Religion Editorial

The ISD Editorial Board explains how religious gatekeeping is harmful and why the Iowa State community should be tolerant and accepting of all religions. 

Religion: it is the great connector. A connector of people, of groups, of nations. But even though it has helped so many people in their times of need, some people still try and “gatekeep” their religion from others.

With some 85 percent of the world’s population embracing some sort of religious belief, and with thousands of religions existing in the world, it would seem religion is a key part of human society and of our relationship with/understanding the greater world. 

Psychologists say finding a religion you identify with may fill the human need for finding meaning, sparing people from existential angst while also supporting the base human social need by allowing people to live in large, cooperative societies.

This means we as humans strive to find and connect with something bigger than ourselves — to find a meaning to our lives, to the struggles we go through, and if that comes in the form of a religion and the community surrounding it, then good.

People, no matter what their background, deserve to find that something, to find purpose, to find meaning, so we, as the ISD Editorial Board, find it wrong people would try and gatekeep others from enjoying the things they themselves enjoy.

For those who don’t know, “gatekeeping” is “the activity of controlling, and usually limiting, general access to something.”

So what we are saying is we find it incredibly wrong and distasteful when one group of people prevents another group from finding the same comfort and the same sense of spiritual security that comes from participating in their religion. Everyone deserves to find a meaning for their life, and it is a disgusting display of gatekeeping when they are denied access to a place where they may find that meaning.

One large example of this comes with Christianity and the LGBTQIA+ community.

Religion has been a source of both solace and suffering for many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual people. While most LGBTQIA+ people, Americans specifically, have been raised in an organized religion, too many have been forced to leave those communities behind because of condemnation of LGBTQIA+ people.

A recent Stonewall report showed one in 10 LGBTQIA+ Christians experienced faith-based discrimination from within the queer community. This can be anything from creating an atmosphere in which it is shameful to admit that you are a person of faith to outright aggression and insistent questioning about what you do or do not believe.

“I get it — a lot of LGBT+ people have reason to dislike Christians,” said Lucy Knight, a newspaper journalism student at City University, in a column. “But we have to stop shutting people out because they don’t fit into a designated box. Queerness, for me, is a complete rejection of restrictions. We try to understand difference and yet stand together in solidarity.”

Just like what Knight said, we need to stop shutting people out because they don’t fit into a designated box. Everyone, and we mean everyone, who reads a religious text will interpret different sections differently, but never should someone use what they find in a religious text to hate or discriminate against another person.

Here in the United States, we have freedom of religion, meaning anyone can practice whatever religion they like, whether it is Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism or one of the other thousands of religions. Here in the United States, we value diversity and acceptance, but we need to put those values into practice when it comes to religion.

In Matthew 22:36, it is stated that “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Everyone, even non-Christians, should live by that statement and allow others to participate in their religion.

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Editorials are longer opinion pieces that are written by a group of community members recruited across campus who address relevant issues on a local, national and international level. Editorials are research-based. The purpose of the Editorial Board is to promote discussion concerning relevant issues in the community while advising on possible solutions. Topics are chosen via relevancy and interests of the members, which are then discussed by the Editorial Board in order to reach a general consensus concerning the topic or issue.

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(3) comments

Facts and Logic

Iowa State Daily - who put you in charge of determining what a religion can or can't believe?

The main Christian text, the Bible condemns homosexually repeatedly - whether or not you agree with that is irrelevant. (As for your specific wrath toward Christianity, traditional Islam also condemns homosexuality). Yes, the Bible also says to love your neighbors, and yes, Christianity definitely has a long way to go to fulfill its Biblical duty in a lot of ways. However, many Bible-believing Christians believe that homosexuality is a sin, and sinners are punished eternally unless they repent. So, from that viewpoint, the most loving thing to do is to invite that person in and love them - and part of loving them is helping them see that (according to the Bible and the doctrine of many Christians) they are living in unrepented sin.

While I definitely see how many Christian communities are overly-hostile and combative toward the LBGTQ+ community and how that is extremely hurtful to that community, I can also understand the perspective of Christians who see their God's position on this issue as very cut-and-dried. The point is that yes, we should all be more loving - but that we should not try to force other people's religions to fit into our box of preferences and opinions - that is the opposite of true religion.

Noah Kopischke

You quote Matthew 22:36, “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” I 100% agree with that verse. But I don't think it means what you think it means. What is love, anyway? My favorite example is that of a parent with their child. The child says to their parent "I want to eat candy and ice cream for every meal. I never want to eat anything else for the rest of my life." Now, how does the loving parent respond? Does the loving parent say "Yes, my child, I want you to be happy and I love you, so you can have candy and ice cream for every meal for the rest of your life." I hardly think so. That parent would be an ignorant and unloving fool to treat their child that way. The loving parent would respond "I love you my child, and I want you to be happy, but eating only candy and ice cream is REALLY bad for you, and as your parent who loves you and has a duty to protect you, I refuse to let you hurt yourself by eating only candy and ice cream." So it is with love and acceptance. Because of God's great love for each of us, he refuses to affirm our living in a way that is harmful to us let us live. Sexual immorality is harmful to us and God will not lie and say that it is acceptable for the sake of tolerance in the same way a loving parent would not lie and say that it is acceptable for a child to eat exclusively candy and ice cream. Now, the "church" does not always treat people in love, especially with regard to the LGBTQIA+ community, and that is a failure of the "so-called" church. I am not convinced that those people are truly Christians because they are not following Christ's example of love. For that bad treatment from those people, I apologize. I am truly sorry. However, that does not mean that I, or God, will affirm sin and harmful practices because, contrary to what this article claims, to do so would be extremely unloving. Affirming harm to someone else is unloving, and I refuse to speak or act in that way. Instead, I will choose to love others by speaking the truth to them with grace.

Robert Ederburg

Hmm that's odd. No mention of Islam in this article...

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