Poll blames ‘the church’ for rise in teen suicides

A recent poll by Public Religion Research Institute for Religion News Service blames the message of the church for the rise in teen suicides related to homosexuality. “The survey shows that a significant number of Americans are aware of and concerned about the negative impact of messages about homosexuality from places of worship, particularly with regard to gay and lesbian youth,” said Dr. Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute.

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. One-third (33%) of the public also believe that messages from religious bodies are contributing “a lot” to higher rates of suicide among gay and lesbian youth, and another third (32%) say these message contribute “a little;” only 21% say they do not contribute at all.

FACT: A September 2008 study by the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality determined that the suicide rates among homosexuals is six times higher than the general population without regard to social stigma.

[D]oes pressure from society lead to mental health problems? Less, I believe, than one might imagine. The authors of the study done in The Netherlands were surprised to find so much mental illness in homosexual people in a country where tolerance of homosexuality is greater than in almost all other countries.

Another good comparison country is New Zealand, which is much more tolerant of homosexuality than is the United States. Legislation giving the movement special legal rights is powerful, consistently enforced throughout the country, and virtually never challenged. Despite this broad level of social tolerance, suicide attempts were common in a New Zealand study and occurred at about the same rate as in the U.S.

In his cross-cultural comparison of mental health in the Netherlands, Denmark and the U.S., Ross (1988) could find no significant differences between countries – i.e. the greater social hostility in the United States did not result in a higher level of psychiatric problems.

Watch for your local church to become the target of ‘hate speech’ laws as the media continues to cement the flawed perception that teens who struggle with sexual orientation are killing themselves, not because of deep-rooted psychological issues, but because the church refuses to deny the gospel by telling them it’s ok to follow your sinful passions. “Sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.”

Crosswalk.com reviews Stone

The reviewer nails the fact the story only presents the dark side of the gospel, something I told director John Curran when I had lunch with him. Here are the significant graphs:

Throughout the film, we hear snippets from the steady diet of talk radio Jack favors during his commute. Prognosticators offer doom-and-gloom assessments of the moral and financial health of the United States. A preacher speaks about man’s inability to save himself, quoting Romans and Revelation. What Jack’s listening to is going to his head.

Early in the film, he tells Stone that if he wants to be released, he needs to go through Jack. Pointing to the world beyond the prison, Jack shouts that he’s the door to the outside: “I’m that door! You will go through me!” Late in the film, the radio preacher quotes Rev. 3:20, in which Jesus says, “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in.” When Stone challenges Jack to stop judging him, Jack brushes it aside.

There will be justice for Jack, but watching his life crumble provides no comfort or message of hope. In the end, Stone comes across as deeply cynical about religious faith. It’s true that, as the radio preacher says at one point, none of us can choose to be born again, but watching a man’s life slowly unravel because of his lack of true faith doesn’t offer many moral lessons. True believers succumb to temptation all the time, but they know the answer is to repent and renew their commitment to their Creator. Watching a man who doesn’t understand this spiral out of control may be one way of displaying the gravity of sin’s consequences, but it’s only one side of the coin. As it is, Stone feels like a half-truth, and that’s not good enough.

The Boston Globe asks…

Are We Raising a Generation of Nincompoops?

Second-graders who can’t tie shoes or zip jackets. Four-year-olds in Pull-Ups diapers. Five-year-olds in strollers. Teens and preteens befuddled by can openers and ice-cube trays. College kids who’ve never done laundry, taken a bus alone or addressed an envelope.

Are we raising a generation of nincompoops? And do we have only ourselves to blame? Or are some of these things simply the result of kids growing up with push-button technology in an era when mechanical devices are gradually being replaced by electronics?

Paul talks with Dr. Mark Bauerlein, author of The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future, today at 4:00 pm ET.

Three New “Stone” Reviews

Roger Ebert reviews Stone:

“Stone” could have been some sort of a procedural, a straightforward crime movie, but it’s too complex for that. It is actually interested in the minds of these characters, and how they react to a dangerous situation. De Niro is so good at playing a man who has essentially emasculated himself because of fear of his anger, so that sex and anger may be leashed in precisely the opposite way, as in “Raging Bull.” And Norton, the puppetmaster — it may not even be freedom he requires, but simply the pleasure of controlling others to obtain it.

The Village Voice reviews Stone (Review #1)

The closest Stone gets to directly tying itself to the times comes through its soundtrack, which layers excerpts from conservative talk radio (bombastic hosts bitching about Obamanomics, listeners calling in to discuss “this angst that a lot of people are feeling in this country”) onto the score.

The Village Voice reviews Stone (Review #2)

Jack’s failing is nominally one of the flesh, yet it’s spiritual and moral deep-rot that truly plagues him, with AM-dial Christian radio blather providing an incessant backdrop for both Jack and Stone’s dual quests for deliverance.

Pew Poll: Americans say lawmakers should be religious

According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, 61% of Americans say it is important that members of Congress have strong religious beliefs. 51% of Americans also say that churches should keep out of politics, though 43% indicated the church has an obligation to express its views on social and political questions.

The survey also reflects that President Obama’s “Muslim Problem” still persists, with 18% of Americans stating they believe the president is a practicing Muslim. Only 34% of Americans believe the president is a practicing Christian, down 14 points from March 2010. Wow.