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Peggy Fletcher Stack
Peggy Fletcher Stack has been producing stories for The Salt Lake Tribune's award-winning Faith section for nearly two decades. Writing about contemporary faith, rituals, and spirituality as well as religion's conflicts and cohesion has always been Stack's passion. Follow her at facebook.com/peggy.fletcherstack, Twitter @religiongal

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Is homosexual behavior a sin? Americans are split

Americans are equally divided on the question of whether homosexual behavior is a sin – about 44 percent say yes, 43 percent say no.

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Thirteen percent are unsure.

Not surprisingly, born-again, evangelical or fundamentalist Christians are much more likely – 82 percent, in fact – to see homosexual behavior as a sin, while only 14 percent say it is not a sin.

That's according to a just-released online survey of 2,144 adults by LifeWay Research, a Christian research group.

Respondents were selected from a sample of an online panel representing the adult U.S. population of the United States. The survey has a margin of error of 2.2 percentage points.

The survey also offered additional insights.

More men (47 percent) than women (40 percent) view homosexual behavior as a sin. Those without a college degree are also more likely to view it as a sin (49 percent), compared with 35 percent with an advanced degree.

LifeWay researchers note that in any such survey the language of questions is crucial.

"People's definition of 'sin' may differ based upon their religious background and beliefs," Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research, said in a news release. "We intentionally used the word, but also know it means different things to different people."

In 2011, Gallup's annual "Values and Beliefs" poll approached the question of homosexuality asking if it was "morally acceptable," McConnell said. "While we find 44 percent believe homosexuality is a 'sin,' Gallup reports 56 percent of Americans consider gay and lesbian relations morally acceptable."

The survey also looked at the impact of beliefs about homosexuality on church attendance. The biggest effect would be on those who do not consider homosexual behavior as sinful. Some 74 percent of them would hesitate to join or visit a church that taught it was.

Younger Americans – those between age 18 and 29 – were also more inclined to take a negative view of churches teaching against homosexuality. Like many of their peers, these young folks are less likely to join one.

Peggy Fletcher Stack

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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