A new national opinion poll has found a majority of Australian Christians support same-sex couples being allowed to marry.

The Galaxy poll, released on the same day as right wing Christian groups rallied in Canberra, found that 53 percent of Australians who identify as Christian support same-sex marriage, while only 41 percent oppose it. Further, 67 percent of those with no religion were supporters.

The poll was conducted in early August using a sample of 1,060 respondents and had a calculated margin of error of plus or minus 2 percent.

Australian Marriage Equality (AME) spokesman Malcolm McPherson said the poll showed that church leaders who opposed same-sex marriage were not representing the views of most Australian Christians.

“Groups like the Australian Christian Lobby who oppose marriage equality are entitled to their views, but they do not represent the majority of Australian Christians”, McPherson said.

“Clearly most Australian Christians believe same-sex marriage is consistent with Christian values like love, compassion and fidelity, not opposed to these values.”

Previous polling has shown that three out of four Australians believe same-sex marriage will be legalised in Australia.

The news came a day after a group of prominent Australian Christian clergy made public their support for same-sex marriage.

The seven clergy from the Uniting, Baptist and Anglican churches made their statements to coincide with the launch of a new Christian campaign for marriage equality on Friday, through which more than 9400 Australian Christians have already sent letters to their MPs.

“As the founder of the Christians For Gay Marriage lobby group, and as someone who is an ordained minister with a same gendered partner, I strongly support the right of GLBTI people to marry,” Blackwood Uniting Church minister Leanne Jenski said.

“Be assured there are many Christians out there who stand in solidarity with us.”

Broadcaster, Exodus Foundation founder and Ashfield Uniting Church minister Bill Crews wrote, “Today in Australia we all live in a secular non-discriminatory society. Gay couples should be as free to marry as any other human couple.

“If people wish to be married within a religious or spiritual institution’s framework then they should accept the rites and rules of that institution. However it is the state that legitimises all marriages.”

Rowland Croucher of John Mark Ministries, one of the most influential Baptists in Australia, also back marriage equality for same-sex couples.

“How can I, a heterosexual who’s been very happily married for 50 years, tell anyone else they don’t have the right to form a loving, committed, lifelong union and enjoy the fruits of marriage as I have done?” he wrote.

“Marriage is not a club to be restricted to some – like the Gospel, it is a blessing to be shared.”

Other clergy to make statements of support were Lilydale Baptist Church pastor Matt Glover, Uniting Canberra minister Roger Munson, Fr Dave Smith of Holy Trinity Church at Dulwich Hill, and Tasmanian Uniting Church minister David Hunnerup.

The Unitarians, Quakers and Metropolitan Community Church support same-sex marriage at a denominational level in Australia, while the Council of Progressive Rabbis of Australia, Asia and New Zealand put their support for marriage equality on the record in June.

INFO: Read more at www.christians4equality.com.au

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