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VIEWS The pope?
by Kim Flowers

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In the midst of congratulatory equal-marriage news and controversial pieces like "Twitter's Gayest Responses to Beyonce's New Album," The Advocate magazine has caused possibly the biggest uproar yet by naming Pope Francis its Person of the Year in the December issue.

It even features him on its cover rocking a NOH8 logo on his face. I wonder if the magazine accidentally swapped out its December issue for April Fool's. The Advocate's Facebook page has been swarmed with comments ranging from happiness to confusion, disgust and even subscription cancellations. I don't plan to stop reading The Advocate, but I do think it's given the pope an honor that could have better served someone who is actually working for the LGBT community.

After listing some of its finalists, The Advocate says, "There has not been any vote cast or ruling issued, and still a significant and unprecedented shift took place this year in how LGBT people are considered by one of the world's largest faith communities."

I'm afraid The Advocate has been sadly misled. There has been no shift at all, and there won't be one, at least not without more work. It's true the pope said some nice words about not judging others, but this will not change one thing in mainstream religion for the LGBT community. At best, the translation is, "Don't hate and don't judge, but gay people should still change their ways."

As a survivor of a religious upbringing and Christian college experience, including a brief stint in ex-gay therapy, I know the words the pope have said will in no way be implemented into a radical new agenda for people who believe the Bible is infallible. The Bible says in Leviticus that two men who lie together have committed an abomination and should be put to death. Regardless of whether this translation is accurate, if the verse is taken in appropriate context, or if any of it even matters at all, these are the words printed on the page. Homosexuality, as a sin, is something the vast majority of Christians believe, while conveniently overlooking other verses in the same book ( and chapter ) that forbid beard-shaving and tattoos, and commands the death penalty for adultery and cursing one's parents.

The Advocate even admits that "Pope Francis is still not pro-gay by today's standard." I respectfully believe the magazine should have given the award to someone who is truly pro-gay, not someone who is just telling his followers they should change the subject, and who says that gay marriage is "an attempt to destroy God's plan." ( )

Religion is important to many people, including some of us in the LGBT community. Many of us have struggled to reconcile our faith and sexuality; some of us never will. Maybe we should take a good look at what the Bible actually says, and consider all the multiple denominations out there —many Protestants consider Catholicism to be a borderline pagan religion and most don't listen to the Pope at all.

Admiring the pope for saying, "We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods" is fine, but giving him a top honor in the LGBT community just for saying a few neutral words is a slap in the face to those who actually fought for gay rights in our country this year.

Kim Flowers is a YA author from Indiana.

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