April 29, 2019
Historically, religion and LGBTQ-identified people and communities have had a complicated relationship. However, over the last several decades more denominations, congregations and individuals have come to support and respect the full humanity of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people. Across America, LGBTQ individuals are finding allies within their places of worship, and many denominations have become LGBTQ-inclusive. Religious communities are now truly becoming places of celebration, healing and hope for the LGBTQ community.
Urooj Arshad, Director at Advocates for Youth, Bishop Yvette Flunder, Ordained Minister of United Church of Christ, Arielle Gingold, Deputy Washington Director of Bend the Arc, and Bishop Gene Robinson, former Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, joined together for a discussion on how faith leaders are trying to change the hearts and minds of all Americans through advocacy, understanding, and love. Drew Goins, Assistant Editor in Opinions, The Washington Post, moderated this discussion.
This event was cosponsored by the John Brademas Center of New York University and the National LGBTQ Task Force.
Urooj Arshad is the Director, International LGBTQ Youth Health and Rights Programs at Advocates for Youth, where she builds the capacity of organizations working on sexual and reproductive health and rights in the global south. She has also designed a project that addresses the reproductive and sexual health needs of Muslim youth. She is the co-founder of the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity, which addresses the intersectional impact of islamophobia, homophobia, and transphobia. Urooj has presented at the International HIV/AIDS Conferences; the European Science Foundation’s conference on Religion, Gender and Human Rights; the White House’s LGBT Pride and Heritage Event; the National Press Club, Capitol Hill, the State Department, Funding Forward and at national convenings of Muslim leaders including at (re)Presenting American Muslims: Broadening the Conversation organized by Harvard University’s Alwaleed Islamic Studies Program.
Urooj was a member of the Center for American Progress’ Women’s Health Leadership Network and its Faith and Reproductive Justice Institute and a fellow with the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute. She is on the board of the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership and the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. Urooj is the recipient of the Latino GLBT History Project’s annual Mujeres en el Movimiento award; National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance’s Community Catalyst Award and the Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition’s We Speak award. Urooj served on the U.S delegation to the 59th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
Bishop Yvette Flunder is a native San Franciscan and third generation preacher with roots in the Church of God in Christ. Bishop Flunder is an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ and holds both masters and doctorate degrees in Ministry from the Pacific School of Religion and the San Francisco Theological Seminary, respectively. In 2003, she was appointed Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, a multi-denominational coalition of over 56 churches and faith-based organizations from all over the world.
Bishop Flunder is a trustee and adjunct professor at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California. She is an active voice for the Religion Council of the Human Rights Campaign, as well as for the National Black Justice Coalition. Bishop Flunder is a highly sought after preacher and religious educator as evidenced by her having spoken at divinity schools nationwide including those at Duke, Yale , Drew, and the New York Theological Seminary. She is the author of Where the Edge Gathers: A Theology of Homiletic Radical Inclusion, published by Pilgrim Press. In addition to her memorable sermons, Bishop Flunder is also known for her beautiful singing voice, made famous through her gospel recordings with Walter Hawkins and the Family, the City of Refuge Choir and Chanticleer.
For more than a decade, Arielle Gingold has advocated for social justice and progressive policies in Washington, D.C. Currently, Arielle serves as the Deputy Washington Director of Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, and has been with the organization since 2013. In this capacity, Arielle represents the organization on Capitol Hill, at political events, and in diverse coalitions on issues ranging from immigration to voting rights to religious freedom. Arielle also spent a year as the National Conference Director for Bend the Arc’s first national conference, Pursuing Justice 2016, which brought more than 600 progressive Jews and allies in D.C.
Prior to joining Bend the Arc, Arielle served as the Deputy Director for Public Policy of Interfaith Alliance, developing and executing advocacy strategies on all areas of Interfaith Alliance’s work to protect religious freedom. She also participated in the yearlong Eisendrath Legislative Assistant program at the Religious Action Center (RAC) of Reform Judaism where her public policy portfolio included the separation of church and state, civil liberties, education, and the death penalty. Born and raised in Jupiter, Florida, Arielle graduated magna cum laude from The George Washington University with a B.A. in Political Science.
Bishop Gene Robinson is the Vice President of Religion at the Chautauqua Institution. Previously, he was elected Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire on June 7, 2003, after having served 28 years in that diocese. He is the first openly gay man to be elected bishop in the high church traditions of Christendom.
Bishop Robinson was invited by President Barack Obama to give the invocation at the inaugural ceremonies at the Lincoln Memorial in 2009. He also served as a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC. Bishop Robinson continues as an activist in the area of full civil/human rights for the LGBT community, in the U.S. and abroad.
Bishop Robinson is also the author of two books— In the Eye of the Storm: Swept to the Center by God (Seabury, 2008) and God Believes in Love: Straight Talk about Gay Marriage (Knopf, 2012)— and is the subject of two feature-length documentaries, For the Bible Tells Me So (2006) and Love Free or Die (2012).
Follow Gene on Twitter @BishopGRobinson
Drew Goins is an assistant editor in The Washington Post's Opinions section, where he writes and solicits columns on a variety of topics but with a special focus on the intersection of religion and sexuality. He is a member of the Association of LGBTQ Journalists, as well as of Foundry United Methodist Church here in Washington.
Follow Drew on Twitter @drewlgoins
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