Thursday, November 04, 2010

USU Prop 8 Panel: Seven religion's views on gay marriage

A PANEL OF REPRESENTATIVES from seven religious affiliations in Cache Valley assembled to discuss the many views of gay marriage. The religions represented include Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, Judaism, Evangelicals, Hinduism and Buddhism.

    "Currently, the Episcopal Diocese of Utah permits the blessing of same gender unions, but not every Episcopal diocese in this country permits them," Springer said. "Unlike, for example, the Roman Catholic and LDS churches, Episcopalians have no central figure or group that is our doctrinal authority."

Adjunct assistant professor of philosophy Harrison Kleiner read from Pope John Paul II's book "The Theology of the Body." ... according to the Roman Catholic faith, homosexuality, sodomy and contraception are all equally considered evil because they all go against the natural purpose of sex, which is procreation.

    Pastor Eldon Peterson of the Cache Valley Bible Fellowship said from an Evangelical Biblical point of view, homosexuality is a sexual sin like many other sexual sins, but his church is open to anyone looking for help.

    Reformed Jewish representative Rabbi Ilana Schwartzman said that unlike the other panelists' denominations, Judaism is about this life. She said that salvation is not based in decisions regarding gay marriage.

    "We have to love each other and recognize that God resides within all of us,"       

    Schwartzman said. Like most religious denominations, she said that reformed Judaism is different from its conservative and orthodox counterparts.

    Schwartzman said the world of reformed Judaism is open to observing and condoning gay marriage as long as it follows along with secular laws.

    Gastroenterologist Vikram Garg, a practicing member of the Hindu faith, gave a short background of his religion and its history. Hinduism has no one religious leader that will take a stand on the subject of homosexuality.

    "Love, in Hinduism, means a devotion between two people, whether it is romantic or platonic," Garg said. "There's really no information in religious scriptures about marriage and same sex."

    English professor Michael Sowder, a representative of the Buddhist community, said his faith welcomes gay and lesbian members of the community as it would welcome anybody. Homosexuality is not a matter of religious debate, according to Western Buddhist philosophies.

    "Compassion is the ultimate ideal in Buddhism," Sowder said. "Why is sexuality such a highly charged issue in religion? I think that's why we have this focus on it, it freaks us out."

    "We endeavor to be a safe place and to be welcoming," Springer said, of her Episcopal faith. "We're not perfect, we don't always succeed, but that's our goal." Springer said she felt like she was speaking for the entire panel when she said dialogs among panels like this one are necessary for moving forward. ''

Excerpted from Panel shows seven sides of gay marriage dispute by By DAN SMITH, Utah Statesman

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