You heard it hear first: God made a gay man. However, some of the many comments left by viewers of the video got us thinking: how tolerant of gays are some of the biggest religious denominations in North America? Here’s part one of our rundown.
Roman Catholic Church
As you may have gathered from ex-Pope Benedict’s own words, the largest Christian church in North America isn’t fond of homosexuality. Officially, the Vatican teaches that homosexuals must be “accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity” and condemns violence against gays, especially at the state level. However, the Vatican also consider gay people “objectively disordered” and quite actively campaign against gay marriage around the world. That said, American Catholics don’t appear to agree with the Vatican.
The Southern Baptist Convention
Southern Baptists, the largest Protestant body in the United States, strikes a hard line against homosexuality, rejecting it as “an abomination in the eyes of God”. They oppose same-sex marriage and urge other churches to do the same. Other Baptist churches, which are considerably smaller, are divided on the issue.
Quick, when was the first publicized same-sex marriage in Canada? February 11, 1974, when Richard North and Chris Vogel were married by a Unitarian Universalist minister. The Unitarian Universalists also had the first ordained minister of any religion in the US or Canada come out as gay — that would be James Stoll way back in 1969. They also accepted their first transgendered minister in 1988. They’ve had an Office for Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, and Transgendered Concerns since 1974, they’ve supported Services of Union for same sex couples since 1984 and they even have a “welcoming congregation” program, which is designed to help UU churches become better places for LGBTQ persons. Some 66% of American congregations and 94% of Canadian ones have completed the program. The Unitarian Universalists have probably been pro-gay before anyone else.
Issues relating to homosexuality have split the Anglican Church (referred to as the Episcopal church in the US) since openly gay cleric Jeffery John became Bishop of Reading. Currently, gays are allowed to become priests and bishops in the Anglican Church provided they remain celibate. Ten dioceses in Canada allow blessings on same-sex couples, and latitude is given to bishops in the US. However, many Anglican Churches, particularly those in Africa, oppose Western Anglicanism’s liberal attitude towards homosexuality and have declared a state of impaired communion with their counterparts, which may lead to a schism.
United Church of Canada
In the past thirty years, the United Church has been anything but that, with liberals and conservatives fighting over its stance on homosexuality. Though it has called homosexuality “a gift from God” and has condoned same sex relationships since 1988, conservatives have fought the changes and sometimes fallen away from the church. In general, the United Church is in favour of gay marriage, though individual congregations may decline to do so. The Church’s moderator, the Rev. Gary Paterson, is openly gay and married to the Rev. Tim Stevenson.