TACOMA, Wash. – The Rev. Irene Monroe is determined to get the message out. Hand the plain-spoken theologian a microphone, and before you know it, she’s got a national radio show; pass her a keyboard, and out pours a commentary that becomes syndicated in papers across the country.

Monroe, an African American, feminist, ordained minister and motivational speaker, wants the public to understand the role that religion plays in discrimination against people from minority cultures. She does not believe Christianity is inherently intolerant, and she certainly does not want to see it used by anyone to oppress those who are not like themselves.On Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, the Rev. Irene Monroe will share her perspectives with Tacoma audiences by presenting the talk “From Stonewall to Pulse: The Intersections of Race, Sexuality, and Religion.” The spring Swope Lecture will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Schneebeck Concert Hall, near Union Avenue and N. 14th St., on the University of Puget Sound campus. A reception will follow in the Tahoma Room, Thomas Hall. Everyone is welcome and the event is free, however tickets are required. See below for more information.Monroe is a syndicated religion columnist, a radio show host, television commentator, and Huffington Post blogger. She co-hosts the show All Revved Up on Boston Public Radio and appears in a weekly television segment called The Take, covering the latest pop-culture headlines, on New England cable channel NECN.Described in O, The Oprah Magazine, as “a phenomenal woman who has succeeded against all odds,” Monroe is a sought-after speaker and a columnist for newspapers across the country, in the United Kingdom, and in Canada. As a writer, Monroe says, she tries to inform the public on the role that religion plays in discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people.”Because homophobia is both a hatred of the ‘other’ and it’s usually acted upon ‘in the name of religion,’ …I aim to highlight how religious intolerance and fundamentalism not only shatters the goal of American democracy, but also aids in perpetuating other forms of oppression such as racism, sexism, classism, and anti-Semitism,” she writes.

Asked by the Outtake Voices radio series host how African-American communities, who have themselves faced discrimination, can be won over to support the civil rights of the LGBT community, Monroe commented:

“We need more churches (that) open their doors to the entire community. One of the things that the black church talks about is that being gay brings about the demise of the black family. The thing is that the black family is same-gender couples, it’s a grandma raising a grandson, it’s certainly a male and female. We have always had alternative types of family as a form of liberation and struggle against discrimination in this country. We’ve had to do it as a form of survival.”

Monroe has been widely honored for her work with minority communities and her efforts to win them equal rights. She was chosen by MSNBC as one of “10 Black Women You Should Know,” and she has been profiled in O, The Oprah Magazine, on CNN’s Paula Zahn Now show, and on CNN headline news. She is the recipient of awards including: the 2015 Top 25 LGBT Power Players of New England Award, from Boston Spirit Magazine; an Open Door Award, for services to the community; the 2013 Bayard Rustin Service Award; and the  2012 Spirit of Justice Award, from GLAD (GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders). She appeared in the documentary film For the Bible Tells Me So and was profiled in the “Gay Pride” episode of PBS’s In the Life.

A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Monroe was a graduate of Wellesley College and Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University, before enrolling at Harvard Divinity School for her doctorate as a Ford Fellow.

The Jane Hammer Swope Lectureship on Ethics, Religion, Faith, and Values aims to promote discussion, critical thinking, and ethical inquiry about matters of religion, including its role in public life and contemporary ethics. The lectureship was established at Puget Sound through a gift from Maj. Ianthe Swope in honor of her mother, Jane Hammer Swope.

FOR TICKETS: Admission is free, but tickets are required. Tickets are available online at tickets.pugetsound.edu, or at Wheelock Information Center, 253.879.3100.

For directions and a map of the University of Puget Sound campus: pugetsound.edu/directions
For accessibility information please contact [email protected] or 253.879.3931, or visit pugetsound.edu/accessibility.

Press photos of the Rev. Irene Monroe can be downloaded from pugetsound.edu/pressphotos.
Photos on page: From top right: the Rev. Irene Monroe; Rev. Monroe on the show The Take, with host Sue O’Connell, NECN

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