Thursday, July 12, 2007

I play clarinet in a gay/straight alliance concert band. Last night, one of the trombone players showed up wearing a t-shirt from Soulforce. I didn't get the chance to ask her about it, but I was very curious, so I went to their website this morning. The header on their website states that their goal is to create: "Freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious & political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance." The mission statement goes on to elaborate their points:

Spiritual violence is the misuse of religion to sanction the condemnation and rejection of any of God’s children.

Misusing religion and/or God to support society’s bias against sexual and gender minorities also inappropriately justifies psychological, legal and physical violence against them. Some zealots blatantly articulate spiritual violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people when they scream "God Hates Fags."

Mainline churches may be less blatant and more sophisticated, but they are no less guilty of spiritual violence. It is just as violent spiritually when pastors and parents—quoting scripture—condemn and reject members of their congregation and their family. When this happens, God’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender children also feel condemned and rejected by their Creator as well.

Based on their mission statement, this site is definitely targeting people who are both homosexual/transgender and also struggling with their religious beliefs. And although I'm an atheist, I think this is a worthwhile organization. This group is attempting to do some serious good in the religious sector of society. Although spiritual people themselves, they recognize that there is a lot of hypocrisy in religion. And I think it's great that they're making an active effort to break down the anti-gay attitude in many churches today. My particular stance as an atheist is that I don't necessarily want to "convert" people to atheism, just as I don't want religious people to try and convert me. What I want to see is people being critical and questioning of their beliefs (this goes for atheists, too). And this organization is doing just that.

I think Soulforce has the potential to do a lot of good in the world. And something tells me that they wouldn't mind help from atheists or agnostics; I'm willing to be that they're a pretty tolerant group. Although this a religiously-oriented group, I think their goals to increase tolerance for homosexual/transgender people will help pave the way for other forms of tolerance as well.