Alex Blaze

My religion is better for gays than yours

Filed By Alex Blaze | October 24, 2010 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: lesbian, LGBT, poll, religion, survey

Here's a story from earlier this week:

RELIGION-Choice_small.gifMost 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 religionLesser, hell-bound religions
Good4516
Bad1740

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.

religion-us-map.png

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I had no idea how widespread Catholicism is in this country...interesting.

Looks can be deceiving with that map (as with a similar ethno-graphic map that makes it seem like most Americans are German). It's the places where Catholics are the plurality, so if 20% of people in a county are Catholic, 18% Episcopal, 15% Methodist, 14% Lutheran, 10% Baptist, and the rest are a mix of other religions and agnostics, then it'll be marked "Catholic."

And here's the link to the other map:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Census-2000-Data-Top-US-Ancestries-by-County.svg

If you add up "German" and "Mexican" that roughly equals the parts that are "Catholic" on the other map.

"People tend to agree with their own church for lots of reasons and wouldn't keep on going to one they disagreed with."

From your lips to God's ears .... please. People tolerate their church. Jesus probably wouldn't, but they do.

Most people (90%) remain committed to the religion they were infected with as a child - even gay-Christians. They received this "faith" without any consideration of other religions, in was injected by parents. More than 90% of self-described religious people are the same denomination as their parents. Being taught something (that includes God and parents) at 5 years old tends to stick.

While you have disagreed in the past that "religion" is the primary source for discrimination against homosexuals, this research confirms it. No other institution has made homosexuality "wrong."

There is significant progress with younger people because they don't take religion seriously. That is especially the case when a church or denomination tries to make religion more important than equality. Most people under the age of 25 put equality before religion. Most people over 50 put religion first. The middle varies greatly.

The other factor is region of the country. For instance 78% of people in Alabama make religious "very important," less than 45% do in the Northeast. That's why we have SSM in New England.

Religious intensity = anti-homosexual bigotry.

What institutions haven't made homosexuality wrong?

Name one.

Which institutions made up the idea that homosexuality is wrong and has taught it for centuries?

Only religion has done that.

I think it's interesting that Indiana has some of the most diversity in the map. Catholic, Mennonite, Methodist, Christian, Baptist, we've got 'em all except Mormon and Lutherans.

(And, really, can you trust the Lutherans? *snickers*)

Sheesh, another dump on religion post. I guess I am too ditzy to fit the norm.

1. I do not go to a church I was raised in.
2. I go to church in part because I vehemently disagree with some of the views of both the pastor and some of the congregation.
3. I live in a county marked Catholic on that map but it is absolutely not predominantly Catholic.
4. I doubt seriously that if Christianity were banned in the U.S. tomorrow the problem of "anti-gay" would cease anytime soon.
5. I believe the dogma that "I was born this way so its ok" is a cop-out which caters to religious condemnation. I believe it is far better to simply ask "what is your problem with choice". And yes I can quote Scripture with the best but that seldom changes hearts. What changes hearts is honestly living and interacting with others (IMHO).
6. I know that I have changed the hearts of at least 10 people. If every member of "GLBT" could say the same the problem would not still exist or at least would be a minor irritant.
7. Are you going to stand on the sidewalk and protest or do you have the fortitude to attend a church and put your life into active service changing hearts?

"Sheesh, another dump on religion post."

Yes, another dump on religion post. And for good reasons:

1. christians attempt to subvert science, progress, and democracy by attempting to get creationism/intelligent design into the classroom.

2. christians in Texas are attempting to get all christian-hostile positions out of high school history texts. That includes Thomas Jefferson, whom they haven't forgiven for coining the term separation of church and state.

3. christians protect pedophiles (catholics in particular) and then blame gays for it even though all studies show that gays are responsible for only 3-4 percent of pedophilia. Most pedophiles, whether it be boys or girls, are straight men or men only attracted to children.

4. it is christian groups who are most responsible for anti-gay laws, particularly the state marriage amendments.

