The state-by-state debate over same-sex marriage again drew in national headlines this week with the upholding of Proposition 8 by the California Supreme Court.
The easy target to put on Christians’ backs by gay marriage proponents is to claim some sort of groupthink in a unified opposition.
A survey released this week of Mainline Protestant clergy reveals anything but a unified opposition or a simple answer to feelings on the issue.
The work, by Public Religion Research, surveyed seven denominations: the United Methodist Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, American Baptist Churches USA, Presbyterian Church USA, the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
The two most noteworthy findings seem to be this:
• Factor in protection for churches which choose not to officiate same-sex weddings, and approval for it jumps from 31 percent to 46 percent
• There is a lot of wiggle room. Twenty-nine percent strongly support gay rights and see homosexuality as a choice rather than a sin. Thirty percent strongly opposes gay rights and see homosexuality as a sin. The majority, 41 percent, support some gay rights and are ambivalent toward others.
The fragmented opinions from the pulpit mirrors mixed feelings among the rank-and-file, creating plenty of potential converts for both sides to sway.