Religion and faith are two complicated words in the LGBTQ-plus community. Faith-based organizations have historically contributed to oppression of the LGBTQ community, such as city-funded, Philadelphia-based Catholic Social Services — a group that would rather not allow same-sex parents to foster children.
In courts across the United States, businesses and institutions are arguing on grounds of religion to legally discriminate against our community members in work places, adoption processes, the service industry and many other fields. Religiously-affiliated hospitals argue, even still, that they shouldn’t be required to serve LGBTQ people.
Under Trump, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services created a Conscience and Religious Freedom Division tasked with fulfilling Trump’s promise to “promote and protect the fundamental and unalienable rights of conscience and religious liberty,” an update to a 2011 rule on the issue. The 2019 rule, popularly dubbed “Denial of Care” would allow healthcare workers to refuse to perform medical procedures, like gender-affirming surgery.
Similarly, our president, vice president and congress people often cite “The Bible” when trying to limit our rights and freedoms (and in order to incite constituents).
Still, many LGBTQ folks practice religion or consider themselves spiritual, and many of Philadelphia’s religious institutions are now welcoming and home to LGBTQ group meetings. Some even fought the “Denial of Care” rule in court. Religious leaders participated in a briefing call June 21 to discuss how they would oppose Catholic Social Service’s Supreme Court appeal for legalized discrimination.
Further, religion takes on completely different connotations across varying cultural identities. Religious institutions are not just places of worship, but community centers that provide essential services for many communities. Prayer is a part of a spiritual routine, in some cases, offering structure and stability. Some places of worship are a neighborhood’s nuclean and even where political discussions occur most frequently. In Philadelphia, religious institutions provide a number of services to LGBTQ folks and other marginalized communities.
Religion seems to be evolving, allowing more queer people to find a home in faith. While texts can’t change, interpretation of those texts can. A deeper dive into translation might solve many problems.
As the debate carries on, many of us will have to work through trauma that resulted from religion, but surely there is a place for both theists, spiritualists and atheists in our community.