Religious Responses to Anti-Gay Bullying


BOB ABERNETHY, host: There is a new conversation taking place in parts of the religious community about anti-gay bullying. In recent weeks, several young men committed suicide after being targeted for harassment and violence because of their sexual orientation. Religious supporters of gay rights have launched new anti-bullying campaigns, while some opponents of homosexuality are re-examining their rhetoric. Our managing editor Kim Lawton has more.

KIM LAWTON, managing editor: There’s been a lot of concern in the religious community about these acts of violence and harassment. Several religious denominations and faith-based organizations have been providing local congregations with resources. They’ve been urging pastors to preach about this in the sermons and providing information for youth groups and for youth leaders how to minister to people, young people, who might be struggling over some of these issues. A coalition of Jewish organizations from the Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist movement is actually asking Jewish leaders to sign a pledge promising to end bullying, this kind of anti-gay bullying, within the Jewish community. And even the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons—they oppose homosexuality—this week they released a statement saying while we are not changing our position we do condemn any kind of bullying based on sexual orientation.

ABERNETHY: And the language involved, that’s being reconsidered, too?

LAWTON: Well, there’s been some interesting soul-searching among those religious groups that do consider homosexuality a sin. But how do they communicate that? How do they come across as they are communicating that? And some evangelical leaders have suggested that perhaps their community has been too harsh in their condemnations, as if homosexuals are in some kind of special depraved category or something like that. The Catholic Church, which considers homosexual behavior a moral disorder—one Catholic priest this week suggested that perhaps it should be considered within the pro-life agenda if these kids are committing suicide. None of these groups are suggesting that their churches change their theological position, and that then leads to this dilemma—how do you communicate dislike for the behavior without condemning the individual, and that’s a difficult dilemma.

ABERNETHY: Kim Lawton. Many thanks.