London, UK - JUNE 30, 2010 Increasing numbers of Christian groups are self-identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT), according to trends noted by the religion and society thinktank Ekklesia ahead of the Pride festival in London on Saturday (3 July).
The thinktank pointed out that the trend is increasingly common amongst evangelicals and Catholics as well as liberal Christians, undermining many stereotypes about which Christians hold LGBT-affirming views and which do not. As highlighted in a research paper recently published by Ekklesia, many Christians are now finding a 'biblical' basis for such positions.
Christian groups plan a visible and united presence at Saturday's festival as 'Christians Together at Pride'. Ekklesia notes the development of groups across the spectrum of Christian belief, including evangelical organisations such as Courage UK and Accepting Evangelicals, as well as the Catholic group Quest. They pointed out that a number of Christians welcomed a decision in April to allow religious elements in civil partnerships, while last year the Quakers became the first major Christian denomination to resolve to carry out same-sex marriages.
While certain Christians have hardened in their views, Ekklesia points out that others traditionally aligned with a 'conservative' position have stood up for legal equality despite their own difficulties with accepting same-sex relationships. Examples include the support given by the Evangelical Alliance Ireland for the introduction of same-sex civil partnerships, and the opposition to the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill by the British evangelical group Fulcrum.
Symon Hill, associate director of Ekklesia, said: "Christian differences over sexuality are complex and nuanced. We should avoid crude caricatures such as the image of two blocks always fighting each other. What we can say is that while certain Christians opposed to homosexuality and bisexuality have become more hardline and vocal, the trend appears to be firmly against them.
"The increasing Christian acceptance of same-sex relationships is highlighted by the image of liberal, evangelical, Catholic and other Christians marching together at Pride. In recent years, the small number of Christians who turn up to protest against Pride have been vastly outnumbered by the Christians participating in it.
"Of course, many Christians still find same-sex relationships difficult to understand or accept. But many who are in this position are genuinely open-minded and seem to be increasingly alienated by the rhetoric of the hardliners".
Notes to Editors
1. Founded in 2001, Ekklesia examines politics, values and beliefs in a changing world. It has been listed by The Independent newspaper among 20 influential UK thinktanks. According to Alexa/Amazon, it has one of the most-visited religion and politics / current affairs websites in Britain. More: http://ekklesia.co.uk/content/about/about.shtml
2. Pride festivals, in support of equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, take place all over the UK and the world, usually during the summer. Pride in London, which is usually the largest of these events in the UK, will be held this Saturday 3 July 2010.
3. Christian Together at Pride is made up of nine organisations and is backed by others. See www.christiansatpride.com.
4. A paper written examing theological approaches to sexuality has been published by Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/11195