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Survey Links Religious Condemnation to LGBT Youth Suicides

Survey Links Religious Condemnation to LGBT Youth Suicides

Results of a survey released Thursday show a majority of respondents believe that the condemnation of gay people by religious leaders contributes to the high suicide rate among LGBT youths.

The survey of of 1,017 Americans from across the nation was conducted by The Public Religion Research Council between October 14 and 17. The survey has a margin of error of three percentage points.

From CNN:

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.

Further details from the Salt Lake Tribune:

And though Americans are split about whether they see homosexual activity as a sin, 72 percent say religion contributes to negative views of gays and lesbians.

The survey includes [breakdowns] of some faith traditions, but too few Mormons took part to draw conclusions about how members of Utah’s predominant faith regard their own leaders’ handling of the homosexuality issue, said Daniel Cox, research director for the Public Religion Research Institute, which conducted the survey in partnership with Religion News Service.

[...]

The executive director of Faith in America, a nonprofit group founded in 2005 to combat negative religious messages about homosexuality, pointed to the poll as progress for his cause.

“There is a growing awareness and understanding,” said Brent Childers to Religion News Service, “about the harm that is caused when society places a religious or moral stamp of disapproval on the lives of gay and lesbian individuals, especially youths.”

In the survey, more than twice as many Americans give places of worship low marks in handling the homosexuality issue as give them high marks. Four in 10 respondents give religious organizations a D (18 percent) or an F (24 percent).

Of course, this survey can not prove a direct link between anti-LGBT religious based rhetoric and LGBT youth suicide. However, while limited as all such surveys are, this does seem to give a firm voice to what has long been a prevalent notion— that anti-LGBT rhetoric has can have a serious impact on young people.

It is also worth highlighting that there are many churches that are LGBT affirming, but often their voices are overpowered by right-wing organizations and prominent religious-right figures that, under the guise of biblical and religious truth, fight at every turn the discussion of LGBT issues and the most basic of LGBT rights legislation, especially where young people are concerned.

A relevant example would be Focus on the Family’s staunch opposition to the expansion of federal anti-bullying legislation beyond groups it already protects (religious belief being one of them) to create specific protections against bullying based on perceived or actual sexual orientation and gender identity, while in the same breath also shouting about the dangers of the “homosexual agenda”. 

In an Op-Ed piece written for the CNN faith blog, Jim Daly, the head of Focus on the Family, offered that it is not all Christians that are to blame for the hostile messages LGBT youth hear, but rather “Some self-described Christians” who “do not act in Christ-like ways toward  those who are different than they are[.]” I couldn’t agree more, Jim. Perhaps if you could just have a word with your organization and its associates?

Last week Bishop Gene Robinson wrote a piece for the Huffington Post in which he said that people of faith – along with other advocates – must be seen actively speaking up for LGBTs and LGBT rights so that questioning youths know that the condemnation and hostility LGBTs face from certain quarters is not representative of every member of the religious community:

Just as many gay kids grow up in these conservative denominations as any other. They are told day in and day out that they are an abomination before God. Just consider the sheer numbers of LGBT kids growing up right now in Roman Catholic, Mormon, and other conservative religious households. The pain and self-loathing caused by such a distortion of God’s will is undeniable and tragic, causing scars and indescribable self-alienation in these young victims.

[...]

On the other hand, what’s the role of more mainline, more progressive denominations such as mainstream Christianity, Judaism, and Islam in these recent tragedies? Mostly silence. And just like in the days of the AIDS organization Act Up, “silence equals death.”

It is not enough for good people — religious or otherwise — to simply be feeling more positive toward gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Tolerance and a live-and-let-live attitude beats discrimination and abuse by a mile. But it’s not enough. Tolerant people, especially tolerant religious people, need to get over their squeamishness about being vocal advocates and unapologetic supporters of LGBT people. It really is a matter of life and death, as we’ve seen.

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Don’t Suffer in Silence, Get Help!

The Trevor Project runs a 24/7 helpline with trained counselors ready to listen if you or someone you know would like to talk about the issues dealt with in this post.

The Trevor Project Helpline number is 1-866-4-U-TREVOR (1-866-488-7386).

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Photo used under Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to John Steven Fernandez.

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3:52PM PDT on May 22, 2012

Embracing one another is what we need to do and in fact what we should do!

3:51PM PDT on May 22, 2012

care2.com/causes/survey-finds-perceived-link-between-anti-gay-religious-messages-and-gay-youth-suicides.html#comment-3690602
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Hide Details FROM:rosemary wall TO:rosemary wall Message flagged Tuesday, May 22, 2012 6:49:14 PMJesus taught acceptance, forgiveness, humility ... love another as you love yourself ... let whoever is without sin throw the first stone !
To those who cannot accept their fellow man/women for who they are ARE arrogant! I'd like to know who gave them their license to be so judgmental and self-serving !
It is because of intolerance that there is war in our world !
How can there ever be acceptance if there is so much hatred !
If peace is not a personal experience within then how can peace manifest in our world!
Offering compassion, an open heart, a willingness to treat another human being as your equal, to embrace their pain as your own offering support and empathy is all that is needed.
Why is it so difficult to do? Why put up barriers that do not need to be?
Creating superiority is a false sense of security that instills separation rather than inclusion!
For any human being to suggest they are better than another based on their personal bias's
will only alienate them causing in the end failing personal relationships.
A lack of foundation that being of acceptance, of the reality-the Truth that our species irregardless of color, religious or non-religious persuasion, of sexual orientation, o

