|Original source URL: http://www.siecus.org/media/press/press0007.html|
SIECUS PRESS RELEASE
EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE UNTIL: Tuesday, January 18, 2000 at 9:30
Media Contact: Lisa Hanock-Jasie, SIECUS (212) 819-9770, ext.
Historic Religious Statement Calls on Faith Communities to
Promote Sexual Justice and Healing for All
NEW YORK (January 18, 2000) Over 850 of America's religious
leaders, to date, have endorsed the Religious Declaration on Sexual Morality,
Justice, and Healing, a new progressive statement that affirms that sexuality is
one of God's most fulfilling gifts and outlines a new paradigm for sexual
morality that does not discriminate on the basis of age, marital status, or
sexual orientation. Endorsers of the declaration represent a broad range of
faith traditions and include two denomination presidents, 15 seminary presidents
and academic deans, theologians from more than 32 seminaries, and 14
The Religious Declaration on Sexual Morality, Justice, and
Healing calls for full inclusion of women and sexual minorities in
congregational life, including their ordination, and the blessing of same sex
unions. It also calls for sexuality counseling and education throughout the
lifespan from trained religious leaders, and a faith-based commitment to sexual
and reproductive rights, including access to voluntary contraception, abortion,
and HIV/STD prevention and treatment.
"In a culture that often seeks to exploit or repress our
sexuality, it is critical for people of faith to offer an alternative vision
that places sexuality in the context of divine holiness and moral
integrity," says declaration endorser Rev. John H. Thomas, president of the
United Church of Christ.
The religious declaration was developed by more than 20
theologians from diverse traditions, who came together in May 1999 to create a
progressive vision on sexuality and religion.
"Religious people need to think about issues of sexuality
from the point of view of justice and equality for all," says Rev. John A.
Buehrens, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations,
an endorser and one of the creators of the declaration.
"At the dawn of the new millennium, religious leaders are
calling on faith communities to heal the mind/body dualism of the past two
thousand years," says Debra W. Haffner, president of the Sexuality
Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), sponsor
organization for development of the statement. "Our sexuality and our
spirituality are inexorably linked."
The Religious Declaration on Sexual Morality, Justice, and
Healing and a list of its endorsements are available at the Web site address: http://www.religionproject.org
Religious leaders who would like to add their names to the endorsement list also
may do so at the Web site. In addition, the declaration will appear late January
in The New York Times as a full-page advertisement and in other news
publications in the future.
Religious Declaration on Sexual Morality, Justice, and
Healing reads as follows:
Religious Declaration on Sexuality Morality, Justice, and
Sexuality is God's life-giving and life-fulfilling gift. We come
from diverse religious communities to recognize sexuality as central to our
humanity and as integral to our spirituality. We are speaking out against the
pain, brokenness, oppression, and loss of meaning that many experience about
Our faith traditions celebrate the goodness of creation,
including our bodies and our sexuality. We sin when this sacred gift is abused
or exploited. However, the great promise of our traditions is love, healing, and
Our culture needs a sexuality ethic focused on personal
relationships and social justice rather than particular sexual acts. All persons
have the right and the responsibility to lead sexual lives that express love,
justice, mutuality, commitment, consent, and pleasure. Grounded in respect for
the body and for the vulnerability that intimacy brings, this ethic fosters
physical, emotional, and spiritual health. It accepts no double standards and
applies to all persons, without regard to sex, gender, color, age, bodily
condition, marital status, or sexual orientation.
God hears the cries of those who suffer from the failure of
religious communities to address sexuality. We are called today to see, hear,
and respond to the suffering caused by violence against women and sexual
minorities, the HIV pandemic, unsustainable population growth and
over-consumption, and the commercial exploitation of sexuality.
Faith communities must therefore be truth seeking, courageous,
and just. We call for:
Theological reflection that integrates the wisdom of
excluded, often silenced peoples, and insights about sexuality from
medicine, social science, the arts, and the humanities.
Full inclusion of women and sexual minorities in
congregational life, including their ordination and the blessing of same sex
Sexuality counseling and education throughout the lifespan
from trained religious leaders.
Support for those who challenge sexual oppression and who
work for justice within their congregations and denominations.
Faith communities must also advocate for sexual and spiritual
wholeness in society. We call for:
Lifelong, age appropriate sexuality education in schools,
seminaries, and community settings.
A faith-based commitment to sexual and reproductive rights,
including access to voluntary contraception, abortion, and HIV/STD
prevention and treatment.
Religious leadership in movements to end sexual and social
God rejoices when we celebrate our sexuality with holiness and
integrity. We, the undersigned, invite our colleagues and faith communities to
join us in promoting sexuality morality, justice, and healing.
* * * *
# # #
EDITOR NOTE: Founded in 1964, SIECUS is a national nonprofit
organization whose mission is to affirm that sexuality is a natural and healthy
part of living; to develop, collect, and disseminate information; to promote
comprehensive education about sexuality; and to advocate the right of
individuals to make responsible sexual choices. SIECUS has offices in New York
and Washington, DC.
Copyright © 2000, SIECUS
Web Master: firstname.lastname@example.org