Thursday, August 26, 2010

Denominations Support Sexual Justice

I thought you’d enjoy this report from Juliana Mecera, the Religious Institute’s 2010 summer intern.

This summer I researched seventeen different Jewish and Christian denominations, exploring their policies and programs on sexuality education, reproductive rights, women’s programs, and the full-inclusion of LGBT persons—and was pleased to find that denominations are active and even vibrant in engaging and responding to sexuality concerns. As I met—over the phone and in person—with many church and synagogue leaders, I appreciated their familiarity with sexuality issues and was encouraged to learn that many had worked with the extensive resources of the Religious Institute to improve the quality of sexual information and care they provide to their congregants.

Impressively, all of these denominations (see list below) are active in at least one of these areas pertaining to sexuality! As children begin school and religious education courses start-up again, I was especially attuned to educational issues. A large majority—14 of these 17 denominations—have either developed their own sexuality education curricula or promote another denomination’s resources. Furthermore, 11 of these denominations support
sexual education being taught in public schools.

Support for the full-inclusion of LGBT persons is fairly strong among this group as a whole. Ten have an official policy for full-inclusion, and of the 7 that do not, 3 have unofficial organizations that work for the full-inclusion of their LGBT members and offer them support. Unfortunately, even those denominations which formally support LGBT persons often lack an official denominational office to help congregations become welcoming and affirming. Even more striking is that 14 denominations—all but 3—have a national women’s program, and 11 denominations have an official statement that advocates for reproductive rights.

It’s truly heartening to see this amount of engagement by religious communities in sexuality-related issues. The numbers of these prominent denominations, however, indicate that there is still work to be done, particularly in advocating for LGBT inclusion. I am thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to further this work at the Religious Institute this summer.

• African Methodist Episcopal Church
• Alliance of Baptists
• American Baptist Church
• Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
• Church of the Brethren
• Evangelical Lutheran Church of America
• The Episcopal Church (USA)
• The Fellowship
• Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
• Metropolitan Community Churches
• Presbyterian Church (USA)
• Reformed Church in America
• United Church of Christ
• The United Methodist Church
• Union for Reform Judaism
• United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
• Unitarian Universalist Association

Juliana M. Mecera


Anna said...

So, which groups have an official policy for LBGTQ inclusion? Why ambiguate this list? It's obvious some of these listed are grossly homophobic.


Anonymous said...

Why were more conservative groups like the Southern Baptist Convention, Seventh-day Adventists and Pentecostal groups excluded from your research?

Anonymous said...

Dave, go to our web site and check out our denominational database, which includes statements from all of these. It's at This summer, we wanted to evaluate what denominations that are more open on these issues are actually doing. Anna, check out the denomination database as well. The denominations listed in Juliana's report range from those that are fully inclusive and welcoming (like the UUA, UCC, and RAC) to those that are continuing to struggle on these issues although almost all have some group working on full inclusion.