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Study sheds light on lesbian, gay, bisexual evangelicals

Study sheds light on lesbian, gay, bisexual evangelicals

(Photo: Unsplash/Rachel Lynette French) | (Photo: Unsplash/Rachel Lynette French)

Ten percent of Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual Americans identify as evangelical, holding viewpoints that are more liberal than overall American evangelicalism yet more conservative than the LGB community, according to a recent study.

Ryan P. Burge, political science instructor at Eastern Illinois University, had a study titled "To be of one mind?: integrating an LGB orientation with evangelical beliefs" published recently by the journal Politics, Groups, and Identities.

Drawing from the 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, which surveyed 64,600 Americans, Burge noted that 10.2 percent of respondents who identified as LGB labeled themselves evangelical.

"Previous scholarship has described how lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) individuals try to reconcile their sexual orientation with their evangelical theology using the framework of cognitive dissonance, yet these LGB evangelicals have never been assessed in a randomly sampled survey," stated the Abstract.

"The findings indicate that LGB evangelicals are often more liberal than their evangelical counterparts but are more conservative than the LGB community."

For example, regarding the 2016 election, 44.9 percent of LGB evangelicals voted for Donald Trump, versus 66.4 percent of all evangelical respondents and 24 percent of LGB respondents.

Furthermore, while 69.8 percent of LGB respondents voted for Hillary Clinton, 51.2 percent of LGB evangelicals also voted for Clinton; 28.6 percent of all evangelical respondents did the same.

On the issue of abortion, LGB evangelicals, like overall evangelicals, tend to support the pro-life perspective, especially on policy debates over federal funding of abortion and whether to ban late term abortions.

When it comes to an overall ban on abortion, Burge found that LGB evangelicals lean more pro-choice than evangelicals as a whole, yet still are more inclined toward the pro-life view than LGB respondents.

Burge also examined gay marriage. When asked to rank how important same-sex marriage was, LGB evangelical respondents answered more like LGB respondents than evangelicals.

33.3 percent of LGB evangelicals said gay marriage was of "Very High Importance," which put them well ahead of evangelical respondents (17.7 percent) but also behind LGB respondents (42.8 percent).

On the other end of the importance question, 22.9 percent of LGB evangelicals said gay marriage was of "No Importance at All," putting them ahead of LGB respondents (13.2 percent) and a little behind evangelical respondents (28.9 percent).

Earlier this week, Burge coauthored an opinion piece for on trends among young evangelicals with Jeremy Castle of the Central Michigan University and political science Professor Paul A. Djupe of Denison University.

The authors concluded that contrary to some widely reported anecdotal evidence, young evangelicals remain more conservative than their generational peers.

"Not only are liberal young evangelicals rarer than many accounts suggest, but they are distinctive from other young liberals in their relative conservatism on the culturally conservative policy attitudes that drive the evangelical-Republican connection," wrote the authors.

"The real newsworthy story may be the exceptional continuity in evangelical public opinion on most issues over time. When it comes to evangelical politics, then, the old adage 'the more things change, the more they stay the same' rings true."

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