Christian Poll Shows Less Americans Think Being Gay Is A Sin


Very few of you will be shocked to hear that polling companies are, in many cases, partisan. That's why it's not surprising when a right-leaning operation like Rasmussen Reports claims someone like Mitt Romney will trounce Barack Obama, or when a "centrist" third way group like the Democratic Leadership Council finds that Bill Clinton is more popular than George W. Bush. Alright, maybe that latter one is a weak example, but you get the idea. You know how such polls are: often worthless.

But these these policy-aligned results come not only from a potential agenda, but from the people they poll. The voters in their database are often already on the side with the polling place in question. But that's not to say partisan polls can't serve a purpose.

They become useful, and even welcome, when their results go against their ideological grain, such as the latest findings from the Christian polling group Lifeway Research. They're showing that only 37% of their survey participants believe that homosexuality is a sin. That is down seven points from their last report, released only a few months ago, in September.

These numbers reflect other polls, such as Gallup's very promising finding this year that 54% of Americans, the highest ever, believe same-sex love is morally acceptable. Gallup's conclusion: LGBT acceptance is "the new normal".

While religious conservatives claim these numbers, and other matters also fought over in the culture wars, like birth rate declines or the fact that straight women are waiting longer to get married, point to some moral failure. But this Lifeway Research shows that those people are increasingly in the minority.

While the people most likely to call homosexuality a sin attend church once a week or define themselves as "Evangelical," it's clear that even religious Americans are joining Newt Gingrich and facing reality. Perhaps the most virulent on right will one day realize that this attitudinal shift isn't a decline in morals; rather, it's proof that Western society, for over a century lied to and taught that sex is bad and something that should exist only within specific parameters, is finally an overcoming sexual oppressive culture and realizing that all consenting adults have the right to live and love as they please, outside judgement like projected sins be damned.

[Image via San Francisco Citizen.]


  1. T.s. says

    [Wonders if he should nitpick and point out that the headline should read “Fewer” not “Less.” Hems. Haws.]

    Well! That’s good news.

  2. Dogsteady says

    Not to be pedantic, but that’s not really how polling works. Rasmussen doesn’t take biased samples. No legitimate polling firm has a ‘database’ they take polls from. Polling firms dial random phone numbers. That isn’t to say that Rasmussen doesn’t introduce bias into thier polls: it’s fairly clear that they do; however they do so by the way they weigh results and through the implicit bias in their scripts. The fact that polling firms don’t so much know how to deal with non-landline homes doesn’t help, as demographically people who lack a landline trend younger and more liberal. Polling is imperfect and the science of polling is in flux, but lets not impugn the motives of all pollsters. It’s unfair and it’s inaccurate.

  3. Craig says

    Does this really say they think gay sex is not a sin? Or just being homosexual? Like the catholics and mormons accept homosexuals as long as they remain celibate. This poll may not actually reflect their opinion of gay sex.

  4. Bill says

    It’s worth pointing out that polling companies produce less biased results than the public thinks. Just like political parties, Christian groups paying for polls want accurate results for internal purposes. Otherwise they can’t evaluate how well their proselytizing is working, not to mention where to spend money proselytizing.

    The apparent bias is partly the result of how the polls are released. If you pay Rasmussen do run a series of polls for you, you don’t necessarily want that information made public – if you did, the opposition could use it. So, the person
    paying for the poll decides if the public sees it.

    Rather than running occasional polls with large samples, they often prefer more frequent polls with smaller samples because they want to track progress, the cost per poll is roughly proportional to the sample size, and they have a budget for polling – a cap that won’t be exceeded without a good reason. With smaller polls, the statistical fluctuations are higher, so if they release any polling data, they will cherry pick the one that randomly looks best. This is not the fault of the polling company. Rather, it is a misleading tactic used by organizations with an agenda. They know that if they look like winners, that may help them raise more cash, so each side has an incentive to make themselves look better than they really are.

  5. Bill says

    One thing about the picture is the phrase, “demonic bondage”. What is it? Being tied up in a skimpy Halloween costume with fake horns on your head?

    I’ve heard about the snake-handling sects. Is there a bondage sect where they tie someone up, surrounded by people in demon costumes, with a contestant from the Hunky Jesus Contest brought in to shoo away the demons and untie the victim? That might make even the snake handlers look sane!

