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What Pastors Are Facing When it Comes to Gay Marriage, Service in Church

08-18-2016

Statistics show pastors' thoughts regarding same-sex marriage differ across various denominations, according to LifeWayResearch.com 

Over 100,000 same-sex couples have gotten married since the Supreme Court legalized gay marriages nationwide last year. 

According to LifeWay Research, 11 percent of protestant senior pastors have been asked to perform a same-sex wedding. 

The difference between Baptist pastors marrying the same-sex versus presbyterian/reform pastors is stark. 

One percent of Baptist pastors say they were asked to perform a wedding for a gay couple, whereas 26 percent of Presbyterian/Reformed pastors are asked to marry same-sex couples. 

"Most couples, if they want a church wedding, will ask a pastor they know or who they think will support them," said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. "For same-sex couples, this appears to be an older Presbyterian pastor."

Mainline pastors are three times (28%) as likely to have been requested to marry gay couples than the evangelical pastors who are asked 6 percent of the time. 

Older pastors who are 55 and older are also twice likely to have gay couples reach out to them, while pastors 54 and younger are asked 7 percent of the time. 

The role for gay people in the church is also an issue for many denominations, according to LifeWayResearch.com. 

"Mainline pastors, on the other hand, are seen as affirming to LGBT people, yet they are split down the middle over whether LGBT people can serve anywhere. And a surprising number of churches haven't talked about the issue," McConnell said.

Less than half of Protestant senior pastors say their church lets LGBT people to serve, even in small roles. The reports show 34 percent of senior pastors say LGBT people cannot serve anywhere, 30 percent say "anywhere," 21 percent are "not sure," and 15 percent of pastors say "at least one service area, but not anywhere." 

Over half of mainline pastors are more likely to allow gay people to serve anywhere within the church, while only 18 percent of evangelical pastors say the same. 

Presbyterian, Methodists, and Lutherans are more lenient when it comes to gays serving in the church. Baptists and Pentecostals are the strict denominations when it comes to LGTB people serving. 

LifeWay research reports that pastors seem more comfortable in letting LGBT people serve in the "background" in their church. 

McConnell said that pastors do not always fit the stereotype when it comes to the roles of LGBT people in the church. "More pastors are open to LGBT people serving in their church than being married there," McConnell noted. 

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