August 13th, 2013
Our community has gradually gained support in Mainstream Christianity, to the point where some more liberal denominations and pastors are taking up the mantle of advocacy in areas where there are not strong gay political action groups. And the support of churches has proven to be invaluable in such situations as the Minnesota marriage battle.
But we have, until recently, seen a sharp divide between liberal churches or the nominally Christian on one side, and the hard-core, pew-warming, born-again, biblical literalists on the other. But a study out of Baylor University has identified a new group which they call Evangelical Ambivalents who are starting to stake out a central position. (phys.org)
For their study—”How the Messy Middle Finds a Voice: Evangelicals and Structured Ambivalence towards 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.
And these are not Easter Sunday Christians or liberals displaced in an evangelical church. They are part of the conservative evangelical fold who are finding a way to balance both their church and their social conscience.
Other research findings about Ambivalent Evangelicals:
They are similar in biblical literalism and religious practice to those who oppose civil unions, while the 35 percent who are Culture Progressives—with positive attitudes toward homosexuality—are less involved in such activities as church attendance, although they pray privately.
Ambivalents are not as politically conservative as Gay Rights Opponents, but they are more politically conservative than Cultural Progressives.
They are more likely to be married, have lower levels of education, be biblical literalists, and attend church frequently than Cultural Progressives.
They are more likely to believe that sexuality is innate than Gay Rights Opponents, but less likely than Cultural Progressives to do so.
They are more likely to identify themselves as “born-again” than Cultural Progressives are.
If, as this study suggests, one quarter of evangelical parishioners are finding themselves in support of gay rights, the end to our biggest struggle is not far off.
UPDATE: The Atlantic takes on a similar theme, discussing the change in the way that religion in American interacts with gay people.
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Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
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