I suggest to those reading this that our efforts should be toward increasing secularism. There are many groups doing good work out there to advance secular humanism. From putting up billboards advocating atheism to groups that work to keep religion out of the class room, this is where our work and money should go.

The country is becoming more and more secular. Rather than pander to christian idiocy and christian bigotry, let's ally with secular groups. I think we'll get more bang for the buck advancing secularism rather than trying to convince the religious to be more tolerant. Christians don't have a great track record on tolerance.

Anyway, Deena, griping about how gays treat christians unfairly isn't going to get a lot of sympathy from many gays, I suspect. If you need to believe in some fairy tale to make it through life, no worries here. However, keep your mythology to yourself.

Well Joe I don't try to denigrate you for your atheism or whatever you believe. If you need to believe in some fairy tale to get through life no worries here either. Perhaps if you lived in China or Russia you would be blaming the horrible secular totalitarians for the anti-gay atrocities and discrimination. Or maybe it would dawn on you that heterosexuals will instill their prejudices into whichever society evolves. The problem is not religions but rather centuries of closeted existence which shielded heterosexuals from contact and interaction with the GLBT segment of the population. I am not condemning GLBT for being closeted for so many centuries but simply pointing out the dynamics that nurtured a prejudice in society against "something different". Harvey Milk pegged it.

Deena,

Typical of the religious, you want to blame the morality of christianity on human nature. In the antique Mediterranean world, except for the Hebrews, there was no tradition of persecuting those who wanted to have sex with members of their own sex. The Romans looked down on men who were receptive, but there was no law against it, much less an organized persecution. The Greeks certainly didn't persecute those involved in same sex sex. I know of no evidence that suggests the Egyptians did either. That is a christian position, which began in earnest under Justinian I.

As to China and Russia, that is a matter of totalitarianism, not secularism. You might want to consider that the other great (infamous) totalitarian state was Hitler's Germany, which was an expression of christian totalitarianism. (See The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, Steigmann-Gall; The Churches and The Third Reich, Schloder)

You might want to consider that life for most people didn't improve until two related movements began: the industrial revolution and secular democracy. Both require secular knowledge.

I suggest that we support secular movements as our allies for a number of reasons:

1. The trend in America is towards secularism.
2. The "liberal" churches are losing membership.
3. Fundamentalist churches are growing. And nothing you tell most of those rabid animals will ever change their minds. I know; I've had a number of discussions with them.
4. We need allies, so why not ally ourselves with those who are rational and who need our support as much as we need theirs.

Pandering to the religious just reinforces their religiosity. If humans are to get out of the multiples messes we've created, the answer certainly isn't to be found in religion.

And Deena,

Secular Humanists don't rely on fairy tales to get through life. We're enriched by experiencing life as it is.

We don't need a fictional novel to explain where we came from and where we are going. And we certainly don't need something wrapped in superstition, ritual, and presented in a contradictory, historically inaccurate book with appalling morality to know good from bad.

And you wonder why so many people dump on religion.

Joe I accept that you have a problem with God (or however you want to phrase it). When I label your atheism a fairy tale you resent it or at least seem a bit offended. You quote history selectively to support your opinion. In fact during the last 10,000 years most societies have not been "Christian" and yes many have been "anti-gay". But let's not quibble about that because it would take up way too much space to treat the subject comprehensively. Let us instead agree that we have radically different approaches to a solution. We confront people using different tactics. Please let me know when you have changed the hearts of at least ten people (hopefully without killing them).

Joe, the problem I see with your posts –- aside from the obvious prejudice –- is that it they don’t seem to square with what we know.

1. Creationism and intelligent design are supported by evangelicals, not by Christians in general. Many Christians don’t believe in them, to say nothing of trying to get them into the classroom. Although I’m currently questioning, I was Christian all my life and have always accepted science, including evolution by natural selection.

2. The Texas school board members who are trying to get anti-Christian positions out of textbooks are religiously conservative and, again, don’t represent most Christians.

