The Generational Divide Among Evangelicals on Same-Sex Marriage Is Stark

A new poll finds Christian youth are far more likely to support marriage equality than past generations.

Photo Credit: flickr / Sam Polcer

Millennials and Gen X evangelicals are coming out in support of gay marriage in much higher numbers than their parents' and grandparents' generations, according to a recent Pew Research Center poll. Around 46 percent of evangelical Christians born after 1964 support same-sex marriage, compared with only 26 percent of adults born between 1928 and 1964.

Over the past decade, as many states and eventually the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, a generational divide has emerged within evangelical churches and communities across the United States that were traditionally in unanimous opposition toward marriage equality. 

Some argue that younger evangelical Christians' shifting attitudes are a byproduct of the Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges and the acceptance of same-sex marriage in mainstream popular culture.

"We see that with pot in Colorado," Glenn Stanton, director of Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family, told the Washington Post. "There's a legitimizing and institutionalizing [factor] when you make something legal.”

Opposition to same-sex marriage has decreased across all religious groups in the United States since the turn of the 21st century, according to the Pew study.

As a whole, the majority of white evangelical Christians and black Protestants continue to oppose same-sex unions, while Catholics and white Protestants now overwhelmingly support equal marriage rights. 

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Lauren Kaori Gurley is a freelance writer and master's candidate in Latin American studies and journalism at New York University. Her work has been published in In These Times, the American Prospect and the American Journal of Economics and Sociology. Follow her @laurenkgurley.