On 7 June, the Church of Sweden will launch a collection of academic writings in a book entitled “Behold – I make all things new”. The writings offer theological perspectives on human rights in general and LGBT issues in particular, from the starting-points of the three Abrahamic religions Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
The hope is to help bring about a new theological view of sexual orientation and gender identity, according to the book’s co-editor Reverend JP Mokgethi-Heath, Policy Advisor on HIV and Theology at the Central Church Office in Uppsala.
“This is an attempt at interpreting holy scriptures on the basis of Abrahamic faith traditions without patriarchal lenses, taking suffering and experiences seriously. We want to contribute to a broader and deeper understanding of the connection between faith and human rights – in particular with regard to issues of human dignity, sexuality and faith,” said JP Mokgheti-Heath.
Co-editor Reverend Loraine Tulleken added: “The book is the result of genuine academic and inter-religious cooperation aimed at elevating these issues to the level of decision-makers, educational institutions and voluntary organizations.
The book launch will take place in the UN office of the World Council of Churches. Time and venue: 6.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 7 June, in the Church Center Chapel, 777 United Nations Plaza , New York. Participants: Reverend JP Mokgethi-Heath, Rabbi Amichai Lau Lavie, Pastor Jide Macaulay and Professor Riffat Hassan. The book is in English and is being published as an e-book on Amazon. All profits will go to the Global Interfaith Network.
Anders Wejryd, Archbishop Emeritus of the Church of Sweden, who was involved in the inception of the book, is of the view that the authors’ writings in the book affirm that God is loving and merciful. “The book provides a convincing and refreshing perspective on our common Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy scriptures, which are otherwise always used to condemn homosexuality”.
The Swedish launch of Behold will take place on 18 September, during Uppsala’s Pride Festival.
Behold came into being from an inter-religious panel debate (“Human Dignity and Human Sexuality”) involving academics, theologians, social activists, parish workers and scientists during the Uppsala Festival of Theology in 2015 (see pages 28-30).
The material for the debate, moderated by Archbishop Emeritus Anders Wejryd, was provided by The Global Interfaith Network for people of all Sexes, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (GIN-SSOGIE). The aim was to examine critically how the holy scriptures and religious customs in Judaism, Christianity and Islam actually relate to each other when it comes to sexual orientation and gender identity.
“The interaction between conservatives and liberals was such that we felt it was our responsibility to broaden the dialogue between the religious communities and between the communities and society at large,” said Anders Wejryd.
For more information, contact: Rev. Fr. JP Mokgethi-Heath at e-mailJP.Mokgethi-Heath@svenskakyrkan.se or call +46 (0)76-80 00 184. Alternatively, visit: www.beholdgin.com, Twitter: @behold_gin, or Facebook: www.facebook.com/slayinghatetexts/.