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.”
You can read more about the poll here.
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.
4 thoughts on “Polling about Religion and Homosexuality”
I’m proud to say that URJ (Union For Reform Judaism) is VERY friendly to the LGBT community.
It is not a question of whether homosexuality is right or wrong. We could argue against it all day and homosexuality would not go away. We could argue for it all day, and it would not become more than it is right now. The bottom line is how we treat our fellow human beings.
Yes, the Old Testament says they are an abomination before the Lord and they must be killed.
The New Testament says that God is full of mercy—full—that is when the water goes all the way up to the rim of the glass. It also says that our fellow human beings are our neighbors and that we must love them as we love ourselves.
I believe Christian fundamentalists value the Old Testament view so much because they spend most of their time trying to be Old Testament Jews in this life—while giving passing lip service to the New Testament and spending much less time there. Christian fundamentalists are an angry people that loves to kill. They speak of justice, but their hearts bleed for revenge. The need to kill comes first, and the Old Testament is a place where you can go to find the verses that support what you really need to do down deep inside—regardless of what the Bible says contrary to that. I can hear them now. “The Bible says it’s okay to kill a life as long as it is a guilty life. We can do it Maw!!! Hit says so right here!!!” The forget that the Bible also says that NONE of us is innocent—we are all guilty life. Does that mean we should all commit suicide? No, it means that we all stand within a circle of imperfection and lack the authority to judge wisely in a matter so permanent as death.
I suspect that the Americans who “are more likely to give their own places of worship high marks” and the “nearly half [who] give their own place of worship either an ‘A’ (28%) or a ‘B’ (17%) on their handling of this issue” are largely fundamentalists who agree that homophobia is a virtue and support that stance in their churches. If they agree with Leviticus 20:13 about homosexual acts being an abomination, they surely must agree with Leviticus 20:10 about putting to death both the man and the woman who commit adultery. Perhaps some of the victorious Tea Party members will introduce a law to that effect.
We Jews call the first 5 books of the Bible TORAH and the remaining books TANAKH (an acronym). But nobody cares what Jews call their own scripture so I’ll call it the only conventionally accepted name (“Old Testament”) so that readers will know what I’m talking about.
Yes, the Old Testament says what it says about homosexuals. However, it also says a lot about crimes and misdemeanors we no longer prosecute or arrest today. Despite what most non-Jews think, Judaism HAS evolved since biblical times. For example – and this will shock most readers – Jews DO NOT sacrifice animals. We have not sacrificed animals since our Temple was destroyed in 70 CE.
Charles wrote: “The need to kill comes first, and the Old Testament is a place where you can go to find the verses that support what you really need to do down deep inside….” (Charles, I hope this is not YOUR opinion!)
People always love to trash Judaism without even having read or understood TANAKH. One must read TANAKH with a Commentary, and a good one is the JPS Commentary. TANAKH was written in Hebrew which few non-Jews know (or even care to know) and eventually translated into English. It’s a very difficult concept for Christians to understand but every translation is an interpretation.
And sorry Charles, but you’re wrong. It is TORAH that says we are to “love our neighbor as ourselves” (Leviticus 19:18). Jesus was only quoting from Leviticus when he said that. He then followed up with another quote: “Thou shalt love the lord thy God with all thy heart….” (Deuteronomy 6:5). Despite Christianity’s insistence that these are Jesus’ original words, he was only quoting verses straight from TORAH which was written down probably centuries before his birth. Of course, nobody here is going to take my word for it so look it up yourself. You’ll find what I’m saying is true.
Despite what Charles says, the Old Testament is chock full of God’s mercy. A small sampling:
Isaiah 1:18-19: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”
Jeremiah 31:34: “….for they shall all know me…saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
Jeremiah 33:8: “And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me.”
Micah 7:18-19: “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardons iniquity and passes by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retains not his anger for ever because he delights in mercy. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”
Psalm 73:24: “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel and afterward receive me to glory.”
Ezekiel 18:20: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.”
Deuteronomy 30:6-10: “And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart….that thou may live. If thou shalt harken unto the voice of the Lord thy God to keep his commandments and his statutes……and if thou turn unto the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul.”
Ezekiel 18:9: “He that has walked in my statutes and has kept my judgments to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live…”
Ezekiel 18:21, 27: “But if the wicked will turn from all his sins…and keep all my statutes and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die…. he shall save his soul alive.”
Need more? Read how God forgave King David in II Samuel 11:1-12:14. Because David confessed his sin [in the matter of Bathsheba and Uriah the Hittite], he was forgiven. This is what David is referring to in his Psalm 51. Verses 16-17: “The sacrifices God desires are a broken spirit; a heart broken and humbled, O God, you will not despise.” (One can only wonder how David could have been forgiven since Jesus had not yet been born).
In fact, for more evidence of God’s mercy in the Old Testament, read ALL the Psalms. I can’t quote all of them here.