An overwhelming majority of evangelical pastors believe it is morally wrong for an individual to change genders, according to a new Lifeway Research survey that revealed a divide on the issue among various Protestant traditions.
The poll of 1,007 Protestant pastors found that evangelical pastors are more than twice as likely to agree that it is “morally wrong to change the gender you were born with through surgery or taking hormones.” A full 90 percent of evangelical pastors but only 37 percent of mainline pastors agreed with the statement.
Among all Protestant pastors, 77 percent believe it is morally wrong to change genders through surgery or taking hormones.
Pentecostal (96 percent) and Baptist pastors (94 percent) are the most likely to agree with the statement, followed by Christian/Church of Christ pastors (75 percent), Lutherans (69 percent), Methodists (48 percent) and Presbyterian/Reformed (49 percent).
“American culture increasingly views morality differently than historic Christianity,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “When pastors articulate Christian teaching, it often sounds very different from the cultural narrative because it rejects a basis for morality centered on the individual.”
The survey also asked Protestant pastors if they believe it is “morally wrong for an individual to identify with a gender different than the sex they were born” – an identification that does not necessarily include surgery or hormones.
On that latter question, 72 percent of Protestant pastors agree with the statement. Among various traditions, the answers mirrored the other question: Pentecostals (90 percent) and Baptists (89 percent) are the most likely to agree that it is “morally wrong for an individual to identify with a different gender from the biological sex they were born,” followed by Christian/Church of Christ pastors (69 percent), Lutherans (60 percent), Presbyterian/Reformed (45 percent) and Methodists (43 percent). Evangelical pastors are more than twice as likely to agree than mainline pastors (84 percent vs. 32 percent).
About half of Protestant pastors (48 percent) say they know someone who is transgender.
“Despite close to half of pastors saying they personally know someone who identifies as transgender, most still view identifying as a different gender as immoral,” McConnell said. “As lawmakers debate establishing protections for those who identify as a different gender from their biological sex at birth, it waits to be seen if Congress will seek to force pastors and their churches to implement changes contradictory to their religious convictions.”
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.