June 19, 2014

‘March for Marriage’ rally reflects steadfast opposition to gay marriage among evangelical Christians

At a time when polls show a growing number of Americans favor same-sex marriage, a coalition of groups opposing gay marriage are holding a “March for Marriage” today in Washington, D.C., to demonstrate what organizers call a “deep and wide support for the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” according to National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown.

FT_same-sex-marriage-religious-viewsThe tide of public opinion on same-sex marriage has changed rapidly. In just five years, the percentage of adults who say they oppose same-sex marriage has fallen from a majority (54%) to a minority. Today, roughly four-in-ten Americans (39%) say they oppose allowing gay and lesbian couples to wed, according to Pew Research Center polling.

But while opposition to same-sex marriage is still sizable, it is now more concentrated among a few religious groups – particularly white evangelical Protestants. (Many of the groups sponsoring today’s rally are affiliated with evangelical Christianity.)

White evangelical Protestants, many of whom belong to churches that still firmly prohibit gay marriage, tend to be much more likely to oppose same-sex marriage than the general population or other large faith groups. Indeed, seven-in-ten white evangelical Protestants say they oppose allowing gay and lesbian couples to wed. In addition, about half of African-American Protestants (49%), some of whom belong to historically black churches that are evangelical, also oppose gay marriage.

FT_same-sex-marriage-violate-religious-beliefsReligion plays a large role in determining why some people might oppose same-sex marriage. In a March 2013 poll, we found that 83% of white evangelicals said gay marriage violates their religious beliefs.

Considerably fewer white mainline Protestants (44%) say same-sex marriage goes against their religious beliefs, and only about a third (32%) oppose same-sex marriage. While some of the larger mainline Protestant denominations say gay marriage is inconsistent with church teachings, many of them have been moving toward greater acceptance.

But religious doctrine is not always the only determining factor. For instance, while the Roman Catholic Church opposes gay marriage and 62% of U.S. Catholics say that same-sex marriage violates their religious beliefs, only a third of self-identified Catholics (33%) now oppose same-sex unions.

FT_14.06.18_ChurchesOnSSM (1)

Topics: Evangelical Protestants and Evangelicalism, Gay Marriage and Homosexuality

  1. Photo of David Masci

    is a Senior Researcher at the Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project.

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  1. George Olds2 months ago

    Re: ‘March for Marriage’ rally reflects steadfast opposition to gay marriage among evangelical Christians”

    A much more accurate headline would be: ‘March for Marriage’ rally reflects rapid decline of opposition to gay marriage among evangelical Christians’.

    With only around 600 in attendance (per their official media sponsor, The Washington Times), this so-called “steadfast opposition” seems really to be the obstinant, incessant wish to interfere in OTHER PEOPLE’S relationships (with each other and with the State) AND to infringe on OTHER PEOPLE’S (formerly?) “unalienable” rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and on OTHER PEOPLE’S Constitutionally promised equal protections of the law.

    That such prejudice is religion-based is just saddening.

  2. Gordon Nash2 months ago

    Why aren’t Eastern Orthodox included?

  3. Ross Archer2 months ago

    NOM and other same-sex marriage opponents have spent mountains of money and brought in every “expert” they could to try to make the case that same-sex marriage should not be permitted, or at the very least should be a state-by-state matter.

    The result? Not one of their arguments can reach the evidentiary standards required for proof in a court of law. In other words, their arguments are invalid.

    There is no valid reason to prevent two consenting adults of the same sex from getting the same rights from setting up a lifetime commitment than any pair of opposite sex couples. That’s the reality and why all 50 states will allow same sex marriage as soon as the Supreme Court gets around to a ruling on the matter.

  4. Wayne Peterson2 months ago

    ….those white Protestant evangelicals should stop making gay children who want to marry……

  5. Jack Sederstrand2 months ago

    Call them Civil Unions, but do not hi-Jack the true meaning of the word originated in the book of Genesis.

    1. joakim2 months ago

      I am on board with that as long as they are completely equal from benefits and obligations point of view.

    2. Ross Archer2 months ago

      Sorry, but civil marriage has nothing whatsoever to do with religious ceremony or religious construction of marriage.

      Civil marriage is about inheritance, right to make power of attorney decisions for your partner in times of crisis, not being kept out of a hospital emergency room for not being “family.”

      So no, you are wrong and the courts clearly understand the issue in a way you don’t.

    3. David Agosta2 months ago

      It’s really not your country.

