Academic journal article Journal of Social Work Education

Can Religious Expression and Sexual Orientation Affirmation Coexist in Social Work? a Critique of Hodge's Theoretical, Theological, and Conceptual Frameworks

Academic journal article Journal of Social Work Education

Can Religious Expression and Sexual Orientation Affirmation Coexist in Social Work? a Critique of Hodge's Theoretical, Theological, and Conceptual Frameworks

Article excerpt

SOCIAL WORK VALUES religious diversity and celebrates persons of all faiths. To this end, schools of social work are charged with the responsibility of preparing students to work with persons of all religious backgrounds (Council on Social Work Education [CSWE], 2001). As part of this educational process the profession considers the differences between concepts of religion and spirituality. The social work profession also tackles the controversies that have manifested regarding religion and sexual orientation. Finally, social work is obligated by its Code of Ethics to end oppression of all groups (National Association of Social Workers [NASW], 1999).

A significant voice in this discussion is that of David Hodge. This author has been prolific, and his work has provided an important contribution to the understanding of the concepts of religion and spirituality within the practice and education of social work. More specifically, his research has greatly assisted in a deeper understanding of evangelical Christian views and working with evangelical Christians and those of other religions. Hodge's work has also been controversial. Perhaps most controversial has been his article "Epistemological Frameworks, Homosexuality, and Religion: How People of Faith Understand the Intersection Between Homosexuality and Religion" (Hodge, 2005). Another article that has received attention is "Does Social Work Oppress Evangelical Christians? A 'New Class' Analysis of Society and Social Work" (Hodge, 2002). Indeed, several responses to Hodge's work have been published, and other social work professionals have addressed his work in their letters (Bennett, 2003; Canda, 2003; Danesi, 2003; Fell, 2004; Kaufman, 2003; Liechty, 2003; Melendez & LaSala, 2006; Melillo, 2003; Reamer, 2003; Tower, 2003; van Wormer, 2003).

Although one might think that Hodge would be one of a set of authors discussing tensions in social work regarding the beliefs of many evangelical Christians regarding lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) people, along with the concerns about the possible discrimination of evangelical Christians in social work, this seems not to be the case. We ran a search of Social Work Abstracts and Social Service Abstracts using key words of religion, Christian, homosexual, discrimination, and oppression in various permutations and located only a single article on religious discrimination against Christians in social work settings for which Hodge was not an author or coauthor (Thyer & Myers, 2009). Hodge was, however, a coauthor on two articles (Ressler & Hodge, 2000, 2003) discussing a quantitative survey that indicated that Christian social workers who identified as theologically very conservative (N=31) or conservative personally experienced significantly more discrimination than did liberal or very liberal Christian social workers. A follow-up qualitative study exploring the narratives of 12 conservativeidentified Christians in social work indicated the greatest tension was around interpretation of sexual orientation. One participant stated, "It's social justice for gays and lesbians and social justice for HIV victims and social justice for minorities, but no social justice for Christians who are being persecuted and are treated worse than some gays and minorities" (Ressler & Hodge, 2003, p. 134). Thyer and Myers (2009) provided eight purposive sample case study examples of Christian social work students, practitioners, and faculty who reported religious-based discrimination in their social work settings focused on topics of gay adoption rights and lesbian and gay affirmation, abortion, respecting religious organizations, public prayer, and withholding religious views when practicing social work. These authors point out the differing interpretations and the importance of defining the term social justice. Streets (2009) indicated that social work education is ambivalent about how to incorporate religion into the curriculum, given the importance of both culturally competent practice and the imperative to refrain from engaging personal values in professional practice. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.