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Progress from the Pulpit

Mainline Protestant clergy support LGBT equality

An in-depth survey of mainline Protestant clergy shows growing support among some religious leaders for gay and lesbian equality.

In the conversation on LGBT equality, many of the loudest voices of opposition have come from churches and clergy. But do those voices speak for all faith leaders? Or has a crucial part of the conversation been left out?

A 2008 survey of mainline Protestant clergy shows, to the contrary, that many express strong support for equality for gay and lesbian Americans. The Haas, Jr. Fund-supported survey by the Public Religion Research Institute refutes the conventional wisdom that faith communities and their leaders pose a monolithic barrier to progress on LGBT rights.

“Opposition to lesbian and gay equality from within religious communities has become more organized and effective in recent years,” said Haas, Jr. Fund program officer Randall Miller. “But this survey reveals a concerted voice for dignity, fairness, and equality in the faith-based world.”

And that voice is an influential one. Mainline Protestants make up 18 percent of all Americans and 23 percent of all voters. According to Public Religion Research President Dr. Robert P. Jones, they occupy “the vital middle ground in American politics.”


This survey reveals a concerted voice for dignity, fairness, and equality in the faith-based world.

The survey polled senior clergy from the seven largest mainline denominations on social and economic issues and the role of the church in politics. Two-thirds said they support some legal recognition of same-sex couples. Respondents voiced even stronger support for legislation on hate crimes and employment discrimination.

“This survey shows that communities of faith can be part of the solution,” said Miller.