According to an article on Belief Blog, two thirds of Amercian believe churches contribute to suicides among gay and bi persons. (The blog article is posted below and can also be seen on line by clicking here .
I am happy to say that my own local United Methodist Church is tolerant of gay people and several members are both openly gay and openly accepted in the fellowship of the church. Yet at the same time church hierarchy has not reached the level of acceptance that many of the members in the pews have reached because church dogma still discriminates against gay and bisexual persons by not allowing them in clerical positions. (Of course there are gay and bi clergy who serve quite well, they just do so under the radar of those who would disciminate against them.)
As a Christian, I often ponder the question of whether, on balance, religion is and historically has been a force for good or a force for evil in the world. There is no doubt that religion and religious people do great good in the world. Again, my own local church is responsible for feeding many who would otherwise be hungry and clothing many who would otherwise be without. That is no small thing in our community.
On the other hand, there are the Reverend (I use the title with great derision) Phelps' of Kansas (and the world) who go out of their way to spead hate in the name of the God of love and peace.
To those who are not Christians and know little about Christianity, I can only ask that you be aware that real Christians do not see themselves as saints. Indeed they do not see themselves as any better than anyone else in any manner whatsoever. They simply see themselves as sinners seeking redemption. Among the ranks of Christians one will find thiefs, liers, adulterers and people of all sorts doing all sorts of evil. But on their best days these sinners are also feeding the hungry, caring for the sick and conforting the weary. And they strive to make their better days outnumber their bad days.
Because this country is still overwhelmingly a country of believers, perhaps it is a sign of hope that two thirds of the people in the country (a large number of which mathematically have to be Christians themselves) see that the church universal and Christians personally are not following the example of Christ when it comes to dealing with those whose sexuality is outside the mainstream.
See the article below.
Two out of three Americans believe gay people commit suicide at least partly because of messages coming out of churches and other places of worship, a survey released Thursday found.
More than four out of 10 Americans say the message coming out of churches about gay people is negative, and about the same number say those messages contribute "a lot" to negative perceptions of gay and lesbian people.
Catholics were the most critical of their own churches' messages on homosexuality, while white evangelical Christians gave their churches the highest grades, the survey found.
The Public Religion Research Institute asked 1,017 Americans their views on religion and homosexuality between October 14 and 17, in the wake of a highly publicized rash of suicides by gay people.
Gay rights campaigner Dan Savage said the idea that churches send out an anti-gay message "totally jibes with my experience and that of millions of other gay and lesbian people."
He cited Joel Burns, a Forth Worth, Texas, city councilman whose emotional tale of being bullied as a young gay man went viral on the internet.
"He remembers being told to go home and commit suicide and that he was going to hell," Savage said, adding that the source of such attitudes "wasn't in algebra."
Leaders of the Christian right "have redefined Christianity so that it is about being anti-gay," he said.
And he cited other poll findings that suggest more Americans than ever before define themselves as having no religion.
"When you dig down, you found people who said they were Christians who didn't want to be identified with being anti-gay," he argued.
But Jim Daly, the head of Focus on the Family, argued in a commentary for CNN that Christian churches are not to blame.
"To violate the dignity of another person, in any form or fashion, is to contradict the very basis of Gospel-centered living. And to suggest that an orthodox understanding of Christianity encourages abuse against homosexuals is a sad misreading of the very tenets of the faith," he said.
"Some self-described Christians do not act in Christ-like ways toward those who are different than they are," he conceded.
"They save their harshest judgments for the sins they don't struggle with themselves. That is not biblical Christianity in practice," he said.
Only five out of 100 people gave churches generally an A for their handling of "the issue of homosexuality" in the Public Religion Research Institute survey, while 28 percent said their own church handled it well.
One in three people said that messages from places of worship contribute "a lot" to higher rates of suicide among gay and lesbian youth.
Another one in three said they contribute "a little." Only one in five said they do not contribute at all. The rest said they did not know.
Americans were equally split on whether homosexual relationships between adults are wrong, with 44 percent saying yes and 46 percent saying no.
The sampling margin on the survey, a joint project of PRRI and Religion News Service, is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Anyone can comment on what I write in this blog. Regretfully, the recent amount of spam in my email account as required that I reinstate the word verification process for comments which I personally hate.
But at the same time I have loosened the comment moderation process so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will no longer need to wait for your comment to be moderated. I'm hoping this will tempt you to take the trouble to comment.
I look forward to hearing from each of you.
The truth is I want respectful comments both from those who agree with me and those who do not. All I as is that you keep comments to the point, clean and non-threatenting.
I look forward to hearing from each of you.