By Sarahbeth Caplin
Writing for Religion News Service, Jonathan Merritt makes a not-so-stunning observation that evangelical churches are lacking in three critical areas of diversity: sexuality, race, and gender.
Merritt’s findings come from a project called Church Clarity, an organization that reports evangelical churches’ stances (or lack thereof) on LGBT equality. (We posted about them a couple of months ago when they launched.) Their most significant report yet reveals troubling, yet unsurprising, data about America’s 100 largest churches.
For starters, none of them are overtly LGBTQ-affirming:
None of [America’s megachurches] have policies affirming same-sex people and relationships. This staggering statistic will doubtlessly provide firepower to conservative Christians who claim that LGBTQ+ affirmation is a slippery slope to liberalism and a congregation killer.
And yet the data also provides progressives a counterargument. According to CC’s analysis, a paltry 35% of these mega-churches have clear LGBTQ+ policies, and 54% actually hide their positions (e.g. sermons and blogposts) deep inside their websites. This seems to indicate that many non-affirming mega-churches are not as boldly opposed as one might assume, and some of these large congregations may be currently reconsidering their positions and policies.
For a community that prides itself on having ownership of The Truth, the lack of clarity about this is intriguing. If churches feel strongly about their stance on homosexuality, why not own it? The fact that it’s deliberately hidden suggests that there’s underlying shame about their beliefs.
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