Founded in 2001, the Religious Institute is a multifaith organization dedicated to advocating for sexual health, education, and justice in faith communities and society. The Religious Institute has emerged as the national leadership organization working at the intersection of sexuality and religion. Our staff provide clergy, congregations, and denominational bodies with technical assistance on addressing sexuality and reproductive health, and assist sexual and reproductive health (SRH) organizations on addressing religious issues and developing outreach to faith communities. Our partners include the leading mainstream and progressive religious institutions in the United States, as well as the major SRH and LGBT advocacy organizations.
New Campaign Campaigns
People of Faith Stand with Planned ParenthoodPeople of faith cannot stay silent as women’s health and their reproductive decisions are once again politicized and attacked. Armed with misinformation and a disregard for women’s moral authority, some political and ideological groups have launched an offensive against an institution that provides critical medical and reproductive care to women nationwide. These attacks against PPFA and its affiliates attempt to undermine not only women’s health but also their moral agency. As people of faith, our voices can sound a clarion call for justice, women’s moral autonomy, and nationwide access to reproductive health services. Add your voice to the chorus of people of faith calling for continued federal funding for PPFA, an end to playing politics at the expense of women’s health, and a culture-wide recognition of the morality of women’s reproductive decisions. Stopping federal funding to Planned Parenthood would deny access to birth control, pap smears, STI prevention, and cancer screenings for millions of women. For many women, Planned Parenthood is the only affordable, accessible healthcare provider in their community. Planned Parenthood does not receive federal dollars for abortion care services. Preventing unintended pregnancies, providing sexuality comprehensive sexuality education, screening women for cancer, and ensuring women’s reproductive health – this is the life-saving work for which PPFA receives federal funding. To stop those funds would be to put women’s health in jeopardy nationwide. Many have seized this political moment, launching a campaign to defund Planned Parenthood. Some have even threatened another government shutdown if their legislative attempts to defund Planned Parenthood fail. Playing politics to restrict or deny access to family planning services is morally wrong. Recent attempts to defund Planned Parenthood have sought to stigmatize abortion and marginalize women’s moral authority. Individual women make their reproductive health decisions, including the decision to have an abortion, with serious reflection, consultation with loved ones, insights from faith and values, and a deep consideration of specific circumstances. The real life stories of women demonstrate the morality of decisions about abortion. Assertions that deny women’s authority to make moral decisions about their reproductive lives seek to stigmatize women who choose to have an abortion. When you sign this petition, you'll be invited to the Religious Institute’s network of more than 15,000 people of faith.5,356 of 6,000 SignaturesCreated by Rev. Debra Haffner
Stop Anti-LGBTQ Laws: Discrimination is not a Religious Value2016 has been a startling year for legislative attempts to restrict justice, dignity, and equality for LGBTQ people. More than 175 anti-LGBTQ bills have been filed in 32 states. Of the record 175+ anti-LGBTQ bills filed, 45 of those bills directly target transgender people. Already in 2016, legislatures in South Dakota, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri, and North Carolina have considered and, in some cases, passed anti-transgender bills. Too often these anti-LGBTQ efforts are perpetrated in the name of religion. These bills and their proponents perpetuate false narratives about transgender people and vilify transgender women, in particular, as threatening safety in women's restrooms. This dishonest rhetoric perpetuates hostility and violence toward transgender and gender non-conforming people seeking to access public accommodations. Some of this anti-LGBTQ legislation, like the recently passed bill in North Carolina, override local ordinances protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination—preventing local municipalities from outlawing discrimination against LGBTQ people. *When you sign this petition, you'll be invited to the Religious Institute’s network of more than 15,000 people of faith.4,078 of 5,000 SignaturesCreated by Religious Institute
Stand With The Nuns in Support of Birth ControlThese nuns need you. A few weeks ago, Sister Donna Quinn of the National Coalition of American Nuns (NCAN) asked me to help spread the word that their coalition of more than 2000 Roman Catholic sisters has endorsed providing birth control through the Affordable Care Act. Because of their faith, they believe “that women should not be singled out by any organization or group through its refusal to insure a woman’s reproductive needs.” The nuns are bravely speaking out just as those on the right want us to believe that birth control use is immoral. In just a few weeks, the Supreme Court will be hearing two cases where company owners who don’t support contraception personally are denying their employees insurance coverage for birth control as mandated by the Affordable Care Act. The lawyers for these corporations (one of which is Hobby Lobby) go so far as to call birth control use sinful and immoral. To make it worse, the owners are claiming that including contraceptives in health care violates their company’s religious freedom. Sister Donna and the nuns at NCAN know differently, and they're bravely standing up to their hierarchy. But they need us to stand with them -- to say that as people of faith we support universal access to contraception. We believe women should be able to make personal decisions about their families, their bodies, their sexuality, and their health – not their employers. And we want to make clear that the sin is not a person using birth control. The sin is denying women the right and the means to plan their families. Indeed, it is precisely because life is sacred that we support the intentional and moral use of contraception. We know that religious freedom means that each person has the right to exercise their own religious beliefs; religious freedom cannot mean that an individual or a corporation gets to impose their religious beliefs on their employees. Please join us and take a faith-filled stand with the nuns for women, birth control, and real religious freedom.12,359 of 15,000 SignaturesCreated by Debra Haffner
Tell ESPN: Christian Does Not Equal Anti-GayWhen NBA player Jason Collins came out as a gay man, he noted “My parents instilled Christian values in me. They taught Sunday school, and I enjoyed lending a hand. I take the teachings of Jesus seriously, particularly the ones that touch on tolerance and understanding.” Collins also understands the struggles of LGBTQ youth: “My one small gesture of solidarity was to wear jersey number 98 with the Celtics and then the Wizards. The number has great significance to the gay community. One of the most notorious antigay hate crimes occurred in 1998. Matthew Shepard, a University of Wyoming student, was kidnapped, tortured and lashed to a prairie fence. He died five days after he was finally found.” The Religious Institute applauds this courageous public witness, and our network of religious leaders affirms sexual and gender diversity as a blessed part of life. The Religious Institute is a national nonprofit advocating for sexual and reproductive justice, education and health in faith communities and in society. As longtime advocates for full equality of LGBTQ persons in all areas of religious and public life, we know that the vast majority of LGBTQ youth regularly hear negative messages about LGBTQ people, and that they are twice as likely as their peers to report being physically assaulted at school (http://hrc.org/youth/view-statistics) ESPN provocatively entered into the culture wars and deliberately skewed the Christian perspective by providing a platform for a voice that is known to denigrate sexual and gender diversity. (Update: The petition language has been amended to reflect LZ Granderson's participation in the segment.) ESPN neglected the many religious voices that celebrate sexual and gender diversity as a blessing consistent with their faith tradition. (http://religiousinstitute.org/sites/default/files/open_letters/diversityopenletter_0.pdf)4,711 of 5,000 SignaturesCreated by Debra Haffner