December 18, 2015

Most U.S. Christian groups grow more accepting of homosexuality

Almost all Christian groups now more accepting of homosexualityAcceptance of homosexuality is rising across the broad spectrum of American Christianity, including among members of churches that strongly oppose homosexual relationships as sinful, according to an extensive Pew Research Center survey of U.S. religious beliefs and practices.

Amid a changing religious landscape that has seen a declining percentage of Americans who identify as Christian, a majority of U.S. Christians (54%) now say that homosexuality should be accepted, rather than discouraged, by society. While this is still considerably lower than the shares of religiously unaffiliated people (83%) and members of non-Christian faiths (76%) who say the same, the Christian figure has increased by 10 percentage points since we conducted a similar study in 2007. It reflects a growing acceptance of homosexuality among all Americans – from 50% to 62% – during the same period.

Among Christians, this trend is driven partly by younger church members, who are generally more accepting of homosexuality than their elder counterparts. For example, roughly half (51%) of evangelical Protestants in the Millennial generation (born between 1981 and 1996) say homosexuality should be accepted by society, compared with a third of evangelical Baby Boomers and a fifth of evangelicals in the Silent generation. Generational differences with similar patterns also are evident among Catholics, mainline Protestants and members of the historically black Protestant tradition.

At the same time, however, a larger segment of older adults in some Christian traditions have become accepting of homosexuality in recent years, helping to drive the broader trend. For instance, 32% of evangelical Protestant Baby Boomers now say homosexuality should be accepted, up from 25% in 2007.

Regardless of age, seven-in-ten Catholics – whose church teaches that homosexual behavior is “intrinsically disordered” – say that homosexuality should be accepted by society, a 12-percentage-point increase since 2007. Similar jumps have occurred among mainline Protestants (from 56% to 66%), Orthodox Christians (from 48% to 62%) and members of the historically black Protestant tradition (from 39% to 51%).

Most Mormons and evangelical Protestants still say homosexuality should be discouraged by society – in line with the teachings of many of their churches – but 36% of both groups say it should be accepted. Among Mormons, there was a 12-point increase (from 24% to 36%) in acceptance since 2007, and among evangelicals there was a 10-point rise (from 26% to 36%). Jehovah’s Witnesses remain perhaps the most opposed of any U.S religious tradition toward homosexuality, with just 16% saying it should be accepted by society.

The trend of growing acceptance is evident across many specific Protestant denominations, including some conservative denominations with official teachings that remain strongly opposed to same-sex marriage. For example, among members of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the share saying homosexuality should be accepted by society grew by 12 points (from 44% to 56%) between 2007 and 2014. And although Pentecostals who identify with the Assemblies of God remain largely opposed to homosexuality, 26% now say it should be accepted by society, up from 16% in 2007.

Members of many Protestant denominations now more accepting of homosexuality

Among members of the Southern Baptist Convention – an evangelical church and the nation’s largest Protestant denomination – the share saying homosexuality should be accepted increased 7 points, from 23% to 30%.

Members of several mainline churches – some of which have officially embraced same-sex marriage – have become even more accepting of homosexuality in recent years. For instance, 73% of members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America now say it should be accepted by society, up from 56% in 2007. Members of the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the United Church of Christ also have become more accepting toward homosexuality.

Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Christians and Christianity, Evangelical Protestants and Evangelicalism, Gay Marriage and Homosexuality, Mormons and Mormonism

  1. is a senior writer/ editor focusing on religion at Pew Research Center.

19 Comments

  1. Anonymous2 months ago

    Primary causes are Indoctrination from public schools, positive gay characters in every tv show, negative images of Christian characters or those who favor traditional marriage portrayed in tv and films, and the Executive Order President who with a pen makes laws that are consistently pro-gay.

  2. James Raymond3 months ago

    0 % of baptized Jehovah’s Witnesses are accepting of homosexuality lets be clear on that .

  3. Anonymous4 months ago

    Of course they are more accepting of Gay members. Still doesn’t mean the agree with the sin of the gay lifestyle.

  4. Christopher Bacot5 months ago

    Why has this turned into an ideological discussion rather than a discussion about the research? Like it or not, the numbers don’t lie. It’s respectable research, as is the Pew Institute.

