Members of HRC’s Religion Council Remind Teens that ‘It Gets Better’

As part of the incredible support from all over the community during the crisis of teen suicides, the Bishop Gene Robinson and the Reverend Susan Russell loaned their voices to Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project, a resource of videos reaching out to teens across the nation to let them know firsthand that they are cared for and that there can be love and happiness in their future.

Robinson and Russell are both part of HRC’s Religion Council, an advisory group of religious leaders that embodies the rich diversity of our faith communities in terms of theology, race, gender, geography and sexual orientation.

“God wants you to live in the light of God’s love and that light will take away all of this darkness,” said the Rt. Rev. Robinson in his video speaking to teens. “God loves you beyond your wildest imagination and only wants the best for you. Its get better, I promise. It gets so much better.”


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

Harris County prosecutors want to know what led to the suicide of gay 13-year-old Asher Brown

This just in from The Associated Press:

HOUSTON — Prosecutors said Friday they will look into what led to the suicide of a 13-year-old Houston boy whose parents say was relentlessly bullied at his middle school for two years because of his religion and sexual orientation.

Asher Brown’s parents, who claim school officials ignored their pleas for help, said they hope “justice will be served” by the investigation by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

“Once they find out what’s been hidden, we would want the people responsible to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” said Brown’s stepfather, David Truong.

Read the full story here.

—  John Wright

Atheists Beat Catholics on Religion

CATHOLIC PRIESTS GRABBING AT CHILDREN X390 (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COMAtheists, agnostics, Jews, and Mormons are more knowledgeable about
religion than those following the Roman Catholic or Protestant faiths,
according to a new study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life
released Tuesday.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  John Wright

Anti-gay bullying drives Houston teen to suicide; parents say school officials ignored complaints

Asher Brown

A 13-year-old in Houston committed suicide last week in response to anti-gay bullying at school, The Houston Chronicle reports.

The parents of eighth-grader Asher Brown say he was “bullied to death” after officials at Hamilton Middle School ignored their complaints:

Brown, his family said, was “bullied to death” — picked on for his small size, his religion and because he did not wear designer clothes and shoes. Kids also accused him of being gay, some of them performing mock gay acts on him in his physical education class, his mother and stepfather said.

The 13-year-old’s parents said they had complained about the bullying to Hamilton Middle School officials during the past 18 months, but claimed their concerns fell on deaf ears.

David and Amy Truong said they made several visits to the school to complain about the harassment, and Amy Truong said she made numerous phone calls to the school that were never returned.

Asher Brown shot himself with his stepfather’s 9mm Beretta last Thursday. The Chronicle says Asher had come out as gay to his stepfather on the morning of his death. But KRIV-TV Channel 26 reports that Asher came out to his parents over the summer.

Unlike many states, Texas has no law that prohibits bullying and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation.

—  John Wright

Reflecting on HRC’s Religion & Faith Summer Institute

Historians will cite a few transformational gatherings as defining the shape and future of any given justice movement.  The Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 was such a gathering for women’s suffrage and we believe that HRC’s Summer Institute for Religious and Theological Study will create its own lasting impact on the future of religious studies. 

Under the searing heat of a Nashville summer in the last week of July, the Summer Institute brought together 14 graduate students from seminaries and universities around the country engaged in LGBTQ scholarship.  These students were taught and mentored by some of the most renowned scholars and religious opinion leaders in the country.  Along with their instructors and mentors, they bonded over the nexus of theology, religion and queer identities; they navigated collectively the pitfalls of an often harsh and unwelcoming profession; they even tackled media training; and through it all they came away envisioning a new framework for LGBTQ religious scholarship.

Theirs is a vision that begins with the premise that LGBTQ studies cannot succeed if it does not embrace the diversity of all of us in the LGBTQ and allied communities.  As one of the instructors, Dr. Rebecca Alpert points out in her powerful forthcoming essay for Religious Dispatches, these students created “a coalition on the axes of race and sexuality” that was nothing short of extraordinary.   The students, predominantly women and people of color, theorized the relationship between race and sexuality in ways that will have lasting influence on our understanding of LGBTQ studies and religion.  Our work in the Religion and Faith program was transformed by this gathering and we know our movement will be as well.  We could not be more proud of this gathering. 

Sharon Groves is deputy director, HRC Religion and Faith Program and convener for the first Summer Institute for HRC’s Scholarship and Mentorship Program for Religious and Theological Study.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

Cathedral of Hope 40th anniversary

Photos by Damon Frazier/Frazier Photography & Video

—  John Wright

Cross Points series wraps up with panel on religion and the LGBT community

Latisha McDaniel

“We’ve come to the last discussion for our Cross Points summer education series,” Latisha McDaniel said.

Equality March Texas presents a panel discussion on being religious (or non-religious) and being LGBT on Thursday, July 29.

The Rev. Deneen Robinson of Living Faith Covenant Church will serve as moderator. Other panelists will be Renee Gros-Reis and David Taffet (oh, that’s me!)

The church has been a home that many gays cannot imagine life without, while some gays have left the institution with bitterness at the people (if not the deity). This discussion will be about the work being done in religious institutions to change the conversation from one-sided hate speech to mutual understanding to welcoming. We’ll also discuss the work being done in affirming congregations. Finally, we’ll look at ways in which those who aren’t into church can help make sure gay religious people and their spaces are respected.

The panel begins at 7 p.m. at Resource Center Dallas.

—  David Taffet

Poll: Opposition to gay marriage drops

A new Gallup poll released today indicates that opposition to same-sex marriage continues to decline.

The poll surveyed 1,029 adults from May 3 to May 6, and found that 53 percent of Americans oppose gay marriage, and 44 percent support it.

According to RTT News, 53 percent ties Gallup’s all-time low from 2007 for those opposing gay marriage. The opposition is also down 4 percent from 2009, when a poll indicated 57 percent opposed gay marriage, and 40 percent supported it.

The new poll also indicates that more Democrats than Republicans support gay marriage (big surprise there, huh?), and — believe it or not — “religion played a major role in Americans’ view on gay marriage.” I know, you are all floored by that revelation.

Breaking it down, RTT News reported: “Among Americans where religion is very important, 70 percent were opposed to gay marriage. Among those where it is only fairly important, 37 percent were opposed. Finally, among those where religion is not important at all, only 27 percent were opposed.”

—  admin

Tell me what you think …

What constitutes “hate speech”?

A large number of religious leaders opposed the recently-enacted Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Law because they said it would make it a criminal offense for them to preach in their churches that homosexuality is a sin. But is that hate speech, or a reasonable expression of religious beliefs?

I don’t think the new law encroaches on anyone’s ability to preach that kind of sermon. I don’t think it’s hate speech, although I know plenty of people disagree with me on that. Many, many people do believe that homosexuality is a sin, and surely they have the right to express that belief.

But if a preacher stands in his or her pulpit on a Sunday morning and tells the congregation that God says homosexuals should be put to death and then encourages the members of that congregation to carry out God’s word — is that hate speech? Is that constitutionally protected?

Would your opinion of whether or not someone expressing their religious views constituted “hate speech” change if the person were an Imam in an Islamic extremist sect saying that the Koran teaches that the U.S. is “the great Satan” and that Allah decrees Americans should be killed, and then encouraging his followers to stage attacks to carry out Allah’s decree?

Where do we draw the line? Do we draw a line at all? Should people be able to say whatever they want just because they believe a religious text tells them to? How do we decide what is “valid” religious text? Is the Bible more valid than the Koran or the Book of Mormon or the teachings of Buddha?

Tell me what you think.

—  admin