WESTPORT -– As civil rights advocates gather in Washington to demand equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans in the public square, the Religious Institute has introduced a new resource to promote the full inclusion of LGBT persons in the religious sphere.
Acting Out Loud is an online guide for clergy and religious leaders who want to move beyond welcome toward a wider embrace and deeper involvement of LGBT persons and their families in congregational life. The guide provides background on the diversity of the LGBT population, links to resources across a range of Christian, Jewish and Unitarian Universalist traditions, and ideas and approaches recommended by leading clergy, theologians and advocates.
The guide is available at www.actingoutloudguide.org.
“Churches and synagogues have made extraordinary efforts to welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender congregants, but even the most welcoming congregations can do more to fully embrace LGBT individuals and families as full and valued members of the community,” said Rev. Debra W. Haffner, executive director of the Religious Institute.
A survey released by the Religious Institute in April found near-unanimous support among progressive clergy for LGBT equality in civil society and faith communities. However, the survey also revealed that support did not always translate into preaching, youth and adult education programs, support groups or advocacy efforts serving LGBT congregants.
Acting Out Loud offers guidance for creating ministries and policies that support the diverse needs of LGBT persons, addressing sexuality issues in congregations, leading a congregation through a formal welcoming process, and speaking out on behalf of LGBT concerns.
The guide debuts as LGBT advocates from across the country prepare for the National Equality March in Washington, D.C., Oct. 10-11. It coincides also with the recent introduction in Congress of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would provide civil rights protections for sexual orientation and gender identity, and the Respect for Marriage Act of 2009, a proposed repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) passed in 1996.
“As the nation continues to debate LGBT equality, religious communities and people of faith must indeed ‘act out loud’ in the name of justice,” Rev. Haffner said.
The Religious Institute is among more than 200 faith-based and secular organizations that have endorsed the National Equality March. The March is expected to attract tens of thousands of activists and allies to Washington to demand “equal protection in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states.”
The Religious Institute, based in Westport, is a nonprofit, multifaith organization dedicated to advocating for sexual health, education and justice in faith communities and society. More than 4,800 clergy and religious leaders, representing more than 50 faith traditions, are part of the Religious Institute’s national network.