The evangelical intelligentsia is very, very nervous. That’s because opposition to same sex marriage is crumbling among the generations that will be running evangelicalism in coming years. Yesterday, we saw Moorholer attacking a couple younger evangelicals who had the gall to question Arizona’s anti-gay, pro-discrimination legislation. But as the new survey out this week from PRRI shows conclusively, evangelical opinions about gay marriage are shifting very quickly among those under 40.
Here are some other findings of the survey:
- Today, nearly 7-in-10 (69%) Millennials (ages 18 to 33) favor same-sex marriage, compared to 37% of Americans who are part of the Silent Generation (ages 68 and older). The generation gap today, or the difference in support for same-sex marriage between America’s youngest and oldest cohorts, is now 32 points, roughly as wide as it was in 2003.
- It is difficult to overstate the effect age has on support for same-sex marriage, which is evident even among groups that oppose same-sex marriage. Half (50%) of Millennial Republicans favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, a view shared by only 18% of Republicans who are members of the Silent Generation.
- Nearly 6-in-10 (59%) black Millennials say gay and lesbian people should be allowed to legally marry, compared to only 39% of black Americans overall.
- White evangelical Protestant Millennials are more than twice as likely to favor same- sex marriage as the oldest generation of white evangelical Protestants (43% vs. 19%).
Let me bring that down to earth: In 2050, there’s a 43% chance that the president of Wheaton College will be pro-gay marriage, there’s a 43% chance that the editor of Christianity Today magazine will be pro-gay marriage, and there’s a 43% chance that the lead singer of your favorite praise and worship band will be pro-gay marriage, there’s a 43% chance that the president of World Vision will be pro-gay marriage.
I’ve had several evangelical leaders in private tell me that they know they’re going to lose this one, but they’re going to go down swinging. The sad part is that their unwillingness to admit defeat will end up tearing apart the institutions that they’ve spent their lives building.