Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Christianity

Promoting Forgiveness toward Christians by LGBTQ Respondents Using Apology and Perspective-Taking

Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Christianity

Promoting Forgiveness toward Christians by LGBTQ Respondents Using Apology and Perspective-Taking

Article excerpt

Recently, conflict has escalated between some Christians and groups such as the LGBTQ community. Two variables have been identified consistently as promoting forgiveness in people experiencing hurt or offense: receiving an apology and taking the perspective of the offender. In Study 1, we put this to a stringent test by examining effects of those variables during a time of high public conflict between people identifying as LGBTQ and Christians. Participants (Ν = 96) self-identified as either LGBTQ or non-Christian. They either watched an apology video by a Christian or a control video. They described a past offense from a Christian, either from their own or the offender's perspective and rated their forgiveness of it. Religious identification (as well as sex and education) affected the amount of forgiveness experienced. Apology and perspective-taking had no effects on forgiveness or positive attitudes toward Christians. We suggested that the heightened public conflict overshadowed effects found in more neutral measurement situations in the past. In Study 2, we retained the same methodology but gathered data at a less tense time. We compared the data from Study 1 with the data from Study 2. We found that the timing of the study did significantly impact forgiveness, however apology and perspective remained ineffective. Results are discussed in light of previous research.

Sometimes antagonisms develop between Christians and members of other groups who might feel slighted, judged, or criticized by Christians. For Christians who emphasize compassion and grace, it is important to determine ways through which these groups might possibly be reconciled. Specifically, what could be done by Christians to foster forgiveness in members of those groups who feel they have been hurt by Christians? In the past several years, Christian groups have often been in the news for their protest against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community, same-sex marriage, or even prejudice against individuals who identify openly as LBGTQ. Hence, negative attitudes toward Christians have arisen among those who have been the target of hate, prejudice, discrimination, or perceived judgment due to their identity. Conflict can arise between members of any non-Christian group and Christians or even any group that believes its existence is threatened by Christian judgments.

There are prominent examples of extreme antipathy by some Christians toward LGBTQidentified people. For example, the Westboro Baptist Church demonstrated their vehement opposition to homosexuality when they picketed military funerals because they believe that military deaths are God's judgment for homosexuality. Of course, various Christian political groups oppose same-sex marriage and homosexuals serving openly in the military (Reilly, 2012). It is easy to see how members of the LGBTQ community might feel betrayed by Christians. They might feel that they are the object of prejudice or discrimination by Christians. Although Christian extremists can be dismissed as an inconvenient and out of touch minority of USA citizens, there is also opposition among many who are not Christians. In fact, 48% of Americans oppose same-sex marriage, and 30% oppose homosexuals serving openly in the military (Pew Forum, 2010). Thus, members of the LGBTQ community still face opposition from people in the general population. Opposition to complete acceptance of an LGBTQ political agenda has been common and particularly vocal from many religious groups. The Pew Forum reported that 59% of Protestants and 42% of Catholics opposed same-sex marriage and 37% of Protestants and 23% of Catholics opposed homosexuals openly serving in the military (Pew Forum, 2010). We do observe in passing that these opinions are far from universal among Christians. Rather, substantial fractions of Christians also are supportive of those who identify as LGBTQ and of the political agendas advanced by LGBTQ organizations. …

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