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History of homophobia in black churches explored in new book

Published: Sunday October 8, 2006

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The history of homophobia in black churches is explored in a new book set to be published next week, RAW STORY has found.

The book, Their Own Receive Them Not: African American Lesbian and Gays in Black Churches, written by Rev. Horace L. Griffin, an Episcopal priest, is billed as an attempt to break "hundreds of years of silence," arguing that homophobia in the historically black church has reached "crisis" proportion.

"The black church's teaching that homosexuality is immoral has created a crisis for lesbian and gay Christians in black churches," Rev. Griffin writes in the preface. "This black-church-sanctioned homophobia produces a lot of twisted black people."

According to a press release, Rev. Griffin, who is black and gay, grew up in a Missionary Baptist church and through his life and church experience, has witnessed how "black church leaders and congregants have been resistant and even closed in treating gay and heterosexual congregants equally or, in many cases, of simply offering compassion to gay people."

Griffin compares the plight of black gays and lesbians to "a game of Russian roulette," where the children of the church are no longer welcomed by the church, and black lesbian and gay Christians find themselves in "no-win situations," which end up robbing them of "their soul, if not their integrity, family and lives."

According to the press release, the book claims that "black church leaders use the Bible to oppress gays and lesbians in a similar fashion to the approach once used by white church leaders to oppress blacks during slavery and segregation" and that the black church's "sexual secrets" have led to "tragic outcomes, including a quiet complicity with the HIV/AIDS epidemic."

"Even after two decades of AIDS research African American ministers, for the most part, display almost no change in their attitudes that AIDS is God's retribution on the 'sinful,'" Griffin writes.

"Until black church leaders adopt different Christian approaches, 'Down Low' practices will continue," concludes Griffin.

Their Own Receive Them Not: African American Lesbian and Gays in Black Churches will be officially released on October 15 by The Pilgrim Press.