Polls and studies consistently show a growing acceptance, and even support, for LGBT equality. That’s true in the religious / faith realm as well, which surprises some people, but really shouldn’t. There have been strong allies, not to mention LGBTs, among those who practice whatever faith, including Christianity. That certainly doesn’t mean that homosexuality is no longer condemned as sinful by some, but it is true that fewer believe that way. There are those who do still see anything other than heterosexuality as sinful, but are softening their language. Still others, of course, are as condemning as ever.
Writing at HuffPo, Travis Loller has an interesting piece about this, “Evangelical Churches Refine Message On Gay Issues.”
The Rev. Robert Jeffress has changed the way he talks about homosexuality from the pulpit.
The pastor of the 11,000-member First Baptist Dallas hasn’t stopped preaching that homosexual sex is sinful, but he no longer singles it out for special condemnation. Now, Jeffress says he usually talks about homosexuality within ‘a bigger context of God’s plan for sex between one man and one woman in a lifetime relationship called marriage.’
Jeffress says it would be the “height of hypocrisy to condemn homosexuality,” but not preach about adultery or unbiblical divorce,” as well as “premarital sex.”
As “mainstream support” for LGBTs increases, Loller writes, so does the pressure to “change the way homosexuality is addressed in evangelical churches.” Loller identifies several factors in play. He cites a 2011 survey by Public Religious Research Institute that showed of people between 18 and 29 years old, 62% “supported gay marriage,” and 71% “supported civil unions.” Of those same responders, 69% agreed that “religious groups are alienating young people by being too judgmental about gay and lesbian issues.”
A second factor cited by Loller is summarized by Bill Leonard, dean of Wake Forest University’s Divinity School: “Evangelicals have been sobered by studies that show people are dropping out of church in droves.”
‘I’m amazed at the changes, the softening of the rhetoric to be more compassionate,’ Leonard said.
A third factor Loller considers:
As it becomes safer for gays and lesbians to come out of the closet, it becomes increasingly more likely that evangelicals know gay’s (sic) and lesbians personally, researchers say.
Also quoted in the article is David W. Key Sr., director of Baptist Studies at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, who said
… it is the pastors who are de-emphasizing homosexuality who are attracting more members.
‘It’s a free-market system,’ he said, noting that there is no evangelical equivalent of the pope to enforce a certain doctrine. …
Build a better mouse trap …
Still focused on “evangelical” churches, Key also discusses what has happened in the past.
‘There’s never a proclamation. A resolution doesn’t pass. It’s just that people go silent on the issue’ … . He said that has happened with everything from slavery to dancing and alcohol consumption.
Not everyone, of course, agrees with a more “compassionate” framing, or with being silent. At Think Progress, Zack Ford has posted several “Anti-Gay Briefs.” For example, ‘Family’ Group To Supreme Court: Same-Sex Couples Are Not Gay:
The Family Research Council … has filed amicus briefs in both the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 cases before the Supreme Court. In these briefs, FRC claims that gays and lesbians do not deserve nondiscrimination protections because of their sexual orientation, but adds that even if they did, the Court could still rule against them in these cases. The group explains this by pointing out that gay people can enter opposite-sex couples, and thus laws like DOMA and Prop 8 do not discriminate specifically against gay people, just same-sex couples.
It’s an old, ridiculous argument. Second example from Ford, Catholic Bishops To SCOTUS: Deny Marriage Equality Because Being Gay Is Just ‘Conduct’:
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has filed amicus briefs in the two marriage equality cases before the Supreme Court, encouraging the Justices to rule in favor of discrimination. At the foundation of the Conference’s argument is the claim that gays don’t deserve any legal protections because the only thing that defines them is their ‘voluntary actions,’ just like polygamists … .
They just can’t stop focusing on the sex …
Last example — Ford writes NOM Founder To SCOTUS: Religious Discrimination Is More Important Than Marriage Equality:
Robert George helped found the National Organization for Marriage, but one of his projects since then was The Manhattan Declaration, a document calling on Christians to openly violate any law that conflicts with their consciences. He has now filed an amicus brief on behalf of those Christians calling on the Supreme Court to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act, lest the Christians be forced not to discriminate against gays and lesbians.
Clearly not everyone is seeing the light of compassion. I’m not among those who seem to think that everyone who makes homophobic arguments falls in the “Me thinks thou doest protest too much” category. But in terms of public perception, and the “free-market system” of keeping existing church members, much less attracting new ones, it might be instructive to consider the following Anti-Gay Homophobic Pastors and Politicians who turn out to be gay video.
This video takes a look at the anti-gay and homophobic pastors and politicians who turn out to be actually gay themselves. These men are hypocrites who repeatedly discriminated against homosexuals and passed legislation to withhold the rights of gay people. The pastors and politicians mentioned in this video are as follows: Ted Haggard, George A. Rekers, Richard Curtis, Roy Ashburn, Albert Odulele, Mark Foley, Christopher Lee, Eddie Long, Jim West, Paul Babeu, Ken Mehlman, and Larry Craig.
(Bigotry Wrapped in Prayer via Wipe Out Homophobia FB)