Poll: Intolerance of Gays Drives Up Christianity’s Negatives among Young People

Opposition to gay civil rights has become an extremely effective fundraising tool for the Christian right. In 2005, for example, four of the leading organizations focused on institutionalizing homophobia — Focus on the Family, the American Family Association, the Family Research Council and the Traditional Values Coalition (which advocates execution of gays) — raised $169 million.

Overall, 91 percent of 16- to 29-year-old non-Christians and 80 percent of young churchgoers believe Christianity is anti-gay.

But the effectiveness with which these groups have gotten their message out is proving to be a double-edged sword. While it has ginned up antipathy toward gays — which simultaneously stalled progress on gay civil rights and served as a powerful political tool that Republicans used to seize power — a poll released last month by Barna, a Christian research group, suggests that the relentless intolerance has seriously damaged the image of Christianity among young people:

Interestingly, the study discovered a new image that has steadily grown in prominence over the last decade. Today, the most common perception is that present-day Christianity is “anti-homosexual.” Overall, 91 percent of [16- to 29-year-old] non-Christians and 80 percent of young churchgoers say this phrase describes Christianity.

As the research probed this perception, non-Christians and Christians explained that beyond their recognition that Christians oppose homosexuality, they believe that Christians show excessive contempt and unloving attitudes towards gays and lesbians.

One of the most frequent criticisms of young Christians was that they believe the church has made homosexuality a “bigger sin” than anything else. Moreover, they claim that the church has not helped them apply the biblical teaching on homosexuality to their friendships with gays and lesbians.

Attitudes toward Christianity among today’s youth are much more negative than they were a generation ago, says Barna:

For instance, a decade ago the vast majority of Americans outside the Christian faith, including young people, felt favorably toward Christianity’s role in society. Currently, however, just 16 percent of non-Christians in their late teens and twenties said they have a “good impression” of Christianity.

The poll found that, in the broadest sense, Christians’ intolerance and hypocrisy were key factors in their approval:

Among young non-Christians, nine out of the top 12 perceptions were negative. Common negative perceptions include that present-day Christianity is judgmental (87 percent), hypocritical (85 percent), old-fashioned (78 percent), and too involved in politics (75 percent) – representing large proportions of young outsiders who attach these negative labels to Christians …

Even among young Christians … [half] of young churchgoers said they perceive Christianity to be judgmental, hypocritical, and too political. One-third said it was old-fashioned and out of touch with reality.

One side note: Evangelicals remain the Christian sect viewed most negatively:

The new study shows that only 3 percent of 16- to 29-year-old non-Christians express favorable views of evangelicals. This means that today’s young non-Christians are eight times less likely to experience positive associations toward evangelicals than were non-Christians of the Boomer generation (25 percent).

Evangelicals view any negative reaction as persecution:

91 percent of the nation’s evangelicals believe that “Americans are becoming more hostile and negative toward Christianity.”

Unfortunately for evangelicals (and especially for the people they persecute), they will never get it that they bring this hostility onto themselves.

4 Comments

  • Bryan
    October 13, 2007 - 6:30 pm | Permalink

    What is this medeval times, you have got to be kidding fuck all those crazy Christian right wing nut jobs!

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