  6. Miguel R. says

    I love you all for being united about this. I had a long, long battle in the comments section of Gawker with someone about this issue. He just insisted that he was right. Here, everyone is in agreement. You guys rock.

  7. Miguel R. says

    I love you all for being united about this. I had a long, long battle in the comments section of Gawker with someone about this issue. He just insisted that he was right. Here, everyone is in agreement. You guys rock.

  8. Miguel R. says

    I love you all for being united about this. I had a long, long battle in the comments section of Gawker with someone about this issue. He just insisted that he was right. Here, everyone is in agreement. You guys rock.

  9. Appalled says

    Headline should read “FewerCou”Americans, not “Less”. Use fewer with things you can count; less with things you can’t.

    Pack fewer packets of sugar.

    Add less sugar to the mix.

  10. Mark says

    Overjoyed (I’m easily amused) at how many people took the time to note the misuse of the word “less” in the headline.

  11. Grammar Nazi says

    SOOOO happy about the poll!! But the “less” is driving me MAD!! Please – it’s “fewer.”

    “Less” is for volume. You have less water.

    “Fewer” is for countable things. You have fewer BOTTLES of water.

    You have less water because you have fewer water bottles. There is less homophobia because fewer Americans are ignorant bigots!


  12. Paul R says

    Wow, this is among the few sites where so many people would comment on something that also bugged me (fewer).

  13. UFFDA says

    Andrew B – your comment started out good enough but that last sentence is a train wreck. Make your sentences short, no more than three lines and you won’t drive off track quite so easily.
    Your intent is appreciated.

  14. Wayne says

    The author of the title of this piece needs to return to English class. “Fewer” not “less” is the correct grammar. Remember the rule: when referring to anything that can be counted use “few” anything that can’t be counted use “less.”

  15. Mike in the Tundra says

    Wayne, I’m impressed. Native speakers of English are seldom aware of the difference between counted and uncounted nouns.

  16. Sam says

    Not to rain on your parades but this ‘rule’ in regards to fewer vs less is, to co-opt Rachel maddow’s favorite word, bullpucky. Grammatical purists love to crow that it is incorrect but much like the ‘ten items or less’ queue at the grocery store, the headline is perfectly acceptable in modern English.

    This ‘rule’ is moreorless made up for no reason other than other languages have done the same when it’s not applicable, just like the ‘rule’ that you can split an infinitive or that you can’t start a sentence with ‘and’. You can.

  17. Audi-owner says

    @ Sam:

    Yes,it’s easier to show your smug dislike for those of us who prefer “adults” actually use correct grammar. This is not 5th grade. If you are over 21,you should know how to construct a goddamn sentence.It’s always the intellectually lazy ones who come out pounding their fists on the table when criticized for not using correct grammar.Get a clue!

  18. Honda-Owner says

    The language may be in transition, but ain’t nothing going to make me feel like “Less Americans” has degenerated into standard English. I had to look away. Andy Towle would not have written such a headline.

  19. says

    To be honest, I no longer care if people think my being gay is a sin, or if they think it is okay as long as I do not have relations with my partner. I pay taxes and I will be having my full civil rights in this country whether bigots like it or not. It is just a matter of when.

    There was a point when majority opinion decided it wasn’t okay for slaves to be emancipated, for blacks and whites to inter-marry, for women to be allowed to vote, and so on….In the future, attitudes towards gay people will be looked at in the same way.

    If anybody thinks that any religious book, or any ‘spiritual book’, at any rate, is focused on singling out gay people to revile, they are just fulfilling their own bigoted agenda. The Bible, for example, emphasized love. Jesus is not quoted as saying that 2 members of the same sex should not be able to love each other. The Old Testament advocated death to children who cursed their mother or father, or who disobeyed Sabbath law.

    Many who claim to be Christian. including many gay people, think gay marriage is okay. Why is our freedom of religion being trampled upon? If you do not believe in same-sex marriage, do not marry a gay person. No place of worship is ever obligated to perform a ceremony that their religion is against. Inter-religious marriage is a perfect example of this.

