Makin' Whoopie: Christian Views of Homosexuality
Marta Roberts and Caroline
This project had originally endeavored to prove that discrimination of homosexuality is a product of religious beliefs, socio-economic, and cultural backgrounds. When we analyzed our data we found that there was no significant cultural or socio-economic linkage to homosexual discrimination and that overwhelming, the likelihood of discrimination was due almost entirely to what religion one affiliates with. In our hypothesis on religion we speculated that Christians would be much more apt to discriminate against homosexuals than non-Christians.
This paper will attempt to prove through both empirical and historical data that the discrimination of homosexuals is contingent upon religious affiliation (Christian or non-Christian), and that there is a direct correlation between those who attended a Christian church on a regular basis and their attitudes toward homosexuals. To find a pragmatic connection between acceptance of Homosexuality and the Christian religion we surveyed 110 people of varying exposure to religion and the homosexual culture. We found that overwhelmingly those who are Christian feel homosexuality is wrong and that homosexual acts are also wrong. Those who identify themselves as heterosexual and Christian, attend church on a much more regular basis than homosexuals that identify themselves as Christian. We hypothesized that the reluctance of homosexuals to attend a Christian church had less to do with their religious beliefs and more to do with the way in which the dogmatic teaching of their faith failed to validate their chosen lifestyle. Our surveys proved this point and we found that, not only do heterosexual Christians who attend church regularly view homosexuality as wrong; they also do not believe that homosexuals should not have martial, parental, heath, or tax rights. (Image
As stated in our abstract, we originally set out to find plausible reasons behind the discrimination of homosexuals. We suggested that discrimination could be based upon several circumstances including hometown diversity, socioeconomic background, urban or rural up-bring and religious beliefs. We hypothesized that those who were raised in a hometown with greater levels of diversity were more likely to be either homosexual or accepting of homosexuals. Similarly, we supposed that those who had greater exposure to homosexuality due to the cultural atmosphere of their hometown would either be likely to be homosexual or to be accepting of homosexuals. We also intended to prove weather ones socio-economic background was a factor in their beliefs regarding homosexuality. We found no significant difference in the backgrounds of homosexuals and heterosexuals. Also, we could not find any true correlation between those who viewed homosexuality as wrong and their hometown atmosphere. The vast majority of those surveyed came from similar suburban backgrounds with similar economic strata. (Image 5-6)
We also hypothesized that religion plays a key component in homosexual discrimination. As several studies and text would suggest, Christianity has traditionally opposed homosexuality. We found that Christians as a whole were more likely to not become friends with homosexuals and also not believe that homosexual couples should be given the same health care, tax benefits, marital rights, and parental rights as heterosexual couples. We also found significant the percentages of homosexuals that affiliated themselves as Christian. 17 out of 37 homosexuals surveyed said that they were Christian. When those homosexuals who consider themselves Christian were asked how often they attended church 3 said that they always attend church, 13 said that they sometimes attend and 21 said that they never attend. In a survey conducted of homosexuals in Massachusetts 40 percent of those surveyed affiliated themselves with no religion. 24.4 percent of those surveyed were Christian while 21.1 percent identified themselves as spiritual. When this is compared to the religion in which they were raised, nearly 78.9 percent were raised as Christian. (Image 8-9) Our own data would reflect similar findings. We concluded that homosexuals are more likely to leave the Christian faith they were raised in than were heterosexuals raised in Christian families. (Image
Another aspect of our project questioned whether the inability of homosexuals to reproduce through conventional means would be a reason for discrimination. Although we found that several homosexuals had themselves dealt with the repercussions of their unconventional lifestyles in their dealing with family members, we did not have adequate data to suggest that it was a common discriminatory factor in heterosexuals examining homosexuality.
Discrimination is an aspect of human nature that has plagued minorities since man began to socially interact. Through this project we intend on analyzing some of the reasons behind this discrimination in homosexuality. Several studies have been dedicated to finding reasons behind discrimination. Virtually all of the studies that we discovered dealt primarily with the idea of dominance and the threat of minorities to the legitimacy of the majority. This was particularly evident in our study of Christianity and homosexuality. Christians seemed threatened by the non-traditional values associated with non-heterosexual lifestyles. It is our hope that through this study a greater understanding of minority rights can be explored.