3. To post as if all Christians or all Catholics protected pedophiles is an egregious generalization. Some high-ranking Catholics have protected active pedophiles by moving them from church to church and concealing the church’s findings about them. I don’t know of any evidence that the average Catholic has anything to do with it.

4. This point isn’t far off, but is still seems at odds with the available information. The Republican party advocated for marriage amendments as a wedge issue to drive conservatives to the polls. They worked with large evangelical churches to get their message out, but it was Republicans officials who organized and coordinated the campaign. And evangelicals represent only a minority of Christians.

About 65% of gay people identified themselves as Christian in a recent poll by Kinnaman and Lyons, and the results for transgender and bisexual people are likely to be similar. You’re basically calling these people idiots and bigots and then encouraging them to join you in opposing their own faith.

It sure didn’t go over well with me. How do you expect it will go over with them? Do you expect to win many converts this way?

How do we identify these "new" Christians Dan? By Denomination? By their Church? Some jewelry? Maybe a special tattoo?

Which Denominations have abandoned "creationism?"

Which Denominations have embraced "evolution?"

AndrewW, Bruce Bawer has written a readable book, Stealing Jesus: How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity, that partly answers your question.

Mainstream Protestantism, which generally accepts evolution and advocates social justice, is actually older than fundamentalism -- which gave rise to the modern evangelical movement. Fundamentalism got its start in the 19th century largely as a response to evolution. Early fundamentalists sought a response to natural selection that could rival the intellectual rigor of science. They came up with a complex system in which the entire Bible is equally authoritative and is interpreted, in practice, through the book of Revelation with its cryptic references to the mark of the Beast, the number 666, the Seven Seals, and so on. Mainstream Christians had emphasized the Gospel message of love, as they do to this day.

Even the Southern Baptist Convention was originally mainstream, embracing the goal of social justice and arguing that science and religion were compatible -- but it fell to a cynical, calculated takeover by conservatives (The American Baptist denomination is still generally liberal). The Roman Catholic Church was also fairly progressive. In the 1970s, for example, it opposed Anita Bryant's antigay Save the Children campaign. The previous Pope, John Paul, selected nearly all conservative Cardinals, and they in turn elected Benedict -- another takeover.

So to make the roughest of generalizations, mainstream Protestants tend to be progressive and evangelical Protestants tend to be conservative. The Roman Catholic hierarchy is conservative, but most Roman Catholics are progressive. It isn't a hard and fast rule. Some Presbyterians, for example, are quite conservative, and some evangelical authors argue that the church must accept gay people. Many progressive former Roman Catholics have quit the Church, and a few have founded liberal spin-off groups. I think the only fail-safe way to identify the old-style, social justice Christians is by the individual.

That's informative, but it misses the point.

I know you are apologizing for those "other" Christians, but the fact remains that the idea that "homosexuality is wrong" is still a traditional Christian belief/teaching.

To suggest that I don't care about your "feelings" is accurate. We continue to face discrimination, bullying and even suicide because of your "brothers and sisters" Christian beliefs. Parsing denominations doesn't change anything. If there are so many progressive Christians why aren't they standing up for equality, not just acceptance?

Let me know when you find some Christians that are willing to take a stand and simply state "homosexuality is not wrong." Plus, no denomination has ever rejected the story of creation contained in Genesis.

The difference between denominations is whether or not the Bible is considered "literal" or God's word. While Lutherans, Episcopalians and UCC have made progress "welcoming" LGBT person, none has rejected the teaching/belief that we are wrong. None.

Gay-Christians that support those institutions put their beliefs before their LGBT bothers and sisters safety. I don't see young Christians committing suicide because of bullying, but we all see young LGBT people being mistreated because religion made them "wrong." Continuing to sit in church (oddly enough) rejoicing seems unfair to innocent children and all LGBT persons.

For a second, it sounded like you actually wanted to be productive. But if you have any goal other than being abrasive, you are certainly not achieving it now.

