A recent study by Pew Research has shown that gay, lesbian, and bisexual Americans are more critical of churches than their straight counterparts.
This is a new analysis of Pew’s 2014 survey of over 35,000 adults. It shows that queer respondents were more likely than straight ones to be skeptical of religious institutions. These findings align with Pew’s 2013 survey where LGBTI Americans reported feeling that major religions were unwelcoming to them.
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The survey only asked respondents about their sexual orientation (gay, lesbian, bisexual, or straight). Other types of identity related to gender and sexuality were not asked about.
In the 2014 survey, about 7-in-10 lesbians, gay men, and bisexual adults said religious organizations focus too much on rules. This is in contrast to only half of straight adults who felt the same. LGB adults were also more likely than straight adults in thinking that religious institutions were too involved in politics and too focused on money and power. LGB Americans were also less likely to believe that churches protect and strengthen morality.
However, even within the context of LGB respondents, gays and lesbians differed from bisexuals in some regard. For instance, the study showed that gays and lesbians were more likely than bisexuals to believe churches were obsessed with money and power (68% of gays and lesbians versus 61% of bisexuals). This also holds true with the belief that churches are too involved in politics (71% of lesbians and gays said this, versus 62% of bisexuals).
Positive aspects of religious groups
Despite these concerns, though, both LGB respondents and straight respondents saw some positive aspects of religious institutions. More than 8-in-10 respondents from each group said churches bring people together and strengthen community bonds. Additionally, bisexuals were almost as likely as straight adults to believe churches help those in need (84% of bisexuals vs. 87% of straight adults). Only 77% of gays and lesbians shared this view.
Of course, the study found that straight adults were more likely to be involved in volunteer efforts for religious groups than their LGB counterparts. About 3-in-10 respondents of each group volunteer in general – and even did so within a week before this survey was conducted. However, only 6% of LGB Americans volunteered with a religious institution versus 10% of straight respondents.