#RightsForAll: Is Faith Under Attack?

#RightsForAll: Is Faith Under Attack?

On Wednesday, December 2, the Desmond Tutu Center for Peace, Reconciliation, and Global Justice partnered with the Indy Star to host the second installment in the #RightsForAll community conversation series at the Shelton Auditorium at CTS. This conversation focused on the topic of  whether or not sexual orientation and gender identity have a place in Indiana’s state civil rights law.

The primary focus of the event was the discussion of the religious aspect and the role it plays in connection to sexual orientation, which made it unique from the past and upcoming #RightsForAll events. Five prominent individuals in Indiana’s religious community gathered in the Shelton Auditorium for an incredibly lively and controversial debate: Kevin Baird, field director of Indiana’s Pastor Alliance; Rabbi Sandy Sasso, director of the Religion, Spirituality, and the Arts Initiative at Butler University; Matthew Boulton, president of Christian Theological Seminary; Dr. David Wright, president of Indiana Wesleyan University; and Rev. Andrew Hunt III, senior pastor at the New Life Community Church.

Moderated by editor of the Indy Star, Tim Swarens, the five panelists had drastically different views on topics that ranged from whether or not the religious community should view homosexuality as a sin, and how religious leaders should adapt to the changing political landscape in the future. Both Rabbi Sasso and Dr. Boulton of CTS held more liberal to moderate opinions regarding the question of the religious community’s view on the acceptance of homosexuality, while Dr. David Wright, Rev. Andrew Hunt III, and Kevin Baird put forth more traditional, conservative viewpoints.  

The debate opened with a discussion on the role that scripture plays, then subsequently turned to the validity of recently introduced legislation regarding the public sector and religion. The panelists debated whether or not the government has the right to impose sexual orientation as an addition to the protection of civil rights or whether or not business owners in the public sector have the right to deny a good or service to their customers based upon gender identity and sexual orientation.

The panelist discussion was interspersed with questions from the audience that challenged the views of some of the more conservative candidates, and this led to the question of whether or not religion, specifically Christianity, is under attack in the United States. With an increase in the discussion of the rights of homosexuals in the past year due to the introduction of RFRA into state law and the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, both the audience and the panelists held vastly different viewpoints, which made the debate much more lively.

By: Caroline Whang

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