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social sciences

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-E  F-L  M-Z

     
Gay and Lesbian Churches and Synagogues  
 
page: 1  2  3  

Gay Synagogues

The first gay-specific synagogue, Beth Chaim Chadashim, was founded in Los Angeles in 1972, and is still active, with hundreds of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and heterosexual members. Since the Union for Reform Judaism (formerly the Union of American Hebrew Congregations) offers both full membership and the rabbinate to gay and lesbian congregants, few gay-specific synagogues have been organized. The World Congress of GLBT Jews is comprised of 65 organizations in the United States, Europe, Latin America, and Israel, for instance, but most are social, support, and political organizations, not shuls dedicated to prayer and worship.

There are about thirty gay-specific synagogues in North America. Among the best known of these congregations are New York City's Congregation Beth Simchat Torah (founded in 1973), South Florida's Congregation Etz Chaim (1974), Philadelphia's Congregation Beth Ahavah (1975), Chicago's Congregation Or Chadesh (1976), San Francisco's Congregation Sha'ar Zahav (1977), and Toronto's Congregation Keshet Shalom (1978).

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The gay-specific synagogues differ in significant ways from both their mainstream Jewish counterparts and from gay Christian denominations.

Since openly gay and lesbian people are generally not welcome in Conservative and Orthodox congregations but are generally welcomed in Reform and Reconstructionist ones, the gay-specific synagogues often tend toward Orthodoxy in liturgy and practices, even though they are politically affiliated with the Reform or Reconstructionist movements. For instance, they are likely to use Hebrew prayers exclusively instead of mixing Hebrew and English, and to use "g_d" to avoid defaming the name of the Lord, a practice rare among Reform and Reconstructionist Jews.

Gay-specific synagogues are considerably more likely than gay-specific churches to espouse their identity aggressively, instead of depending on euphemism and "reading between the lines." Bet Mispachah (Washington, D. C.), for instance, says: "we are a congregation for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Jews and all who wish to participate in an inclusive, egalitarian, and mutually supportive community." Beth Rachamin (Philadelphia) advertises itself as "A gay voice in the Jewish community, a Jewish voice in the gay community."

This difference between the openness of the gay-specific synagogues and the euphemism of the gay-specific churches may relate to the likelihood of retaliation by non-gay members of the faith communities. Mainstream Reform Jews who stumble upon a gay-specific synagogue are unlikely to respond negatively; but mainstream evangelical Christians, fed on a constant diet of homophobic rhetoric, may well respond with hostility.

Jeffery P. Dennis

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The Anglican Communion, of which the Episcopal Church in the U. S. A. is a part, has dealt with issues of sexuality in complex ways, not all of them favorable to its glbtq membership.

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Evangelical Christians, who tend to be fundamentalists and socially conservative, have not been welcoming to glbtq people.

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Different denominations within Judaism have vastly differing opinions on both the inclusion of glbtq people into their communities and the tolerance that should be accorded homosexual acts.

social sciences >> Overview:  Metropolitan Community Church

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social sciences >> Overview:  Quakers

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social sciences >> Overview:  Southern Baptists

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Troy Perry is the founder of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, a Protestant denomination devoted to ministering to the spiritual needs of glbtq people.


    Bibliography
   

Balka, Christine, and Andy Rose, eds. Twice Blessed: On Being Lesbian or Gay and Jewish. Boston: Beacon Press, 1991.

Comstock, Gary David. Whosoever Church: Welcoming Lesbians and Gay Men into African-American Congregations. Nashville, Tenn.: Westminster John Knox, 2000.

Perry, Troy D., with Thomas L. Swicegood. Don't Be Afraid Anymore: The Story of Reverend Troy D. Perry and the Metropolitan Community Churches. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992.

Schneer, David, and Caryn Aviv, eds. Queer Jews. New York: Routledge, 2002.

Shokeid, Moshe. Gay Synagogue in New York. New York: Columbia University Press, 1995.

Stuart, Elizabeth. Religion Is a Queer Thing: A Guide to the Christian Faith for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered People. New York: Continuum, 1997.

Tigert, Leanne McCall. Coming Out While Staying In: Struggles and Celebrations of Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals in the Church. New York: United Church Press, 1996.

Wilcox, Melissa M. Coming Out in Christianity: Religion, Identity, and Community. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Dennis, Jeffery P.  
    Entry Title: Gay and Lesbian Churches and Synagogues  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated June 30, 2008  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/gay_lesbian_churches.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
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    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  
 

 

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