The Evangelical Unicorn: A Third Way on Gay Marriage

I reviewed two books by evangelicals on gay marriage for The Christian Century — God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines and A Letter to my Congregation by Ken Wilson — and the review is now available online. Here’s the core of what differentiates their books:

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Why Is Moorohler Nervous? Because Evangelicals Are Embracing Gay Marriage

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:

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Westmont College and the Apotheosis of Evangelicalism

Jeff Sharlet is probably the best long-form religion journalist we have today. A few years ago, he published a haunting account of The Fellowship. It’s a must-read.

Now Sharlet has followed up with an article on Westmont College, the top recruiting field for the Fellowship, published at Killing the Buddha (which Sharlet co-founded). I have some personal resonance with this story. For one, I started college in 1986, the same year as one of the subjects of the story, Ben Daniel, enrolled at Westmont. That means I got to Fuller Seminary four years later, where I matriculated with some of Ben’s classmates from Westmont — the first time I’d ever heard of The Fellowship was when one of my Fuller classmates, a Westmont grad, told me how heavily he was recruited while an undergrad. He referred to it as “The Fellowshit.”

Ten years later, when I was a youth pastor, a few graduates of my church went off to Westmont College, and at least two of them were recruited into the Fellowship and lived in the Fellowship’s notorious Washington, D.C. houses.

Sharlet writes about Ron Enroth, a prof at Westmont who’s studied cults for years. Enroth has sneaking suspicions that The Fellowship falls into that category, but he also hedges his bets:

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Evangelicals Falling to the Left

A new study by Baylor University shows that a quarter of self-described evangelicals are ambivalent about gay marriage and civil unions.

For their study — “How the Messy Middle Finds a Voice: Evangelicals and Structured Ambivalence toward Gays and Lesbians” — researchers analyzed national data from the 2010 Baylor Religion Survey, a random sample of 1,714 individuals across the country. Researchers found that 24 percent of evangelicals fit into the ambivalent category, supporting gay civil unions even though they are morally opposed to homosexuality. The survey, designed by Baylor University scholars and conducted by The Gallup Organization, included more than 300 items dealing with religion and the attitudes, beliefs and values of the American public.

“We’ve known that moderate and ambivalent evangelicals are there, but now they are actually starting to have a voice and beginning to be more political,” Martinez said.

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