Columbus--�Does the church need the GLBT community and does the GLBT community need the church?�
This was a question posed by Rev. Phil Hart at a forum on homosexuality and the church hosted by the North Congregational United Church of Christ.
The April 25 forum, which drew about 100 participants, was led by Hart, with David T. Ball and Dr. Leslie Kern.
Hart spoke from personal experience about being gay and being defrocked by the Methodist church.
Currently he is the executive director of Sanctorum and the chaplain of Stonewall Columbus.
Ball, a lawyer and theologian, is associate director of the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation and is also chair of the Ohio Bar Association�s Access to Justice Committee. He spoke about how the Bible has been used and misused to create a climate of homophobia and radical hate against gays. He gave a historical perspective on how the Bible had been manipulated in certain instances to further a certain anti-gay agenda starting in the first century. He also spoke about the problems of translation and mistranslation in the Bible that allow for a rhetoric of hate towards the GLBT community.
Kearn spoke about the psychological and social resonances of homophobia. A clinical psychologist, she argued that the heterosexual community �has a number of sources of disquiet within it.�
Her contention is that heterosexuals who are homophobic choose to attack gays rather than deal with the inherent failings of their own community. She drew a powerful analogy by saying that with the rise of Hitler in Europe, Germany didn�t want to deal with its humiliation in World War I, it didn�t want to deal with its own economic disasters. So instead, according to Kearn, they took out their dissatisfaction with themselves on the Jews.
Similarly, she said, �There is a direct correlation between heterosexual dis-ease and homophobia and bigotry towards gay people.�
The audience asked the three panelists a series of questions ranging from issues of Biblical accuracy to how the church moves forward in an era of increasing gay visibility and harsher attacks to try and keep them as second-class citizens.
Hart argued that GLBT community members should seek out churches where there is full acceptance of them, not mild tolerance or half-hearted openness to them.
Ball said that it was a travesty that GLBT folk often don�t have churches to call their own when they need comforting and a safe place to seek hope.
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