    4. Paul2 months ago

      Genesis. Glad you mentioned that. Abraham married his half-sister, and had numerous concubines. Isaac married his first cousin once removed and had numerous concubines. Jacob married two of his first cousins and their maid servants. Conclusion: marriage in Genesis was polygamous and incestuous. Is that what you are advocating?

      1. S Gordon2 months ago

        Excellent observation.

    5. George Olds2 months ago


      “Civil unions” were tried (in a handful of States) and found wanting. That’s because they did NOT come with the same “effects”. They were designed not to. They are, largely, legal fictions.

      I think you’ve confused the religious rite of matrimony with legal civil marriage.

  6. James Coley2 months ago

    just back off a bit, simply be good citizens, have your religious beliefs, but stop hurting me with it

  7. Chuck Anziulewicz2 months ago

    The morality of Gay marriage is comparable to the morality of Straight marriage: It is morally and ethically preferable to encourage people toward monogamy and commitment, rather than relegating them to lives of loneliness and possibly promiscuity. So YES: Supporting marriage equality is the true conservative position.

    Studies have repeatedly shown that the benefits are substantial:
    1: Married couples typically contribute more and take less from society.
    2: Married couples support and care for each other financially, physically and emotionally and often contribute more to the economy and savings.
    3: Individuals who are married are less likely to receive government entitlements.
    4: Individuals who are married statistically consume less health care services, and often give more to churches and charities.
    5: Married couples are better able to provide care and security for children.

    So what sense does it make to exclude law-abiding, taxpaying Gay couples from this place at the table? Why is it, for example, that Straight couples are encouraged to date, get engaged, marry and build lives together in the context of monogamy and commitment, and that this is a GOOD thing … yet for Gay couples to do exactly the same is somehow a BAD thing? To me this seems like a very poor value judgment.

    Couples do not need to marry to have children, nor is the ability or even desire to have children a prerequisite for obtaining a marriage license. There are also countless Gay individuals and couples who are raising adopting children into healthy, well-adjusted adulthood.

    As Judge Vaughn Walker said in the decision on California’s Prop. 8 Case: “Permitting same-sex couples to marry will not affect the number of opposite-sex couples who marry, divorce, cohabit, have children outside of marriage or otherwise affect the stability of opposite-sex marriages.” It was a view shared by the courts in the Golinski case against DOMA, where a Bush appointee in the Northern District of California concurred: “The exclusion of same-sex couples from the federal definition of marriage does nothing to encourage or strengthen opposite-sex marriages.”

    1. Thomas2 months ago

      “Don’t accept love without truth.”

      1. George Olds2 months ago

        Every word Chuck typed IS true.

        1. Jordan Newberry2 months ago

          If people want to look at this issue from a worldly perspective in itself then they can make persuasive arguments for homosexual marriages. Why couldn’t they? If there is no God who reveals himself in the bible then there is nobody making the rules. However, if one wants to claim Christianity and also promote gay marriage they will have to do some serious biblical maneuvering. That being said biblical Chrustians or true Christians worship a God who is outside of themselves and sometimes requires them to hold to positions that challenge their own ways of thinking about things. The issue is that humans want to be their own gods and simply say that they love the only God. You are not the ultimate determiner of truth and if you were would you really trust yourself to fulfill a role you were never meant to fulfill? The bible is clear and do we lovingly call for repentance while realizing that homosexuality is an honest struggle as is heterosexual lust. Who am I to make this claim? I am nobody as are you and it is not simply a claim based off my opinion and what is popular in culture it is a claim however make by God in Romans 1. Also to the man who pointed out polygamy in Genesis and invest yak relationships. Do you not understand that early on there had to be incestual relationships for the human race to continue. This seems fairly simple. And although there were men who were polygamous nowhere does the bible commend men for this. It might have been considered just as sinful then as now, but biblical characters were true human beings with real shortcomings.

          1. Jim4 weeks ago

            Jesus said that moral behavior is this – always treat others the way that you wish to be treated. By the standard that Jesus taught, opposition to marriage equality is sinful. The Golden Rule overrules the homophobic prejudices of some of the writers of the various writings that were pieced together by early church leaders to make what we now call the Bible.

            It is a mistake to worship the Bible as though it were God. It is not. Nor did God write it; nor did God dictate it to the various writers. You can find much in the Bible that is uplifting and valuable, but you can also find much that needs to be taken with a large grain of salt.

      2. Jim4 weeks ago

        Love is truth.