A new poll indicates that white evangelical Christians are less opposed to same-sex marriage than in previous years, although most still oppose the right of gay people to wed.
The Pew Research Center poll released on June 26 finds that 35 percent of white evangelical Christians approve of same-sex marriage, which is more than double the 14 percent approval from the same group in 2007.
Additionally, their support for gay marriage grew from 27 percent in 2016.
The poll also found that 47 percent of evangelical Christians born after 1964 support same-sex marriage, while 26 percent of older folks born between 1928 and 1964 do.
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"The generational divide among white evangelicals is especially interesting, with nearly half of the younger folk approving of gay marriage," Nancy Ammerman, a professor of the sociology of religion at Boston University, told Reuters. "When their parents were that age, there was barely a visible white evangelical gay person to be found."
Julie Rodgers, a lesbian who was once a part of an ex-gay ministry and employed at evangelical Wheaton College told The Washington Post: "I think a shift is inevitable. It’s just a matter of how long."
The newspaper notes that Wheaton received pushback when Rodgers affirmed same-sex marriage, and she subsequently resigned in 2015.
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"When pastors and leaders begin to come out [as LGBT affirming], people are going to move," Rodgers stated. "They just need permission. It gives people another perspective and permission to say, 'I feel that way, too.'"
Glenn Stanton, director of Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family, which does not support same-sex marriage, compared gay marriage to marijuana use.
"We see that with pot in Colorado," Stanton told The Washington Post. "There’s a legitimizing and institutionalizing when you make something legal."
Stanton insisted that support for same-sex marriage among young evangelical Christians was paper thin: "A quality of youth is being idealistic and wanting to believe the world can be a certain way. Why can’t we all get married?"
When the Pew Research Center polled Americans in 2001, 57 percent opposed the right of gay people to marry, while 35 percent supported it. The 2017 poll shows a major shift, as 62 percent approve and 32 percent disapprove.
Among Republicans in 2017, 40 percent support the right of same-sex couples to wed, while 73 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of independents are on board.
When broken down by race, 64 percent of whites are for gay marriage, and 51 percent of blacks support it.
Sixty-four percent of women support same-sex marriage, while 60 percent of men do.