The new survey released today on the views of mainline
Protestant clergy (you know, the Methodists, the Evangelical Lutherans, Episcopal folk etc.) finds the one civil right for gays they don't support is marriage.
But although the primary focus of the 60-questionClergy
VoicesÂ Surveyconducted by Public Religion Research, was lesbian and gay issues, there are other interesting theological findings here. These could explain why the Rev. Martin Marty, the nation's leading historian of religion and a Lutheran pastor, quips, "It takes Christians two centuries to settle anything."
Robert Jones, president of Public Religion Research and co-author of the survey, says 57% of general population and 70% of mainline laity -- but 65% of clergy -- agree on some form of legalizing same-sex marriage or civil unions.
However, the clergy survey finds 55% say they do not want their denomination to bless or conduct same sex-marriages and only 7% say they have officiated at one.
(UPDATE NOTE: The Pew Forum on
Religion & Public Life has a new Q&A on its web site examining legal issues around gay marriage. Among other points, it notes that although
...the U.S. Constitution likely bars states from regulating decisions by clergy or faith communities about who may marry within their religious traditions, the Constitution does not limit state regulation of those who provide adoption, housing or other services.)
Clergy also were asked if "homosexuality is a choice" (31% agree, 14% not sure) or whether "sexual orientation is determined at birth (41% agree but 26% not sure).
Keep in mind the demographics of this survey: 80% male, 74% age 50 or older, 93% white. Among women in the survey, for example 58% supported same-sex marriage.
Overall, only 29% of clergy say the Bible is inerrant "both in matters of faith and in historic, geographical and other secular matters."