The Cycle of Religiously Justified Prejudice and Privilege


Sometimes I am asked why I am so passionate about LGBTQ rights when there are so many other problems in the world. My response is this: One ought to be passionate about all human rights, and LGBTQ rights are human rights. Wherever human rights are being violated, we should speak out and act for justice. In relation to LGBTQ rights and all of the other problems in the world, recognizing that all of us are persons of sacred worth with equal rights is, in my opinion, key to being able to address all of the other problems and challenges we face in the world. If we cannot even recognize the dignity and rights of each person in the human community, how can we begin to recognize and advocate for the dignity and worth of all members of the ecological community of which we are all a part? LGBTQ rights are important in and of themselves, but they are also important in bringing healing within the human community that might allow us to become more responsible members of the ecological community.

Another reason I am so passionate about LGBTQ rights is that I am an ordained minister in a Christian denomination (the United Methodist Church) that is currently perpetuating discrimination against LGBTQ persons through its policies and practices. As a member of this community, I feel it is my responsibility to do all I can to change those policies and practices that are so hurtful to my LGBTQ brothers and sisters and their families and friends, even if at some point this means that I may lose my ordination within the United Methodist Church.

As a United Methodist minister in Oklahoma, I am aware that the regions of the country most resistant to equal rights for LGBT persons are the same regions that have been and continue to be most resistant to equal rights for women and equal rights for persons of all races and all religions. This is not to say that persons against LGBTQ equal rights are racists or anti-women, but there is an experience of privilege on the part of certain groups justified by a particular religious worldview that seems to be replaying itself over and over in these areas of the country resulting in a cycle of prejudice and injustice. The religious justifications for perpetuating the prejudice and privilege tend to be rooted in the language of faithfulness, order, purity, and orthodoxy while denying the underlying prejudice and privilege being defended. Changing hearts and minds is necessary to break this cycle, but as is the case with racism and sexism, discrimination against persons who are LGBTQ must become both socially and legally unacceptable in order for justice to be experienced by all persons. Those of us who live in these regions of the country have a critical role to play in furthering the cause for justice for all persons. Justice, peace, and sustainability are all connected, so when one group experiences injustice it hinders peace and sustainability in the entire world house.

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