The majority of Roman Catholics and mainstream Protestants reject the lie that homosexuality is wrong, judging from the poll results that I cited toward the end of this chain. Some evangelicals – about a third – also reject that lie.

For roughly the first two-thirds of church history, same-sex relationships were accepted and even celebrated, as detailed in the works of John Boswell. So, that approach is more “traditional” than the antigay theology that developed later – assuming that longstanding dominance has something to do with tradition.

Progressive Christians stand up for equality all the time. You can’t increase the number of pro-LGBT Christians by defining them out of existence. But at this point, I doubt that was your intent.

Again, I didn't ask about individual church-goers. I asked about their official doctrine. It remains a traditional belief and I asked why gay-Christians won't stand up to that?

I fully support this idea of "new" Christians, but why must they stay in the "old" Club?

Well, I didn't intend for this to be a "dump on religion" post. The worst I said about organized religion is that it breeds tribalism, which isn't all that controversial.

On your points:

1. Good for you. Lots of people don't because they want to find one they agree with more and they didn't have a choice when they were kids. What made you change?

2. I'm guessing you're the exception to the rule there. Plenty of LGBT people change churches because their first church isn't affirming, which is completely within their rights and not at all offensive. Most people don't want to go to an institution that they disagree with every week.

3. The map isn't about a county being "predominantly" any religion. It says that counties have pluralities of certain religions. See my comment above.

4. Yup.

5. Yup.

6. Yup.

7. Neither, as I'm not Christian so I'm not going to pretend to be to infiltrate a church and change people's minds. But I'm not going to stand on a sidewalk and protest since that's not my thing either.

Dan Savage has been doing a great job making this conversation about the LGBT Community and religion important. Finally, some Christians are speaking up and confirming:

"Sadly, I believe that a majority of Christians world-wide, here in Canada, and in your own country either tacitly or overtly support homophobia."

That's from Richard Bott, a Minister fro the United Church of Canada.

It's worth reading: http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2010/10/24/re-the-silence-of-the-lambs

This is an important conversation and it represents an opportunity for gay-Christians to stand up in their Faith and say enough is enough. If for no other reason that to save innocent children we MUST reverse the negative branding of homosexuality because it is a LIE. Courage means action in the presence of fear, not silence.

Joe's comment above is accurate Deena and it isn't an attack on religion and you don't need to play your over-used "atheist-card." Joe gave an accuarte account of history and you know that.

Christians need to stop apologizing for those "other" Christians and take some responsibility for the continued discrimination of the LGBT community by RELIGION. We need new Christians that reject that lie about homosexuality and we need that NOW.

These ridiculous statements that some people just "use religion to support their bigotry" is intellectually offensive and a fabrication. It is a traditional Christian belief that "homosexuality is wrong" and that should be painfully obvious to anyone who is honest and objective. Stop with the tedious "interpretation" bullshit, just say WE DON'T BELIEVE THAT. Stand up and reject that belief. Individuals, churches and denominations need to SAY IT. Continuing to ignore it makes you an accomplice to discrimination and death. For God's sake - take a stand!

It is time to end the lie about homosexuality. Christians invented that lie, so they need to extinguish it. Who wants to go first?

About time you showed up Andrew. What religion did you say you follow?

"What religion did you say you follow?"

Anonymous commenting.

Because if I do that there is no dogma or doctrine or fairy tales - there are only words and ideas.

I don't have a quarrel with Christians, I simply have a problem with Christians that look the other way as young innocent kids take their own lives because of what Christians teach in Church. I know people want to defend their particular Faith, but children are dying. Others are being bullied. It is primarily from religious beliefs.

So, is that a confirmation that you are atheist? I know quite a number of right wingnut atheists who are anti-gay.

I told you before I can't be an atheist because that requires a leap of faith. Suggesting with certainty that there is no God is just as silly as suggesting that their is a God. Both are without evidence.

Nobody knows for sure. I'm okay with that. Pretending sucks.

