3. Is Illuman Inclusive?
Finally, as the board chair for Illuman, I'm often asked if we are "inclusive." Sometimes it's a trick question, as the inquirer wants to test my, and our, orthodoxy. After 12 years of involvement with this work, I want to share with you how I answer this question. My response is below, and I would love to hear any feedback or questions - please email your comments to [email protected]
By Damien Faughnan
As Board President, I'm often asked questions like, "Is Illuman a Christian organization?" or "Is Illuman supportive of the gay lifestyle?"
Let me answer in the simplest way possible: Illuman is open to all men. No exceptions.
Men who are attracted to our work come from very different religious traditions, or no religious tradition. The majority of our men do come from a Judeo-Christian background but, even within that, our men don't share the same religious vocabulary, theology, or experience. In our core work, we try to use inclusive language that honors a variety of traditions and crosses all of these man-made boundaries.
Quite simply, there are men involved in our community who have no religious affiliation and are simply questioning. There are men involved in our work who have been failed by or hurt by their religious tradition. There are men involved in our work who remain deeply committed to their religious denomination. All of these men belong. There is great benefit to being with men of other traditions, and of no tradition; it allows us to increase our understanding of other traditions and deepen the appreciation we have for our own tradition or unique faith journey.
Our work is to bring men together and create a container where these identities and false boundaries do not dominate the conversation. Our work is to encourage a "sacred listening" to other men, where we don't have to convince, influence, or even "fix" them. This is truly counter-cultural. We cultivate a community where men don't have to operate from a fearful, stereotyping, ego-based position. When we get to this place, men can listen deeply to one another, to themselves, and to the sacred.
Fundamentally, we operate from the premise that each of us is on a spiritual journey. We don't presume that we are all on the same path-or that there is a preferred path, faith, or theology. Given that our work started with strong roots in the Judeo-Christian tradition, our particular stand in the world states that all men are beloved sons of God-no exclusions.
The question about gay men is related to this. Illuman has always been open and affirming of gay men. All men are welcome; no exclusions or exceptions..