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

but now they are actually starting to have a voice and beginning to be more political," Martinez said.

The "Messy Middle" which researchers refer to as "Ambivalent Evangelicals" has differing views from evangelical "Gay Right Opponents," who oppose civil unions, and also from "Cultural Progressives," who support homosexual behavior and civil unions.

But in terms of religion, "The Ambivalents are similar to Gay Rights Opponents when it comes to level of belief, church attendance, prayer life, Bible reading, and having friends in church," Bean said. "They're enmeshed, not peripheral. You have these people in the pews and serving as Sunday School teachers who are supportive of civil unions."

Other research findings about Ambivalent Evangelicals:

  • They are similar in biblical literalism and religious practice to those who oppose civil unions, while the 35 percent who are Culture Progressives with positive attitudes toward homosexuality are less involved in such activities as church attendance, although they pray privately.
  • Ambivalents are not as politically conservative as Gay Rights Opponents, but they are more politically conservative than Cultural Progressives.
  • They are more likely to be married, have lower levels of education, be biblical literalists, and attend church frequently than Cultural Progressives.
  • They are more likely to believe that sexuality is innate than Gay Rights Opponents, but less likely than Cultural Progressives to do so.
  • They are more likely to identify themselves as "born-again" than Cultural Progressives are.

Since the 1990s, evangelicals have struggled with how to "do" religion in regard to gays and lesbians, with approaches ranging from shunning homosexuals to seeking to "hate the sin but love the sinner" to openly affirming homosexuals, researchers said.

The study notes that in 2004, Christian Right groups, led by Focus on the Family and the Family
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Contact: Daniel Fowler
pubinfo@asanet.org
202-527-7885
American Sociological Association
Source:Eurekalert

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