Americans who believe being gay is a sin are now a minority, according to research released yesterday, which links the trend to President Obama’s 2012 decision to support equal marriage.

A survey conducted just after November’s US election by Nashville-based LifeWay Research, a Southern Baptist-affiliated group, showed that 45% of those questioned did not think same-sex intimacy is a sin.

Only 37% told the survey that they thought homosexuality was a sin – a drop of 7% since 2011.

And 71% of Americans who say they never attend religious services told the survey that they have no problem with gay people.

The group said most of the shift away from gay people being associated with immorality came among those who were more secular in their beliefs.

But it was a different story among hard-core Christians. Three out of four surveyed who were born-again, evangelical or fundamentalist Christians said they still believe the Bible disapproves of gay relationships.

Those who live in the South were the most likely to condemn homosexuality.

LifeWay president Ed Stetzer said President Barack Obama’s “evolution on homosexuality” probably had a big impact in the shift in cultural values.

He added that there has been a real and substantive change, surprisingly large for a one-year timeframe.

The survey results, released late on Thursday, did not surprise the Reverend Cindy Andrews-Looper of Holy Trinity Community Church in Nashville, a congregation with a large number of gay members.

She said that being gay “isn’t any more sinful that being left-handed.”

The reverend added: “Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn anyone…To use the gospel to condemn anyone is missing the point.”