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Gays and religion: Where some major denominatitions stand • Tuesday May 20, 2003

Star Tribune, May 17, 2003
[Sidebar to Gay rights a hot topic in Lutheran churches]

The following is a sampling of major denominations in the United States and their stands, practices or policies regarding homosexuality:

Assemblies of God

Worshipers: “. . . opposes homosexuality and the gay lifestyle recognizing such as sin. But we encourage all members to reach out in love to homosexuals extending to them the grace that leads us all to Christ’s forgiveness.”

Ministers: Not allowed.

Same-sex unions: Not allowed.

Baptist General Conference

Worshipers: believes “there is hope for the person with a homosexual orientation and that Jesus Christ offers a healing alternative.”

Ministers: Not qualified to serve.

Same-sex unions: Not allowed.


Worshipers: Condemns the sin, not the sinner.

Priests: Cannot marry and must be celibate, regardless of sexual orientation.

Same-sex unions: Forbidden.

Jewish (Conservative)

Worshipers: In last policy review in 1992, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism’s lawmaking panel urged congregations, youth groups, summer camps and schools to welcome gays.

Rabbis: Banned, but discussion has been reopened.

Same-sex unions: Banned, but discussion has been reopened.

Jewish (Orthodox)

Worshipers: Prohibits homosexual relations.

Rabbis: Banned.

Same-sex unions: Not sanctioned.

Jewish (Reform)

Worshipers: Welcome to participate fully.

Rabbis: Ordination of gay rabbis approved in 1990.

Same-sex unions: Officially sanctioned in 2000.

Lutheran (ELCA)

Worshipers: Welcome to participate fully.

Pastors: Requires all nonmarried ministers, regardless of sexual orientation, to be celibate.

Same-sex unions: Has not taken a position on the blessing of same-sex committed relationships.

Lutheran (Missouri Synod)

Worshipers: Considered a sin, but homosexuals are welcome to participate in worship and other church activities.

Ministers: Excludes homosexuals.

Same-sex unions: Not recognized.

Lutheran (Wisconsin Evangelical Synod)

Worshipers: Considered a sin, but denomination “reaches out to all people.”

Ministers: Excludes gays and lesbians.

Same-sex unions: Not recognized.


Worshipers: Does not condone homosexuality, but is committed “to be in ministry for and with all persons.”

Ministers: Excludes homosexuals from ordained ministry.

Same-sex unions: Denies recognition of homosexual unions.


Worshipers: Condemns homosexuality; punishable by death in some countries.

Imams: Forbidden.

Same-sex unions: Forbidden.


Worshipers: Welcome in its congregations.

Ministers: Openly gay ministers cannot be ordained.

Same-sex unions: Cannot be performed if determined to be the same as a marriage ceremony.

United Church of Christ

Worshipers: Congregations can vote to adopt “Open and Affirming” covenant welcoming those of all sexual orientations.

Ministers: Non-discriminatory ordination policy adopted in 1983.

Same-sex unions: Some ministers perform ceremonies.

Compiled by staff librarian Linda Scheimann

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