Recently the Cleveland news was filled with the effort by a group of pastors advocating the revocation of a domestic-partner registry, which offers rights to not just gay couples, but heterosexual partnerships as well. They needed 1000 signatures and did not receive those, but did show themselves to be somewhat ignorant of the cause they were fighting. Of course, they used the old biblical passages in support of their crusade against gay rights.
The Cleveland newspaper is often blessed with the voice of reason in Rev. Kenneth W. Chalker, the senior pastor of First United Methodist Church of Cleveland. (makes me proud to be a Methodist) He wrote an excellent article on the confusion between religion and faith and how much damage has been done in the name of religion.
Merriam-Webster dictionary gives two definitions of religion as : 1.scrupulous conformity or 2.a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs and practices.
Faith is defined as 1. a firm belief in something for which there is no proof or 2. a belief and trust in and loyalty to God.
See the difference?
The following quotes are from Rev. Chalker's article:
"Pastors who would oppose a domestic-partner registry and work to prohibit any public recognition of committed, loving relationships beyond the confines of a particular religious belief are participating in an act of spiritual tyranny and civic injustice."
It is not unlike the pastors 150 years ago who proclaimed the Bible's endorsement of slavery as a legitmate enterprise, argued that there was no valid marriage between slaves, and therefore no reason to recognize loving relationships between slaves or recognize, in a legal way, their children."
"It is not unlike a number of leading pastors in Birmingham, Alabama who joined together in 1963 to give biblically endorsed reasons why the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was out of line and moving too fast with his advocacy for civil rights and the elimination of legal segregation based on race and skin color. It is all the result of confusing religion with faith. Religion, at its worst, has nothing to do with affirming God in life or advocating and making a just society. Religion is a matter of cornering power, categorizing sinners, gentiles, and infidels - all the while arrogantly defending man-made, theological doctrines, catechisms, and all-too-frequent institutional nonsense. It is a terrible trivial pursuit."
Rev. Chalker goes on to suggest that it is taking the Lord's name in vain by using God's name for the religious sanction for our human prejudices. I believe taking the Lord's name in vain is one of the commandments - sexual orientation didn't make the top ten.