Anti-Gay Policies causing deficit of Youth in Churches

One-Third Of Millennials Who Left Their Religion Did It Because Of Anti-Gay Policies: Survey

The Huffington Post  | by  Jaweed Kaleem
  • Posted: 02/26/2014 8:06 am EST Updated: 02/27/2014 11:59 am EST
  • SALT LAKE CITY - JULY 12:  Protesters walk past the Mormon Temple on the Main Street Plaza holding hands July 12, 2009 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The protesters defied church security warnings and walked onto the plaza anyway to protest the detention and handcuffing of two gay men for holding hands and one kissing the other on the cheek there on July 9. The men were also sited by the Salt Lake City police.  (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

It’s widely accepted that young people tend to be less religious than their elders. While recent surveys have revealed that one-in-five adults in America claim no religious affiliation, the number reaches around one-in-three for Millennials under 34.

Now, a new study has uncovered the reason why some of those Americans have dropped out of the fold.

In a survey released Wednesday, nearly one-third of Millennials who left the faith they grow up with told Public Religion Research Institute that it was “negative teachings” or “negative treatment” related to gays and lesbians that played an significant role in them leaving organized religion.

Specifically, 17 percent of Millennials, or adults between 18 and 33-years-old, said negativity around LGBT issues in religion was “somewhat important” to their departure, while 14 percent said it was a “very important” factor.

A majority of Americans, 58 percent, also said that religious groups are “alienating young adults by being too judgemental on gay and lesbian issues.” Among Millennials, that percentage jumped to 70.

“While many churches and people in the pews have been moving away from their opposition to LGBT rights over the last decade, this new research provides further evidence that negative teachings on this issue have hurt churches’ ability to attract and retain young people,” PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones said in a statement.

Comparing surveys from several polling groups since 2003, PRRI found increasing support of LGBT rights and same-sex marriage across most religious, political and generational lines.

The survey, which polled 4,500 people, was taken between November 12 and December 18, 2013, asked about a range of LGBT-related topics, including federal and state laws on same-sex marriage, views on policies related to HIV/AIDS and religion’s role in gay rights.

To see the full report, click here.


This ‘Huffington Post’ article – containing a demographic survey, conducted in the U.S.A. – to find out reasons why young people have left the Church, demonstrates the part that institutional homophobia has played in their decision to leave the Church behind.

Whatever we may think of polls and their role in the community, and whichever way we look at the results of this one, there would seem to be legitimate reasons for questioning the influence of the Church’s attitude to the LGBT community, that has so obviously alienated young people from taking their place in the pews.

This is probably the most telling paragraph in the whole survey:

‘A majority of Americans, 58 percent, also said that religious groups are “alienating young adults by being too judgemental on gay and lesbian issues.” Among Millennials, that percentage jumped to 70.’

The Churches have only themselves to blame for this falling away of support. The dogged unwillingness of Church Leaders to try to understand the etiology of intrinsic sexual identity for gays and lesbian people – based on an outdated model of scriptural hermeneutic  – is no longer a good reason for failing to deal pastorally and holistically with people who have been cast by the Church as the social lepers of our day. This attitude on the part of Christians is no longer viable in the light of modern science and psychological and biological research, and has been the cause of many of our young people losing faith in the Church.

One only has to look at the widespread public outrage in Western countries against the criminalisation of homosexuals in Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya, where the local Anglican Leaders have colluded with their governments in the raising up of new laws against homosexuals, their friends and families – again on the basis of a faulty, sola scriptura understanding of gays and lesbians as outcasts – in places where crime, corruption, and family and child-abuse are endemic and largely not dealt with by the local authorities. No wonder our young are alienated, when Churches in their own backyard seem to agree with the draconian persecution of homosexuals in Third-World countries.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Anti-Gay Policies causing deficit of Youth in Churches

  1. murraysmallbone says:

    No one should be surprised by the results of this survey.Although the linkage between the Church’s attitude to LGBT concerns and the decreasing numbers of Youth in Church is not the only reason for the decrease ,The Churches’ attitude on LGBT is another “own goal” in Mission.
    The interesting question arising from this survey could be :What is the Faith Confession of the “Millennials” so labelled in this article who are still Church members? A number of them would be among the “Independent type congregations who are LGBT friendly,but one could hazard a guess that Youth numbers would be growing among Evangelical/fundamentalist congregations.This latter grouping seem to be making the “running” in membership growth in Churches.Leaving aside the youth “Millennials” of hard line adherence to doctrine in Catholic/Black Churches/mainstream Protestant churches,looking at the survey can become nuanced with more questions.
    All of this said,the reality is that aside from this survey:the Churches’ attitude on LGBT matters has hampered Mission and Evangelisation.If tomorrow there were to be a volte-face by the Churches, would membership suddenly rise among the Youth? No!!! Why not?
    The Churches with many exceptions has retreated from the “public square” pushed back by its own retreat and the push of the complex and many sided impulses of Religion itself being marginalised and not at the core of the Life Experience.
    Whenever the Church has been deficient and lacking in fulfillment of its role; vacuums have been created only to be filled by negativities which satiate human need in the short term, but are non-sustainable in the long term as such negativities do not address human need for the whole person as understood by Religion.
    This said;Is the Church equipped to fulfill its role.No!!!
    Paradoxically,perhaps the Will of God is working among the growing number of Youth who are in favour of the concerns of LGBT people.God is always present to His Creation,and there is no reason why God is not present in the hearts and minds of people.Not in the way the Churches would recognise,but then was Our Lord Jesus Christ recognised as The Son of God when He appeared among us?
    For too long the hermeneutics of Church Teaching has been flawed on matters of scruple in the wit of people, but foreign to the Will of God in His Love for His Creation..
    The “Narrow Gate” is God and his abiding presence,and perhaps not the “Narrow Gate ” as defined by the construct of Mankind.The great mystery lies therein.

    Jesu mercy. Mary pray.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.