Steve and Teri Augustine met, fell in love and got married in a conservative evangelical Christian community. They grew up believing homosexuality was a sin, and that the “gay agenda” was an attack on their values.
Then, six years ago, their son Peter — their youngest child who loved theater and his church youth group — returned home to Ellicott City, Md., from his freshman year of college and came out to his family as gay.
Teri asked her son not to tell anyone else, and drove herself to a mall parking lot to cry. Steve questioned his son’s faith, reciting Bible passages from Corinthians. The Augustines decided to put their son through a year of conversion therapy, determined to “set him straight.”
But after the therapy failed, something changed. Steve and Teri Augustine started meeting Peter’s friends and inviting other gay Christians to dinner. Two summers after Peter came out, the family stood on the sidelines of the Capital Pride parade wearing rainbow beads and shirts with the words “I’m sorry.” Teri now hosts a support group for Christian moms of LGBTQ children.
“I knew that if I was going to get a handle on who my son was,” Teri said, “I really needed to step into that world.”
The transformation in the Augustine family parallels a shift in public opinion that social scientists say is unlike any other of our time.
In a study published earlier this year, Mahzarin Banaji, a psychology professor at Harvard University, investigated patterns of long-term changes in attitudes toward six social groups — the elderly, the disabled, the overweight, black people, people with darker skin tones and gay people — over a decade. The study, co-authored by Tessa Charlesworth, measured both explicit attitudes and implicit attitudes, through online implicit association tests.
Read the whole story: The Washington PostMore of our Members in the Media >