3:46PM PDT on May 22, 2012

Jesus taught acceptance, forgiveness, humility ... love another as you love yourself ... let whoever is without sin throw the first stone !
To those who cannot accept their fellow man/women for who they are ARE arrogant! I'd like to know who gave them their license to be so judgmental and self-serving !
It is because of intolerance that there is war in our world !
How can there ever be acceptance if there is so much hatred !
If peace is not a personal experience within then how can peace manifest in our world!
Offering compassion, an open heart, a willingness to treat another human being as your equal, to embrace their pain as your own offering support and empathy is all that is needed.
Why is it so difficult to do? Why put up barriers that do not need to be?
Creating superiority is a false sense of security that instills separation rather than inclusion!
For any human being to suggest they are better than another based on their personal bias's
will only alienate them causing in the end failing personal relationships.
A lack of foundation that being of acceptance, of the reality-the Truth that our species irregardless of color, religious or non-religious persuasion, of sexual orientation, of which corner of the globe you may call home, of what your cultural customs are etc. etc. etc.
these characteristics through which we define our human species - the "Crown of Creation" - knows no demarcation except those drawn by our minds!
Embracing one another is what we n

3:45PM PDT on May 22, 2012

Jesus taught acceptance, forgiveness, humility ... love another as you love yourself ... let whoever is without sin throw the first stone !
To those who cannot accept their fellow man/women for who they are ARE arrogant! I'd like to know who gave them their license to be so judgmental and self-serving !
It is because of intolerance that there is war in our world !
How can there ever be acceptance if there is so much hatred !
If peace is not a personal experience within then how can peace manifest in our world!
Offering compassion, an open heart, a willingness to treat another human being as your equal, to embrace their pain as your own offering support and empathy is all that is needed.
Why is it so difficult to do? Why put up barriers that do not need to be?
Creating superiority is a false sense of security that instills separation rather than inclusion!
For any human being to suggest they are better than another based on their personal bias's
will only alienate them causing in the end failing personal relationships.
A lack of foundation that being of acceptance, of the reality-the Truth that our species irregardless of color, religious or non-religious persuasion, of sexual orientation, of which corner of the globe you may call home, of what your cultural customs are etc. etc. etc.
these characteristics through which we define our human species - the "Crown of Creation" - knows no demarcation except those drawn by our minds!
Embracing one another is what we n

10:58PM PDT on Jul 20, 2011

im pagan & lesbian myself & recently have attended my final week of a church camp that knew about both facts & loved me anyway.they didnt try to change me & they listened to my thoughts & explained their ideals with kindness.they even told me that god loved me for all the good things i have done & will do in the future & will judge on my soul, not my sexuality. there are many places that do accept lgbt people & show them love, but most unfortunately dont & we need to show them love back & just let them learn from our good gestures wer not bad people. i was turned to paganism because of those people & because it felt right & they accept most anybody. & i dont hate christians because i know it is a wholesome religion with many good qualities.they just need to open up a bit more, like the rest of us...

7:08AM PST on Feb 9, 2011

All religion is an abomination AND an opium to the people!

5:15PM PDT on Oct 29, 2010

Being LGBT is hard enough, without having to put up with the hatred and stupidity of religious bigots. I really hope someone does an official study on this subject, and that churches would realise that they are destroying lives. But I know that I am an idealist and tolerances is something that, unfortunately, will never happen. Give me an atheist over a religious person any day, and I speak from personal experience of the damage religion does.

11:52PM PDT on Oct 26, 2010

Tom Y, you just reinforced what this whole thing is about with your anti-gay scriptures & your self-righteous tone. You've proved the point. Your scriptures, if you ever read them, condemn just about everyone - & there are plenty of hetero abominations too - women who "wear men's clothes" (jeans, slacks etc.), those who eat shellfish, pork etc., sons who disrespect their parents are to be stoned to death, women who have girl babies are more unclean than those who have boys, women are unclean & should be locked away when menstruating, women should cover their heads & never speak in church (does your church abide by this?) & Jesus never said a word about gay people but he soundly condemned the rich to hell - does your church do the same? Does it call the rich to repentance? No, of course it doesn't - none of them follow this, but many of them follow the old tribal hatreds & prejudices against women & gays. Why would any good god care about these things? Why would the most intelligent being in the Universe care who you loved as long as you do love? Why did god allow people to be born with different sexual orientations, genders, colors, abilities if s/he didn't desire it? Fortunately, your meanspirited, vengeful, hateful god is falling out of favor these days. It is good to hear that the fastest growing religion today is "none". If you & other so-called Christians actually practiced what Jesus taught (not Paul or Moses) we'd all be better

7:32AM PDT on Oct 26, 2010

If a church is so conservative as to demand either abstinence or marriage of its members, I can see that. But the church should give up worrying about anybody's latent tendencies about who they are attracted to. It is normal for teenagers to have crushes on a wide variety of persons of both sexes before they settle down to a faithful monogamous relationship with one person.

4:26AM PDT on Oct 25, 2010

not a surprise. religion has been the basis for atrocities (to this day) against women, Blacks (I don't use the term
African Americans -you're either an American or not and your either a Native American or descended from immigrants), Native Americans, LGBT etc etc
Ad nauseam (and this whole situation makes me nauseous)
It's religions insistence on being "unquestioning" that makes it dangerous on so many levels.

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