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Whether to Adopt Statements on Homosexuality in Two Denominations: A Research Note

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Some of the most contentious issues in American religion today concern homosexuality. In 1998, we asked 2,300 clergy in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Episcopal Church whether their denomination should adopt official statements on homosexuality. A year later, we asked the same question of 1,600 church members in 60 of those clergy's congregations. In this research note, we analyze the attitudes of clergy and church members about beginning the process to compose formal denominational statements on homosexuality. We find great differences between the two denominations, reflecting established conflict in the Episcopal Church and a lack thereof in the ELCA. The attitudes of both clergy and church members, shaped by denominational context, reflect their general attitudes toward gay rights and the public involvement of the denomination. Clergy exhibit particular concern about how a denominational statement might affect their own congregation, and church members take significant cues from their clergy.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Paul A. Djupe is Associate Professor of Political Science, Denison University, Granville, OH 43023., Email: 2: Laura R. Olson is Professor of Political Science, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634., Email: 3: Christopher P. Gilbert is Professor of Political Science, Gustavus Adolphus College, 800 W. College Ave., St. Peter, MN 56082., Email:

Publication date: 2006-12-01

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