MANY Christians are supportive of same-sex relationships, but
are too scared to say so, an online survey of attitudes among
churchgoers to homosexuality, carried out by the charity Oasis UK,
More than 1300 people took part in the survey, which asked them
if they felt able to share their views on same-sex relationships
with others in their churches. More than two-thirds - 37 per cent -
said that they were reluctant to share their views about affirming
gay relationships, because they feared the reaction.
Oasis UK, set up by the Revd Steve Chalke, said that, if the
survey's results were replicated across all regular churchgoers, UK
churches could be playing host to as many as 2,664,000 "silent
supporters" of same-sex relationships.
A further 40 per cent of those who responded said that they were
accepting of monogamous same-sex relationships, and they did not
care who knew it. Just over ten per cent said that they were
against same-sex relationships, but they kept it to themselves.
Half of those questioned said that they did not believe such
relationships were wrong, or should be a bar to attending church or
leading a church. Only one per cent said that they believed that
those in a same-sex relationship should be barred from church. A
further eight per cent said that same-sex couples should be allowed
in church, but should be "regularly challenged" on their
The survey also asked churchgoers how their attitude to same-sex
relationships had changed over the past decade. Sixty-five per cent
of people said that their attitudes had become more accepting and
inclusive in the past ten years.
Churchgoers are slightly more inclusive than their leaders: ten
per cent of them were more likely to support same-sex marriage.
When a church leader has settled on a pro-gay stance, however, he
or she is just as hesitant to admit it as the liberal members of
their congregation. Some respondents said they thought that
admitting that they accepted and supported people in same-sex
relationships could "risk funding to the church", or even "cost the
leader their job".
Mr Chalke, speaking for Oasis UK, which is hosting an event for
"open conversations" on inclusion in April, said: "Whatever the
stereotype, it's clear that attitudes in the church toward loving,
committed and faithful same-sex relationships are changing. It's
crucial that we keep talking about it."
Mr Chalke, a prominent Evangelical, announced two years ago that
he had changed his mind on the issue of gay relationships, and was
now fully supportive of monogamous same-sex relationships. He now
carries out same-sex blessing ceremonies in his church (News, 18 January
Churchgoers from a number of different denominations responded
to the survey. By denomination, the most accepting and inclusive
were Quakers, the Salvation Army, and those from the Methodist,
United Reformed, and Anglican Churches.
At the other end of the scale, Christians belonging to
Pentecostal, "New Church", or independent Evangelical expressions
were found to be the most resistant to people in same-sex
relationships' being fully integrated into church