Friday, June 01, 2007

Why Sexual Justice is Integral to Social Justice

Yesterday, I taped an interview for this Sunday's State of Belief show on Air America.

Rev. Dr. Welton Gaddy and I discussed my reaction to the Media Matter's study on which religious voices are covered in the media. (See Wednesday's blog!) Over the last few years, The Interfaith Alliance, the organization Dr. Gaddy heads, has slowly become more vocal about reproductive choice and LGBT rights, especially as they related to separation of church and state issues, and I was very pleased that he asked me to appear.

He asked me, partially as playing "devil's advocate" and partially because I think he really wanted to know, how I would answer so-called progressive leaders who feel that poverty, hunger, homelessness, the war in Iraq, global warming are so important that we cannot let "divisive issues" like abortion and LGBT issues distract us from forming coalitions with evangelicals and Catholics who oppose them.

My answer was threefold. First, these issues are directly related to poverty. It is poor women who suffer most when contraception, emergency contraception, and abortion services are not readily available, both in the United States and around the world. It is poor same-sex couples who are most affected by laws prohibiting the benefits of civil unions and marriage, and poor transgender persons who have no access to medical treatment. The Religious Institute staff is currently working on a fact sheet on how sexual justice and poverty are interrelated.

Second, these issues affect hundreds of thousands of people. More than a third of adult women in the United States have had abortions. More than half a million women die each year around the world because of pregnancy related complications. There are at least 600,000 families headed by gay and lesbian families in the United States alone. According to a new Pew research study, 4 in 10 Americans have a family member or close friend who is lesbian and gay. These issues are NOT about other people -- they are about us.

And finally, I reminded Rev. Gaddy about Martin Luther King's statement: injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. Progressive people of faith -- and that includes religious leaders who want to label themselves as progressive -- must stand up against sexual injustice as part of their commitment to social justice. These are not issues of "personal piety" or even about what people do in their bedrooms -- they go to the soul of whether we are all truly recognized as being created in God's image and whether we can celebrate the gift of our sexuality with holiness and integrity.

I hope you'll tune in to State of Belief on Sunday and listen to more of this interview. Check out their web site for times and station in your area or listen online.


Anonymous said...

I heard your interview on Air America yesterday, and it was really quite disturbing. When you espoused what your denomination consisted of, I thought it must be Unitarian. How you can consider yourself a denomination of Christianity is beyond me. You probably believe in the separation of church and state and that Christians should not pursue political office just to infuse the political process with Christian values and beliefs. It's ironic to me that it seems fairly obvious that you climbed into the "religious" arena to infuse it with your politics and warped ideologies on justice and righteousness.

It's amazing to me how easily you deny Jesus' own words when he Himself spoke that marriage is for a man and woman to enjoy. It's amazing how you can trivialize the fact that Solomon's Song of Songs was written in the context of a heterosexual, MARRIED couple.

It's amazing how you deny that most abortions carried out today have nothing to do with reproductive health and everything to do with convenience and the devaluing of human life in its most vulnerable and dependent form.

When Jesus spoke that it would be better to have a millstone tied around your neck than cause one of the little ones who believe in Him to stumble, He was talking about you.

Rachel said...

Unfortunately, I was traveling this past weekend, so I wasn't able to catch this broadcast. Will there be a transcript available soon?


Debra W. Haffner said...

Rachel and others, you can listen to a pod cast of "State of Belief"...go to, click on "Listen" and they'll give you exact instructions on how to download this from ITunes.

Thanks for asking.

Rev. Debra