What does Islam say about homosexuality?

The Qur’an doesn’t mention homosexuality at all, and when it does mention “men who are not in need of women” it doesn’t condemn them. All of this might be surprising when you consider the impression most of the media has given about Omar Mateen’s killing of nearly 50 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

The Independent reports how the recent rise of political Islam and jihadism by extremist groups, had lead to more homophobic talk by not only Muslim extremists but also the general Muslim population. A study in the UK over the last 12 months showed that 50% of Muslims thought homosexuality should be made illegal. I wonder what the Christian population of Britain would say? Would they have a similar opinion?

Whereas homosexuality is not explicitly condemned in Islam sacred writing, in the Bible it is clear: homosexuality is a sin.

  • Leviticus 18:22, “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”
  • Leviticus 20:13, “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltness is upon them.”
  • 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

However we know from studying Christianity that different denominations of Christianity follow these Bible teaching to different extents. That some Christians would rather follow the Golden Rule or try to follow Jesus’ teachings of always doing the most loving thing and remembering to forgive.

What British Muslims really think

A TV programme on Wednesday evening on Channel 4 might be worthwhile watching for our GCSE RS students. Channel 4 commissioned face-to-face, at-home interviews with a representative sample of 1,000 Muslims across the UK between 25 April and 31 May 2015 so they would be able to report on what British Muslims really think. Obviously a thousand is no where near the actual number of Muslims living in Britain (2, 706, 066), but as  a survey it is found to be enough to be representative. The Guardian has reported in quite some depth about the TV programme’s findings but I still think watching it would be worthwhile.

A few interesting facts were unearthed by the survey:

  • The research suggests that 86% of British Muslims feel a strong sense of belonging in Britain, which is higher than the national average of 83%.
  • A large majority (91%) of the British Muslims who took part in the survey said they felt a strong sense of belonging in their local area, which is higher than the national average of 76%.
  • However, when asked to what extent they agreed or disagreed that homosexuality should be legal in Britain, 18% said they agreed and 52% said they disagreed, compared with 5% among the public at large who disagreed.
  • 39% of the Muslims surveyed agreed that “wives should always obey their husbands”, compared with 5% of the country as a whole.

BBC tells off radio talk show host for not being impartial

Iain Lee used to work on a BBC radio station called Three Counties Radio but after he was initially criticised by the BBC he resigned and is now in line to work for a different radio station. His mistake: accusing a Christian preacher of being a bigot (a person who is intolerant towards those holding different opinions) for saying that being gay was a sin. The BBC have today announced the findings of its report that Iain Lee broke the BBC’s rules on remaining impartial (not biased) in debates by coming down so hard on the Christian preacher.

C of E: It’s not a sin to be gay; enjoy lifelong commitments… but don’t get married if you’re a vicar!

When we learn about religious attitudes to homosexuality in Year 10’s Religious Studies lessons we learn that:

  • in the Catholic Church it’s okay to be gay, but don’t have gay relationships;
  • in the Evangelical Church there’s the belief that nobody should be gay and that the holy spirit will save people and change them to be straight;
  • in the seemingly more liberal Church of England it says it’s not a sin to be gay, that you can enjoy lifelong homosexual relationships (in other words don’t be promiscuous, which is the same message as to heterosexual/ straight Christians) yet if you are a gay minister or vicar you are only allowed a civil partnership not marriage.

Well to support what we’ve learnt in class here’s an article about a gay minister who’s been banned from leading religious services in the church because he’s got married. Jeremy Davies married opera singer McEnery, who has performed with the English National Opera and Welsh National Opera as well as teaching and composing. McEnery said the decision to ban his husband from leading services was “insulting and offensive, and doesn’t make the church look good. I dislike the idea of the church being allowed to discriminate against gay people when it is increasingly outlawed in civil life.”

Should Tyson Fury be allowed to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award?

He became the Heavyweight Champion of the World just over a week ago but have Tyson Fury’s comments about women and homosexuality ruined his chances of being a contender for the coveted BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award?

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Petitions have been gathering thousands of signatures from people who say his comments are so sexist, homophobic and therefore dangerous he’s not worthy of winning a national sports prize. The BBC have even had to say that Tyson Fury’s beliefs are not supported by the media organisation.

