As faith leaders in the Scottsdale community, our objective is to spread hope and love to all people, including gay and transgender people.
We are writing today because we have been deeply troubled by those who have used religion as a rationale for discrimination against members of the LGBT community. These organizations and individuals have contributed to the hostile and dangerous environment for our LGBT brothers and sisters.
People in our own backyard, like Center for Arizona Policy leader Cathi Herrod, who just last week authored an editorial in the paper claiming a right to discriminate based on religion.
As religious leaders, freedom of religion is of utmost important to us. And, that’s why we are thankful it’s protected by the Constitution so that each of us can practice our faith in whatever manner we choose. But we also understand that in the public square, our religious beliefs do not give any of us a right to discriminate against others.
Businesses are not houses of worship. Religious beliefs ought not be used to harm people. We should all be able to co-exist in our community, and equal protections are a part of that coexistence.
Each and every person should be able to earn an honest living without fear of being fired for whom they love, and the right to acquire professional services without fear of repercussion and judgment, or be denied a place to live in peace. We are all God’s children and we need to treat others as we want to be treated ourselves.
Religion is not meant to exclude, but to include. As people of faith, our objective is to spread hope and love, not fear and divisiveness. In the wake of the tragic loss of life in Orlando and elsewhere in this country where LGBT people face discrimination, harassment and violence on a daily basis, it falls on all of us to do what’s right — to stand up against the hate and build a country that welcomes, protects, and cherishes each and every one of us.
The authors of this commentary are: Rev. Don Benton, Scottsdale United Methodist Church; Rev. George Cushman, Desert Mission United Methodist Church; Rev. Nancy Cushman, North Scottsdale United Methodist Church; Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, Unitarian Universalist Church of Phoenix; Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz; Rev. Katie Sexton, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Rabbi Bonnie Sharfman, Congregation Kehillah; Rev. David Wasson, North Scottsdale United Methodist Church; Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, President and Dean Valley Beit Midrash