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LGBT Americans less likely to be religious, poll finds

Americans who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender are less likely to be religious than their non-LGBT peers, according to a new Gallup poll.

While about half of the 3,242 LGBT adults included in the poll found religion important in their daily lives, that is well below the 66 percent of their non-LGBT peers who reported the same.

The LGBT respondents were also less likely to attend religious services and more likely to describe themselves as nonreligious.

The disparity, Gallup reported, could be driven by a number of factors.

"Some of these center on the effect of church policies and doctrine, which have historically been disapproving of non-heterosexual love and relations," it said, "while others may reflect demographic and geographic differences in the LGBT population compared with the rest of the population."

The population of Americans who self-identify as LGBT is on average younger than the general population, and younger people are less religious. LGBT people may also tend to live in areas where religion is less common, and "adopt the practices of those with whom they share geography," Gallup said.

The poll, released Monday, was based on 104,000 interviews from January through last month.

Among LGBT respondents, 24 percent were "highly religious" and 47 percent were "not religious." Among non-LGBT respondents, 41 percent were "highly religious" and 30 percent were "not religous." Of both groups, 29 percent were "moderately religious."

Among LGBT respondents, 26 percent attended religious services once or almost once a week, compared to 42 percent of their non-LGBT peers. Sixty-two percent of LGBT respondents reported never or seldom attending services, compared to 44 percent of their non-LGBT peers.

Both LGBT men and women were significantly less religious than their counterparts. The same was true across all age ranges, though to differing degrees, with more older LGBT and non-LGBT people reporting being religious.

Of those aged 18 to 34, only 17 percent of LGBT respondents reported being highly religious, compared with 33 percent of their non-LGBT peers.

Of those aged 35 to 54, 27 percent of LGBT respondents and 41 percent of non-LGBT respondents were highly religious. Of those aged 55 and older, 37 percent of LGBT respondents and 46 percent of non-LGBT respondents were highly religious.

A lower percentage of LGBT respondents reported holding specific religious identities as well.

A third of LGBT respondents reported no religious identity, compared to 17 percent of non-LGBT respondents. Of LGBT respondents, 35 percent were Protestant and 20 percent Catholic, compared to 51 percent and 25 percent of non-LGBT respondents, respectively.

Two percent of both groups were Jewish, and 1 percent of both groups were Muslim. Mormons accounted for 1 percent of LGBT respondents and 2 percent of non-LGBT respondents.

Eight percent of LGBT respondents identified as following "other non-Christian" religions, compared to just 2 percent of non-LGBT respondents.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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