About women he said that Ennis-Hill, a fellow contender for the award, “slaps up good”. He also said: “A woman’s best place is in the kitchen and on her back – that’s my personal belief.”

When put on the defensive in an interview with Channel 5 on Saturday night, the 27-year-old said: “If I am going to get in trouble for giving women compliments for wearing a dress, then what has the world come to? Listen, I’m the heavyweight champion of the world and people look up to me. If there’s any women in here tonight wearing dresses, I think everybody looks beautiful in a dress.”

Before his big fight with Kitschko where he won the Heavyweight belt he made comments comparing homosexuality and abortion to paedophilia and then afterwards attempted to play down his comments by saying they come straight from “the holy scriptures”.

What do you think?

About his Christian faith he said after the career defining fight with Kitschko that “God gave me the victory” and he also wore a t-shirt with the slogan: “God is all things most high”.

In an interview with the Catholic Herald in Ireland he said that God gives talents and he is using his to the best of his ability, and boxing is just a sport. While his mother is a Protestant and his father is a Catholic, neither is practicing. His uncle, a born-again Christian and preacher, introduced him to religion. While he speaks in a very evangelical way he was particularly drawn to Catholicism.

He said that he goes to church every Sunday and reads the Bible, both of which give him strength to know that “if God is in my corner then no one can beat me.”

Back in a 2011 interview he said that he would not be ashamed of God but rather by putting Him first “everything will work out.”

“Everything is destined to be in life, every turn we take is planned.”

“From the first moment I laced on a pair of boxing gloves, there wasn’t one person in my family who didn’t believe I wasn’t going to be the heavyweight champion of the world,” he said. He added that he had become the first Traveller ever in history to win the world heavyweight championship and concluded that God gave him the victory.

Pope Francis says there are even “closed hearts” behind the Church’s teaching

Bishops attend a morning session of a two-week synod on family issues at the Vatican, Monday, Oct. 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

There’s just been a three week gathering of Catholic leaders, called a Synod, with them discussing issues of the family. Listening to Radio 4 this morning the journalist who’d attended the Synod commented that it seemed strange asking these celibate (not getting married or having sex) Bishops what they thought of family issues  and seeing a room full of only men voting on an issue.

It had all been quite challenging for the Pope as the Catholic Bishops were divided on numerous issues, with the conservative groups not wanting to change any policy and the liberal groups keen to change rules on homosexuality and whether divorced and remarried people are allowed to play a role in the Church. In the end policy on the latter did change, it was just about voted in that divorcees who’d remarried were allowed to play a key role in the Church but the doctrine on homosexuality didn’t: there should be no discrimination but gay marriage shouldn’t be permitted.

Films (to learn from) in 2015

Everybody knows that we remember images better than words, so what better way to learn some Humanities topics, than sit back with a large popcorn and watch a film with friends.

filming

Here are a few films due for release in 2015 which might let you learn whilst you relax, as long as the age rating is appropriate (information from the Guardian):

I Am Michael
James Franco plays a gay activist who rejects his homosexuality and becomes a Christian pastor. Zachary Quinto is his boyfriend. Premieres at Sundance.

Last Days of the Devil
Ewan McGregor is Jesus and the devil in an imagined chapter from the Bible’s desert-set bit. Premieres at Sundance.

Louder than Bombs
Jesse Eisenberg plays the son of war photographer Isabelle Huppert in a New York-set family drama directed by Joachim Trier, making his English language debut.

Racing Extinction
The new documentary from Louie (The Cove) Psihoyos examines animal extinction by means of grisly and traumatic undercover footage. Premieres at Sundance.

Silence
Scorsese returns to religious themes with this adaptation of Shusaku Endo’s 1966 novel, following the travails of Jesuit missionaries in 17th century Japan. Liam Neeson and Andrew Garfield lead the way. An awards run is in the air, so end of year release likely.

Suffragette
Meryl Streep plays Emmeline Pankhurst in this timely dramatisation of the struggle for women’s voting rights in the UK, backed up by a starry cast including Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter and Ben Whishaw. Prime awards fodder, with autumn festival run and September release in the UK planned.