Speaking to a meeting of Hasidic Jewish leaders on Sunday, New York GOP gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino said, “I don’t want [children] to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option” to heterosexuality.
Religious organizations and people frequently lead opposition to gay rights in the United States.
In the August ruling which overturned California’s Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage, a witness asserted, “Religion is the chief obstacle for gay and lesbian political progress.”
Why does religion play such a central role in debates about homosexuality?
Religion often plays a central role because the Bible often carries conflicting messages that reflect the complexity and changing understandings of life and relationships over the course of many centuries — relationships both with other human beings and with God. On the one hand the Bible tells us that we are created in God’s own image. On the other, it prohibits a man to lie with a man as he would with a woman.
When people approach religion as a crutch, a means of validating their own fears and prejudices, instead of grappling honestly with its challenges, they often end up with ugliness rather than the chance for love and growth.
We are taught to respect each other. We know that children are born gay, straight, or somewhere in between on the scale, and gayness cannot be taught or learned. We also know that there is nothing shameful in being gay. That is what religion teaches us.