Originally published on Advocate.com August 07 2003 12:00 AM ET
A significant percentage of gay men and lesbians belong to a certain religion, but few are practicing that religion, a recent survey has revealed. More than six out of 10 (63.7%) respondents to the 2002-2003 Gay/Lesbian Consumer Online Census said they are affiliated with a particular religion; 38% said they are practicing members. The largest segment is Catholics (17.2%), although only 29.5% of those members said they are practicing. Six percent of respondents say they are atheists, and almost a third (30.3%) said they have no religious preference.
With 8,831 respondents, the census is the largest and most comprehensive GLBT consumer study ever conducted. Prepared by GLCensus Partners (Syracuse University and OpusComm Group), the annual study fills the growing need among manufacturers and service providers for detailed information on consumer behavior and preferences of GLBT people. Of those respondents who answered both questions, there are 11 religions with 200 or more members. Among these, the highest percentage of those saying they are practicing members of their respective religions are: Pagan (84.6%), Metropolitan Community Church (79.4%), Unitarian (66.7%), Episcopal (57.6%), and Jewish (47.5%).
"The gap of those who practice their religion versus those who don't appears to vary based on how various religious sects are perceived of as being more embracing of the GLBT community than those which are not," comments Jeffrey Garber, president of OpusComm Group Inc. and founder of the GLCensus Partners study.
"In the last two years of conducting the GLCensus, the results to the series of religious questions have not changed," explains Amy Falkner of Syracuse University, lead researcher on the project. "Perhaps, given the recent Supreme Court decision and the election in the Episcopal Church, GLBT people may feel safer and more welcomed in expressing their respective religious beliefs. Our new study may reflect some changes due to this political and cultural shift."