays certain "dividends for them in terms of spiritual security". They still suffer under the 'what if' question. But I think it isn't just spiritual security they are after. Rather, being marginalised already in society, they do what it takes, cognitively, to remain a believer to avoid the additional stigma, the additional marginalisation, of being a non-believer, an atheist. There are many layers of marginalisation for some people. If, for example, you are a woman, a person of colour/visible minority, vegan, queer, and atheist, you have five elements to your makeup that set you apart from the mainstream, five levels of marginalisation. If the 'what if' question still bothers you and you want the security of an invisible father or (gasp!) mother figure, and you want to avoid at least one level of marginalisation, you may work hard to somehow fit into your religion.
Very well put, S S Tragus. I concur, avoiding marginalization is a motivator for many. One other thought has entered my mind, however... Have you ever heard of a psychological assessment called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)? It basically identifies 16 different temperament or personality types based on for character attributes. Each personality type is identified by a four-character code like this: "INTJ" which stands for Intorverted-iNtuitive-Thinking-Judgmental. There's plenty on the internet if you're interested in learning more. Anyway, my point is that certain personality types are more comfortable being independent thinkers and willing to buck conventional thought, etc. whereas others are prone to being compliant and obedient and going-with-the-flow. Me? I am an "INTJ," which is an exceedingly rare personality type. As such, I have little reservation in casting aside ideas that don't work for me and am comfortable representing myself as I am, independent of what others think. The more common personality types are a more social and compliant - which may make sense from the standpoint of evolution in early societies.

In conclusion, I think that one of the contributing explanatory variables in one's adherence to religions that condemn the individual can be explained in part by these personality types. I wonder if it is testable. I wonder if there are MBTI types that are more frequent among atheists than they are in the general population.

Let me know what you think of my little hypothesis. Thank you!

More can be found here: http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/my-mbti-results...
I am not very familiar with this personality type test, though I've heard of it and other similar assessments. I know I am a rather introverted, intuitive and thinking person, and most people know me as such. While I haven't always displayed a lot of confidence in certain applied areas of life, such as my ability to perform a certain task or compete for a certain type of job, when it comes to my sense of self and my ability to apply my critical thinking skills to work through intellectual, philosophical and ethical issues, I do not hesitate to stand apart from the crowd if my conclusions diverge from the mainstream. I can see how my personality could make leaving the pack behind easier. For personality types that mainly flourish through constant social interaction and validation of their peers, this could be much more difficult.

I don't see why it wouldn't be testable if a large and varied enough segment of the population were given both a personality type test and a questionnaire about their worldview, religious affiliation and adherence. Should be rather interesting. But this would not be able to account for the effect of formative experiences, unless those could also be built into the study somehow, or subsequent intellectual and emotional development through significant life-altering experiences. Even those of us who, by nature, don't mind standing apart from the crowd, it sometimes takes certain events or life experiences to stop us in our tracks, cause us to think of things a little differently, accelerate or elicit change. Though I was always curious and inquisitive, I know I can think of specific experiences and events that helped me leave religion behind.

If personality type could be shown to be a determining factor in having the courage to leave religion, I wonder what it could reveal about who has the courage, and how soon, to come out of the queer closet. And, circling back to the original topic, I wonder whether the personality type question could also shed some light on why some have the courage to come out queer in a largely homophobic society, yet do not have the courage to leave a sexist and homophobic religion behind. I've even heard people using faith as a crutch during the coming out experience, even though that faith had to be drastically filtered/altered to support them.
Umm... need to be updated on new sexuality spectrum terms... but what does "I" stand for? *Feeling like an idiot*
I have seen the initialsm expanded numerous ways, especially in situations where political correctness and inclusiveness were of the utmost importance.

Gay
Lesbian
Bisexual
Transgendered
Transsexual
Transvestite
Intersex
Unsure
Polyamorous
Queer
Questioning
Other
Straight Ally
2 Spirited (I like this term especially)
Asexual

uh... furries? Okay, I'm running out, but I'm sure there are many more that someone somewhere feels a need to include in the term.

Well, sexuality becomes so overwhelmingly complex when you try to define it. That leads to a lot of, "I sort of fit this term in this way, but not in this way; if I had to call it something, I'd say..." That's works for me when talking with individuals. I'm okay with there being six or seven billion different terms to describe sexuality, just so long as I don't have to fit them all into one initialism.
what does "I" stand for?

As I understand it, the 'I' stands for Intersex.
I have been thinking a lot about this issue recently, since it is "Gaypril" at Harvard and we are having a lot of discussions around LGBTQI issues. I find it very difficult to understand why, given the extraordinary homophobia demonstrated by the Abrahamic faiths across history, LGBTQI people would want to remain in any way affiliated with any of them. But I have encountered, this week, some devoutly religious LGBTQI folk who actually have a problem with my atheism, and do not seem to see any problem in continuing to engage with their religious community.

I have come to think that the term "community", in fact, is key to this phenomenon. Churches, temples, mosques etc. provide real communities in which people can socialize, celebrate and commiserate together. The nonreligious movement has traditionally been very slow to build replacement communities which serve the same functions without a religious narrative overlaying them. If we get better at this, I think more people in general, and more LGBTQI people, will be willing to leave their religion behind and embrace naturalism.
I have come to think that the term "community", in fact, is key to this phenomenon. Churches, temples, mosques etc. provide real communities in which people can socialize, celebrate and commiserate together. The nonreligious movement has traditionally been very slow to build replacement communities which serve the same functions without a religious narrative overlaying them. If we get better at this, I think more people in general, and more LGBTQI people, will be willing to leave their religion behind and embrace naturalism.

I think you may be right. Everyone needs a sense of community and belonging, a sense of rootedness. Religion promises to provide these things, but there are serious strings attached. For me, however, the experience of class discrimination laid bare the shallow nature of that community. Though painful, I think that experience helped me to see through religion, though for some time I thought the shortcomings were unique to my church, leading to a somewhat protracted search among the world's other religions.

You are also right that we, as atheists, need to become much better at building community and fostering a sense of belonging. As part of that, since we don't need to be brainwashed and guilt-tripped every week, we need to get together to take a more active role in the world, though hopefully starting in our own proverbial backyard, in our own communities. Too many run off to help the poor people in some distant country, blind to the fact that it is our activities and policies that have rendered them poor, and blind to the many people needing help in their own country, city and neighbourhood. But that is a tangent to be explored another time...

I left Mormonism for a variety of reasons. Most of the reasons are a contrast to my personal beliefs concerning their treatment of any group not like they are. Especially the GLBT community.

RSS

  

Discussion Forum

Gay Themed Short Story Written By Me :)

Started by Ari E. S.. Last reply by Ari E. S. May 15. 4 Replies

Confused and Afraid

Started by Ari E. S.. Last reply by Ari E. S. Apr 28. 9 Replies

Bisexual Atheists?

Started by Skycomet the Fallen Angel. Last reply by kris feenstra Mar 24, 2013. 31 Replies

"You are just confused"

Started by D.M Barrera. Last reply by Lydia Hickman Mar 24, 2013. 17 Replies

Gay men=right and lesbians=wrong?

Started by Natasha Kenny. Last reply by KaraC May 9, 2012. 7 Replies

Blog Posts

People

Posted by ɐuɐz ǝllǝıuɐp on July 28, 2014 at 10:27pm 4 Comments

Services we love

We are in love with our Amazon

Book Store!

Gadget Nerd? Check out Giz Gad!

Advertise with ThinkAtheist.com

In need a of a professional web site? Check out the good folks at Clear Space Media

© 2014   Created by Dan.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service