Religion survey shows shifting attitudes toward gays

Not a lot of surprises here, but it gives a compelling snapshot of the times in which we live.

From the Public Religion Research Institute:

  In the decade since Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, Americans’ support for allowing gay and lesbian people to legally wed has jumped 21 percentage points, from 32 percent in 2003 to 53 percent in 2013, transforming the American religious landscape.

A major new national survey of more than 4,500 respondents conducted by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute finds that while most religious groups opposed same-sex marriage in 2003, today there are religious groups on both sides of the issue. In addition to the nearly three-quarters of religiously unaffiliated Americans (73 percent) who favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally marry, majorities of Jewish Americans (83 percent), white mainline Protestants (62 percent), white Catholics (58 percent) and Hispanic Catholics (56 percent) currently support same-sex marriage. Hispanic Protestants are divided; 46 percent favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally marry and 49 percent oppose. By contrast, nearly 6-in-10 (59 percent) black Protestants and nearly 7-in-10 (69 percent) white evangelical Protestants oppose same-sex marriage. Only 35 percent of black Protestants and 27 percent of white evangelical Protestants support same-sex marriage.

“While many churches and people in the pews have been moving away from their opposition to LGBT rights over the last decade, this new research provides further evidence that negative teachings on this issue have hurt churches’ ability to attract and retain young people,” said PRRI CEO Dr. Robert P. Jones. “Nearly one-third of Millennials who left their childhood religion say unfavorable church teachings about or treatment of gay and lesbian people played a significant role in their decision to head for the exit.”

A strong majority of (58 percent) Americans, including 7-in-10 (70 percent) Millennials (ages 18 to 33), agree that religious groups are alienating young people by being too judgmental about gay and lesbian issues. Notably, nearly one-third of Millennials who left their childhood religion to become unaffiliated say negative teachings about or negative treatment of gay or lesbian people were either a somewhat (17 percent) or very (14 percent) important factor in their decision to leave.

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