OK Andrew so that would make you an agnostic. Fair enough. But please do not presume to tell others what they do or do not know. As inconceivable as it might be to you my knowledge of God is not something you could possibly comprehend.

"Faith" is the ability to believe something you cannot prove. That goes for you and for atheists. You can convince yourself that you know, but that doesn't make it true or even real.

If you wanted to hold your religious beliefs as an "ideal" it wouldn't be presumptuous. But, I think that's impossible for true "believers," because they live in fear, not possibility. The easiest way to earn Hell is to doubt your Faith.

Andrew I moved beyond faith ages ago to fruition. Belief is acceptance of an idea which is superseded by faith which means you understand it to be true which in turn is superseded by fruition which means experiencing it. I experience God in my daily life yet I accept that you must deny any possibility that I am being truthful when I make that statement. I would offer to you that God is not a respecter of the works of men and God does not judge homosexuality as wrong. I know it is far from productive to discuss such things with you. You would condemn me by association as you have made crystal clear. Your condemnation is no better than that of those who would condemn you or me for other reasons. Give it a rest and do as you frequently advise others. Change the hearts of your neighbors and those you come in contact with through your actions and the example of your life. I shall do the same.

I didn't condemn anyone. There is no need to exaggerate. Plus, your God seems pretty cool.

Everyone has a right to believe whatever they want - that doesn't make it true. I think religion should be personal and that's where our society is headed. We're coming out and religion is headed to the closet.

I disagree that its headed to the closet but I do agree that it is returning to a more personal focus. I think what you will see is "churches" becoming less dictatorial and more encouraging of individual relationships with God. Jesus never said go create a church. What he said was go tell people there is life after mortal death and I have demonstrated it to you. That was and is the good news, the gospel.

Now Andrew, in all fairness, I'm not sure you can handle a relationship with God simply because you always like to have the last word. Hugs.

A "relationship with God?" I guess a date would be a good start. Stats? A/S/L?

Both. Let's make a family.

My my. I had no idea you wanted children. I'm afraid those years are behind me but then again, you know about Sara. With God anything is possible. My answer to the question of sex has always been yes. Does anything else matter? Location? Well I can be flexible but if you want to meet me in Florida that would save me travel time. BTW, should we be discussing this in an open thread?

Brunch would be a good start.

I will email.

But here's the thing. Unlike many fundamental Christians, they're not anti-gay because they're atheists. In fact, most (all?) studies show that atheists (like the well-educated) are less likely to hold anti-gay beliefs.

Deena,

As to having a problem with god(s), what a hackneyed response. I have as much problem with a god as I do with leprechauns, fairies, or were-wolves. None exist, so there in no hostility.

I'l like to know exactly where I was selective about the antique Mediterranean. I'm pretty informed, and I know of no persecutions of those who engaged in same sex sex until Justinian I and after.

What is offensive is that you imply that I would kill those who disagree with me. That is a shameless, offensive christian lie. You might want to remember that is christians who kill those who disagree with them. Dr Tiller would still be alive if it weren't for a murderous christian. Further, this was not isolated. The early nineties saw four murders of abortionists by christians. Furthermore, it is Ugandan christians who want to kill gays. Killing those who disagree with them is a christian/muslim characteristic. It is incredibly dishonest to imply that someone who disagrees with you is a murderer.

As to my converts, I have volunteered for a number of secular works throughout my lifetime. I haven't kept a score card; yet, those who do secular work are having an effect: the non-religious are increasing. I've never thought too highly of those who scream: look at me, look at me, I'm doing good work. Look, look, I've converted 10 to my side. That kind of narcissism, again, would be a christian tendency.

I'm rather surprised that on a gay blog I've encountered a gay christian who shamelessly lies about secular humanists. You have avoided the facts. You have whined about how unfairly the christian is treated. (You and Maggie G have a lot in common; she whines all of the time that christians are an oppressed minority.)

