A new poll from the Public Religion Research Institute shows that most religious groups in America believe that gays and lesbians should have the right to be married, and that businesses should not be allowed to discriminate against same-sex couples.
The PRRI survey found that same-sex marriage rights were most strongly supported by Unitarians/Universalists at 94 percent, then Buddhists at 85 percent, Jews at 73 percent, Hindus at 67 percent, white mainline Protestants at 63 percent, white Catholics at 63 percent, Hispanic Catholics at 62 percent and Orthodox Christians at 59 percent.
Only three groups opposed the right of marriage for gay Americans: white evangelical Protestants at 61 percent, Mormons at 55 percent, and Jehovah's Witnesses at 53 percent.
Black Protestants were split down the middle, with 45 percent in support and opposition.
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Among Muslim respondents, 44 percent thought gay people should have the right to get married, while 41 percent opposed that right.
Only white evangelical Protestants supported the notion of allowing small business owners to cite their religious beliefs in refusing to provide products or services to gay or lesbian people. That support came in at 50 percent to 42 percent.
In response to the results, Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion & Democracy, told The Christian Post that supporters of the right to gay marriage were "not very informed":
[M]any Americans in religious traditions that affirm only the union of man and woman as marriage have accepted legalized same sex marriage. They have acceded to the largely secular notion that societal and legal affirmation of a sexual and domestic arrangement is an intrinsic human right.
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They are not very informed, even by their religious institutions, about why nearly all of humanity has privileged male-female marriage to the exclusion of other sexual arrangements. They might answer differently if they better understood that male-female marriage best protects children, protects families, protects women and men, and ideally places prudent boundaries on sexuality.
Tooley thought that PRRI's question about businesses refusing to serve gay couples "shows tremendous bias by framing the question around denial of goods and services to persons, which is not the presenting issue."
Tooley went on to argue that an alternate phrasing would have been more fair:
A more even-handed question would have asked if businesses and persons must, by law, be compelled to actively participate in specific ceremonies and events that violate conscience. Should a gay business owner, for example, be compelled to actively cater to and participate in a Muslim conference condemning homosexual behavior? A more fairly phrased question would have gotten different answers.
Alternet noted in 2015 that religious freedom has been used to justify slavery, racist Jim Crow laws and sexist laws against women.
One example noted by the news site is this passage from Josiah Priest's 1852 book entitled "Bible Defense Of Slavery: And Origin, Fortunes, and History of the Negro Race," which included pro-slavery Bible verses:
If God appointed the race of Ham judicially to slavery, and it were a heinous sin to enslave one, or all the race, how then is the appointment of God to go into effect?
…. God does never sanction sin, nor call for the commission of moral evil to forward any of his purposes; [wherefore] we come to the conclusion, that is is not sinful to enslave the negro race, providing it is done in a tender, fatherly and thoughtful manner.