The 2008 Clergy Voices Survey involved surveying senior clergy from the seven largest Mainline denominations of Christianity — United Methodist Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, American Baptist Churches USA, Presbyterian Church USA, Episcopal Church, United Church of Christ, and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) — on a variety of issues.
The findings are not what you might expect:
- On a range of policy issues, Mainline Protestant clergy are generally more supportive of LGBT rights than the general population, and mostly in line with Mainline Protestants overall.
- Overall, close to half (45%) of Mainline Protestant clergy support the ordination of gay and lesbian people with no special requirements.
- Mainline clergy believe strongly in separation of religious institutions and the state and are willing to differentiate their religious beliefs from their public policy opinions.
- Strong majorities of clergy in most Mainline denominations, and a slim majority overall, believe that the church should not oppose efforts to make homosexuality acceptable in society.
Here’s a great visual:
So what does all this mean?
Ilana Stern at Americans United for Separation of Church and State explains:
These results are interesting because for so many years, it seems the public discourse has been dominated by fundamentalist religious leaders who oppose church-state separation. Last year, a band of clergy, prodded by the Alliance Defense Fund, went so far as to deliberately violate federal tax law by endorsing U.S. Sen. John McCain from their pulpits.
The Religious Right labored hard to make it appear that most clergy support pulpit politicking and are view the church-state wall as oppressive. In fact, while the voices that parrot this perspective are often loud, that does not mean they speak for the majority of U.S. religious leaders.
(via The Wall of Separation)