Primary research begins,
Formation of initial
Creation of survey
Revision of survey
Random surveying process
Data analysis: 1 week
Preparation of final
To begin our project we decided to try to tackle an age-old question; why must we discriminate. Throughout the course of this project we surveyed 110 Miami students about their backgrounds and their feelings toward homosexuals. We believed that we would need to target organizations where homosexuals were prevalent in the distributions of our surveys. We were very fortunate to be able to attend several meetings of the Gay Lesbian and Bisexual Alliance as well as the ex-gay lecture to distribute our surveys. Unfortunately, after attending these events and surveying on Western campus, our data was quite biased. It was then that we decided to go to Campus Crusade for a more right-winged perspective. After surveying at these very diverse venues we felt that we had enough data and diversity to begin to the analysis portion of our project. We attempted to survey equal numbers of heterosexual and homosexuals as well as Christians and non-Christians.
Our survey tried to attain as much background information about the participants as possible so that our final data analysis could look at the issue of discrimination from many different facets. We wanted to look at the participants' backgrounds in relation to financial diversity of hometown, cultural diversity of hometown, and size of hometown. We originally believed that all these factors contributed to one's perception of homosexuals but found, through data analysis, that these factors provided no significant influence on one's tendencies to discriminate against homosexuals.
We also asked questions on religious background in order to gain perspective into the moral and spiritual history of each respondent. The questions that we asked pertaining to the degree to which homosexuality was right or wrong helped us evaluate how wrong homosexuality was to various groups. We also wanted some cut-and-dry questions regarding homosexual issues such as parental rights and marital rights. (See sample survey).
These graphs show a direct correlation in the recipients' beliefs in homosexual rights as compared to the frequency with which they attend church. As is expressed in the graphs, there is a direct correlation between church attendance and response to homosexual rights.
Although our original hypothesis supposed that discriminatory behaviors were based on cultural, financial, and urban/rural hometown background, we discovered that discrimination was more firmly embedded in religion (Christianity) than any other factor. As stated in Gay and Lesbian Identity: a sociological analysis, "The rise of a politically powerful, well-organized, and heavily financed Christian right-the Moral Majority, Citizens for Decency, and 'pro-life' groups-also contributed to the demise of a sexually permissive standard. In combination these groups contributed to a climate that fostered the idea that sex outside of committed, monogamous relationships is dangerous. These groups have a clear goal: a return to the traditional moral and sexual order, a world devoid of abortion, contraception, pornography, sex education in the schools, premarital sex, and sexual minorities" (Troiden, 127). Our data seemed to prove this point. The most interesting statistics that we found were in the relation of the belief that homosexuality is wrong when compared with the frequency of church going. (Graph, 11).
We also found Christian homosexuals that attend church on a regular basis versus those who simply identify themselves as Christian were far less in homosexuals than in heterosexuals. (Graph, 5). This seems to suggest that the faith is not to blame, but the way it is practiced is.
In studying other data including the ex-gay speaker that came to Presser Hall two weeks ago, we found that there is not only a tendency for our society to discriminate against homosexuals but, also, to change or save them. The dogma spouted through the mouth of the ex-gay speaker, although heart felt, landed on deaf hears as he preached to a crowd that would not be converted. By using phrases such as "Death Style" to describe the life styles of homosexuals, he tended to be like all the other religious assemblages by speaking condescendingly to the people he was trying hardest to reach. This seems something typical of our research and tends to perpetuate the clash of the religious and the homosexual communities.
For further research we would try to choose less biased groups to survey. However, we do believe that it would be difficult to reach significant amounts of homosexuals on Miami's campus without targeting specifically homosexual and homosexual-supportive groups. We would also have liked to do some in-depth research on the ex-gay movement that started in the US in the1970's. While we do have data regarding that, a possible topic for research in the future could focus specifically on the ex-gay/Exodus movement.
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