A group of Christian anti-gay activists line up to protest against the London gay pride parade at the Pall Mall. A young homosexual man reads the Bible in front of them. - July 2011
According to Americans aged 16 to 29, the answer is: "anti-homosexual". This was the response of 91% of non-Christians, and even 80% of churchgoers in the same age category.
In a piece of research conducted by The Barna Group, young people were asked what first comes to mind when asked about Christian faith. Interestingly, other things that ranked highly were: “judgmental,” “hypocritical,” and “too involved in politics.”.
Christians, such as myself, would hope it would be words like 'love', 'hope', 'charity', 'forgiveness' or 'justice'. Yet in America, it seems the biggest feature of Christians has become 'anti-homosexual'.
In the book that documents these findings, titled unChristian, David Kinnaman writes:
“The gay issue has become the ‘big one, the negative image most likely to be intertwined with Christianity’s reputation. It is also the dimensions that most clearly demonstrates the unchristian faith to young people today, surfacing in a spate of negative perceptions: judgemental, bigoted, sheltered, right-wingers, hypocritical, insincere, and uncaring. Outsiders say [Christian] hostility toward gays...has become virtually synonymous with the Christian faith.”
More recent research, documented in Kinnaman’s You Lost Me, claims that one of the top reasons 59% of young adults with a Christian background have left their churches is because they perceive the church to be too exclusive, particularly regarding their LGBT friends. This number, he claims, totals 8 million twenty-somethings have left their various Christian churches.
The article highlighting this information (http://rachelheldevans.com/win-culture-war-lose-generation-amendment-one-north-carolina) was posted in response to North Carolina's democratic vote this week to ban same sex marriage:
From the CharlotteObserver.com
On Tuesday 8th May 2012, North Carolina officially passed an amendment to the State Law that says that marriage can only be defined as the joining of man and woman.
However gay marriage was already banned in the state, so the effects will be small. The controversy arose more from that fact that so many people were ready and willing to go out and vote to further reduce the legal rights of homosexuals in the state; 61% voted to ban gay marriage.
Many Christian groups have campaigned hard to get this vote and change the law here. They have also been very vocal in their celebrations and vow to now continue to fight in further reducing the rights of homosexual couples in various states.
Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/05/08/3227621/nc-approves-amendment-on-gay-marriage.html
Is there a danger that Christians in the UK will feel, or already do feel, alienated from their Christian churches? The political atmosphere of the US is very different to the UK, but is there a danger that by the Catholic Church getting very involved in the current gay marriage legislation that their could be similar effects here? Is the law change in NC something to be celebrated by Catholics? Should Catholics be taking a lead from fellow-Christians in America in their campaigning?
Rachel Held Evans concludes her blog with this reflection:
So my question for those evangelicals leading the charge in the culture wars is this: Is it worth it?
- Is a political “victory” really worth losing millions more young people to cynicism regarding the Church?
- Is a political “victory” worth further alienating people who identify as LGBT?
- Is a political “victory” worth perpetuating the idea that evangelical Christians are at war with gays and lesbians?
- And is a political “victory” worth drowning out that quiet but persistent internal voice that asks—what if we get this wrong?
- Because young Christians are ready for peace.
- We are ready to lay down our arms.
- We are ready to start washing feet instead of waging war.