On the Road With




The religious voices section of The Laramie Project: Mark Berger (left) as Wyoming’s Mormon state ecclesiastical leader; Amy Resnick (right) as a Baptist minister; and Jeremy Bobb (center) as a Baptist congregant. Photo by Michael Lutch


There is a moment in The Laramie Project, called “religious voices,” when we hear from different denominations in Laramie about their views on homosexuality. Doug Laws, the state ecclesiastical leader for the Mormon Church, says, “There was a proclamation that came out on the family. A family is defined as one man, one woman, and children. That’s a family. That’s about as clear as you can state it. There is no sexual deviation in the Mormon Church. No leniency. We just think it’s out of bounds.” The Baptist minister says, “I hope that Matthew Shepard, as he was tied to that fence ... before he slipped into a coma, that he had a chance to reflect on his lifestyle.”

The day the tour arrives in Iowa, there is a story on the front page of The New York Times about a man in the Bronx who was lured into an apartment where nine young men chained him to a chair, burned him with cigarettes, beat him, forced toxic levels of alcohol down his throat, and sodomized him with a baseball bat. They did this because he was gay. Reading the story, I found myself wondering if any Baptists in the Bronx were preaching about the need for these nine young men to reflect on their lifestyle or if the Mormon Church would bother to make a proclamation that this kind of violence toward gay people is “out of bounds.” I wondered if the people who said these words to the members of my company would contend that homosexuality is more damaging to our society than this kind of violence toward gay people. I wondered if they felt there was any connection between the prejudice toward gay people that they preach from the authority of their pulpits and the prejudice that led these young men to brutally attack this innocent man because he was gay.

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