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Clegg: Revising religion

BY CHRIS CLEGG | APRIL 16, 2015 5:00 AM

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When a student at a small-town Catholic high school in Iowa penned a letter to his father revealing his homosexuality, the father, being away on a business trip, responded with a simple text that read: “You are still a great son and I am proud of you.” Outsports.com’s article of the high-school senior details not only how he was given unconditional support from his parents but how this support seemed to be duplicated by friends, students, and even his wrestling coaches at school.

While this is a very encouraging example of tolerance within Catholicism toward the LGBT Community, the opposite side of that spectrum, intolerance, is still very much practiced today.

According to the New York Daily News, Tyler McCubbin, a substitute-teacher and track coach who was familiar around Dowling Catholic High in Des Moines was denied a full-time position because of he identified as homosexual.

The stark contrast between the latter and the former examples is noteworthy because it highlights a fundamental disagreement within Catholicism. While some would cite the Old Testament as a defense of anti-gay religious doctrine in the Roman Catholic Church, others would argue that the church’s values of faith, love, and devotion are all that is required to share in a dominion with God.

The lack of consensus within these local Catholic communities has even made its way onto the world stage, with Pope Francis’ famous “who am I to judge” statement in July 2013 that was, well, the most tolerant statement a pope has ever made on homosexuality.

So, with a seemingly more tolerant head of the church, as well as with a slew of gay-rights victories in the past few years advancing LGBT liberties, my question is: should the Catholic Church revise its stance on barring homosexuality from its religion?

First of all, the freedom of the religious to believe what they want, whether that be in an omniscient god or a flying spaghetti monster, is one of the quintessential liberties that makes America great, and by no means am I trying to say that this religion should practice A or that this religion should practice B. What I am more concerned with is the question of whether religions can evolve and how they would go about doing so.

One contemporary example of fundamental change within a religion can be seen through the Church of Jesus Chris of Latter-Day Saints, the Mormon Church. According to the New York Times, “[Brigham Young] described black people as cursed with dark skin as punishment for Cain’s murder of his brother.” While this stance was diluted with time and social progress, it wasn’t until 1978 that the president of the church released a declaration “… extending priesthood and temple blessings to all worthy male members of the Church.”

Through this example, therefore, we can see that religious doctrine is indeed revisable. Given the sheer length of time it took for the Mormon Church to change its stance on who can and cannot be priests, along with who issued the statement changing the doctrine, we can see that time, authoritative support, and social progress all play a role in revising religion.

Given the social progress that the LGBT community has seen across the past few years, combined with a new-generation reading of the Bible, perhaps the only thing missing to revise Catholic doctrine is the pope’s unconditional support for those that support his institution.


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