Sixty-five percent of Americans — a vast majority — blame churches for “higher rates of suicide among gay and lesbian youth,” such as the suicides that have shocked the country in recent months, according to a new poll just released by The Public Religion Research Institute. The survey also finds that seventy-two percent of Americans believe “messages about the issue of homosexuality coming from places of worship contribute to negative views of gay and lesbian people.” Additionally, forty-three percent of Americans, a plurality, “think messages on the issue of homosexuality coming from America’s places of worship are generally negative.”
The Public Religion Research Institute also reports, “more than 4-in-10 Americans gave religious organizations a “D” (18%) or an “F” (24%). The number of Americans giving places of worship low marks is more than twice as many as give them high marks; Only 5% of Americans give them an “A,” and only 11% give them a “B.”
“Of all religious groups, white evangelicals are most likely to give their own church high marks for handling the issue of homosexuality. Three-quarters of white evangelicals give their church an “A” (48%) or “B” (27%). Among white mainline Protestants and Catholics, only about 4-in-10 give their church an “A” or “B.” Catholics were most likely to give their churches negative marks, with nearly one-third giving their churches a “D” (15%) or an “F” (16%).”
“A majority of Americans agree that messages coming from places of worship about the issue of homosexuality are not positive,” said Daniel Cox, Director of Research for Public Religion Research Institute. “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.”
It’s important to compare these factual, scientific findings with the assault that radical yet well-publicized and well-funded right-wing religious zealots are making on the issue of the severe and damaging impact religious institutions and “pro-family” groups are having on the youth and teens of America, particularly youths and teens who are homosexual or may questioning their sexuality. Even those who do not self-identify as homosexual, bisexual, or transgender, but are perceived as being LGBTQ, have suffered greatly at the hands of bullies of all ages.
And it’s no wonder the vast majority of Americans “agree that messages coming from places of worship about the issue of homosexuality are not positive.” Consider Minnesota, which is eighty-one percent Christianist. Then consider this, via The American Independent:
“Archbishop John Neinstedt says Minnesota’s bishops will be distributing “more than one million” DVDs across Minnesota just weeks before the [November 2010] election. Part of an orchestrated campaign against same-sex marriage, the DVDs were funded by an anonymous donor and produced by the Knights of Columbus, a group that donates to the National Organization for Marriage, which is also running anti-gay marriage ads in Minnesota. While Neinstedt says the effort isn’t about politics, the state’s largest LGBT advocacy group slammed the new campaign.
“Dennis McGrath, spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, told the Minnesota Independent that the campaign is titled, “Preserving Marriage in Minnesota.”
“The DVD itself, “One Man, One Woman – Marriage and the Common Good,” is a hodgepodge of anti–gay marriage arguments including statements by Maggie Gallagher, founder of the National Organization for Marriage, who says gay marriage will be taught in schools if it is legalized.”
Compare the survey findings above with the intersection of Maggie Gallagher’s National Organization for Marriage’s misdeeds in Minnesota, and the murderous rhetoric coming from other radical, well-funded hate groups, including the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which proudly invokes god and religion in its public messaging, including in its weekly emails.
Maggie Gallagher, the Chairwoman of NOM, this week offered an op-ed in the New York Post. Titled, “Don’t blame me for gay teen suicides,” Gallagher, whom many (yours, truly, included,) indeed do blame for gay teen suicides, asks, “Do I have blood on my hands?” She then asks, “Forced sex, childhood sexual abuse, dating violence, early unwed pregnancy, substance abuse — could these be a more important factor in the increased suicide risk of LGBT high schoolers than anything people like me ever said?”
Ever obtuse, Gallagher has yet to come to the realization that people are forced into risky behaviors out of desperation. And the root cause of that desperation often is in the words, and the campaign of hate, that is Maggie Gallagher.
New York Magazine agrees, and responds:
“[W]hen Maggie Gallagher put[s] out ads comparing gay marriage to a terrifying oncoming storm as part of a campaign to maintain legal inequality, it provides more evidence to young, confused gay kids that what they are is not as good as what other kids are. (Incidentally, it provides bullies with the same justification.) She’s not just opposed to gay marriage. She’s working as hard as she can to create an environment that delegitimizes the gay lifestyle, claiming that it “takes away freedom” from other people and threatens America’s very way of life.”
Then there is the extreme right-wing homophobic columnist obsessed with homosexuality, Mike Adams, who in Townhall satirically writes of “a wave of [eight] recent suicides involving Christians who have been harassed by homosexual activists.” He ends the piece with a retort.
“These eight cases are all true except for one thing: The Christians who were bullied by gays and gay activists are all still alive. Not a single one has committed suicide. That is because they have centered their lives around Jesus Christ, rather than their sexual identity. And no amount of bullying can change my mind about that.”
Suicide, whether gay or straight, is never funny. Nor is it to be used as a satirical vehicle to twist into a misguided point.
But make no mistake. These are just two examples this week of countless ones throughout the years.
Sadly, it’s getting worse.
Already, many reputable organizations have gone on record with their belief that organizations such as Gallagher’s NOM are merely storefronts for the vast wealth that is the Mormon Church. Others see the hand of other Christianist Churches in so-called “pro-family” organizations such as Focus on the Family, the Alliance Defense Fund, the American Family Association, the Family Research Council, and other anti-gay hate groups.
Fortunately, the one thing we can all trust is the common-sense of the American people, who know a scam and a hate-monger when they see it. They have identified the Church in America as the leading cause of the anti-gay bias and bullying that has driven countless LGBTQ youths and teens to suicide.
There is blood on the hands of Maggie Gallagher, and the Church; the blood of gay teens who succumbed to suicide — teens literally bullied to death. And America — sixty-five percent of America – knows it.
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