SURVEY: Most Americans Overestimate Religious Bias Against LGBT People


A new report issued by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) reveals a dramatic shift in public opinion regarding LGBT issues. After conducting a national survey, PRRI confirmed that 31 percent of American Millennials left their childhood religion due to anti-LGBT rhetoric and teachings. Yet PRRI also concluded that people who frequently attend church overestimate LGBT bias.

In the ten years after Massachusetts become the first marriage equality state, support has shot up from 32 percent in 2003 to 53 percent in 2013. Despite growing national approval, though, Millennials favoring marriage equality is not a new trend. In fact, Millennials tend to be progressive on a wide range of issues; another PRRI report from 2011 found widespread support among Millennials for civil unions, same-same adoptions and employment protections. The previous survey also deduced that the majority of Millennials found religious groups judgmental and alienating.

But bias against the LGBT community based on religious grounds is not as common as it is assumed to be. The latest report found that nearly 75 percent of Catholics think that other churchgoers disagree with same-sex marriage; however, 50 percent of Catholics support it. Though 60 percent of “white mainline Protestants” said other churchgoers protest marriage equality, 57 percent actually approve of it.

Misconception about religious doctrine is shaped, in large part, by mainstream media bias. GLAAD and the University of Missouri Center on Religion & the Professions revealed that people of faith who support LGBT issues are largely absent from media conversations, whereas a disproportionate number of opponents are highlighted; anti-gay Evangelical Christians and Roman Catholics are the most prominent figures in those discussions. But organizations like PRRI continue to dispel the media myth that a wide schism exists between religious and LGBT people, and show that most Christians and Jewish Americans, as well as a substantial number of Muslim Americans, actually support the LGBT community.