African-American Gay and Lesbianism Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Black Church and Homosexuality

There are plenty of reasons why the black church refuses to accept homosexuality amongst its patrons. The African-American people have been one of the most oppressed races in America. They felt separate from the rest of the Americans due to the color of their skin. The African-American community has struggled with a lot of racism. In order to allow their society to survive and remain united they turned to prayer. The church was their salvation and helped them deal with oppression and racism. It was a sacred ground for them to heal their pain and regain their respect.

Black Church and their opposition

The black church knows that homosexuality rips the social fabric apart. They feel that gay people are not able to reproduce. They feel it's a threat to the survival of society and can also bring innocent children into the fold. It is a very depressing and a sad lifestyle with no hope for the future. It can cause a lot of diseases such as AIDS. They feel that it undermines religion and threatens families.

According to Lornet Turnbull, black churches are worried about the impact of about gay marriages on the already-fractured black family. She says that nearly 70% of children do not live in traditional two-parent households, according to the 2000 U.S. Census. (The overall percentage of U.S. children in two-married-parent families in 2003 was 69%.) One out of every two black children is born out of wedlock to a single mother, the census data also show. (One out of every three births in the U.S. is out of wedlock.)

According to the Pew Research Center poll published in July of 2003 a majority of African-Americans believed homosexuality to be a lifestyle choice (58%) and objected to gay marriage (64%).

General view

A lot of people in the black community are homophobic. However there are also a lot of people who lead double lives. They condemn homosexuality and practice it themselves. There are a lot of black people who are very rigid and outspoken in their sentiments against the gay community. The African-American community runs its life according to the teachings of the bible. They argue that the Bible clearly condemns homosexuality. In that way they have sanctioned it a big sin and judge the gay community as big sinners.

The black gay community feels that the church is very biased against its own people. During the African slave trade era, White slaveholders misinterpreted the bible to claim that God had allowed slavery and that black people were a curse. It was fortunate that the black people read the Holy Scriptures themselves and got to know the truth. The gay community feels that the black church is unnecessarily harsh about homosexuality. They feel that the holy scriptures aren't clear about homosexuality and have no valid interpretation.

The Black Church has no tolerance against homosexuality. It believes that homosexuality is a sin and it's the wrong sexual lifestyle. Some people believe that the black church has always been open to gays and lesbians. According to Rev. Renee McCoy, this is isn't true. Renee feels that despite a gays and lesbians presence in the black church, they are not welcome. They are simply tolerated and not accepted for what they are. The church does not pay any heed to them. Sometimes they try to reform them. If they don't follow through they are asked to leave the congregation.

Renee feels that the church is a symbol of strength for the black community. She also feels that the church should not shun gays and lesbians. She feels that God loves all people unconditionally. According to her the black church should not call itself a church as it is not reaching out to heal and liberate people. This is one reason why a lot of gay people don't feel like they belong to one church. They have been alienated by the black church, which does not welcome them.

The Rev. Jesse Barr, pastor of the Macedonia Baptist Church in the Hill District, says of gay members of his congregation: "I embrace them as I would adulterers or drug addicts. I love them as people, but not the lifestyle."

A lot of African-American gays and lesbians have left the refuge of their black churches. This is the same church, which helped them lead the fight against slavery and segregation. They don't feel comfortable in their churches. Their view is that black church leaders who fought against discrimination are discriminating against gays and lesbians. The black church leaders are clear about their views on homosexuality. They believe that it's a major sin. Black church leaders also feel that gay activists shouldn't associate the civil rights struggle with gay rights.

They feel that the gay rights campaign should not share the legacy of the civil rights movement. Keith Boykin (co-founder of the National Black Justice Coalition) feels that black people are very protective of the civil rights movement. He states that there are gay groups who claim that the legacy of the civil rights movement is the same as their struggles. A lot of gay activists want to use religion to justify their rights for marriage. They want to use it in the same manner as it was used by African-Americans for their rights in the twentieth century.

Church leaders feel otherwise. They think that comparing civil rights with gay rights is an insult to the pain and suffering of black people. It is also an insult to the memory of the black civil rights leaders who worked hard, suffered and sacrificed their lives only to have people sleeping with the same sex.

Mychal Massie, member of a black think tank aggress with these views. He feels that gays should not wrap themselves in the banner of civil rights. He claims that it is a mockery of the civil rights movement and a big disgrace. He says that the civil rights movement is different from the gay rights movement. According to him, the gays and lesbians did not have to suffer the way African-Americans had to suffer during the civil rights movement.

According to Brendan Saunders, a church planet at the freedom church in Baltimore it is a big disgrace for the black gays and lesbians to take the example of years of oppression enforced on them and use it as a basis to justify their own sins. African-American church leaders believe that gay rights and the same sex marriage is not the 21st century equivalent of the 20th century struggle for civil rights. It is very offensive and an erroneous concept.

E.W. McCall Sr., pastor of St. Stephen Baptist Church in La Puente, California quotes "I am intensely offended," said. "To place homosexuality's sin rights movement on the same platform as the struggle of African-Americans for civil rights is appalling."

McCall also feels that the gays and lesbians lead an abnormal life. He quotes that it is biblically wrong and theologically unsound. "

The black church states that Leviticus 18:22 says homosexuality is an abomination. They say that God has set limits for people and drawn the line. If people cross that line, then they will invoke the wrath of God. They feel that people are doing a great injustice to themselves. They are reaping the wages of sin and will suffer because of that. It is unfair to compare the civil rights movement with the gay rights cause. This was because the civil rights movement was about a person's race, gender and things over which they had no choice. At the same time homosexuality is the choice a person makes himself. Some people claim that homosexuality is genetic. However the black church feels that it can be cured if they take refuge in the House of the Lord and ask for redemption. They need to get it out of their system and cleanse their soul.

Some of the black church leaders have no compassion for the gay and lesbian community. They condemn them outright and don't have any empathy for their human feelings. The black church does not want to extend any Christian love towards them. Not all church leaders support that view. Joseph Lyles, pastor of Ft. Foote Baptist Church in Fort Washington, Md., feels that that the church should help the gay and lesbian community. He feels that these people have broken hearts and need the love of Jesus Christ to meet their needs. He also feels that they should not be ridiculed, as it would deepen the hurt.

However he agrees with the rest of the church leaders when he says that there is no equation between the civil rights movement and the gay rights movement. Lyles feels that civil rights are a God given right to liberty. He says that homosexuals already have those rights. They don't need to ask for rights. At the same time he feels that there is a lot of hope for the gay community, as God does not…

Sources Used in Document:


1. Black Pastors Bridle at Gay Marriage, Christine McCarthy McMorris, Religion in the news, 2004

2. Religious gays press case for equal rights, Joe Crea, Washington Blade, November, 2004

3. The failure of the black church, Rev. Renee McCoy, Black Light, 2004

4. Hostility rules amongst black congregations, Atlanta journal and constitution, 2003

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