Religious Institute’s Top 10 of 2015

It’s been a whirlwind year. There have been moments of sheer excitement and times of deep pain and sadness. Through it all, the religious movement for sexual justice met each day with passion for creating a more sexually healthy, responsible, and just world. Here are our top 10 moments of 2015.

10. 15 years of the Religious Declaration

The year started off with a celebration of the 15th anniversary of the Religious Declaration on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing. On January 25, 2000, the Religious Declaration was published as a full-page ad in The New York Times. Since then, more than 4,600 religious leaders have endorsed the Declaration.

9. Creating Sexually Safer Congregations

In early 2015, we launched the Sexually Safer Best Practice Initiative. Created to keep congregations free from sexual abuse, harassment, or misconduct, the initiative provides congregations with a clearinghouse of information and a comprehensive list of the most important policies for sexual safety.

8. Marriage. Equality!

When the Supreme Court decided to hear a case that could decide national marriage equality, we gathered over 1,900 religious leaders to sign a friend of the court brief. The weekend before the case was heard, we organized more than 30,000 people of faith to observe a National Weekend of Prayer for the Freedom to Marry. People of faith made a strong stance for sexual justice, and we celebrated when the court decided that same-sex couples could legally marry throughout the country.

7. Sexual and Reproductive Justice and Religion

In April, we gathered thought-leaders from throughout the country to discuss the intersection of religion and sexual and reproductive justice. In our conversations, we cultivated partnerships across the sexual and reproductive justice movement and created strategies for engaging religion in the work of sexual and reproductive justice.

6. Bisexuality Awareness Day

Throughout 2015, we worked to help religious leaders and congregations become more bisexually healthy by offering speeches, presentations, training workshops, and webinars. We also continued to share the resources from our guidebook Bisexuality: Making the Invisible Visible in Faith Communities. During Bisexuality Awareness Week, we helped raise religious voices for bisexual awareness.

5. Gilead Sabbath

This year, people of faith nationwide came together to observe a Gilead Sabbath. Across the country, over 75 congregations and 13,000 people of faith joined in education, prayer, or action for global LGBTQ justice — working to end the violence, discrimination, and persecution that LGBTQ people face around the world. Congregations observed a Gilead Sabbath on the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia; during LGBTQ Pride Month; and on Transgender Day of Remembrance.

4. Southern Advisory Committee

In May, we gathered religious leaders from throughout the South to discuss faith advocacy on behalf of reproductive justice. We created faith-based partnerships and brainstormed Southern-specific methods of faith engagement that the Religious Institute hopes to implement in 2016.

3. A Time to Embrace

In October, we released a groundbreaking report on the role of religion in the sexual and reproductive justice movement. A Time to Embrace found that engaging religious leaders and people of faith is essential to the progress and long-term success of the sexual and reproductive health and justice movement. We shared the report with our colleagues and with the media, and it has already begun to change the conversation around religion and sexual and reproductive justice.

2. People of faith #StandWithPP

When heavily-edited videos made false claims about Planned Parenthood, we spoke out. When Congress tried to defund Planned Parenthood, we organized more than 5,000 people of faith to stand with Planned Parenthood. When a shooting occurred in a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic, we offered our prayers, support, and solidarity. May the coming year be more peaceful for those accessing and providing reproductive healthcare.

1. Working with you

Working with and alongside religious leaders and people of faith who care deeply for sexual justice made 2015 a year to remember. You helped make sexual health, education, and justice a reality. Thank you for your partnership and support. Here’s to another year of sexual justice!