Americans who believe being gay is a sin are no longer the majority — not even half — a shift a Southern Baptist-affiliated research group pins on President Barack Obama’s changed opinion of gay marriage.

A November survey from Nashville-based LifeWay Research, affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, found 37 percent of Americans polled said “yes” when asked if homosexual behavior is a sin.

Forty-five percent said no. Seventeen percent didn’t know.

That’s a major change from LifeWay’s September 2011 survey, when 44 percent said homosexuality was a sin, 43 percent said no and 13 percent didn’t know.

The survey results didn’t surprise the Rev. Cindy Andrews-Looper of Holy Trinity Community Church in Nashville, a congregation with a large number of gay members.

When her church opened in the mid-1990s, most gay and lesbian members were in the closet, she said. Today, they’ve found more acceptance in Nashville’s religious community and in the community at large.

Andrews-Looper said that being gay isn’t any more sinful that being left-handed.

“Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn anyone,” she said. “To use the gospel to condemn anyone is missing the point.”

Those most likely to believe being gay is a sin are Americans who attend church at least once a week or identify themselves as Evangelical.

The shift in attitudes about gay people likely cost an Evangelical minister from Atlanta the chance to pray at President Obama’s second inauguration. The Rev. Louie Giglio of Passion City Church in Atlanta had been asked to give the benediction. He withdrew after an anti-gay sermon of his surfaced on in the internet.

“Due to a message of mine that has surfaced from 15-20 years ago, it is likely that my participation, and the prayer I would offer will be dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda the focal point of the inauguration,” he said in a statement.

LifeWay’s Ed Stetzer predicted more future conflicts like that one.

“The culture is clearly shifting on homosexuality and this creates a whole new issue: How will America deal with a minority view, strongly held by Evangelicals, Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, and so many others?” he said in a statement.

The survey was released on the same day that the federal government agreed to pay $2.4 million to 181 service members were dismissed under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, also ended under the Obama administration.

The payments were for back pay and will average about $14,000, according to a settlement announced by the ACLU.

Among the plaintiffs was Richard Collins, a former staff sergeant in the Air Force who served for nine years until he was discharged in 2006 under the policy.

“We gave all we had to our country, and just wanted the same dignity and respect for our service as any other veterans,” Collins said in a statement.