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Study: Many evangelicals are ambivalent about homosexuality and civil unions for gays
Date:8/11/2013

NEW YORK CITY Tolerance toward gays and lesbians is growing within the evangelical community long a stronghold against homosexuality with many expressing ambivalent views about the issue, according to a Baylor University study.

The emerging voice of the so-called "Messy Middle" evangelicals who oppose homosexuality on moral grounds but support equal rights such as civil unions for gays has strong implications for the gay marriage debate, say Baylor researchers, who will present their paper at the 108th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.

"As a moral issue, we predict that the opposition to gay civil rights will not have the same staying power as the abortion debate," said study co-author Brandon Martinez, a sociology researcher in Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences.

The recent apology to the gay community by Exodus International an evangelical parachurch ministry that had long championed the "gay cure" movement and its disbanding shortly after that are evidence of the shift within the evangelical community, says Lydia Bean, Ph.D., an assistant professor of sociology at Baylor. Exodus International's leader stated that the group's previous worldview was "neither honoring our fellow human beings, nor biblical."

For their study "How the Messy Middle Finds a Voice: Evangelicals and Structured Ambivalence towards Gays and Lesbians" researchers analyzed national data from the 2010 Baylor Religion Survey, a random sample of 1,714 individuals across the country. Researchers found that 24 percent of evangelicals fit into the ambivalent category, supporting gay civil unions even though they are morally opposed to homosexuality. The survey, designed by Baylor University scholars and conducted by The Gallup Organization, included more than 300 items dealing with religion and the attitudes, beliefs, and values of the American public.

"We've known that moderate and ambivalent evangelicals are there,
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Contact: Daniel Fowler
pubinfo@asanet.org
202-527-7885
American Sociological Association
Source:Eurekalert

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