By David Roach, Baptist Press.
With a new Associated Press poll suggesting decreased support for same-sex marriage among Americans generally, a watchdog group that monitors mainline bodies said gay-affirming denominations are more progressive regarding marriage than the culture.
“By and large, [mainline denominations] have been more liberal than the culture in compromising their sexual standards before the country itself compromised its laws on marriage,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy.
Average church members in mainline denominations, Tooley told Baptist Press, are “close to where the nation is as a whole” on gay marriage, but the “governing bodies” of those denominations are “certainly much more liberal than the country is.”
The AP poll, conducted in conjunction with the German market research organization GfK, found 42 percent of Americans favor legalized same-sex marriage, down from 48 percent in April. The 1,004 adults polled were almost evenly split on whether local government officials with religious objections should be required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, AP reported.
A majority of those polled (56 percent) said it is more important for the government to protect religious liberty than gay rights. A full 59 percent said wedding-related business owners with religious objections should be allowed to refuse service to same-sex couples.
Only 39 percent of those polled said they approve of the Supreme Court’s ruling — a minority that reflects the views of the governing bodies of the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the United Church of Christ, all of which have affirmed the high court’s decision.
Less than a week after the court’s June 26 ruling, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church amended the church’s canons to allow marriage between people of the same gender. Deputies, as the Episcopal Church calls delegates to its convention, also authorized liturgies that can be used at same-sex weddings, according to Episcopal News Service.
Leaders of the PCUSA said in a June 26 statement released by the denomination’s office in Louisville, Ky., “The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that same-gender couples have a constitutional right to marry nationwide, striking down bans in 14 states. Church leaders believe today’s ruling is a step in the right direction as society’s views have continued to change in recent years.”