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Black religion leaders’ proud legacy on civil rights ought to embrace LGBTQ rights

(RNS) — Practically a yr in the past, some 60 Black Christian leaders signed a letter criticizing the Equality Act, a historic invoice in Congress that would offer non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ individuals. The signers of the letter called instead for a compromise invoice that would come with spiritual exemptions, which might in sensible impact create substandard protections with huge loopholes and carve-outs and upend current federal applications that serve youngsters in want. 

With Martin Luther King Day approaching, we’re reminded that from abolition by means of the civil rights motion, religion has been a driving drive within the battle for freedom and equality for African Individuals. However Black Christians additionally know that faith can be utilized to disenfranchise and exploit their group; they need to know higher than to discriminate towards LGBTQ individuals promoted beneath the guise of non secular freedom. Discrimination towards all individuals is immoral, unethical and unacceptable.

Whereas spiritual communities have the appropriate to train their beliefs, spiritual freedom ought to by no means be misused to disclaim individuals the appropriate to stay, thrive and be totally human in society. 

LGBTQ equality is simply too usually a taboo subject in spiritual communities, and this evasion permits these claiming spiritual freedom to disguise their discrimination, particularly in areas of public coverage. Presently, 29 states should not have full authorized protections for LGBTQ individuals. A easy act of crossing state traces might expose our LGBTQ household to discrimination and hurt. 


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The fact is that extra spiritual individuals than not help LGBTQ equality, and we have to discuss it. Sixty-five percent of Black Protestants favor LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections as a result of they acknowledge the picture of God in each particular person. An estimated 1.2 million adults in the USA determine as Black and LGBTQ, and 71% of them are spiritual.

These Black LGBTQ individuals of religion expertise a better charge of discrimination and victimization than another group. They’re extra more likely to expertise unemployment, meals insecurity, homelessness, violence and suicide. This inequity violates the precept that we’re all created equal.

In June of final yr, the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, a corporation that helps pastors of their pursuit of social justice, hosted the Proctor Pleasure Prayerdemic, a collection of devotional companies led by LGBTQ clergy leaders and allies. The occasion celebrated the sacredness and fantastic thing about their existence inside the beloved group.

Months later, SDPC hosted an data session in help of LGBTQ equality in partnership with the Nationwide Black Justice Coalition urging religion leaders to take motion by contacting their elected officers in help of nondiscrimination protections. 

Moreover, SDPC’s Murray-Rustin Social Justice Institute, named after Pauli Murray, an African American Episcopal priest, and Bayard Rustin, a Quaker chief within the actions for civil rights and LGBTQ rights, works to remind all spiritual people who the work of justice and equality in spiritual communities consists of the considerations of LGBTQ and nonbinary individuals, particularly those that have skilled discrimination and trauma in non-affirming congregations and the general public sq..


RELATED: Black pastors sign letter supporting compromise bill on LGBTQ equality


Standing in help of LGBTQ equality presents a possibility for the Black religion group to proceed its long-standing legacy of unapologetically advocating for civil and human rights for all who’re marginalized.

These teams have taken the remedy of LGBTQ individuals by the church as trigger to face with them and demand equality. The identical alternative presents itself to the Black religion group. That group’s long-standing legacy of unapologetically advocating for civil and human rights for all who’re marginalized calls them to it.

Offering federal protections for LGBTQ Individuals shouldn’t be a couple of subset of the American inhabitants; it’s about all of us. It’s about envisioning how each single particular person, made within the picture of our creator, can stay free from the sting of discrimination. Allow us to decide to holding our LGBTQ siblings in care by remembering the rules of our religion and ethical teachings to like each other. 

(Sabrina E. Dent is president of The Heart for Religion, Justice, and Reconciliation and editor of “African Individuals and Spiritual Freedom: New Views for Congregations and Communities.” The views expressed on this commentary don’t essentially mirror these of Faith Information Service.)

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