August 25, 2014

No Shit, Sherlock: LGBT Americans less likely to be religious, survey says

A recent survey indicates a disparity among LGBT and non-LGBT religious leanings. Some 41% of non-LGBT individuals identify as highly religious, while only 24% of LGBT individuals do.

And the collective internet goes: No shit, Sherlock.

TIME discusses the obvious reason most people leap to:
One common explanation behind the disparity is that LGBT Americans may feel less welcome to participate in religious congregations or organizations, although religious groups have become more accepting in recent years. According to the Public Religion Research Institute, same-sex marriage was opposed by most religious groups as recently ago as 2003. Today, a majority of Jewish Americans, white mainline Protestants, and white and Hispanic Catholics support marriage equality.
Ed Brayton noted this reasoning in a blog post on the topic:
Gosh, I can’t imagine why that would be, can you? I mean, I’m just spitballing here, but maybe it’s because religion has provided the justification for their oppression since pretty much the beginning of human civilization? 
Of course, we should be cautious about mixing correlation and causation. TIME also points out a myriad of other factors that could influenced the data:
Other explanations are demographic: LGBT Americans may be more likely to live in cities, where religious participation is less frequent. The population of self-identified LGBT Americans also skews younger, and young people are the least likely to be religious in the country. The poll, however, notes that age structure alone doesn’t explain it all — young LGBT Americans are still less religious than non-LGBT Americans within the same age bracket. 
It's most certainly an intriguing social trend. With many very public faces of Christianity still swearing that homosexuality is a sin--as well as the support Christianity has shown for conversion therapy techniques--it hardly seems surprising. I would feel unwanted in such hostile environments too.

However, we're seeing a shift. As marriage equality becomes more accepted, the rhetoric is changing. For instance, from the generally abhorrent and revulsive conversion therapies, we see a shift to an emphasis on "gay but celibate"--individuals who are homosexual but choose to be celibate because homosexual sex--not attraction--is a sin. We also see public debates about the future of doctrines regarding homosexuality in a variety of denominations--even Baptists had the discussion this year.

Only time will tell, but I am interested to see how this data shifts, if the mainstream denominations do shift focus and become more accepting.

We are on the verge of a changed world. Fascinating!

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