A report on a national survey churches finds churches have grown more accepting of gays and lesbians. Just under half of local churches would welcome gays and lesbians as members. Only one-in-four churches would allow gays and lesbians to assume positions of leadership.
The National Congregations Study is the most rigorous survey of local religious congregations in the United States. The NCS surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,300 local congregations. This the third wave of the NCS. A report by Mark Chaves (Duke University) and Shawna Anderson (NORC) includes key findings from the 2012 NCS, including the changing place of gays and lesbians in American churches since the last wave in 2006.
In 2012, 48 percent of local congregations said they would “permit gays and lesbians to be full-fledged members.” This is up from from 37 percent just six years earlier.
Being a “full-fledged member” does not mean that someone is qualified for leadership. Three-quarters of American churches do not allow LGBT persons to take a voluntary leadership position. This is higher than in 2006, when only 18 percent of churches reported that gays and lesbians could be leaders.
These changes are not the same across all religious traditions.
- The increases were largest among black Protestant and liberal Protestant (mainline) churches.
- Catholic parishes actually reported a decline in acceptance of gays and lesbians as “full-fledged members” (74% to 56%) and as leaders (39% to 26%).
- White conservative (evangelical) churches are more likely to accept gay and lesbian members (16% to 24%), but continued to deny LGBT members to be in leadership (only four percent).