But, what is truly contemptible is that you would accuse someone of endorsing murder. No where did I suggest the answer to the problem was to kill christians. I proposed that the gay community ought to ally itself with secular causes. How you would then jump to me advocating murder is senseless. And, more to the point, it is a hypocritical christian lie: it is christians who do the killing.

You prove more than any argument I could adduce that secularism is the way for the gay community, not pandering to christian idiocy. Thanks for that.

Oh poor you. Wow are you over reactive. I really did not mean to trample your tender feelings by treating you to a simple turn about. You began the condemnation taint and I just fed you back some of the hate and animosity you had served up. I tried to do it gently and really apologize if you felt somehow defamed or bruised.

I don't have a problem with you placing some blame on Christianity but I think that it is shortsighted to think that is the primary essence of the anti-gay forces throughout society and history. And I believe ranting about the mean Christians accomplishes little. You and I simply take different paths towards change. I do keep a "tally" because if every GLBT person could change the hearts of 10 people this would all be a non-issue. Do you disagree with the math?

You being patronizing is another christian tendency. Lying, patronizing, obfuscating, you christians know how to present an intelligent argument.

In the west, what other anti-gay forces have there been?

What is most frustrating about christians is that a rational discussion is impossible. I cite historical evidence; I get a disagreement without evidence. I show that you lie, and I get patronized.

Since discussing something in a secular, rational way won't work with you, I'll argue in your manner:

You're an idiot. Believing that some unprovable figment of the imagination created everything is stupid. Pandering to it keeps people stupid. Denying that gay hostility in the west is a christian manifestation is stupid. Denying that encouraging secularism is a better approach is stupid. Christians have been saying that for two thousand years christianity will improve things and, yet, it hasn't. You're stupid.

Stick your head in the sand the way the rest of you idiot christians do is fine with me. However, I'll continue to advance gay rights through secular means.

I suggest you go back to church and whine some more about how unfairly christians are treated. You and the other idiots can tell more lies about secular humanists; you and other idiot christians can talk about how evolutions isn't true; you and your idiot brethren can denounce every one who disagrees with you. That is what your kind do.

My tender feelings feel much better now. Thanks for that. I guess your stupidity has a use. And, see, I can argue just as you do.

My my Joe. You are certainly excitable. Where did I denounce you? Do you always try to bully people with insults?

Insulting as he may be, you haven't been able to refute any of his claims so far, Deena. You have simply been condescending and asking questions in return. Which never does anything besides make people believe you have no point. Or at least, no good reasoning behind your point.

Throughout western history, Christians have been the biggest force when it comes to spreading homophobia. Yes there have been Athiest and Secularist homophobes, but they are not nearly as common and have never had the same amount of power as the religious anti-gay peoples.

What history are you talking about? Maybe you mean U.S. history for say the last 250 years? I didn't really think this was a good time or place to hold forth with a world history class covering thousands of years of recorded history. Its all on the web anyway so you can read it yourself if you want to absolve yourself of the misconception you cling to that Christianity is the boogie monster solely responsible for anti-gay sentiment. I have never claimed organized religions are blameless but I do recommend a balanced education that weighs how anti-gay has existed in secular civilization.

Paige Listerud | October 25, 2010 2:53 AM

"In the west, what other anti-gay forces have there been?"

Well, I can say that medicine--particularly the budding fields of sexology and psychology--were, in the beginning, exceedingly anti-queer. These disciplines defined alternative sexualities as perversions and disorders. It took a lot of activism to turn Western medicine around, to convince the people in these fields that same-sex behavior was a variant in human sexual behavior, not an aberration. And this is a group that prides itself on scientific objectivity and rational thinking--not scriptural scholarship, adherence to religious tradition or mystical revelation.

The law has been anti-queer and taken centuries to turn around, even in Western states that pride themselves in the separation between church and state.

