As I've noted before, the movement in the U.S. away from condemnation of homosexuality to an attitude of inclusion and acceptance has picked up remarkable speed in recent years.
Already 19 states now have freedom-to-marry laws for gays and lesbians and other states are joining the parade regularly, sometimes through court decisions that knock down a constitutional ban on such unions.
Within American Christianity, some branches have been leaders in this liberation movement (as they should have been) while others are slow followers and still others continue to stand in the schoolhouse door and say no.
But even the latter group is under increasing pressure to change -- pressure that is rooted in the idea that a biblical interpretation that says homosexuality is sinful is a sorrowful misreading of scripture. For my own essay on that subject, look under the "Check this out" headline on the right side of this page.
Now the Atlantic has done this engaging story about how evangelical Christian colleges are slowly and often painfully moving toward acceptance and inclusion of gays and lesbians.
"Over the past five years," the piece reports, "an underground movement has been burgeoning on evangelical Christian campuses. Although many of these colleges explicitly ban 'homosexual behavior,' they are now home to dozens of LGBT-friendly student groups."
This is how change happens. Slowly at first, then more rapidly as people realize that conventional wisdom is simply wrong and has been for a long time. It's what happened when churches in the 19th century slowly abandoned their support of slavery and when churches in the 20th century began to allow ordination of women. And the pace of change in the matter of homosexuality picks up when people meet real gays and lesbians and get to know them on a personal level.
I suspect that for a long time to come there will be people of faith -- Christians, Jews, Muslims and maybe others -- who sincerely believe God condemns homosexual orientation. But they will be fewer and fewer and eventually find themselves on the radical fringe. Whether they choose to stay there at that point will, of course, be up to them and their ability to acknowledge that they may have been wrong.
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THE WORST OF THE WORST
The U.S. State Department's list of countries that have the worst record of religious persecution just grew from eight to nine with the addition of Turkmenistan. I'm glad that State and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom continue to produce these annual lists, but I wish the result were more progress than we're seeing.