    There were large parts of the country that believed segregation was going against God and they used Bible passages to back up their beliefs. Times changes people awareness about themselves and those different from themselves. These numbers indicate one thing…LGBT are quickly assimilating into mainstream society, including religion. Those who deny it are lying to themselves.

  5. Gy Bx7 months ago

    Apparently, PEW did not ask members of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt or America.

  6. Zebulun Johnson7 months ago

    1 Corinthians 6:9-10English Standard Version (ESV)

    9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous[a] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,[b] 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

    Footnotes:

    1 Corinthians 6:9 Or wrongdoers
    1 Corinthians 6:9 The two Greek terms translated by this phrase refer to the passive and active partners in consensual homosexual acts

    1 Corinthians 6:9-10New International Version (NIV)

    9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived:Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a]10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

    Footnotes:

    1 Corinthians 6:9 The words men who have sex with men translate two Greek words that refer to the passive and active participants in homosexual acts.

    1 Corinthians 6:9-10New Living Translation (NLT)

    9 Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, 10 or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.

    Practice- the actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method as opposed to theories about such application or use.

    b. carry out or perform (a particular activity, method, or custom) habitually or regularly.

    c. actively pursue or be engaged in

    Synonyms: apply, carry on, do, engage in, execute, follow, fulfill, function, live up to, observe, perform, ply, pursue, put into effect, specialize in, work at.

  7. Carol Eblen7 months ago

    Of course, more young people are more accepting of homosexuality and sodomy since they have been brainwashed for years by modern culture, media and literature to accept this sexual deviancy that involves sodomy as normal!

    NOW that homosexuality and sodomy are legal under US Military Law, federal civil rights statutes, and state marriage licenses, and the LGBT community have equality and equal rights with the heterosexual population, and we have a Gay Secretary of the Army and a Gay head of the Drug Enforcement Agency, it appears inevitable that it will soon be politically incorrect as well as against the civil rights law at federal, state, and city level to disapprove and/or to discriminate in any way against the “normal and legal” LGBT people whose deviant sexual lifestyles have been declared normal and legal and deserving of full equal rights under the law.

    The POLLS have been misleading and misused because when religious people were polled about Gay Marriage, they had no idea that the legalization and normalization of sodomy and homosexuality under same-sex marriage in order to TREAT and CONTAIN HIV/AIDS would actually impact the lives of their children in the public schools and public universities in negative and perhaps life-changing ways as sexual deviancy is further normalized and protected under the law.

    Would all of the religious people who have approved of gay marriage also approve of providing their payroll taxes and billions of dollars in a subsidy to provide “national health care –full coverage” to support the deviant life styles and medical conditions of the LGBT
    population

    It seems perfectly obvious that the GAY Marriage Edict of the Supreme Court supports the 31 Billion dollar National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States –updated to 2020, implemented by an Executive Order of the President of the United States in July 2015. The strategy of this program depends on the normalization and legalization of homosexuality, sodomy, HIV/AIDS under the law in order to CONTAIN the ongoing epidemic of HIV/AIDS in the US Military and civilian population with preventive HIV prophylaxis drug regimens and palliative ART regimens to prevent the spread of HIV.

  8. Don Creamer7 months ago

    Homosexuality is an abomination To our Father I don’t know if you read the Bible and if you are of Roman Catholic faith read chapters 18 and 19 of the Book of Genesis. He is not going to destroy this country because of what our leadership is doing but, who created the weather, and look back
    some 10 years and see how the earthquakes tornadoes and other weather related things have changed quite a bit. you are not borne as one it is a choice that one makes

  9. Forrest Ranus7 months ago

    I’m assuming they asked a person raised a Jehovahs Witness but who was never baptized a Witness, because no actual witness or congregation accepts homosexuality. The witnesses are divided on no matter.

  10. Zack Ball7 months ago

    I think that it is still a sin but i understand that through my relationship with Christ. If someone refuses to believe in Jesus Christ how can i hold then to that standard. I only fear that maybe some christian would be afraid to openly say that homosexuality is wrong.

  11. earlyhaze7 months ago

    I am a Christian and I don’t go along with it. Any Christian that does is not a christian. The Bible is against homosexuality. How can a true christian be for this evil sin when the Bible is against. God is against homosexuality and his Word the Bible clearly and plainly says it a abomination in Leviticus, and Romans.

