LifeWay Christian Resources provides the Southern Baptist Convention with “Christian products and services.” LifeWay has a research division, and a recent national poll produced findings that really aren’t surprising, and add another confirmation to the changes in how the nation understands LGBTs. The report on the poll results acknowledges that support for LGBT equality increases, but also emphasizes the “lines and divisions” which exist.

One thing I found interesting about this survey is this framing: “homosexuality is a civil rights issue.” This is a very significant change. Like race, like gender, “homosexuality,” sexual orientation, is identified as the fundamental “issue,” related to civil rights. That contradicts the long and strong focus on the “homosexual lifestyle” or “homosexual acts or behaviors.” I’d guess that change is related to another finding of the survey. When asked “Do you believe homosexual behavior is a sin,” 37% said yes; 45% said no; and 17% said they didn’t know. Even when the focus is on “behavior,” attitudes have changed.

You can find the link to the PDF file of the survey results here.

From the report:

As public policy continues to change on the issue, a LifeWay Research poll shows 58 percent of American adults agree it is a civil rights issue and 64 percent believe it is inevitable same-sex marriage will become legal throughout the United States.

LifeWay Research conducted a wide-ranging survey of American adults on questions surrounding same-sex marriage; specifically examining whether clergy, wedding photographers, rental halls, landlords, and employers have the right to refuse access and services to same-sex couples even if same-sex marriage is made legal in their state.

Some of the findings:

63 percent agree and 27 percent disagree that pastors should be allowed to refuse to officiate same-sex weddings if they are made legal in their state;

58 percent agree and 33 percent disagree that photographers should be allowed to refuse to work same-sex weddings if they are made legal in their state;

40 percent agree and 52 percent disagree that rental halls should be allowed to refuse to rent out their facilities for same-sex weddings if they are made legal in their state;
27 percent agree and 67 percent disagree landlords should be allowed to refuse to rent housing to same-sex couples if same-sex marriage is made legal in their state;

14 percent agree and 82 percent disagree employers should be allowed to refuse employment to someone based on their sexual preference.

Commenting on these findings, Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, makes an important point.

“˜… the level of agreement changes with scenarios that could be interpreted as more basic rights such as housing and employment.’

The idea that a pastor would be forced to perform a “same-sex” wedding has always been one of the favorite silly scare tactics. And it’s not surprising that a majority of people think that’s a bad idea.

The survey report notes that “in all scenarios,”

… men are more likely than women to agree these individuals should have the right to refuse services, rental agreements, or employment “” as are Americans calling themselves “˜born-again, evangelical or fundamentalist Christian.

But even among self-identified “born-again, evangelical, or fundamentalist Christian,” the “level of agreement is much lower” when it comes to the landlords (39%) and employers (19%) scenarios

The survey revealed that 64% percent of responders “agree same-sex marriage will become legal,” 25% disagree and 12% “don’t know.” By geographic region (except for the East, which apparently wasn’t included for some reason; or if it was, results don’t appear), agreement that “same-sex” marriage is “inevitable”: West (72%); Midwest (57%); South (61%). Related to that last one, self-identified “born-again, evangelical or fundamentalist Christian” agree at only 50%.

Another not surprise: agreement that “homosexuality is a civil rights issue” is strongest among women (61%); those with a college degree (65%); and those age 18-29 (65%).

From Stetzer, this summarization:

“˜While a majority of Americans categorize homosexuality as a civil rights issue like age, race and gender, and almost two-thirds think legalization of same-sex marriage in the U.S. is evitable, the research does show lines and divisions on these issues clearly exist in our country.

The “lines and divisions” are real, of course. But this study is yet another indication of which way the “changes” are moving: “Homosexuality is a civil rights issue.”

(LifeWay Survey Graph via LifeWay Research)