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Hot Potato lecture grapples with religion, homosexuality

Published: Thursday, April 4, 2013

Updated: Thursday, April 4, 2013 18:04

hotpotato_4-2-13 by Monica Correa

Monica Correa

Richard Farias, English professor and GALA adviser, gives examples of the moments in history when religion and science have conflicted Tuesday in the Methodist Student Center, 102 Belknap.

In recent events, the U.S. Supreme Court has heard defenses about the legality of California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act. The hearings have caused both religious groups and gay rights groups to fight to get their message out to the public.

“Religion and Homosexuality” was the Hot Potato discussion Tuesday led by the Gay Ally Lesbian Association faculty adviser Richard Farias and the Rev. John Feagins, director of the Methodist Student Center.

Feagins opened by asking the audience what they thought of when they saw the title of the lecture.

“There is a sense that these are two opposing cultural forces going on in America. There is a sort of internal conflict within Christianity of loving everybody and having mercy and then at the same time having a sense of right and wrong,” Feagins said.

Feagins said most religions have a negative outlook on homosexual acts, not homosexual people.

 “You have stories in the Christian canon in the Bible that appear to treat this topic in a very negative sense. You can’t get more negative than a city (Sodom and Gomorrah) supposedly dominated by this particular phenomenon that was destroyed by fire and brimstone.”

Feagins talked about being able to accept diversity among people.

“The people he was the most negative toward weren’t people who lived a degenerative lifestyle. They were people who were hypocrites, who were religious officials. Haughty, proud, religious leaders who wore white robes but really weren’t religious at all,” Feagins said. “People who were afflicted, he healed them. The man born blind: Jesus said that it wasn’t sin that made the guy be born blind; he was just born blind because he was different.”

Feagins ended by telling the audience to let others find their own path.

“I don’t have to agree with it, I don’t have to approve of it, I don’t have to think it’s great. I wouldn’t do it myself, but, hey, I understand. I like broccoli; you don’t like broccoli. Let’s move on,” he said.

Farias started his lecture by commenting on an image of a Bible with a rainbow bookmark that he had chosen for his presentation.

“We live in a very imagistic, visual society,” Farias said. “It doesn’t change the Bible, but it wonders through the simple little book mark ‘is there a place within the Bible for people like me who are gay?’”

Farias discussed the debate between science and Christianity and the possibility of a scientific explanation of homosexuality.

“The Universal Order versus Chaos Theory is about how things work. What is free will versus destiny? Fate versus free will? I don’t think any human being has a clear sense of how much of our lives is destined in some way and how much of our lives do we have a sense of free will. We grapple with that every single day,” he said.

Religious groups, such as the Westborough Baptist Church and gay friendly church groups were also discussed in Farias’ lecture.

He later compared arguments of the Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia, which legalized interracial marriage to arguments against legalizing gay marriage.

After the lecture, attendees were invited to ask questions during a Q-and-A session.

Questions ranged from why do homosexuals care about being accepted by religion to should churches be forced to marry gay couples.

“In my mind, the God that I believe in would not be square with me if I was not square with myself. I believe that I was created in a certain way,” Farias said. “It’s outside the realm of the norm, if you want me to deny who I am just because I don’t fit within the realm of what’s normal, then isn’t that almost an insult to God?”

Hot Potato lectures are 12:15 p.m.-1:15 p.m. Tuesdays at the Methodist Student Center, 102 Belknap Place. A free baked potato lunch follows for attendees.

For more information, call the Methodist Student Center at 210-733-1441.


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