"Organized religion doesn't seem to work. It turns people into really hateful lemmings and it's not really compassionate." - Sir Elton John
That's the word from gay songstress and composer, Sir Elton. He says that religion has proven to be useless in the promotion of peace and actually is a primary cause of anti-gay prejudice and the damage that results from it. Sadly, I can't argue with him.
But here's the thing...government also has a disappointing history, as does the family, the free market economy, and the educational system. And yet, religion, government, family, economics, and education are the 5 basic social institutions of every society.
It's too easy to say, "let's ban religion." Because it ain't gonna happen. The bigger challenge, and more important task, is to reform religion. And let's not stop with religion; let's reform society and all the institutions that make it up. If any institution is being used as an instrument of oppression or an obstacle to enlightenment, let's change the system.
I'm not saying it's easy, and in fact, it may be as impossible as eliminating the building blocks of society. But the truth is, as one who has chosen to cling to religion in spite of how many have tried to use it against me, I have seen how religion done well can be a symbol of hope, an invitation to community, a method of healing, a tool of empowerment.
Government hasn't always been my friend, but I still vote; in fact, that's a chief reason WHY I vote. My family of origin had a rocky beginning, but the people I call my family now are a source of comfort and joy to me. Religion hasn't always done me proud, but when it has been effective, it has added something wonderful to my life.
Institutions go wrong. That's why they need us to participate in them to get them back on the queer and broad (rather than straight and narrow) path.