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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 15 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 33
LGBT Americans much less religious than straights, Gallup Poll says
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LGBT Americans much less religious than straights, Gallup Poll says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

LGBT Americans are much less likely than their straight neighbors to be 'highly religious,' according to a new Gallup Daily Tracking Poll, and much more likely to say they are 'not religious' at all.

The results are based on more than 104,000 Gallup Daily Tracking interviews conducted between January 2 and July 31, 2014, including 3,242 adults who identified themselves as LGBT.

Gallup classifies respondents as 'very religious' if they say religion is an important part of their daily lives and that they attend religious services every week or almost every week. That group included 41% of straight adults in the survey, but only 24% of LGBT adults.

'Nonreligious' Americans are those who say religion is not an important part of their daily lives and they seldom or never attend religious services. Thirty percent of straight respondents fell in that category, in contrast with 47% of LGBT respondents.

The remaining 'moderately religious' group says religion is important in their lives, but that they do not attend services regularly, or that religion is not important, but that they still attend services. Twenty-nine percent of both straight and LGBT respondents fell in this group.

LGBT respondents were split pretty evenly on whether religion was important to their daily lives. Forty-nine percent said it was; 51% said it was not.

Among straight people, in contrast, 66% said religion was important to them and only 34% said it was not.

Not surprisingly, LGBT respondents were much less likely to attend religious services. Only 26% said they did so 'once a week or almost every week,' while 62% said they attended 'seldom or never.' Among straight people, 42% attended services weekly, and 44% never attended.

Young LGBTs the least religious
LGBT respondents in the 18-34 age group were the least religious of all, with only 17% categorized as 'highly religious,' 27% 'moderately religious,' and a whopping 56% 'not religious at all.'

Straight people in the same age group were much more evenly distributed, with 33% in the very religious group, 28% in the middle, and 39% not religious.

The oldest LGBT respondents, 55 and over, were far more religious than the youngest ones, but still less so than straight people in the same age group. Thirty-seven percent of LGBT respondents 55 and over were very religious, 30% moderately religious, and 33% not religious at all, compared with 46%, 29%, and 25% respectively among the straight respondents.

LGBTs less likely to identify with a denomination
While 83% of straight people in the Gallup survey identified with a specific religious denomination, only 67% of the LGBT respondents did.

Fewer LGBT individuals identified as Protestants - only 35% as compared to 51% of straight respondents. Twenty percent of LGBT people identified as Catholic, while 25% of straight people did. About the same proportion of each said they were Mormons, Muslims, or Jews.

Eight percent of LGBT respondents identified with an 'other non-Christian religion,' while only 2% of straight people did.

Thirty-three percent of LGBT individuals said they claimed 'no religious identity,' while only 17% of straight people said the same.

Why are LGBTs less religious?
While Gallup did not ask respondents why they did or did not identify religion as an important element in their lives, the pollsters did speculate about why LGBT people would be significantly less religious than their straight counterparts.

In their summary of the data, Gallup notes that church polices 'have historically been disapproving of non-heterosexual love and relations.' As several mainstream Protestant denominations become more accepting, the pollsters say, LGBT individuals may feel more comfortable attending services regularly and identifying with specific religions.

On the other hand, Gallup says, the differences revealed in the poll may simply reflect other demographic factors. For example, people who openly identify as LGBT are more likely to live in places that are both more liberal and less religious than other locations in the United States, and their responses to the poll might reflect the prevailing views in their place of residence rather than being tied to their sexual orientation.

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