Much of the hate and vitriol aimed at the LGBTQ+ people comes from religious communities still promoting ideas in the 21st century that being anything other than straight and cisgender is a violation of centuries of religious dogma. How can you find a faith space where you can be respected and accepted as openly queer? That’s a good question for the “Rainbow Papa-Bear”!
There’s a certain term you’ll hear used in this conversation: “The Clobber Passages.” This is from a book by Reverend Doctor Mel While called, Clobber the Passages: Seven Deadly Verses, which looks at how, “For centuries, evangelicals who read the Bible literally have misused seven verses to convince the world that homosexuality is a sin and homosexuals sinners.” Scholars like White argue that these passages are not only out of pace in a modern world, but they’ve been widely misinterpreted over the centuries.
Having said that, people of faith sometimes still have to treat their spiritual life, and their queer identity, as mutually exclusive things. We’ve made great progress on LGBTQ+ rights, but that progress often struggles in the areas around faith-based institutions. Can those institutions truly say they are welcoming to all people if you can’t see yourself reflected as a part of it? How can you worship when you’re not sure your fellow parishioners welcome you for who you are and who you love?
These are some of the big questions we ask Reverence Ryk Brown for this week’s podcast. He’s the the minister of St. James United Church in Waterdown, the self-styled “Rainbow Papa-Bear” and he joins us to talk about how faith-based institutions need to change to be relevant, and why the onus is on the faith to meet people where they are. He will also talk about why faith leaders need to be activists, the meaning of compassion, and the differences between talking about safe spaces and creating real safe spaces.
So let’s talk about being queer as faith for this week’s edition of the Guelph Politicast!
You can learn more about Brown and the many pies he has fingers in at his website, and you can learn more about his anti-bullying efforts at Voices Against Bullying. In terms of Pride Month events here in Guelph, Pride in the Park takes place this Saturday at Riverside Park from 10 am to 2 pm, and you can learn more about Guelph Pride events here.
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