The Barna Group recently released a study that profiles the religious/spiritual thought and practices of gay and lesbian individuals. Head on over to The Barna Group and read the entire article. Here are a few things I wanted to point to from the research.
Among those who identify themselves as "gays" and "lesbians," about 3% of the adult population, there are only a few areas in which there were no significant differences between the heterosexual and homosexual populations researched in this study.
The areas of similarity included the facts that a small minority of people in both groups believe that Satan is real; equivalent percentages of these groups feel they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs with others who believe differently; similar numbers of people from each group contend that good people can earn their way into Heaven through their goodness...
So, heterosexuals and homosexuals tend to not believe Satan is real, that faith is private (not just personal) and that a person merits eternal life. But a "majority of the spiritual measures studied revealed statistically significant differences between 'straights' and 'gays.'"
For example "straight adults (72%) were more likely than gay adults (60%) to describe their faith as "very important" in their life."
And when it comes to a person's basic conception of God, there was quite a difference. According to the study seven out of every ten heterosexuals have a more biblical (theistic) conception of God, while only 43% of homosexuals do. In fact, an equal percentage of homosexuals (7 out of 10) have a more pantheistic view of God; "that 'God' refers to any of a variety of perspectives, such as personally achieving a state of higher consciousness or maximized personal potential, or that there are multiple gods that exist, or even that everyone is god."
Religious behavior also significantly differs between hetero' and homosexual participants in the survey.
In any given week the research discovered that heterosexuals are the more likely of the two groups to attend a church service, attend a Sunday school class, pray to God, or read the Bible. Gay adults are 50% more likely than straight adults to be unchurched (42% versus 28%). Overall, heterosexuals are twice as likely as homosexuals to attend a church service, read the Bible and pray to God during a typical week (31% vs. 15%).
Barna himself notes concerning the research,
The data indicate that millions of gay people are interested in faith but not in the local church and do not appear to be focused on the traditional tools and traditions that represent the comfort zone of most churched Christians. Gay adults clearly have a different way of interpreting the Bible on a number of central theological matters, such as perspectives about God. Homosexuals appreciate their faith but they do not prioritize it, and they tend to consider faith to be individual and private rather than communal.
It is interesting to see that most homosexuals, who have some history within the Christian Church, have rejected orthodox biblical teachings and principles - but, in many cases, to nearly the same degree that the heterosexual Christian population has rejected those same teachings and principles. Although there are clearly some substantial differences in the religious beliefs and practices of the straight and gay populations, there may be less of a spiritual gap between straights and gays than many Americans would assume.
Read it all at The Barna Group and come back to discuss.