A new poll released this week found that the majority of most major religious groups now fully embrace marriage equality, and that even groups who oppose the right to marry are abandoning anti-LGBT views at a surprising rate.
On Wednesday, the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) unveiled new data from their American Values Atlas, a survey conducted last year that interviewed 40,000 people across the country. In expectation of next week’s U.S. Supreme Court case on same-sex marriage, PRRI published a list of religious perspectives on marriage equality, reporting that the majority of Catholics (60 percent), white mainline Protestants (62 percent), and Jewish Americans (77 percent) either “favor” or “strongly favor” legal recognition of marriages for LGBT couples.
“A decade ago, the most supportive religious groups were white mainline Protestants and Catholics, with 36 percent and 35 percent support, respectively,” Robert Jones, CEO of PRRI, wrote in a blog post. “Today, major religious groups reside on both sides of this issue and within many key groups — such as Catholics — support among rank and file members is now at odds with official church opposition.”
But while other polling organizations have reported similar findings about these groups in the past, PRRI also included several religious communities typically left off of other surveys — with some surprising results. American Muslims and white evangelical Protestants, for instance, both oppose same-sex marriage in the survey, but with a key difference: a full 42 percent of Muslims told PRRI they support marriage equality, while only 28 percent of white evangelicals said the same. In addition, 56 percent of Orthodox Christians gave a thumbs up to the right to marry, as did 84 percent of Buddhists and 55 percent of Hindus.
The survey broke down groups by individual denomination as well. Support was highest among white mainline Protestant traditions that already allow their ministers to perform same-sex marriages: Presbyterians were the most in favor (69 percent), followed closely Episcopalians (68 percent), the United Church of Christ (68 percent), and Lutherans (64 percent). And while the United Methodist Church does not officially support the right to marry, a full 67 percent of mainline Methodists said they backed same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, 77 percent of religiously unaffiliated Americans affirmed marriage equality, but only 27 percent of black Protestants and 28 percent of Mormons agreed.
Religious support for LGBT rights has grown substantially over the past decade, with millions of people of faith pushing their leadership to endorse equality for bisexual, lesbian, transgender, and gay people. Most recently, a group of nearly 2,000 faith leaders and organizations — including representatives from Christian, Jewish, and Muslim groups — signed onto an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to rule in favor of same-sex marriage when it hears oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges next week.