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: 107

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.
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...
Umm... need to be updated on new sexuality spectrum terms... but what does "I" stand for? *Feeling like an idiot*
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 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.


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