One key reason why Australians reject Christianity is the Church’s attitude to gay people, new research suggests.
The research was commissioned by Christian media group Olive Tree Media, an organization which has grown from the work of Karl Faase, pastor of a Baptist church in Sydney’s southern suburbs. It found nearly nearly 30 per cent of all respondents said the stance of churches on homosexuality blocked them from engaging with Christianity.
This was a greater ‘blocker’ than ‘hell and damnation,’ the Church’s attitude to science and evolution or even the Bible.
The list of the top ten blockers also includes hypocrisy, judging others, religious wars, suffering, issues around money and exclusivity. The survey found that although Australians could separate the perpetrators of sexual abuse from religion, most felt churches needed to do a lot more to address the problem.
Faase said he was not surprised by the findings and told the West Australian that they showed that the Australian attitude of a ‘fair go for all’ was still strong.
A number of Australian churches, however, denied there is such a marked trend of people turning down Christianity.
Pastor Mike Kwok from the Fellowship Baptist Church in Sydney told The Christian Post he acknowledges the rising support for what he called ‘the homosexual agenda,’ but he does not believe the problem is so widespread nor that it causes a division among churchgoers.
“While I’m unaware of anyone turning away from a church because of that church’s position on homosexuality, it is only natural that someone who practices homosexuality will not come to our church because of our biblical position on the issue,” said Kwok.
The survey asked people to identify who influenced them the most when it came to religious belief with the dominant answers being parents and family, followed by mass media, social media and the internet.
“When we asked what impact high profile atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens had on people’s beliefs, we were surprised to discover that three out of four said they had had no impact at all,” said Mark McCrindle from McCrindle Research which was commissioned by Olive Tree Media.
“The biggest turns-offs were public figures or celebrities discussing their faith. Whilst these methods are used in the United States, Australians are seemingly distrustful of the motives behind public declaration of religious beliefs,” McCrindle said.
“We will use the research to develop an Apologetics Series for television, DVD, web and radio. We plan on a 10 part series that looks at each of the top ten ‘blocker issues’ and gives an accessible response so that the average Australian can engage with the material and make an informed belief and lifestyle choice,” Faase said.
Most Australians do not actively practice any religion.
Photo: Results from Olive Tree Media report