Distressingly, a recent survey shows that many Americans give low marks to places of worship when it comes to dealing with homosexuality. According to the poll from the Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with the Religion News Service, 18 percent of Americans gave religious organizations in general a “D” and 24 percent gave them an “F.” On the other hand, nearly half of Americans gave their own places of worship high marks (an “A” or a “B”). Says Dr. Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute:
“The survey shows that a significant number of Americans are aware of and concerned about the negative impact of messages about homosexuality from places of worship, particularly with regard to gay and lesbian youth. Notably, despite the negative evaluations of places of worship in general, Americans are more likely to give their own places of worship high marks; nearly half Americans give their own place of worship either an ‘A’ (28%) or a ‘B’ (17%) on their handling of this issue.”
The poll also shows that one-third of Americans say negative messages from religious bodies about homosexuality are contributing “a lot” to higher rates of suicide among gay and lesbian youth. Nearly as many Americans say those negative messages contribute “a little.” Younger people were more likely to see such messages as contributing “a lot” to the problem. Just 21 percent of survey respondents say they don’t contribute at all to the high rate of teen suicides.
Says Daniel Cox, director of research for the institute:
“A majority of Americans agree that messages coming from places of worship about the issue of homosexuality are not positive. Americans are six times more likely to say that messages coming from places of worship are negative as they are to say that they are positive.”
The Texas Freedom Network works with clergy in our Texas Faith Network — more than 600 progressive and mainstream clergy from around the state — on LGBT issues. These clergy were an important part of our efforts — in coalition with groups such as Equality Texas — to pass hate crimes legislation in Texas that specifically includes bias based on sexual orientation.