Thursday, May 21, 2009

Poll shows Protestant clergy still oppose same sex-marriage, but support gay rights and becoming more liberal

USA Today reports on the Clergy Voices Survey by Public Religion Research. Elsewhere, a church historian quips that "It takes Christians two centuries to settle anything." .

Most mainline Protestant clergy do not support legalizing gay marriage, even if they're not required to officiate at same-sex ceremonies.

It was the only point on which the majority did not support gay rights, according to a survey of clergy from the seven historic mainline Protestant denominations to which 18% of Americans belong.

The Clergy Voices Survey, conducted by Public Religion Research, is based on 2,658 responses from clergy from the United Methodist Church; Evangelical Lutheran Church of America; Episcopal Church; United Church of Christ, Presbyterian Church USA; American Baptist Church; and the Disciples of Christ.

It asked 60 questions on sexuality and the "the role of (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people in the church and broader society" as well as theological questions on views on Bible.

It finds overall support for hate crimes legislation (67%), for workplace protections for gay and lesbian people (66%), and for adoption rights (55%).

Only 33% say gay couples should be allowed to marry, 32% would allow civil unions, and 35% call for "no legal recognition" for same-sex couples.

Support for same-sex marriage grew to 46% if laws specified that clergy would not be required to perform a religious ceremony in contradiction with their denomination's teachings.

"We find that on these issues, the clergy views are fairly in line with the laity views," said Robert Jones, president of Public Religion Research.

Jones said clergy were asked to estimate how their views on gay and lesbian issues had changed in 10 years: 45% called themselves more liberal now, 40% unchanged, and 14% more conservative.

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