Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Majority of Americans Believe Churches Contribute to Gay & Bi Suicides

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.

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I deeply regret that I must reinstate the verification process for those who want to leave comments on my blog. This is due to the intolerable amount of spam that spammers are attempting to leave on the blog.

At the same time I am changing settings so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will not have to have your comments moderated. My hope is this will encourage more readers to take the time to comment. The fact is I want to read comments with those of you who disagree with me as well as those of you who agree with me. All I ask is that you keep your comments clean and non-threatening.

The only reason I take the time to write this blog is to spur your thoughts and comments. Please do not let the spammers cause you not to comment. I know entering the verification words and numbers is a pain in the ass, but I hope you will not let the spammers cause you not to comment.

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Jack Scott

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.

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.

Jack Scott