Many Millennials Leaving Religious Institutions Over LGBT Issues — Get it Together, Churches!

Source: Erich Schlegel/Getty Images News/Getty Images

A new survey of American attitudes on LGBT issues found that approximately one third of Millennials who have left their childhood religion say that negative teaching about LGBT people was either a somewhat important or very important part of their decision. This information comes at a time when more young people than ever are religiously unaffiliated, and supports the idea that generational shifts regarding social issues might be an underlying cause. So get it together, churches. 

According to the report, 69 percent of Millennials are in favor of same-sex marriage, including 50 percent of all millennial Republicans. And 70 percent of Millennials support allowing gay couples to adopt children, compared to only 52 percent of Baby Boomers and less than half of the Silent Generation. Furthermore, only 30 percent of Millennials say that most of their friends oppose same sex marriage, as opposed to 59 percent who say the majority of their family does, again pointing to generational shifts. 

Yet it seems this new generation does not feel that their religious institutions are keeping up with their views. The majority of Americans perceive the Catholic Church, the largest single Christian denomination in America, to be hostile to LGBT people. A majority also perceive the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and evangelical Protestant churches to be hostile as well, though mainline Protestant denominations, African American churches, and Judaism were seen more favorably. 

In other words, it's no wonder lots of young people don't feel comfortable in their churches anymore. Unsurprisingly, LGBT individuals are also far more likely to report leaving their childhood religion than the population at large is, and they are also more likely to be religiously unaffiliated.

And it seems that the American public is well aware of the issue. A total of 58 percent of Americans say religious groups are "alienating young people" by being too negative regarding LGBT issues. 

This report does provide some pretty good news, though. It seems that, while in 2003 the vast majority of religious people were opposed to same sex marriage, the measure now has major support from people of most religious backgrounds. A majority of white mainline Protestants, Jewish Americans, white Catholics, and Hispanic Catholics all favor same sex marriage, even if some of their religious institutions might not have caught up just yet. So even among the religious, the landscape is changing. 

What all of this means for America, who is to say? America has always been an intensely religious country, and that's unlikely to change any time soon. Even if young people are leaving religious institutions that teach things contrary to Millennial views on social issues, there are plenty of more progressive churches who could cater to their needs. And given how quickly opinion is changing even among religiously affiliated individuals, it's likely that more and more churches will soon be coming around on LGBT rights. In other words, things are changing, but probably for the better. 


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