Evangelical Christians | Evangelicals | News | Religion

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.]

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

    Well! That's good news.

    Posted by: T.s. | Jan 10, 2013 11:11:14 PM

  2. 3 cheers for the nitpick.

    Posted by: Bingo | Jan 10, 2013 11:15:49 PM

  3. you beat me to it. funny, he got it right in the actual story.

    Posted by: cabf | Jan 10, 2013 11:43:21 PM

  4. "Fewer" Americans.

    Posted by: at | Jan 11, 2013 12:15:28 AM

  5. Gay grammar and usage geeks unite!

    Posted by: Todd | Jan 11, 2013 12:28:58 AM

  6. 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.

    Posted by: Dogsteady | Jan 11, 2013 12:40:32 AM

  7. 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.

    Posted by: Craig | Jan 11, 2013 1:17:33 AM

  8. 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.

    Posted by: Bill | Jan 11, 2013 1:34:21 AM

  9. Great picture.

    Posted by: Mike in the Tundra | Jan 11, 2013 1:34:29 AM

  10. Wonder what Tony Perkins and Bryan Fischer will say about this.

    Posted by: Francis | Jan 11, 2013 1:52:35 AM

  11. 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!

    Posted by: Bill | Jan 11, 2013 1:58:09 AM

  12. 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.

    Posted by: Miguel R. | Jan 11, 2013 2:03:16 AM

  13. 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.

    Posted by: Miguel R. | Jan 11, 2013 2:03:18 AM

  14. 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.

    Posted by: Miguel R. | Jan 11, 2013 2:03:19 AM

  15. OH "this issue" being fewer vs. less.

    Posted by: Miguel R. | Jan 11, 2013 2:03:40 AM

  16. 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.

    Posted by: Appalled | Jan 11, 2013 2:07:07 AM

  17. Overjoyed (I'm easily amused) at how many people took the time to note the misuse of the word "less" in the headline.

    Posted by: Mark | Jan 11, 2013 2:09:32 AM

  18. 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!


    Posted by: Grammar Nazi | Jan 11, 2013 2:18:22 AM

  19. is a Christian poll different than a scientific poll?

    Posted by: Alex Paris | Jan 11, 2013 3:48:04 AM

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

    Posted by: Paul R | Jan 11, 2013 4:41:55 AM

  21. 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.

    Posted by: UFFDA | Jan 11, 2013 6:43:32 AM

  22. 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."

    Posted by: Wayne | Jan 11, 2013 6:54:30 AM

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

    Posted by: Mike in the Tundra | Jan 11, 2013 7:49:45 AM

  24. 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.

    Posted by: Sam | Jan 11, 2013 9:07:52 AM

  25. @ 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!

    Posted by: Audi-owner | Jan 11, 2013 9:16:17 AM

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