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Religious Tolerance logo

Teaching about Homosexuality in North American Schools

Topic 3:
Positions Taken By Various Faith Groups:

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Positions taken:

Christians outnumber the membership of each of the smaller organized religions in North America by at least 40 times.

In a 2015-MAY report, the Pew Research Center reported that in the United States:

"Between 2007 and 2014, the Christian share of the population fell from 78.4% to 70.6%, driven mainly by declines among mainline Protestants and Catholics.

Pew reported that the U.S. adults who are not affiliated with a religious group experienced the greatest growth in numbers. We refer to the unaffiliated as NOTAs (NOT Affiliated). Most of the rest of the world calls them NONES, which we feel is an unfortunate choice of terms, because NONES and NUNS are homonyms: words that sound the same but have different meanings. This leads to a lot of confusion during lectures and on TV and radio.

The number of adherents to non-Christian faiths also increased.

Thus, at this time, the relationship between homosexuality and religion in the U.S. and Canada is largely the between LGBT community and Christian groups. However, the influence of Christians and Christian groups is slipping.

Within each major religion, there are conservative, mainline and liberal faith groups. For example:

bullet Probably the most liberal organized religion in North America, the Unitarian Universalist Association resolved the "homosexual issue" many years ago. It is a theologically diverse group with historical Christian roots. The group promotes equal rights for gays and lesbians, welcomes them into their congregations, and ordains them as clergy.

bullet Religiously liberal Christian groups, like the United Church of Christ, and the United Church of Canada have also resolved the "homosexual issue."  They support equal rights for the LGBT community, welcomes them as members, and ordain them as clergy.


Mainline denominations, like the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the United Methodist Church have been experiencing major internal conflicts over the issue. Disagreements are deep and appear irresolvable, at least in the short term. There is a great deal of impassioned debate and some dialog. Fault lines within the denominations may appear on many levels:

bullet Young people may take a more liberal view; older members are often more conservative.
bullet There are often geographical divisions, with north eastern and western congregations being more liberal and southern groups being more conservative.
bullet A liberal/conservative split is seen between urban and rural areas.

bullet There is a major division between individuals who look upon homosexuals as a group "out there," and those who personally know a gay or lesbian as a close friend or relative. The latter are far more accepting of sexual minorities.

bullet Religiously conservative groups, like the Southern Baptist Convention, the Assemblies of God, and other Fundamentalist and Evangelical Christian denominations, have continued to hold negative views towards the LGBT community. Some commit significant effort to defeat hate-crimes and human rights legislation that would protect gays and lesbians in accommodation and employment. In the past, they strongly opposed legislation that allowed same-sex couples to marry. Some denominations regard homosexuality as a special type of sin. Some teach, on the basis of 1 Corinthians 6:9, that all sexually active gays and lesbians are prohibited from inheriting the Kingdom of God (heaven). They refuse membership and ordination to sexually active gays and lesbians. They have no expectation of changing their policy in the future.

Some gays and lesbians remain partially or completely in the "closet". They often view the church as the last place that they would want to "come out", because they would  expect to be rejected and experience homophobia. This is a Catch 22 situation, because the most effective way of changing a heterosexual's beliefs about homosexuality is for them to befriend a homosexual.

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More information on homosexuality is available in other parts of this web site:

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Site navigation: Home > Conflict > Homosexuality > Religious impact > Teaching > here

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still valid today.

  1. L.R. Holben, "What Christians think about homosexuality: Six representative viewpoints," Bibal Press, (1999). Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store.

  2. There is no consensus on the total number of Muslims in the U.S. Estimates range from 0.5% to over 2%.

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Copyright © 2005 to 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2005-MAY-8
Latest update: 2017-JAN-23
Author: B.A. Robinson

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