Christian Right activists who give money, pressure politicians and organize against gay rights may think they’re accomplishing a couple of goals, like rolling back gay rights and asserting their religion’s primacy in American culture. Unfortunately for them (but fortunately for the rest of us), one of the things they’re doing in the long run is alienating their young people — not a good long-term strategy. Short-term victories like passing more bans on gay marriage, sometimes repeatedly in single states, might feel good for homophobic Christians, but in the long run, it’s their religion that will pay the ultimate price; available evidence shows that anti-gay activism is souring young people on Christianity.
AlterNetIn response to the latest gay-bashing vote in North Carolina, evangelical writer and speaker Rachel Held Evans wrote an impassioned plea to her fellow Christians to just cut it out. She points to statistics showing how much damage the church has sustained because of its anti-gay crusade. Research conducted by the pro-Christian Barna Group in 2007 on Americans age 16-29 found that “anti-homosexual” was the dominant perception of modern Christians. Ninety-one percent of non-Christians and 80 percent of Christians in this group used this word to describe Christians.
She also points to research documented in the book You Lost Me by David Kinnaman showing that 59 percent of teenagers who grow up as church-going Christians abandon their faith in adulthood. One of the major reasons is the gay rights issue. Overall, the perception–a largely correct one, I’d add–is that modern conservative Christianity is dominated by sex-phobic bigots who use God as a cudgel to beat all sorts of people, but especially gays and lesbians. No wonder many in the younger generation want out.
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