(RNS) National attention on a proposed Arizona law allowing business owners to deny service for religious reasons to gay people signals how attitudes on social issues have shifted dramatically in recent years.

Closeup of a same-sex couple holding hands, wearing a wedding ring.

Closeup of a same-sex couple holding hands, wearing a wedding ring. Photo courtesy of Lisa F. Young via Shutterstock

Experts said such changes will accelerate on issues such as same-sex marriage, interracial marriage, legalization of marijuana and childbearing among the unwed. Younger people are more liberal and less conventional, they said.

“We’re entering a period of massive social change,” said sociologist Daniel Lichter, of Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. “This traditional pattern is reinforced by very large racial changes in America’s composition. The Baby Boomer generation — which is predominantly white and affluent and in some ways, conservative —  in the next 20 (to) 30 years will be replaced by a younger population, and that population is going to be disproportionately minority.”

Recent national polls detail seismic shifts, often in a matter of years. Among the changes:

  • Same-sex marriage: A 1996 Gallup poll on same-sex marriage found 27 percent in favor and 68 percent opposed. A USA TODAY poll last year found 55 percent supportive and 40 percent opposed.
  • Interracial marriage:  A USA TODAY/Gallup poll in 2011 found that 86 percent of Americans approved, compared with 48 percent in 1991.
  • Legalization of marijuana:  A 2013 Pew Research Center survey found 52 percent supporting legalization and 45 percent opposed. A 1969 Gallup survey found 12 percent favored legalization and 84 percent opposed. Pew also found marked generational differences, with 65 percent of Millennials (born 1980-early 2000s) in favor (up from 36 percent in 2008). Among older generations, the percentage of 65 and older who favor legalization has nearly doubled — from 17 percent to 32 percent — since 2002.

  • Cohabitation:  A 1981 ABC News/Washington Post poll found 45 percent disapproved and 40 percent approved of unmarried men and women living together without being married. In 2007, a similar USA TODAY/Gallup poll found 55 percent approved of such couples, while 27 percent disapproved.
  • Births to unmarried couples: The share of the nation’s children younger than 18 living with cohabiting parents rose from 3 percent in 1990 to 6 percent in 2008, Census Bureau data show.
  • Same-sex couples raising children: A 2007 Pew survey found that 50 percent of adults said that gay and lesbian couples raising children was bad for society, compared with 43 percent in a similar Pew survey in 2010.

“The social agenda has moved much more toward tolerance and acceptance,” said Paul Taylor, executive vice president of the Pew Research Center.

Taylor, author of “The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown,” a book out March 4, says the change is fueled by generational replacement and Millennials coming of age and asserting themselves.

“On something like gay marriage, where we’ve seen such dramatic change in just the last 10 or 15 years, one reason is opponents of gay marriage are literally dying off,” he said. “The very oldest in their 70s and 80s and beyond grew up in (an) America where cultural norms were different.”

(Sharon Jayson writes for USA Today.)



    • Funny because what some Christians want to do is exactly the sin of Sodom. Inhospitable behavior to others.

      [Of course that is assuming you bothered to read the sections and understood its original cultural context. You obviously did not. ]

      In antiquity, the worst taboo a peasant could commit against another peasant was to not treat strangers with respect. Laws of hospitality existed to ensure people could travel and deal with others without fear. Myths of all cultures of the Mediterranean have this common theme. The Odyssey is practically a treatise on the subject as are numerous passages of Ovid’s Metamophosis. [See Procrustes, Tantalus, Ixion and Lycaon]

      Sodom was notorious for treating travelers with bodily harm, with swindling (marked coins) and general hostility to others. God visited harm upon Sodom because angelic guests were being subject to threats of harm.

      Currently Christians are seeking a legal right to treat strangers with spiteful harm like the denizens of Sodom in Genesis.

  1. Yeah, it was inhospitable behavior all right. And all that inhospitable behavior was topped off by HOMOSEXUAL MESS. Let’s go right to the text, since you refer to it (Gen. 19:4-5).

    4 Now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house.
    5 And they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them *carnally*.”

    So the hallmark of Sodom was not just inhospitality, but HOMOSEXUAL MESS as well. This particular mess was The Last Straw for God himself. This is corroborated by Ezekiel 16: 49-50.

    49 Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
    50 And they were haughty and committed ABOMINATION before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit.

    Gay marriage equals ABOMINATION, Larry. It equals MESS, and invites catastrophic divine JUDGMENT on a sorry slimy nation like this one.

  2. If you got out of those quotes, condemnation of a consensual adult relationship, you are either an illiterate fool or just a dishonest one.

    If you read the entire passage, instead of copying and pasting from some hate-site, you would have the full context of the story.

    The quotes you pulled have to do with the threatened GANG-RAPE of honored guests (angels). The ultimate form of inhospitable behavior and disrespect. Ezekial merely references it. Its self-reference not support. The use of the word “Abomination” in these texts came in the 17th Century and cannot be taken seriously on its merits.

    Gang rape has nothing to do with consensual adult relationships such as marriage (straight or gay) So no, you are full of it.

    The people who committing the grave sins, the Sodomites if you will, are people like yourself. Those who look for excuses and end runs around God’s command to love thy neighbor. Those who seek to treat others badly, without respect or basic dignity.

  3. Doc Anthony should have quoted from the New Testament. It does not say anything about homosexual attraction. But I am sure you know about 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived;neither the sexually immoral, nor idolators, nor men who practice homosexuality,nor thieves,nor the greedy,nor drunkards,nor revilers,nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” This is from the English Standard Version of the Bible. I am guilty of a number of those sins. First, they have to be recognized as sin. Then they need to be fought however you choose. A sin is still what it is even if it is inconvenient to how we choose to live.

    • Rod, I am in full agreement with you. For some time now I have been sharing with folks that sin is sin whether we agree with it or not and there are consequences of those sins, whether we agree or not. I too have committed sins, but I can clearly say this, the more I know Him and the more my relationship with Him grows, because of Grace, I no longer desire to sin in any form. Many are preaching and using Grace as if it is an escape hatch for those who wish to do what they wish to do without reprisals, but His Word stands to this day and into eternity: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from law till all is fulfilled….” Matthew 5:19. Read 1st Corinthians 6:9-11 as Rod has noted here; remember, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap (even with Grace in place). For he who sows to his flesh, will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” Galatians 6:7-8. No one has to believe that, but I promise you, I know it to be true. There are consequences to our choices and The Book tells us so but we have somehow flung ourselves into such arrogance that we so often aid and abet each other straight into hell. To be angry with folks who tell the Truth is not a surprise. The Bible is Truth, ‘there will come a time when a lie will become the truth and the truth a lie, we are living in those days, let no one try to shroud that reality in denial!

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