“Why I Hate Religion, But Stay Anyway”

Workshop Description

Father Geoff Farrow, AJ Blackwood, M.Div., Rev. Dr. Sarah Halverson, and a panel of religious leaders from various faith traditions will express “Why I hate religion … but stay anyway,” reflecting upon their (and others’) alienation from and antipathy toward “religion” as a hierarchical institutional structure focused on defining and preserving an “orthodox” set of beliefs, values, and practices as well as the tension to stay within such an oppressive institution. An opportunity for questions will follow the panel discussion.

Presenter Background

Father Geoff Farrow
Father Geoff Farrow was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in June of 1985 for the Diocese of Fresno. He also served as a Chaplain in the US Air Force Reserve from 1989 -1993 and was awarded the National Defense Medal. In 2008, his parish staff asked him to make a pulpit statement giving them moral guidance on Prop 8. On October 5 2008, Father Geoff explained from the pulpit, why Prop 8 was morally wrong. Because of this public statement in support of Same-sex Civil Marriage, Father Geoff was suspended as a Catholic priest by his bishop and removed as the Pastor of St. Paul’s Newman Center at California State University Fresno. 

Since that day, the California State Assembly and the City of West Hollywood have honored Father Geoff for his work on behalf of LGBTQ Civil Rights. On November 15, 2010, Fr. Geoff was arrested for handcuffing himself to the White House Fence. This act of Civil Disobedience was a protest of the discriminatory DADT policy. Congress authorized the repeal of DADT in December of 2010. 

He currently serves as a member on the Board of Directors of Get Equal, an organization using civil disobedience to bring about full Civil Rights for LGBTQ people. Father Geoff also comments on LGBTQ issues on his blog: FatherGeoff.com

A.J. Blackwood, M.Div.
AJ serves as the Chairperson for the Progressive Interfaith Alliance Orange County (PIA-OC), as well as, as a member of the Board of Directors for Elections Committee for the County of Orange (ECCO-PAC). He is diligently working to restore justice for the Queer Community and all Californians in the area of Marriage Equality through interfaith dialogue, community organizing, and youth education.

Rev. Dr. Sarah Halverson
Sarah is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and serves as Senior Pastor of Fairview Community Church in Costa Mesa. A native of Orange County,she was educated at Chapman University, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont School of Theology and most recently graduated with her doctorate from Chigago Theological Seminary. Her first priority in ministry is to manifest God’s love for all in the world as informed by the teachings of Jesus and his call to social action in pursuit of justice and peace as well and the Hebrew prophets Isaiah and Micah. Dr. Halverson finds herself drawn to multiple issues of justice: fighting for the rights of the oppressed, including LGBT rights, aworking toward equal marriage for all people and an end to discrimination based on sexual orientation,as well as issues of economic justice, women’s reproductive rights,among others.

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