The patriarchal cultural constructions of masculine and feminine identity and gender roles have been exceedingly anti-queer. Say what you want about the liberality of Ancient Greece or Rome, a man who was known to be the penetrative partner in same-sex behavior was basically relegated to the status of 'woman' and thereby lost his rights as a citizen. Heaven knows, there was lots of social opprobrium that accompanied that loss of status and it probably impacted such men economically. Being a man who would be treated 'like a woman' is not great in such societies, particularly Ancient Greece, which treated its women very like the Taliban treats women today.

The Western construction of marriage and family has been very anti-queer, not to mention anti-woman and anti-children. The REAL traditional family values are these:
1, Everyone must get married.
2. Everyone must have children.
3. You don't get to pick your spouse--mom and dad pick your spouse and you live with, sleep with, and have children with this person for the rest of your life or until one of you dies. This standard didn't really change in the West until the early 19th century.
4. Love does not matter when it comes to marriage--love is unstable and it's better to have a marriage where you get along with each other and work together.
5. Men are heads of the household, just like the king is the head of the country, and wife and children MUST obey him. (In Ancient Rome, a man legally had the right of life and death over his wife and children. And he maintained that right over wife and children until he died.)
6. Good men abide by 'the rule of thumb'--which means that they can only beat their wife and children with a stick no bigger than the thickness of their thumbs. Bad men beat their wife and kids with any old thing.
7. Men can seek pleasure and romance outside of marriage because, hey, they're men and they have needs, you know--if wifey tries to do the same, she's a whore and will have hell to pay if she's ever found out.
8. Whorehouses that service the sexual needs of men outside the home have female prostitutes, male prostitutes and transgendered prostitutes to serve their clients. With lots of disposable income, a man can access a veritable buffet of sexual choices--one just shouldn't talk about it in 'polite company.' Without a whole lot of disposable income, a man is stuck with the usual back alley ho's.
9. A married woman is supposed to bear her husband lots of healthy boys and a minimal number of girls. If she gives him more girls than boys, it's her fault. If she can't bear him any children, she's a total failure.
10. There are no homosexuals, bisexuals, asexuals, gays, lesbians, queers, transgender, intersex or genderqueer people. There are sodomites and hermaphrodites. Sex, even in marriage, is not about pleasure but about reproduction. Even opposite sex partners can commit sodomy if they engage in any sexual behavior that is not reproductive.

That's bullshit Paige, when anti-homosexuality shows up in medicine, politics or any other place you have to trace the "source." Where did those beliefs originate? It is very clear that religion is the only institution that teaches homosexuality is wrong. Religion branded us a "wrong."

Until we acknowledge that fact, we'll continue to suffer the consequences: bigotry, bullying, discrimination and even suicide. We have to un-wrong homosexuality. It amazes me that so many Christians still refuse to participate in that effort - CHILDREN ARE DYING.

Religion can and has caused a lot of problems but saying that all religions are homophobic really isn't going to help things. Kids are dying and that NEEDS to be stopped but yelling at each other about religion is not going to change that.

I can speak from personal experience, I went to a very pro-gay church and was never told that being gay or transgendered was wrong, I was told to respect everyone and that we were all equal in the eyes of god. But I have had experiences in the lgbt community of be talked down to and made to feel horrible because I was christian. I really don't think that a kid who is dealing with coming out in a non-accepting christian home needs the added pressure of people telling them that their faith is horrible too,IMHO.

Paige Listerud | October 26, 2010 1:58 AM

I can't agree with you. The totally secular USSR also made homosexuality a "wrong"--on the grounds that it was emblematic of decadent capitalism. Homosexuality is conceived as a threat to the construction of Western masculine identity. Shutting down religion's power to marginalize LGBTQ people is not the complete answer. One must also deconstruct masculinity and the age old privilege that allowed men to dominate women, children and everything else. Manhood, as conceived in Western culture, does not allow for men to be tender, yielding and solicitous of other men because that undermines the image of the man as dominator and controller.

Studies have shown that men with the highest level of violent, prejudicial attitudes toward gay and bisexual men also have the highest level of homoerotic response to images of men having sex with men. If you want to stop the bullying, teach the bullies to accept their own same-sex desires and that such desires do not make them "unmanly."

