NASHVILLE, Tenn. — More than three-quarters of American Protestant pastors have a strong opposition to homosexual “marriage,” and a majority have strong opposition to civil unions.
These were findings from an October 2010 Lifeway Research survey of 1,000 randomly selected Protestant pastors.
In response to the statement, “I see nothing wrong with two people of the same gender getting married,” 77 percent of pastors strongly disagree. Six percent somewhat disagree, five percent somewhat agree and 10 percent strongly agree. One percent of pastors don’t know.
When the statement changes to, “I see nothing wrong with legal civil unions between two people of the same gender,” 61 percent of pastors strongly disagree. Nine percent somewhat disagree, 12 percent somewhat agree and 15 percent strongly agree. Three percent don’t know.
Once again, mainline and evangelical pastors are divided:
- 21 percent of pastors who consider themselves mainline strongly agree that there is nothing wrong with two people of the same gender getting married. Only five percent of pastors who consider themselves evangelicals strongly agree.
- 11 percent of mainline pastors and three percent of evangelicals somewhat agree that there is nothing wrong with homosexual marriage.
- Evangelical pastors (87 percent) are more likely than mainline pastors (57 percent) to strongly disagree that homosexual marriage is acceptable.
- 30 percent of mainline pastors strongly agree that there is nothing wrong with civil unions between two people of the same gender compared with nine percent of evangelicals. Nineteen percent of mainline pastors and 11 percent of evangelicals somewhat agree that civil unions are acceptable.
- 67 percent of evangelical pastors and 38 percent of mainline pastors strongly disagree that homosexual civil unions are acceptable.
“Evangelical pastors are more convinced that marriages and civil unions between two people of the same gender are wrong,” said Scott McConnell, director of Lifeway Research. “Yet, it is surprising to note that mainline clergy are still mostly opposed to such marriages, perhaps in disagreement with the teaching or trend in many mainline denominations.”
Geography also shows differences in pastors’ acceptance of civil unions. Pastors located in the South are least likely to strongly agree (8 percent) and most likely to strongly disagree (70 percent) that homosexual civil unions are acceptable.
Pastors with graduate degrees are more likely than others to strongly agree that homosexual “marriage” (14 percent) and civil unions (21 percent) are acceptable.
For this research study the phone survey sampled randomly selected Protestant churches. Each interview was conducted with the senior pastor, minister or priest of the church called and responses were weighted to reflect the geographic distribution of Protestant churches. The completed sample of 1,000 phone interviews provides a 95 percent confidence that the sampling error does not exceed +/- 3.2 percent. Margins of error are higher in subgroups.