A new survey has revealed that as many as 2.6 million British church-goers could secretly harbour pro-gay views, despite the hostility of their respective religions.
According to research by the Oasis Open Church Event, 37% of regular church-goers believe that people in same-sex relationships should be affirmed and supported by the church, but are reluctant to share their views with Christian friends through fear of being looked down upon or ostracised.
The survey of 1300 church attendees was conducted by Oasis Open Church Event, a faith-based group with a “radically inclusive ethos”.
If the results were taken as an accurate reflection of the opinions of all those who regularly attend Sundays services, posits Oasis Open Church Event, then UK churches may be playing host to as many as 2,664,000 “silent supporters”.
The survey also revealed that the most inclusive church-goers towards gay people were those belonging to the Methodist, United Reformed and Salvation Army churches. Quaker is the most inclusive denomination, with no respondent surveyed having a problem with any level of participation of gay people in church life.
Christians belonging to Pentecostal, ‘new church’ or Independent Evangelical expressions were found to be the most resistant to gay people in same-sex relationships.
The denominations, in order of most to least accepting attitudes toward people in same-sex relationships are: Quaker (100%), Methodist (88%), United Reformed (79%), Salvation Army (61%), Anglican (57%), Catholic (54%), Presbyterian (52%), Baptists (43%), House/New Church (37%), Independent Evangelical: (29%), Pentecostal (14%).
“Whatever the stereotype, it’s clear that attitudes in the church toward loving, committed and faithful same-sex relationships are changing,” said Steve Chalke, founder of Oasis UK. “It’s crucial that we keep talking about it.
The Open Church Event, which commissioned this research, takes place on 10th and 11th April in London and seeks to create a safe space for honest, open exploring the pastoral, theological and practical issues around LGBT people, the local Church and inclusion.
© 2015 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.