    1. T Rex7 months ago

      what does the bible say about divorce

    2. Chris O’Neil7 months ago

      I am a Christian and I don’t go along with it. Any Christian that does is not a christian. The Bible is against cotton-polyester blends. How can a true christian be for this evil sin when the Bible is against. God is against cotton-polyester blends and his Word the Bible clearly and plainly says it a abomination in Leviticus: “Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.” Leviticus 19:19

    3. Jeff Hay7 months ago

      Starting off from the stance that people aren’t getting their morals from religion, but from society

      >I am a Christian and I don’t go along with it. Any Christian that does is not a christian.

      No True Scotsman.

      >The Bible is against homosexuality. How can a true christian be for this evil sin when the Bible is against.

      loaded question.

      >God is against homosexuality and his Word the Bible clearly and plainly says it a abomination in Leviticus, and Romans.

      Appeal to authority.

      1. Ed Dingess7 months ago

        Do you not see how your appeal to logical fallacies in this case not only demonstrates your ignorance of Christianity, but of logic?

        >>If people get their morals from society, which society should we get them from? Hitler’s? ISIS? Those that endorse the sex slave trade and slavery in general? This thinking makes it impossible for a society to make an error in moral judgment.

        >>Scripture says that those that know God keep God’s commandments. If you do not keep God’s commitments, then you do not know God. Hence, if you do not know God, you are not a true Christian. Those who are of God listen and obey God’s word. Those who reject God’s word do not know God. Those who do not know God are not Christian. (So much for you Scotts)

        >>No Christian can be for evil. If you love evil, love the world, love sexual sin, then you do not love God. Jesus asked loaded questions too. Just ask the Pharisees. The first sentence removes it from the informal fallacy.

        >>Of course it is an appeal to authority, but not in a logically fallacious way. For Christians, Scripture is our final authority, for the rest of you, you are your final authority. There is no better authority than God. We constantly form our beliefs by appealing to authorities in their field of expertise, i.e., historians, scientists, etc.

        Your objections are soundly rejected, refuted, defeated, and dismantled. You may go now.

    4. Ricky Tjahyadi7 months ago

      Yes, leviticus also says eating shrimp and wearing mixed fabric are abomination plus eating pork. The bible should be read in the context of culture and history, not just literally. For Romans, read this stopbibleabuse.org/biblical-refe…

  12. Ed Dingess7 months ago

    Does “accepted by society” mean accepted by Christ? I am not sure I trust the way the question was put to people and I am not convinced this release isn’t more of a tactic supporting an agenda than anything else. I would like some clarity around exactly how this question was worded with respondents.

    1. Mark L7 months ago

      The first link of this article leads to a survey about current beliefs held by Americans. Pew presents all of the data which an article or survey result is based on. A quick view of the original questionnaire shows that Question B2a asks about the respondent’s feelings about homosexuality. The instructions require that questions are asked exactly as written to avoid adding bias when the questions are asked. Here is how respondents were asked about their views on homosexuality:

      1 – Homosexuality should be accepted by society OR
      2 – Homosexuality should be discouraged by society

      Staff are instructed to remind the respondents to listen to the full question. Both parts of this 2-part question use the same wording to avoid potentially biasing the respondent’s answer. The question focuses on the respondent’s opinions about if society should be more accepting or should discourage homosexuality, which ultimately reveals the respondents personally held beliefs about homosexuality. It does not ask a respondent to comment on whether any religion should change its teachings or view on homosexuality for that matter any political party, interest group, et al. Further, Pew Research seems to be a good actor creating quality surveys which endeavor to remove bias terminology. Pew, unlike the Heritage Foundation, is non-partisan & does not attempt to justify either a conservative or liberal belief. This is in contrast to groups like Heritage Foundation which exists solely to provide support for conservative policies. This must at times put them in questionable ethics since no single party has the correct answers all of the time. Organizations like Pew conduct opinion research & then report their findings. Pew is mostly financed through the Pew Charitable Trusts which claims to be non-partisan & unbiased. Links to both are at the bottom of every webpage.

      1. Ed Dingess7 months ago

        Thank you for pointing this out. I just wanted to make sure there were no surprises behind the curtain before I comment on the survey.