Why is it that many people who support sexual minorities seem not to like Christians?
The answer is obvious, right? Christians, particularly conservative Christians, have been at the forefront of opposing advancement of the rights of sexual minorities. Those who seek to improve the legal and cultural status of sexual minorities can easily see Christians as enemies. I have no doubt that this is the most common reason why we see a correlation of affinity for sexual minorities and antipathy towards Christians.
But that does not mean that it is the only reason for this relationship. We generally assume that the growth of support for sexual minorities comes from more interpersonal contact with them, a belief in the innate nature of sexual orientation and sexual identity, and a philosophical expansion in our notion of civil rights. But there may be another explanation. What if growing animosity toward Christians actually causes support for sexual minorities? Support for sexual minorities can be a symbolic way for individuals to express their rejection of Christians, especially conservative Christians.
The idea of symbolic antipathy is not new. Some have argued that much contemporary racial animosity is expressed symbolically. Since there is stigma in being seen as a racist, individuals want to avoid that label. So, even if a person actually is racist, it’s unlikely that he or she will express a direct hatred for, say, Hispanic-Americans. But on certain issues (such as immigration) where there are both racial and non-racial justifications to explain one’s position, that person can express that racial animosity through their political convictions. A person could oppose undocumented immigration due to fears about job security or safety from foreign countries. Or one could oppose undocumented immigration due to racism. No one but that person may ever know which is true.
Likewise, the type of individuals who tend to feel hostility against Christians (white, highly educated progressives) prefer to think of themselves as tolerant. In fact, being tolerant is often a vital part of their social identities. Thus, they do not want to face the fact that they may be motivated by religious bigotry. They are unlikely to admit support for rules that seem to target Christians for mistreatment. But, since it is well-known that traditional Christian theology opposes the goals of sexual minority groups, their animosity towards conservative Christians may be expressed by claiming to promote the rights of sexual minorities.
Of course, this is all just speculation, unless there is some data to back it up. I have found such data.
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