(RNS) A new voice is emerging in the evangelical community, and it’s turning away from the church’s vocal opposition to homosexuality in favor of a more tolerant attitude.
Researchers at Baylor University found that 24 percent of evangelicals were “ambivalent,” meaning they support civil unions or legal recognition of gay relationships, despite harboring a moral opposition to homosexuality.
What you have is this increase in people coming out publicly and saying, ‘I don’t want to be a part of this anti-gay rights movement as an evangelical,’” said Lydia Bean, assistant professor of sociology at Baylor and co-author of the study.
The study, “How the Messy Middle Finds a Voice: Evangelicals and Structured Ambivalence towards Gays and Lesbians,” analyzed national data from the 2010 Baylor Religion Survey, conducted by Gallup.
Researchers presented their study at the annual American Sociological Association meeting in New York on Monday (Aug. 12).
On the acceptance spectrum, these “Ambivalent Evangelicals,” fall between those who oppose civil unions — “Gay Rights Opponents” — and those who affirm homosexual behavior — “Cultural Progressives.”