A new study reports on clergy attitudes towards gay rights. And may more clergy are for us, than you might have thought. Important notes:
Assurances that churches and congregations will not be required to perform gay marriages make mainline Protestant clergy much more willing to accept them, according to the report. Support for gay marriage jumped from 32 to 46 percent with the "religious liberty" assurance, according to the survey.
Are you listening, New Hampshire? Just do it, would you?
More than two-thirds of mainline clergy support hate crimes legislation and protections from workplace discrimination for gays and lesbians; more than half (55 percent) say gay couples should be allowed to adopt children.
But the survey found "significant and sometimes stark differences" between mainline Protestant denominations, with clergy in the United Church of Christ and Episcopal Church most supportive of LGBT rights. Clergy in the United Methodist Church and American Baptist Churches USA are least supportive.
Overall, mainline Protestant clergy have become more supportive of equal rights for gays and lesbians over the last decade, and 45 percent now favor the ordination of gays and lesbians with no special requirements, the survey found.
Still, a slight majority (51 percent) of mainline ministers said that disagreements in their church over homosexuality have become a crisis. Among that majority, 40 percent say the crisis is about how the Bible should be read, 27 percent say it concerns what the church is supposed to be and 23 percent say it's about core Christian doctrine, according to the survey.
I actually find this modestly encouraging. You know, if they want an explicit statement of what's already true (that is, freedom of religion not to participate, a la New Hampshire), I've got no problem with it.