REFOCUS BY GERARD VELDHOVEN
We are fully aware of society’s needs and for us to be equal to all others. I assure you that it remains an issue that looms large on a world-wide scale. However, we do not have to travel abroad to find inequality practised by some of the churches.
In Fredericton, New Brunswick, a Wesleyan pastor relieved a volunteer from his duties in a youth program not long ago because of his sexual orientation. This is the latest in seemingly determined religious organizations not to embrace those who are who are gay.
The contradictions are as follows. Pastor Mark Brewer informed Colin Briggs, 20, that he must stop his volunteer work. However, he is welcome to attend church services. During an interview the pastor insists that “the church works hard to ensure they are reaching and loving everyone.”
According to another volunteer, sexual orientation should not influence how the church treats people. Caitlin Sowers, 20, is quoted as saying, “I don’t think it is right to allow people’s stigma to influence the churches’ decision, the church should not be influenced by hatred.”
We hear many such incidents. Recently, the Archbishop of Canterbury announced that the Church of England owes gays an apology for discrimination. However, same-sex marriage will not be permitted. Pope Francis said a few weeks ago that gays must be embraced, but do not make it an issue that discrimination is alive and well. He said, “The teaching of the church is clear.”
Sweeping it under the carpet seems to be the solution. The Catholic church, like many others, continues to deny full access to equal treatment and equal rights within the organizations. However, consider this: Many churches are experiencing rapidly declining attendance and closures are a common occurrence in the western world. I would suggest that is due, in part, to archaic doctrine and an unwillingness to accept people for who they are as human beings.
Contradictory statements by church officials will only incense the population and in time will see a further decrease in church attendance. Many do not seem to be influenced by their leaders, as in the past. Be it religious organizations, schools, in our homes, or in business, discrimination is simply wrong, regardless of its source. Comments and info: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gerard Veldhoven is a longtime activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears Wednesdays in The News.