Catholics are more supportive of gay and lesbian rights than the general public and other Christians, according to a new report released today. The new report, which is the most comprehensive portrait of Catholic attitudes on gay and lesbian issues assembled to date, also finds that seven-in-ten Catholics say that messages from America’s places of worship contribute a lot (33 percent) or a little (37 percent) to higher rates of suicide among gay and lesbian youth.
“It may come as a surprise to many that rank and file Catholics are more supportive of rights for gays and lesbians than other Christians and the public,” said Dr. Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute. “But the best data available paints this consistent portrait across a range of issues, including same-sex marriage, workplace non-discrimination, open military service, and adoption rights for gay and lesbian couples.”
First of all, not all these issues of “gay rights” are created equal: “Workplace non-discrimination” is a non-starter, for one, as the Catechism itself teaches that; and the subject of gays in the military has Catholics legitimately taking all sides. But the question of whether anyone has a “right” to marriage is exactly what is at issue here, so the phrasing is stealing a base to begin with.
As to the study’s findings: It’s long been known that the results of these kinds of studies often show Catholic opinion tracking with majority opinion nationwide, especially if the poll includes Catholics who haven’t darkened the door of a church in years. I’d be interested to see how these numbers break down based on how often the respondent attends Mass and receives the Sacraments — especially the number of those who think the “messages in America’s places of worship” contribute to teen suicide. I have never in my life heard something from the pulpit that could be construed in such a manner; Church teaching on homosexuality isn’t often preached at all, and when it is, in my experience it has always been done with care and delicacy (though I understand that may not be everyone’s experience).
But this: “A majority of Catholics (56%) believe that sexual relations between two adults of the same gender is not a sin.” What do you do with that number?