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Fewer Americans view homosexuality as a sin

A M E R I C A N S a c c e p ta nee o f gays a n d l e s b ia n s is c o n ti n u i n g to grow, with a n e w p oll s h o w in g t h a t j u s t o v e r a t h ir d o f A m e r i c a n s view h o m o s e x u a l it y as a sin, d ow n f ro m 44 p e r c e n t a y e a r e a rlie r. T h e sta tis tic a l t r e n d r e p o r t e d by LifeW ay R e s e a rc h , w h ic h was f o u n d e d by the S o u t h e rn B a p tis t C o n v e n tio n , was r e le a s e d ju st as a p a s to r w h o w as to give t h e i n a u g u r a l b e n e d i c t i o n for P r e s id e n t O b a m a w i t h d re w f ro m th e p r o g r a m o v e r a n a n tig a y s e r m o n he g ave 20 y e a rs ago. P a s to r L o u ie G iglio o f A t l a n t a b o w e d ou t on J a n u ary 10 afte r a liberal g r o u p disc o v e re d a se rm o n he p r e a c h e d in the 1990s in w hich he d e n o u n c e d th e gay rig hts m o v e m e n t a n d a d v o c a te d efforts to tu rn gays straig ht. To rep la c e Giglio. O b a m a chose Luis L e o n , r e c t o r o f St. J o h n s E p is c o p a l C h u r c h n e a r th e W h ite H o u s e , a parish th at the fam ilies o f G e o r g e W. B u s h and O b a m a ha v e b o th a tt e n d e d in th e past. L e o n s parish, which w e lc om e s o p e n ly
gay m em be rs, a n n o u n c e d last s u m m e r th at it w ou ld bless sam e-sex pa rtne rship s. M o re recently, th e W ash ing ton N ation al C a th e d ra l, an Ep iscop al ch urc h, said it w ou ld s ta rt hold ing s am e-sex m arria g e rites. E d Stetzer, presid en t o f LifeW ay R esearch, said that O b a m a s own shift in em b racing sam e-sex m arria g e a n d o th er gay rights in th e past y e a r m ay have played a role in the change in public opinion. "T he p res id e n ts e volution on ho m o sexuality p ro bably im pa c te d th e evolution of cultural v a lu e s th ere is a real a n d substantive shift, surprisingly large for a one year time fram e though this was hard ly a no rm a l y ear on this issue. Ste tz e r said. G a y r ig h ts g r o u p s h a d c ritic iz e d O b a m a in 2009 for inviting evangelical m eg a c h u rc h p a s to r Rick W a rr e n , an outsp o k e n o p p o n e n t o f gay m arria g e , to give the b e n e d ic tio n at his first in au g u ra tion. B ut n e ith e r W a rr e n n o r th e W h ite H o u s e b a c k e d down. L ife W a y s su rv e y in N o v e m b e r f o u n d th a t 37 p e rc e n t said th ey b elieve th a t h o m o se x u a l b e h a v io r is a sin. d o w n from 44 p e r c e n t in S e p t e m b e r 2011. The p ercen tag e of A m erican s w ho d o n o t b e li e v e t h a t h o m o s e x u a l it y is a sin r e m a i n e d n e a r l y th e s a m e , a t 43 p e r c e n t in S e p t e m b e r 2011 a n d 45 p e rc e n t in N o v e m b e r 2012. T h e r e w a s a n i n c r e a s e in t h e p e r c e n t a g e o f th o s e w h o s a id t h e y w e r e u n s u r e o f w h a t t h e y b e lie v e . N o t surprisingly, th e n e w L ifeW ay su rv e y f o u n d th a t th o se w h o iden tify as b o rn -a g a in , e v an gelical o r f u n d a m e n talist C h r istia n " are th e m o st likely to say t h a t h o m o se x u a l b e h a v io r is a sin (73 p e rc e n t). C onversely, th o se w h o n e v e r a tt e n d relig iou s services a re th e m ost likely to say th ey d o n o t b eliev e th at h o m o se x u a l b e h a v io r is a sin (71 p ercent). T h e su rv e y of n e a rly 1,200 a d ults h a s a m arg in o f e r r o r o f plus o r m in u s 2.9 p e rc e n t. David Gibson, RNS

Iowa Baptist church is open to gay weddings AN AM ERICAN B a p tist c h urc h in Io w a City has a n n o u n c e d th a t it will p e rf o r m s am e-sex w eddings, p res u m ably the s ta t e s first B a p tis t c ongregation to d o so since Io w a 's S u p r e m e C o u r t legalized gay m arria g e in 2009. T h e D es M o in es R egister said D e c e m b e r 29 th a t First Baptist C h urch in Io w a City, a 5 0 -m e m b er c ongregation fo u n d e d in 1840, recen tly jo ine d t h e A s s o c ia tio n o f W e lc o m in g a n d A ffirm ing Baptists. It is th e first Iowa chu rc h to align with the g r o u p fo rm e d in 1993 to s u p p o rt ch urch es th a t are w elcom in g a n d affirm ing o f p e o p le regardless o f g e n d e r identity o r sexual orientatio n. "W e see love as valued by G o d , whoe v e r i t s b e tw e e n , P a s to r D o r o th y W h isto n to ld C B S N e w s affiliate K G A N - T V in C e d a r Rapids. It's always wrong to say that th e r e s some gro up o f people, for w hatever reason, by virtue of w h o they are, w ho are exclude d from any opportunity. I would say that's certainly true o f m arria ge as well. T h e w e b s ite o f First B a p tis t C h urc h, which is affiliated with A m e rican B aptist C h u rc h e s U S A , describes th e c o n g re g a tio n as a n o p e n a n d inclusive c o m m u n ity o f faith characterize d by radical hospitality. P e o p le o f all ages, cultures, p e rso na l b a c k g ro u n d s , po litic al affilialio ns, s o c io e c o n o m i c c ir c u m s ta n c e s a n d se x u al o r ie n ta tio n s a re w e lc om e a n d active in this c h u rc h . th e w ebsite says. G o d places a call on all o f us to se rve the c auses o f c o m p a s s io n a n d ju stice in o u r local c o m m u n itie s a n d th ro u g h o u t th e w orld. T o ge th er, we c a n live in c o v e n a n t for the s a k e o f the w o r k we a re called to do. W histon , w h o be ga n as pa rt-tim e in te rim pa s to r in July 2010 a n d b e c a m e p e r m a n e n t p a s to r on August 1, 2011, said allowing gays to get m arrie d in the chu rc h is the next logical step in the n u m b e r o f services the co ng re ga tio n alre a d y p rov ide s to th e L G B T community. Bob Allen, ABP

IN A U G U R A T IO N D R O PO U T: In withdrawing fro m giving the benediction a t President O b a m a s inauguration, Pastor L o u ie G ig lio o f A tla n ta d id no t renounce his negative rem arks on gays o f som e years ago but in d ica ted that fig h tin g ga y rights is no t a p r io r ity f o r him.

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Christian Century February 6, 2013

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