last revised November 27, 2005
Having been raised Mormon, I grew up with a profound sense of the importance of religious tolerance. I still have vivid memories of seeing the blood stains on the floor of the jail in Carthage, Illinois where Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were murdered.
Ironically, I also remember my dad telling me about how some day the constitution of the United States would "hang as by a thread" and then the Mormon Elders would step in to save the country and presumably set up a Mormon theocracy, a belief that, not surprisingly, leaves most non-Mormons cold. I guess most people deep down inside believe that a state controlled by their views and preferences will be best for everyone else.
Issues of church and state are complex. I'm not certain religious values can be excised from the political sphere; I'm not sure it would be good if they could be. But I don't want somebody else's values imposed on me in the form of their favorite blue laws. And if we can't take religion out of politics, we can't take politics out of religion either. Many Americans desperately wish issues like gay rights wouldn't creep into the sanctuary on Sunday morning... One way or another, they do.
Ultimately, true faith demands that we care about the state of the American soul as well as the soul of the American state.
I am one of these crazy Christians who does not view church as some kind of fantasy escape, some idyllic place we go to have "refuge" from the world. Rather church is the one place we should uncompromisingly engage the world, and be engaged by the world. I understand that many fundamentalist Christians who are using their churches as anti-gay political staging grounds think that's exactly what they're doing. But denial is different from engagement. And refusal to engage is probably why a majority of "moderate" American Christians suddenly turn into fundamentalists on the issue of gay rights. They just don't want to have to deal with it, and it's just easier to take an unthinking knee-jerk position.
- The United Church of Christ's official web site: www.ucc.org.
- www.stillspeaking.org is a web site devoted to the "Still Speaking Initiative," a publicity campaign of the UCC designed to promote tolerance
- S.A.M.U.E.L., the UCC lectionary on-line.
- Information on GLBT concerns and the UCC.
- This Obedience is a documentary on the ordination of Anita Hill by St. Paul Reformation Lutheran Church, in defiance of its denomination's position against the ordination of gay men and lesbians who are in committed relationships. The web site has a wealth of resources for people who want to explore the issues surrounding gay and lesbian ordination.
- Americans United for the Separation of Church and State
- The official web-site of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- The web-site of the Community of Christ, formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Growing up LDS, I heard much scorn heaped upon RLDS. But I have grown to have tremendous respect for this little denomination, which, while holding on to its roots as a "restoration church," has courageously committed itself to peace, justice, and reconciliation. The Community of Christ, like many denominations, is in the process of struggling to discern the role of gay and lesbian Christians in their communion. I also have tremendous respect for the incredibly compassionate, humble, and self-effacing ministry and witness of W. Grant McMurray, who recently stepped down as President and Prophet of the church.
- LDS-Mormon.com is an outstanding web-site by Mormons and for Mormons, who wish to discuss issues vital to their faith in a spirit of openness, unhampered and uncensored. Sunstone's motto is "faith seeking understanding."
- Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought is an independent quarterly established to express Mormon culture and to examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Latter-day Saints who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with the larger stream of world religious thought and with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to ensure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints or of the editors.
- Sunstone is an open forum for Latter-day Saints of all "restoration" traditions (including the RLDS or Community of Christ) to explore their faith.
- Affirmation is an organization that "serves the needs of GLBT Mormons and their supportive family and friends through social and educational activities."
- Gay Mormon Stories. We need to hear more of these.
- The official, LDS church-sanctioned organization for Mormons with "same-sex attraction" is Evergreen International, which seeks to help individuals to "diminish same-sex attractions and overcome homosexual behavior." I can't endorse this organization or its philosophy, which I believe to be profoundly harmful to gay men, lesbians, and their families and loved ones. However, for those who are interested in dialog across difference, here's a link to Evergreen's official web site.
- The Mormon Alliance seeks to identify and document ecclesiastical and spiritual abuse in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in order to promote healing and closure for survivors, sensitivity among leaders, and authentic and healthy religious community for all.
- The Safe Space Coalition is an initiative that works to ensure safety and respect for gay and lesbian Latter-day Saints.
- A web site with an on-line version of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible (including the Apocrypha), that is fully searchable.
- A fully searchable, on-line version of the Mormon scriptures: Old and New Testaments (including the Joseph Smith translation), the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.
- Fully searchable, on-line versions of the sacred texts of many religions and spiritual traditions.
- Statistical information about different religions.
©2003-07 John D. Gustav-Wrathall | home | blog | contact me