Here's a story from earlier this week:
Most Americans believe messages about homosexuality coming from religious institutions contribute to negative views of gays and lesbians, and higher rates of suicide among gay youths, a new poll reports.
While split on whether same-sex relations are sinful, Americans are more than twice as likely to give houses of worship low marks on handling the issue of homosexuality, according to a PRRI/RNS Religion News Poll released Thursday (Oct. 21).[...]
Nearly three-quarters of Americans (72 percent) say religious messages about homosexuality contribute to "negative views" of gays and lesbians, and nearly two-thirds (65 percent) see a connection to higher rates of suicide among gay youths.
Americans are critical of religion, especially when it comes to homosexuality. It shows they're further ahead than their churches are, even thought for some reason half of them still think same-sex love is "sinful."
Except that's not the whole story. Fortunately a question was included in the poll that explains those numbers:
-- More than 40 percent of Americans give places of worship a `D' or an `F' when it comes to handling the issue of homosexuality; only 16 percent would give them an `A' or a `B.' However, Americans rate their own places of worship significantly higher: 45 percent give it an `A' or `B,' and only 17 percent would give it a grade of `D' or `F.'
As a table, those responses look like this:
|Position on gay issues is...||My awesome religion||Lesser, hell-bound religions|
My guess is there are a lot of factors that lead to those numbers. Some people might not see their church leaders screaming until their faces are red about the evils of sodomy and assume their church with an effective DADT policy is good on gay issues while thinking that other churches have outright homophobes in charge. Lots of church-goers think that homosexuality is bad, so they rate their own church higher because it's homophobic (relating back to the suicide statistics cited before the jump, since at least some people think that churches that are welcoming of gay people actually increase gay suicide). People tend to agree with their own church for lots of reasons and wouldn't keep on going to one they disagreed with.
And then there's the purely tribalistic explanation, that people believe that their church is better than all the others in every way possible, so this is just one of them. It explains why you hear conservative Southern Baptists respond to gay rights claims with something like "Muslims are worse!" as if the mere fact that other people who are worse exist somewhere in the world lets them off the hook for behaving like decent human beings.
This other question also got an interesting response:
-- White evangelicals are most satisfied with their church's handling of homosexuality, with 75 percent giving it an `A' or a `B.' Catholics are the most critical, with nearly a third -- twice as many as any other group -- giving their church a `D' or `F.'
"Evangelicals," which includes quite a few Baptists, tend to have more control over their church's doctrine, as it varies from church to church and there are more options for them in the US. It creates a sort of free market, which has done little to liberalize their religion but makes people generally more satisfied with where they are. Catholics, on the other hand, have no say and can't just go to another Catholic church that has an interpretation of the Bible closer to their own.
That and Catholics tend to live in more gay-friendly areas, while evangelicals are more concentrated in the South.