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Graph showing support for marriage equality by religion.  Unaffiliated, then white Mainline Protestants, then Catholics, then black Protestants, then white evangelicals.
President Barack Obama famously said he was "evolving" in the years leading up to his eventual support for marriage equality. New numbers from the Pew Research Center show that several groups of Christians are, like the president, evolving. Bringing up the rear, though, in absolute level of support and speed of evolution are white evangelicals, a group with just 23 percent support for equality, a number that held steady over the past year. By contrast:
The sharpest change has occurred among black Protestants, only 32% of whom favored same-sex marriage in our aggregated 2013 polling. A survey we conducted last month found that figure has now risen to 43%.

There also has been an uptick in support for same-sex marriage among white mainline Protestants (from 55% in 2013 to 62% this year). [...]

Although the changes among Catholics in the past year have not been statistically significant, support for same-sex marriage has increased among that group over the past several years. Roughly six-in-ten U.S. Catholics (59%) now favor same-sex marriage.

As the swift rise in support among black Protestants shows, things can change in a hurry. But white evangelicals aren't just lagging, they're falling further behind. It's already clear how history will judge this issue; time for the laggards to catch up.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 01:23 PM PDT.

Also republished by Kossacks for Marriage Equality, LGBT Rights are Human Rights, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I honestly wouldn't be surprised if (20+ / 0-)

    the uptick for white mainline and the downtick for white evangelical was a sign of more of the supportive white evangelicals getting pushed out to other denominations.

    Unless you see church leadership changing views while remaining in place, the white evangelical numbers are going to continue to not be good. The people who change their minds and become supporters are going to leave wherever they can because of the social and pulpit pressure.

    Unlike with the Catholics, where homilies are supposed to be somehow related to the lectionary readings, evangelical and fundamentalist preachers can preach against marriage equality and any other civil right of gay people every single sermon they want - and if that means their congregation sitting through that same basic sermon aside three times a week (Sun morning, Sun night, Wed evening) for months on end, there are pastors and deacon boards who consider that a good thing and proper preaching.

    •  I think it's also a sign (14+ / 0-)

      that mainline Protestants understand the separation of Church and State a lot more than do Evangelicals, regardless of color. In many fundamentalist churches, they teach that separation is a lie promoted by godless Atheists -- witness the rise of "historians" like David Barton. Mainline Christians (and even the average Mass-going Catholic) gets that while they may not want to see same-sex marriages in their own sanctuary, that doesn't mean that couples should be denied equal protection under civil law.

      There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

      by Cali Scribe on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 02:32:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Catholic hierarchy has an obvious (2+ / 0-)

        problem with the separation of church and state (except when they want to protect their pedophile priests, of course).  The laity gets it a lot better -- they may even have some family memories of discrimination based upon their Catholicism -- I know we did in my family growing up.  The hierarchy could remove themselves from it -- they already had jobs and wouldn't get denied promotions or housing based upon their being Catholic because the Church provided all that to them.  I'd like to think that the laity has retained some of those memories and that makes them less likely to want to discriminate against others.  Who knows?

        •  I am 67 years old (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I grew up when Bible reading was still mandatory in schools in New Jersey, as it was in many states. It was always the King James Bible, as it had been since Colonial times. This, along with overt anti-Catholic propaganda, was one of the big motivations for starting Catholic parochial schools, which go back to 1782 in Philadelphia, even though Pennsylvania Quakers had started the colony on a base of strict toleration.

          Jews also object to the overt Christology in the King James Bible, and those who do not stick strictly with the Hebrew and Aramaic Masoretic text have their own translations, such as the Complete Jewish Bible, which you can read on Bible Gateway.

          Genesis 2

          4 Here is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created. On the day when Adonai, God, made earth and heaven, 5 there was as yet no wild bush on the earth, and no wild plant had as yet sprung up; for Adonai, God, had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no one to cultivate the ground.

          Catholics used the Douay-Confraternity English translation when I was in school. I have a copy. I see that there is now a Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition.

          You can even find overtly Protestant Latin Bibles, new translations from the available Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek originals going back to 1516.

          School prayer was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Engel v. Vitale in 1962, and mandatory Bible readings in Abington School District v. Schempp in 1963, after I left high school.

          Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

          by Mokurai on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 09:59:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I had the same thought (10+ / 0-)

      I live in the Bible Belt. My Episcopal parish is seeing a number of young visitors who were reared in fundamentalist churches. They are looking at other denominations because they cannot stomach the far-right stance on social issues, especially LGBT civil rights.

      There are a few other progressive congregations in town. Members say the same thing is happening in their churches.

      Just because you're not a drummer doesn't mean that you don't have to keep time. -- T. Monk

      by susanala on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 04:38:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's not just the church stances, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        killjoy, Mokurai

        it's the having to keep quiet.

        I spent years in the SBC after I had close gay friends, partly because I'd never been anywhere else and didn't know how to leave in a real psychological sense. It was a breath of fresh air to be someplace where I could even mention they existed!

        And then I moved. Cooperative Baptist Fellowship congregation this time... but with enough of the old SBC types still there that you really couldn't talk about anything. Someone thought "Love the sinner hate the sin" meant he was an enlightened Christian, for instance. Leadership was more open, but forget saying anything where other church attendees or members could hear you.

        That was the church where I was when I came out to myself as asexual. I'd lost contact with most of the people from the accepting church, and even now all of two people from there have any clue. A grand total of four people at the CBF church ever knew, all leadership staff, and it was probably nearly a year before I told any of them.

        Last January was one of the last straws. Not being able to mention that I was emotionally invested in what was happening with commonmass and GMB02, even when I had been away from the internet for days because SNOW and had no idea if the person I was praying for was still alive or not, because oh noes I might let someone know I care whether a gay man dies. Um, screw that. I kept my mouth shut because I had to and started vaguely looking for a way out - and then midway through Lent it became a having-to-get-out for other reasons.

        I didn't notice the local episcopal church had welcoming language on a webpage I'd read a dozen times before until right around Palm Sunday. Good Friday was my first day in one of their pews, and I've been the perpetually visiting baptist ever since.

        Even if you can stomach hearing the official stance, it can take a lot out of someone to have to constantly keep their own stance hidden. Not quite so bad as the closet-closet - for one thing, it's not a Who You Personally Are issue - but it can be very very close.

    •  Yes, as with Creationism (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassandra Waites, wishingwell

      the Religious Right is losing millions of members, mostly young people, every year, so that the Faithful Remnant is ever purer, ever louder, and ever nastier.

      Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

      by Mokurai on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 09:19:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I wonder about the generational breakdown (12+ / 0-)

    of the sample of white evangelicals.

    Just a hunch, but I bet that the younger folks among this group will "evolve" at a quicker pace than the older generation.

    •  Substantiated for decades (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassandra Waites, wishingwell

      in Pew Forum polls, and in The Incredible Shrinking Church, by Frank Page, a former President of SBC. The Evangelical churches are losing millions, mostly young people, annually.

      A friend dragged me to one of those churches with my banjo because they had a string band to accompany their hymn-singing, and I could just chord along even if I didn't know the tunes. There were two people there under the age of sixty, a wife and one poor child. Greasy Creek Church, near Nashville, Indiana. I am not making that up. I told my friend never again.

      Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

      by Mokurai on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 10:05:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And only going to get 'worse'. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The general response to a Barna study showing the youth with a 'Biblical worldview' (their definition) were more likely to consider the 'Biblical worldview" churches to be too homophobic than their unchurched peers looking at the same churches from the outside?

        Double down on the homophobia in the youth education materials and make sure they are all hearing the clobber verses!

        Seriously, the response was 'make sure the kids all know what they believe by the time their unchurched peers start coming out' without a thought to WHY the youth answered the survey that way - as in, maybe there was more than enough time devoted to that one issue and the youth wanted to devote Sunday School time to things like, oh, actual personal spiritual development and such. They didn't even have to consider the possibility of the stance being wrong, they just had to ask if they were becoming single-issue in the eyes of the teens, and they wouldn't even do that.

        Oh, and the evangelicals keep making the mistake of looking for causes at the age of leaving. My church had kid after kid leave as soon as they were entrusted with a vehicle and told they were their own ride to church now. Or when they hit college and no one was there to force it anymore. No one's asking around to see if the real causes are older - and in my case one of the reasons was literally twenty years old when I finally walked out.

        •  Can you give us a link? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cassandra Waites

          I would love to add this to my list of references on the subject.

