Skip to main content

Big Ocean was invited to attend the Ethics of Reciprocity: United Nations Dialogue of LGBTI Religious Leaders, held on October 26, 2017 in NYC.  My responsibility as the Global committee head is to attend these events and analyze them with a focus on language and potential philosophical trends that will bump up against or support our mission. This report will touch on the areas that I am finding most pressing.

1. Language to watch for

The language by all speakers indicate the harm and pain LGBTQ people have suffered at the hands of  what they call “religious extremism,” meaning any faith tradition or religion that is rigid, intolerant, and promotes any form of discriminations or violence (physical, verbal and emotional, but also Spiritual violence against the LGBTQI community). Physical violence– from corporeal punishment to, to murder and anywhere in between. Verbal violence– from name-calling and bullying, to slander and verbal shaming of alternative lifestyles. Spiritual violence (was new to me)- where particular religions or faith traditions, leaders, or people elevate one status or manner of behavior as higher, better, or more preferred than another (think of sin vs commandment-keeping and the like), and support that by scripture, and or was religious observances, rites, rituals, etc. All of these are forms of spiritual violence and are evidence of a “Religious supremacy.” The main objective of many groups is to dismantle as an unjust and oppressive power structure.

I am attempting to tease out some of the entangled ideas around “intersectionality,” the theory that there is a matrix of interrelated systems of oppression, domination, or discrimination where words like “Christian supremacy” and  “religious extremism” are created, which lump decent religious people seeking to do good, in with the likes of the KKK and the Taliban. The theoretical intersectionality framework is muddled and difficult to navigate because they leave out language allowing for nuance and exploration. For example, the word “Christian supremacy” born from this theory, has conveniently lumped all the villains together (racism, sexism, capitalism, imperialism, homophobia) in an easy to identify boogieman, the Christian right, which unfortunately, makes Christian religions an easy and unfair target.


2. Thoughts and impressions

Our religious freedoms have been increasingly challenged in recent years, but are on the cusp getting challenged even more so and in ways that will impact our day to day. I also sense the possibility for outright persecution to not be too far behind. The language, philosophy, and verbalized expressions at this event connect the dots even more so. Yet I feel that Big Ocean and other organizations, so long as we network and navigate this well, will play a vital role in continuing the effort of gathering, fortifying, and growing the light. We must keep doing what we can everyday, but not weary too fast. We are needed for the long haul. We must stay humble and open to direction from above, and trust where we are being guided. We are getting prepared for some rough waters ahead, but we are also preparing for something greater in the process.


3. Reframing and possible solutions

A. Problem: Religious liberties quickly on the decline, and persecution around the corner.

Solution: In the event that our holy places and houses of worship are challenged because of issues related to “spiritual violence” we can attend our houses of worship with renewed dedication. We can arrange and support one another as we strive to attend and participate in our houses of worship and learning, read from our holy books with more dedication and appreciation, all in an effort to codify within us our beliefs and understanding. We have and are doing this, but our philosophy and language must remain true to our core beliefs. Our philosophy is in actuality a preservation of our language.

B. Problem: CSE, Safe Schools. Our children and youth are at risk of being indoctrinated by a very radical gender theory. We cannot afford to be reactive, we must be proactive.

Solution: We must create successful working models for parents to teach their own children first, so they can teach children how they can be their own filters and discern. We need to arm them with language to defend their perspectives in a persuasive way.

We do this through cottages. We need to facilitate more parent/youth involvement at our cottages or youth/good-mentors. For example, I recently spoke with the parents of a youth in my neighborhood. They expressed their deep concern related to her gender exploration and confusion at the age of 11. My daughters and their friends are hoping to again organize a local cottage for that age group. I see great value in that, but am not sure legally if it’s possible. I spoke with our Provo student cottage about the possibility of mentoring these young girls as a sister-cottage. We can discuss this later, but their is very much a need. I will explain more in my next report.

Written by Carolina Allen
Big Ocean Global Strategy Director