Evangelical Christians, who in the past have been staunchly opposed to gay marriage, are changing their minds about the issue, and there has been a notable increase in the number who now support it.
According to Politico Magazine,
some evangelicals are embracing same-sex relationships in church sermons, conferences, and books, arguing traditional scriptural interpretations of gay marriage are misguided and outdated, just as many other cultural views from Biblical times are no longer part of the faith.
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Evangelical support for gay marriage has more than doubled over the past decade, according to polling by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute, Politico reported. One expert predicts those views will only become more common in the coming years.
"Evangelicals will more or less come to embrace homosexuality in the next 20 to 30 years," Jeremy Thomas, an Idaho State University sociologist who has studied conservative Christians' changing attitudes toward homosexuality, told Politico. "I would put all my money on that statement."
Meanwhile, some Christian pastors and advocacy groups have chosen to tone down their rhetoric on the issue. Renowned evangelical Pastor Rick Warren, for example, apologized for endorsing California's Proposition 8, though has stopped short of supporting laws allowing same-sex marriage.
Russell Moore, chief political spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention, wrote in an April blog post
that the group needs to do a better job articulating its beliefs on marriage and family.
"We must prepare people for what the future holds, when Christian beliefs about marriage and sexuality aren't part of the cultural consensus but are seen to be strange and freakish and even subversive," Moore wrote.
Republican politicians are also backing down on the issue, according to Politico. In some cases, it's a matter of declining to publicly engage or campaign on the issue. In other instances, evangelical groups have chosen to back down from introducing new ballot measures banning same-sex marriage in the 31 states where it continues to be illegal.
An additional influence on changes in attitude has been the recent publication of books by theological academics disputing traditional interpretations of Scripture that insist the Bible is opposed to gay marriage.
Nevertheless, many evangelicals still support traditional church teachings on homosexuality and insist the fight must continue against changing cultural attitudes, according to Politico.
Gay marriage is now legal in 19 states plus the District of Columbia, and all major public opinion surveys indicate that a majority of Americans now support it, Politico noted.
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