          I see old Barna studies about attitudes to gays and lesbians, and about the Biblical worldview, but not the one you are referring to. Here is one from 2007.

          A New Generation Expresses its Skepticism and Frustration with Christianity

          Today, the most common perception is that present-day Christianity is "anti-homosexual." Overall, 91% of young non-Christians and 80% of young churchgoers say this phrase describes Christianity. As the research probed this perception, non-Christians and Christians explained that beyond their recognition that Christians oppose homosexuality, they believe that Christians show excessive contempt and unloving attitudes towards gays and lesbians. One of the most frequent criticisms of young Christians was that they believe the church has made homosexuality a "bigger sin" than anything else. Moreover, they claim that the church has not helped them apply the biblical teaching on homosexuality to their friendships with gays and lesbians.
          An interesting current quote from the site is
          18-29 year olds with a Christian background


          …who have dropped out of attending church after going regularly

          Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

          by Mokurai on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 11:52:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The Barna study was the one that resulted in (0+ / 0-)

            the book unChristian. I didn't read it and by now I wouldn't be able to find the place I saw the statistic cited. Or the place I heard about the specific response.

            And checking your link, yep that's it.

            I left the SBC the spring after the book came out.

  •  It is time to stop waving the bloody flag and say (5+ / 0-)

    at least to ourselves:  what is there for us to do rather than this severe rankor between many of us and Evangelical Christians.  Do we only sit on  the river bank and wait for the bodies of our enemies to float by.  How grim we Americans have become.  Still, I feel for their dread of us as first class citizens of the Republic, just like them.  

    Human beings are prone to picking out a group and developing a narrative, a kind of made up story which casts the identified group in the worst possible light or should I say darkness.  Then depending on the fulcrum of violence in their human hearts a scourging takes place, if not an annialation.  In the course of the life of our Earth almost countless life-forms have become extinct.  But human beings are not like this, instead they develop an elaborate justification to render extinct (Jews got close to this) those others who are so different from them in thought, word and deed.  If this is not possible then there are any other marginalizations to put them down as low as possible.

    Citizenship:  voting rights,  is the cure for discrimination.  

    •  Very profound and so true. (0+ / 0-)

      We are not powerless!! "Activism is the rent I pay for living on this planet."– Alice Walker

      by nocynicism on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 04:57:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  We can DO THIS! Send each one LANCE BASS’s Moms (0+ / 0-)


      The First Thing My Mom Did When She Learned I Was Gay... and the 'Miracle' That Occurred After

      My mom read the Bible four times in a row and bought every book written about Christianity and the subject of homosexuality. When she saw things were not getting any easier at her church regarding this issue, she decided to go against her passive character and let her community know exactly how they were making her feel ….In a very open and honest letter to the church, she suggested how true Christians should act towards the LGBT community.
      ...and now that he is engaged he wants to marry in Mississippi and if many MOMS’  help he just may!

      Proud to be part of the 21st Century Democratic Majority Party of the 3M's.. Multiracial, Multigender and MiddleClass

      by LOrion on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 05:02:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  PS.. The hashtag is #50in5 (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cocinero, davidincleveland

        Lawyers David Boies and Ted Olson stated that is their goal
         All Fifty States in 5 Years from their VIRGINIA case presentation!

        ..and that judge in first ruling stated:

        Almost one hundred and fifty four years ago, as Abraham Lincoln approached the cataclysmic rending of our nation over a struggle for other freedoms,...he wrote these words:
        ‘It can not have failed to strike you that these men ask for just . . . the same thing--fairness, and fairness only.
        This, so far as in my power, they, and all others, shall have.’
          The men and women, and the children too, whose voices join in nobel harmony with Plaintiffs today, also ask for fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as it is in this Court’s power, they and all others shall have.

        Proud to be part of the 21st Century Democratic Majority Party of the 3M's.. Multiracial, Multigender and MiddleClass

        by LOrion on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 05:14:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The Texas case that is going to the Fifth (0+ / 0-)

        Circuit Court of Appeals should become a precedent for Mississippi. No doubt somebody will have to go to the Federal District Court there to get an injunction. Mississippi was planning on being the last state standing after all others tipped. Nate Silver had a model in 2009 that said Mississippi would tip in 2024, but things have sped up since then.