    To those who believe that God is the creator, ask yourself this….why is homosexuality a naturally-occurring event found in more than 450 species. And why is homophobia found in only 1? The same species, as it happens, that wages war, and has tortured and killed millions over the centuries, all in the alleged name of their God.

    Bigotry is not of God. It has a unique evil, all its own.

  20. ivandotcom says

    Andrew — I think you’ve misread your source material. Here is what the source says, “A November survey from Nashville-based LifeWay Research found 37 percent of Americans polled said “yes” when asked if homosexual behavior is a sin. Forty-five percent said it was not. Seventeen percent didn’t know.

    That’s a major change from LifeWay’s September 2011 survey, when 44 percent said homosexuality was a sin, 43 percent said it wasn’t and 13 percent didn’t know.”

    As you can see, this is a change over 1 year and 3 months. Not just a few months, as you mentioned in this post. Correction?

  21. Troy says

    The real sin is the Christians who are pushing LGBT people and others away from Jesus with their anti minority hate.

  22. ratbastard says

    The idea that younger people are more ‘progressive’ or liberal is mixed. Yes, they tend to say what’s expected of them to say and yes, most people born and raised post 1960s are more live and let live on sexual matters, but almost all people moderate their views as they age. It’s a part of maturing process. Many things you believed in as a often naive and ignorant youth changes as you gain more worldly experience and age.

    I’m always leery of people who place so much emphasis on what youth think. Youth by their very nature are just starting out in this world and often are naive and ignorant on many things and issues. This makes them easy to manipulate by marketing campaigns, either commercial or even political and ideological. Cults of kinds prey on youth especially for a good reason.

    I know in my region of the country most people aren’t Bible freaks and have little to no problems with gay civil rights. I understand in more religious oriented regions this is not the case. This is also true especially among more evangelical-type religious people and demographics.

    That’s all.

  23. NE1 says

    Well this is inspiring. There’s been a lot of doom and gloom lately. I’m gonna pretend I didn’t see that the numbers were still only at 54% tho.

  24. Diogenes Arktos says

    @Ratbastard: The Religious Right is complaining that they are loosing the young evangelical demographic on gay issues.

  25. Sam says

    Lol, smug? Did you actually read what you yourself just wrote? Methinks you are the one getting testy and smug, not I.

    Using ‘less’ is perfectly grammatically correct in this instance. A hundred years ago it would not have been, but funnily enough, the language has changed, and several style guides have gotten on board. ‘less’ often sounds better on certain constructed sentences and has been used time and again by writers of all sorts, from journalism to fiction.

    Much like how it used to be insisted that you cannot use ‘and’ at the start of a sentence, or split an infinitive, things have changed. It is not ‘smug’ to admit that, particularly when I am in such very good company. Perhaps you should get off your own high horse and come play shenanigans with us here common English folk?

    (might I point out that many of these ‘rules’ started out simply as one persons decision that there should be one, and not with any actual authority. The split infinitive rule was decided by a single man – working on a dictionary if I recall correctly- who notice you couldn’t split an infinitive in Latin and thought the same should be in English, despite it being a useful tool when changing the emphasis of a word, such as in star trek’s ‘to boldly go’. The less vs fewer mishap seems to have sprung from a 9th century poet who used each in their respective ways and others carried along suit. It is not a rule so much as tradition, and given that english as a language is predicated on its own bending of rules, it’s really not something to jump up and down about. )

    Satisfied ?

  26. Diogenes Arktos says

    I’ll take Mr “Gay sex IS in!” over any grammatical discussion (as much as I like them). BTW – Why has no one pointed out it should be “all right” not “alright”?

  27. Lymis says

    These sorts of things always throw me a bit. I know that it matters hugely how the question was phrased, and what the population polled was, and all that. but these huge gaps reflect something, and I’m unclear just what.

    Take this case – only 37% of people think homosexuality is a sin, and yet, only 54% of people think homosexuality is morally acceptable. Presuming that both polls had a “not sure” category, what’s with the 17% of people who think it’s not sinful but still not morally acceptable? “God doesn’t mind, but I sure as hell do”?

    It’s like the polls where 80% of people thing gays shouldn’t be discriminated against, but only 50% think we should have the legal recognition of marriage. What’s going on in the minds of the 30% who don’t see denial of marriage as discrimination?