While the president's words may have helped move some of the numbers, the change among African-Americans appeared to be minimal, with 36 percent saying homosexual acts were sinful in the first survey and 34 percent in the survey 14 months later. That shift was within the survey's margin of error.
As would be expected, Americans identifying as "born-again, evangelical or fundamentalist" Christians were -- at 73 percent -- most likely to call homosexual behavior a sin. Only 33 percent of Catholics in this survey agreed.
A clear "pew gap" also emerged, as usual, with 87 percent of those who said they attend worship services once a week or more affirming the traditional doctrinal stance. On the other side, only 17 percent of those who said they "never" attend worship services said that homosexual behavior is a sin.
In light of these trends, it's easy to see why the Rev. Louie Giglio, an evangelical leader in campaigns against human trafficking, was accused of anti-gay rhetoric and forced to withdraw from giving the benediction at the second Obama inauguration rite.
In a sermon recorded 15 years earlier, Giglio had said: "If you look at the counsel of the word of God -- Old Testament, New Testament -- you come quickly to the conclusion that homosexuality is not an alternate lifestyle. ... Homosexuality is sin. It is sin in the eyes of God, and it is sin according to the word of God."
Clearly, these words are highly offensive to defenders of the Sexual Revolution. Indeed, times have changed.
Giglio's words, said Stetzer, were "simply mainstream evangelical expressions of what traditional Christians have believed for 2,000 years. ... But what we are learning is that a growing majority of Americans no longer feel comfortable with words like 'sin.'"
(Terry Mattingly is the director of the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and leads the GetReligion.org project to study religion and the news.)
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