With it looking like the Republicans will be gaining power again it is more important then ever we don't let this discussion drop.We must call them out on their anti gay positions and the devastating effects it is having on our community.I have promised myself that if they win big I will become more vocal and attend protest as I can.We must develop better strategies for dealing with religion and politics and those who would use them to deny our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I couldn't agree more Amy. In fact I think Jefferson and the other 4 who worked with him to produce the Declaration of Independence left us an invaluable statement of human rights. The full second sentence reads .."We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, Robert R. Livingston of New York, and Roger Sherman of Connecticut were the committee members. Every anti-gay elected Senator or Representative needs to be pressed to state publicly whether he or she supports or disagrees with the full content of the second sentence in the Declaration of Independence. Quote it to them. Press them on it. There's a strategy.

Or use the Constitution: Congress shall pass no law bearing respect to an organization of religion or barring the free practice thereof.DOMA and DADT are laws primarily designed to bear respect to the Christian Religion. In a post by Joe Mirabella http://www.bilerico.com/2010/10/terry_branstad_tell_kids_their_family_does_not_mat_1.php a video of Terry Branstad a candidate for Governor, he objects to Iowa's Supreme court ruling allowing gay marriage on the grounds that he is Catholic and that marriage is between a man and a woman.In my opinion it is okay if he wants to hold that belief on religious grounds but he is wrong in assuming his religious views entitle him to force them on me in violation of my religious freedom.

"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.'"

I think what's happening here is that most evangelicals believe homosexuality is wrong, and so do their churches. By contrast, most Catholics believe homosexuality should be accepted -- 58% in a Pew Center poll published earlier this year -- but their churches are influenced by the homophobic pope and upper hierarchy.

Most mainstream protestants, 56% in the poll, also believe homosexuality should be accepted. They'll be most satisfied if their churches teach acceptance. The minority who disagree -- I think they were around 36-38% -- will be most satisfied if their churches are homophobic.

So, the poll is confounded to some extent. The people who are dissatisfied with their churches can be accepting people in a rejecting church or rejecting people in an accepting church.

Growing up I was taught to treat everyone with dignity and respect. In addition, I strongly believe in the separate of church and state.
Yes, one has a right to their own beliefs. In so many cases just because someone believes a certain way does not mean that it should
be law. There is a big difference between one's believes and what should be legal.

I am sick and tired of so-called religious people, be they Mormon, Catholics or Evangelical Christians, taking their ideas and making them political.

I agree Rick. I want this to truly be a country where government does not write laws that restrict individual liberty. Sometimes that line is difficult to draw. For example I disagree with arresting a driver who has been drinking but has harmed no one. And I think the penalty for causing a highway death should be equally severe for a sober driver as for one with alcohol in their system. And I think all drugs should be legal. I don't believe the government should dictate what people can ingest. You hit the nail squarely when you said there is a big difference between one's beliefs and what should be legal. The only caveat I would add is that my right to liberty should not extend to harming someone else physically or financially.

Have you ever noticed that both sides of a war pray to their God for more ammunition? It also just seems so wrong that most religions are so sure that they are the only true religion! When someone is just outright "judging" someone or someones life style It would seem that they are violating the "Do not Judge" Clause of most religions? As a ordained Reverend myself I can not see the hatred of the GLBT's people!

What denomination?

Has anyone else noticed that the data for the map is over a decade old? The census has shown us that populations change, sometimes radically, in a decade. Not to mention in a field as shifty and changing as religion.

The report is nice, and shows what most people have been saying for a while: Organized religion, in general, has had an anti-gay stance while the general populous has moved past it. This happened with segregation in the 50s, slavery before that, nationalism before that... Some small communities and sub-groups keep up, or break off to form their own. But in general, by majority, religion is about power, and holding that power means holding to the old ways and traditions, while shunning anything that may be freeing or liberating for any group that doesn't wear a robe and a funny hat.

Great observations Woody.

I would like to request that Alex responds to your comment.