RELIGION
02/28/2014 04:14 pm ET | Updated Feb 28, 2014

Fourteen Percent Of Americans Believe AIDS Might Be God's Punishment: Survey

The Washington Post via Getty Images

All signs point to the fact that, on the whole, the U.S. is moving toward a much more tolerant stance on same-sex marriage and LGBT issues, in general.

A recent survey released by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) delineated the ways in which Americans' beliefs surrounding LGBT issues have shifted. Included in this was the fact that far fewer Americans today believe AIDS might be a punishment from God.

Believe it or not, in 1992, a whopping 36 percent of Americans believed AIDS might be God’s punishment for immoral sexual behavior. Only 57 percent strongly disagreed. In 2013, 14 percent of Americans believed AIDS might be punishment from God, while a full 81 percent actively disagreed with this notion.

Americans are also considerably more judgmental toward those living with HIV or AIDS in the U.S. than they are toward those living with HIV or AIDS in the developing world. Sixty-five percent of Americans believe those living with HIV or AIDS in the U.S. became infected due to irresponsible behavior, while only 41 percent say the same about those living with HIV or AIDS in the developing world.

Since the outbreak of AIDS in the early 1980s, some conservative religious groups have come forward to loudly blame so-called "immoral" lifestyles for the epidemic. In 1987, Reverend Jerry Falwell famously said, “God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah primarily because of the sin of homosexuality. Today He is again bringing judgment against this wicked practice through AIDS.”

Today, such antagonistic attitudes toward homosexuality are turning younger members of religious groups away from their congregations. The same PRRI survey found that nearly one-third of Millennials who left the faith they grew up with did so in part due to "negative teachings" or "negative treatment" related to gays and lesbians.

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