From Franklin Graham to Tony Campolo, Some Evangelical Leaders Are Splitting Over Gay Marriage

Some are wondering whether the shifts are a signal of what’s to come

“Just in the past few days, Tony Campolo announced his support for same-sex couples’ inclusion in the church, while Franklin Graham announced that he would pull Billy Graham Evangelistic Association accounts from LGBT-friendly Wells Fargo bank. On top of that, retired editor of Christianity Today David Neff announced his support for gay marriage.”

 

Ahead of a highly anticipated Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, many evangelicals are wrestling with the question of whether you can support the issue and remain an evangelical.

Evangelicals are America’s least likely religious group to support same-sex marriage, but a handful of leaders and churches within the movement have divided publicly on the issue in recent years. Some are wondering whether the shifts are a signal of what’s to come, whether evangelicalism could fracture or whether divided evangelicals can continue to happily live under the same umbrella.

Just in the past few days, Tony Campolo announced his support for same-sex couples’ inclusion in the church, while Franklin Graham announced that he would pull Billy Graham Evangelistic Association accounts from LGBT-friendly Wells Fargo bank. On top of that, retired editor of Christianity Today David Neff announced his support for gay marriage.

The three recent cases represent different approaches within an older generation of evangelicals, a group that tends to hold financial and theological influence among other religious leaders and institutions.

“This issue will eventually break relationships: personally, congregationally and institutionally,” said Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, who called today a “crucial moment.” “There’s not going to be any way around it.”

White evangelicals remain deeply opposed to same-sex marriage. Just 27 percent favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry, while 70 percent oppose it, according to the most recent survey research from the Pew Research Center. The support among evangelicals has still jumped 13 percentage points since 2005.

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