“why bother?”

The following quote comes from an article entitled: ‘Christian America’ dwindling, including white evangelicals, study shows by Kimberly Winston, September 6, 2017. This article was written regarding the publication of America’s Changing Religious Identity, a PRRI (Public Religion Research Institute) survey and report. PRRI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to conducting independent research at the intersection of religion, culture, and public policy.

The PRRI survey is broad in scope but also reveals much about the slender slices of American religiosity:

  • The religious profile of Asian or Pacific-Islander Americans is unusual compared with other racial or ethnic groups, with roughly equal numbers spread across the Christian, non-Christian and no-religion categories.
  • Though atheists and agnostics account for about one-fourth of all the religiously unaffiliated, 16 percent of the unaffiliated identify as “a religious person.”
  • Almost half (46 percent) of LGBT Americans are religiously unaffiliated — about twice as many as the general population (24 percent).

Rabbi Denise Eger, founding rabbi of the Kol Ami synagogue in West Hollywood and an LGBT activist, said the high numbers of unaffiliated LGBT persons should surprise no one. She blames fundamentalism, especially in Christianity, Islam and, to a lesser extent, Judaism.

“The truth is that all of religion becomes tainted, even though there are many denominations that welcome them, that it becomes ‘why bother?’” she said of many LGBT people’s encounters with religion.

The last part of this quote scares me. I wonder how many folk in the LGBTQ community feel that way.

Clearly in the name of God (specifically in the name of western Christianity’s view of God) many many LGBTQ folk have been rejected, hurt, abused and even killed. This is just the truth. I find this truth deeply painful and heartrendingly sad. I feel terrible about what has been done to the LGBTQ community in the name of the very faith that I’m a part of. The history is horrible and it speaks loudly.

The present is not without its problems too. Western Christianity is no longer a monolithic voice when it comes to the LGBTQ community. The different voices inside the family speak very messages to the LGBTQ community. However it feels like the “Evangelical” branch of the faith yells so loud that it drowns out other voices. I wonder if anyone hears any message but theirs.

Still I see signs of hope. I see churches and church people taking a stand and living lives of love and justice. I see churches and church folk trying to live lives of radical welcome. It’s a long road yet. Still I do long for the day in which LGBTQ folk see a cross on a building and think, “Love lives there.”

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