Gays', lesbians' role in religion discussed

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Representatives from a wide array of religions spoke to a group of gay and lesbian advocates Tuesday night, some speaking of complicated relationships with homosexuality, but all calling for compassion and acceptance.

Rev. Denise Cordova, the lesbian pastor of Light of the Soul United Church of Christ in Reno, said her church has led the way in the Civil Rights Movement, ordaining a gay pastor as early as the 1970s.

"We were the first mainline denomination to ordain a woman and an African-American," she said. "In a lot of churches, we hear everyone is welcome, but after you enter into the church doors, there are asterisks at the bottom with small writing that says except for some people."

She said the Bible is not meant to be "used as a bat," nor to be taken literally and does not discriminate against homosexuality.

While half of the six representatives on the panel at the Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays meeting at St. Paul's Lutheran Church spoke of complete equality, for some of the more mainstream Christian churches, it is more complex. Rev. Jeff Paul, pastor of St. Peter's Episcopal Church asserted that in this area, "The Episcopal Church is a mess."

Father Chuck Durante, of St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church in Carson City, explained the conflict.

"The Roman Catholic Church's position is quite different than what you've heard," he said. "But in some respects, it's quite the same."

He said Catholicism views homosexuality as morally neutral, but draws the line at sexual activity.

"Roman Catholic tradition does not perform or accept same-sex unions, so put into context for our teaching, sexual activity is reserved for between a man and a woman," he explained. "To make that distinction relegates all people who are gay, lesbian, transgender, etc., to celibacy. That, I think, is where the tension lies, and, for me, great sadness."

He said the "grace" in the situation is that conscience is regarded as sacred and each person must decide how to live in accordance with God's will for him or her.

J. Farrell Cafferata spoke not as a leader, but as a convert to reformed Judaism. She and her wife were married in 2002 and sanctioned by the church.

Although, she said, she would not be accepted into more conservative sects, in the reformed church, she will always be welcome.

"We just want to walk in our faith and walk in beauty and be accepted as who we are," she said.

PFLAG is an organization made up of people working to promote the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Meetings are held the first Tuesday of every month.

For more information, contact secretary Pam Graber at 220-4151.


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