There’s been a substantial drop in the proportion of Americans who think being gay is a sin, according to a new poll.
The poll, from Nashville-based LifeWay Research, a Christian-oriented firm, showed 37% of respondents saying “homosexual behavior” is a sin, down from 44% in a September 2011 survey. That’s a statistically significant difference, say LifeWay pollsters, who conducted their latest study in November and released the results Thursday.
In the new poll, 45% of respondents said homosexuality is not a sin, up from 43% in 2011, and 17% said they don’t know, up from 13% in the previous study.
LifeWay president Ed Stetzer said President Obama’s May announcement of support for marriage equality may account for at least part of the change in the poll results. “The president’s evolution on homosexuality probably impacted the evolution of cultural values — there is a real and substantive shift, surprisingly large for a one-year timeframe — though this was hardly a normal year on this issue,” Stetzer said in a press release on the firm’s website.
Along with the president’s influence, factors in the change likely include young Americans’ widespread acceptance of LGBT people and the popularity of out celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres, said Anthea Butler, associate professor of religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania. “Who wouldn’t want to take their grandmother to see her show?” Butler told USA Today.
Stetzer said, however, that conflicts over homosexuality will continue. “The culture is clearly shifting on homosexuality,” he said on the website, “and this creates a whole new issue: How will America deal with a minority view, strongly held by Evangelicals, Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, and so many others?”