SOUTH CAROLINIANS NOW AGREE--HOMOSEXUALITY SHOULD BE ACCEPTED
A new Pew Research Poll reveals that for the first time, the majority of people in South Carolina agree that homosexuality should be accepted. The study was recently published as "Religious Landscape Study," (survey conducted in 2014) by the Pew Research Center, Religion and Public Life (www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/state/south-carolina/ ). On the question of whether homosexuality should be accepted or discouraged, 51% of South Carolinians now say accepted while 42 % said discouraged. This is a drastic reversal over the last seven years. In 2007 a survey showed 37 % accepted while 52% discouraged. In seven years "accepted" jumped 14% while "discouraged" fell 10%. The trend is clear.
Same-sex marriage. In the same survey in 2014, however, 54% of South Carolinians still opposed same-sex marriage while 40% favored. However, a closer look shows this too is changing rapidly. In an extensive scientific study in 2013, Nate Silver, the dean of political and demographic statisticians, showed that at that time 68% of South Carolinians opposed same-sex marriage ("How Opinion on Same-Sex Marriage is Changing, and What It Means," http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com ). Putting the Silver and Pew figures together, we see a 14% drop in opposition to same-sex marriage in South Carolina within a two year period. Silver went on to predict that South Carolina would reach the 50/50 mark in the year 2020. Now, it looks as if it will be sooner than that, much sooner. Very soon the majority of South Carolinians will favor same-sex marriage. The trend is unmistakable.
To be sure, South Carolina lags behind most of the United States and remains one of the most conservative states in the nation on social issues. This, of course, would come as no surprise to anyone how knows the first thing about South Carolina history. The Diocese of South Carolina was the very last diocese in the entire Episcopal Church to racially integrate and to allow women full equality in position of leadership and authority.
In the U.S. as a whole, the new Pew study found that 62% of people accept homosexuality while 31% discouraged ( www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study ). As for same-sex marriage, 53% of Americans support it while 39% oppose. The survey was taken in 2014, well before the famous Supreme Court decision of June 2015 legalizing same-sex marriage in the U.S. No doubt the "support" number would be considerably larger today.
This is a historic moment in the social history of South Carolina. Most South Carolinians now, for the first time in history, see no problem with homosexuality. It's live-and-let-live.
So, what does all of this have to do with the schism in South Carolina? Plenty. As we have seen, the direct cause of the schism in the Episcopal diocese in 2012 was the issue of homosexuality. When the Episcopal Church adopted a policy of allowing formal blessing of same-sex unions in the church and equality for transgendered clergy, the diocesan leadership drew up a conspiracy for a schism. They put it in a secret written plan on Oct. 2, 2012 awaiting the first opportune moment to put it into effect. That happened on Oct. 15. Everyone knows this schism in South Carolina would not have happened except for the controversy over homosexuality.
The recent scientific studies show that the people of South Carolina are rapidly moving away from the diocesan leaderships' prejudice against rights for homosexual persons. This is especially true among young people who are near unanimous in agreement on acceptance of homosexuality. This means the future of a church based on opposition to homosexuals is dismal. In time, fewer and fewer people in South Carolina will be attracted to that increasingly rejected viewpoint. The independent diocese is likely to decline into a collection of mostly cynical old people, diminish, and either shrivel into nothingness or die out. If the independent diocese persists on its present path, its prognosis is decline, and probable death. No amount of propping up from African bishops is going to prevent that collapse.