Finding religion over the rainbow
Posted Nov. 2, 2007

Andres Rivera
Web Editor

Among the several activities the Housing and Residential Life hosted as a part of diversity programming and Pride Week, “Faith – Somewhere Over the Rainbow?” created an open forum for interested parties wanting to know how faith plays into the lives of the homosexual community.

The open forum was held late on Oct. 22 in the chapel where approximately 20 people gathered to hear the panel of four discuss the issue that is rarely raised.

“No one has ever done something to do with homosexuality and religion,” said Ashley Joseph, a senior psychology major and co-coordinator of the event. “It was a big deal for us.”

Joseph and Adam Carranza introduced the panel, which consisted of Zandra Wagoner, assistant dean of undergraduate programs; Richard Rose, assistant professor of religion and philosophy; Deborah Roberts, campus minister; and Justin Rodriguez, assistant professor of communication studies at Loyola Marymount University and 2000 alumnus of the University of La Verne.

Each began by addressing the conflict between religion and homosexuality and discussing specific passages found in the Bible that condemns homosexuality.

Wagoner focused not on the passages like Genesis 19, Leviticus 18-20, Romans 1:21-31, 1 Timothy 1,9-10 and 1 Corinthians 6,9-10, but other more positive teachings of the scriptures and how they should take precedence over the negative ones.

“I’m uninterested in these passages,” Wagoner said. “How does homophobia hurt the church? GLBT are offering a model of courage. Something that the Church can learn from.”

Rodriguez spoke on his struggle of being gay and Christian.

“I was feeling that I was evil,” Rodriguez said. “There’s a presumption that denies me my spirituality.”

Rose and Roberts called for a broader understanding of the Bible.

Roberts said placing the scriptures into the context at the time it was written is a better way of understanding the scriptures.

“All the authors had their context,” Roberts said. “They were pressured were protecting small groups of believers. It’s important to know those types of things.”

Many of the scriptures that condemn homosexuality can be debunked when taken into context.

For example the story of the two cities, Sodom and Gomorrah, being punished is more geared at punishing their inhospitality.

After some opening statements were made and a couple of prepared questions, audience members asked questions.

There were also anonymous questions presented to the panel, ranging from what churches would be more tolerant of homosexuals to who can students talk to on campus about coming out.

“It’s nice to see that there are people of my faith that are homosexual. It’s comforting,” Eric Almanza, a junior art major said.

The panel brought up the idea of religion coming into conflict with the GLBT for political reasons more than anything else.

Rodriguez said that because of this, the GLBT community tends to reject their spiritual nature.

“It leads the population away from God, which is not healthy,” Rodriguez said.

Andres Rivera can be reached at

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