(RNS) Americans’ acceptance of gays and lesbians is continuing to grow, with a new poll showing that just over a third of Americans view homosexuality as a sin, down from 44 percent a year earlier.

The finding from Lifeway Research, the research arm of the Southern Baptists Convention, was released just as as the pastor who was to give the inaugural benediction for President Obama had to step aside over an anti-gay sermon he gave 20 years ago.

The Rev. Louis Giglio withdrew on Thursday (Jan. 10) after a liberal group discovered a sermon he preached in the mid-1990s in which he denounced the gay rights movement and advocated efforts to turn gays straight. In withdrawing, Giglio did not renounce the remarks but said that battling gay rights was no longer a priority for him.

“The culture is clearly shifting on homosexuality and this creates a whole new issue: How will America deal with a minority view, strongly held by Evangelicals, Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, and so many others?” said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay.

Stetzer said that Obama’s own shift in embracing same-sex marriage and other gay rights in the past year may have played a role in the change in public opinion.

“The president’s evolution on homosexuality probably impacted the evolution of cultural values — there is a real and substantive shift, surprisingly large for a one-year time frame — though this was hardly a normal year on this issue,” Stetzer said.

Lifeway’s survey last November found 37 percent said they believe homosexual behavior is a sin, down from 44 percent in September 2011.

The percentage of Americans who do not believe homosexuality is a sin remained nearly the same, at 43 percent in September 2011 and 45 percent in November 2012. There was an increase in the percentage of those who said they were unsure of what they believe.

Not surprisingly, the new Lifeway survey found that those who identify as “born-again, evangelical, or fundamentalist Christian” are the most likely to say that homosexual behavior is a sin (73 percent). Conversely,  those who never attend religious services are the most likely to say they do not believe homosexual behavior is a sin (71 percent).

The survey of nearly 1,200 adults has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percent.

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  1. I am not surprised by this poll… “What one generation allows, the next accepts…” We have an onslaught of TV shows, articles, high profile individuals and more glorifying the lifestyle that they are currently living in. Ultimately this has caused the line in the sand that once was there, given by God’s Word, has become looked over. Hearts will continue to become calloused as we continue to hear all the “positives” of the lifestyle instead of keeping to the truth of God’s Word as our foundation.

    I know that even as I respond to this article, that some will kick-back and throw me under the bus as “not inclusive” / “close minded” and more… but hey, I believe God’s Word and I know his power as it has worked in my own life and set me free!

  2. Pasjosh,

    There’s a lot of God’s word to live by.

    In a world where we see LGBT youth taking their own lives in horrible frequency, choosing to spend your time on gay bashing rather than eating kosher is somewhere between poor taste and murder.

    I’m assuming “pas” is short for pastor.

    This is how you choose to lead your flock, huh?

  3. Pasjosh speaks about “the truth of God’s Word.” Apparently he believes that Leviticus and Deuteronomy are the thoughts of God. I wonder if Pasjosh has ever considered that these books might reflect the words of a tribal deity. The God I envision is not punitive and angry, is not a misogynist, and does not condone the killing of others.

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