Ordinary members of religious groups tend to be more accepting than their leadership when it comes to accepting gay and lesbians, but this gap varies among denominations and religions.
A new Pew Survey looks at the religious views of LGBT Americans. It also asked about the welcome of different traditions.
The new Pew Research survey asked LGBT respondents to rate six religions or religious institutions as friendly, neutral or unfriendly toward the LGBT population. By overwhelming margins, most rate all six as more unfriendly than friendly. About eight-in-ten LGBT respondents say the Muslim religion, the Mormon Church and the Catholic Church are unfriendly toward them, while one-in-ten or fewer say each of these religious institutions is friendly toward them. Similarly, about three-quarters of LGBT adults (73%) say that evangelical churches are unfriendly toward them, about a fifth (21%) consider these churches neutral and just 3% say evangelical churches are friendly toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population. By comparison, fewer LGBT adults see the Jewish religion and non-evangelical (mainline) Protestant churches as unfriendly toward them, but more say each is unfriendly rather than friendly by a large margin. And about three-in-ten LGBT adults (29%) say they personally have “been made to feel unwelcome at a place of worship or religious organization,” as detailed in Chapter 2 on social acceptance.
Mark Silk looks at the gaps between the folks in the pews and their leadership in hisSpiritual Politics blog:
At the low end it’s 14 points for the Evangelicals and 18 percent for the Mainliners and the Mormons. In these cases, the membership is pretty much on the same page as the leadership.
In the middle come the Jews at 32 percent and the Muslims at 39 percent. In the case of the Jews, the 44 percent unfriendly number suggests that the Reform and Conservative movements have not done a very good job of getting their gay-friendly messaging out. As for the Muslims, the relatively large gap may be explained by the high number of well-educated professionals in the American Muslim community and the likelihood that the unfriendly number is based on pronouncements coming from Muslim leaders abroad.
By far the largest gap is in Catholicism — fully 59 points separate LGBT perception of Catholic unfriendliness from Catholics’ support for societal discouragement. Simply put, the bishops have gotten the message across very well that the Church looks with disfavor on homosexuality, but the laity isn’t buying it. Or at least, the laity isn’t buying the proposition that society as a whole should follow the lead of the Magisterium.
Those campaigns against same-sex marriage? It looks like the consensus fidelium is to forget about them, bishops.