        Also, the Marriage Equality USA lawsuits page says

        In July 2013, under Campaign for Southern Equality's “We Do” campaign, same-gender couples began requesting and being denied marriage licenses all across MS, in preparation for lawsuits.
        I have not verified whether this is still going on.

        On the other side, the Mississippi Legislature has taken up an Arizona-style pro-discrimination bill.

        Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

        by Mokurai on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 10:26:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Needs error bars n/t (0+ / 0-)

    "Well, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation..."--David St. Hubbins

    by Old Left Good Left on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 02:45:46 PM PDT

  •  "But stalled out among white evangelicals" (6+ / 0-)

    You don't say. I'm shocked. ;)

    Pope Francis: the Thumb of Christ in the eyes of the Pharisees.

    by commonmass on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 04:32:00 PM PDT

  •  Odd chart...why the downtic? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lgmcp, davidincleveland

    in 2000-2004 across all groups?  

    Minority rights should never be subject to majority vote.

    by lostboyjim on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 05:04:47 PM PDT

  •  White evangelicals stalled... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wishingwell the Dark Ages.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 06:02:28 PM PDT

  •  They don't have to like Gay Marriage BUT (3+ / 0-)

    they aren't allowed to invoke religious belief as an excuse to deny American citizens the right to be gay, and be married to someone of the same gender.

    "It were a thousand times better for the land if all Witches, but especially the blessing Witch, might suffer death." qtd by Ehrenreich & English. For Her Own Good, Two Centuries of Expert's Advice to Women pp 40

    by GreenMother on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 06:03:35 PM PDT

  •  The sharp uptick among Black denominations (5+ / 0-)

    is an interesting testimony to the influence of heroes:  when Obama announced he was getting off the fence and onto the right side of history .... it looks like a whole lot of black folks were ready and willing to follow him.  I like to think that many of them already secretly wanted to, and just needed some cover for defying the long-time stance of their elders.  

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 06:12:06 PM PDT

    •  It was as hard for straights to come out (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassandra Waites, lgmcp, wishingwell

      of the closet in support of LGBT rights in some environments as for LGBTs. Many of those who did at that time were surprised not to get much more pushback, and so it spread.

      Of course, that is not the case everywhere. In some environments, straights coming out in support was much easier than the actual oppressed coming out for themselves.

      On most issues, the public is evolving at something like 1% annually, about three million people a year, mostly young. Marriage Equality has been moving much faster since we reached the tipping point of overt majority support.

      Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

      by Mokurai on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 10:34:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's the case for parents in particular (0+ / 0-)

        After they accept their gay kid, then they have to navigate a thousand-and-one social situations of their own where they must decide how much to disclose about their child's life.  They have to come out as the parents of gays, over and over and over.

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 08:55:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  It was beginning to happen even before that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      though Obama's announcement certainly sped it up. I suspect that DADT repeal helped a lot, and Timothy Kincaid from Box Turtle Bulletin suggested that the enactment of marriage equality in DC (first non-lily-white place to get it) was a big factor.

      Unfortunately when smart and educated people get crazy ideas they can come up with plausibly truthy arguments. -- Andrew F Cockburn

      by ebohlman on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 10:40:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Depends on how you look at things . .. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    As the swift rise in support among black Protestants shows, things can change in a hurry. But white evangelicals aren't just lagging, they're falling further behind.
    From 2001 to the present day, support among black protestants rose 43% while (e.g., 43/30 = 143%)

    while support among white protestants rose 76% (e.g., 23/13 = 176%).

    So I don't really agree with that conclusion.

    •  What is interesting is the difference between (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Roadbed Guy

      support between black protestants and white evangelicals in 2004, 2008, 2010, 2012, and current.  It looks like in the past black protestants were open to election year anti-gay rhetoric keeping them generally moving closer to white fundies.  More recently, they seem to be returning to a relative position closer to where they were in 2001, hopefully meaning that they no longer buy the propaganda that it is OK for one group to be able to oppress another through the force of law.

      “The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day.” Gloria Steinem

      by ahumbleopinion on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 06:44:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, I'm not too worried about them, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        overall they're doing better than white evangelicals.

        But still, to have gone from essentially 1 in 8 to almost 1 in 4 accepting gay marriage in just 13 or 14 years is a fairly significant improvement IMHO.

