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America’s Places of Worship Handling of Homosexuality

Sponsor: Religion News Service/Public Religion Research Institute
Released: 2010-10

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Regardless of their own religious views on the issue, few Americans believe that places of worship are doing a good job handling the issue of homosexuality. A plurality (43%) of Americans say the messages coming from places of worship are negative, and 4-in-10 Americans believe that these messages contribute “a lot” to negative perceptions of gay and lesbian people.

Despite the negative evaluations of places of worship in general, Americans are more likely to give their own places of worship high marks. Of all religious groups, white evangelicals are most likely to give their own church high marks for handling the issue of homosexuality.

The survey also found significant generational and partisan gaps on perceptions of the impact of messages about homosexuality from America’s places of worship. Nearly half (47%) of young adults (age 18 to 34) say that messages from places of worship are contributing “a lot” to negative views of gay and lesbian people. Among Americans age 65 and older, less than one-third (30%) say religious bodies are contributing a lot to negative perceptions of gay and lesbian people. Democrats are more than twice as likely as Republicans (42% to 17%) to say places of worship are contributing to higher rates of suicide among gay youth.

Americans across religious traditions are more likely to say that messages coming from places of worship are generally negative than generally positive. Catholics and the religiously unaffiliated are most likely to say that messages are negative (47% and 65% respectively).