        One way to look at this is that it's almost reaching critical mass when it becomes "OK" to start talking about this type of thing in a reasonable way, so I'm betting the numbers will continue on an upward trajectory.

    •  Emphasis on "change in a hurry" (0+ / 0-)

      I think the point was about the dramatic swing in the past year alone - the increase in acceptance amongst Black evangelicals from 2013 to 2014 is pretty remarkable.

  •  What about Hispanics? (0+ / 0-)

    They seem to have been left out of this survey….or at lest the results shown.

    In California it was Hispanics who put Prop 8 "over the top" a pretty bitter betrayal considering the LGBT community has consistently supported Hispanic and immigrant causes.

    It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

    by ksuwildkat on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 06:29:28 PM PDT

    •  This survey is on religous divisions (4+ / 0-)

      and although Catholicism is common among Latinos, the two groups are far from synonymous.  Here's some polling from June 2013:

      Latinos’ changing views of same-sex marriage

      In 2012 for the first time, more Latinos said they favored same-sex marriage than opposed it (52% versus 34%) according to a Pew Hispanic Center survey. This is a reversal from six years earlier, when one-third (31%) of Latinos favored same-sex marriage and more than half (56%) opposed it.

      The Pew data also breaks down Latinos by many sub-categories, with Latino Catholics  54% in favor.  

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 06:41:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Technically, ANY group of Yes on H8 voters (3+ / 0-)

      could be labelled the "over the top" contingent.  But if you mean that Latinos voted for Prop 8 in ratios disproportionate to their other metrics, that doesn't seem to be the case.  

      New analysis on California’s Proposition 8 vote (NYU, March 2009)

      Four factors—party identification, ideology, frequency of religious service attendance, and age—drove the “yes” vote for Proposition 8. ... After taking into account the effect of religiosity (as measured by attendance of religious services), support for Proposition 8 among African Americans and Latinos was not significantly different than that of other groups.

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 06:57:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  They might as we have factored for breathing (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Their data is based on "taking into account the effect of religiosity."  So what they are saying is that the numbers of black and Latinos who voted for Prop 8 if they went to church was in line with others who went to church.  Um, ok but when you take a population that is almost 100% church goer you are talking about lots more votes.

        Just look at where the yes votes came from.  If you know California you know that some of the yes counties are 70-80% Hispanic.  

        It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

        by ksuwildkat on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 09:13:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  True, that's exactly what they are saying (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          So what they are saying is that the numbers of black and Latinos who voted for Prop 8 if they went to church was in line with others who went to church.  
          But I'm pretty your estimates are far too generous on rates on church-going.  In Albuquerque fully 45% of the population is Hispanic, and I can assure you that non-churchgoing is very common and is at least approaching the 50% mark if not over it.   Hence the 52% Hispanic approval for same-sex marraige in the recent Pew poll.  

          "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

          by lgmcp on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 08:21:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Here's more data (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Here is the rest of the data from the Pew study. It looks at attitudes by gender, age, and political affiliation.

    Like ksuwildcat above, I would like to know more about the attitudes of other minority groups, and other faith groups.  I would also like to know what constitutes Mainline, Evangelical and Unaffiliated churches.

    "Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom." -- G.W.Carver

    by northbronx on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 06:41:31 PM PDT

    •  Check the US Religious Landscape Survey (0+ / 0-)

      The Pew US Religious Landscape Survey categorizes affiliation per the scheme found here. You can click on each category to see which individual denominations are included.

      Details on how the Protestant denominations were classified are found here. I would think (hope) that the same scheme is used consistently for any Pew poll that asks respondents about their religious affiliation.

      Unaffilialted is the category for those who report that they are atheist, agnostic, or "nothing in particular." It is not a type of church.

      If you are interested in non-denominational or independent congregations, there are subcategories for other, nonspecific, etc. in the evangelical Protestant and mainline Protestant categories. There is an "Other Christian" category, as well.

      Just because you're not a drummer doesn't mean that you don't have to keep time. -- T. Monk

      by susanala on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 07:21:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Eventually, there'll be an (0+ / 0-)

    Evangelicals Petting Zoo where visitors can see the small remaining herd in a natural setting.

  •  anything that moves (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z

    forward or in a positive direction terrifies white evangelicals unless you are talking about preaching the word of their god who in their view hates everyone not white and stupid.

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