(Photo: The Gay Christian Network/Justin Lee)
The percentage of LGBT Americans who are religiously unaffiliated is over twice the percentage of the general population, according to a recently released study.
Pew Research Center's Social & Demographic Trends released the findings Thursday, which stated that of those surveyed, 48 percent of LGBT Americans considered themselves without a religious affiliation; this compares to 20 percent of the general public.
"Lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender adults are, on the whole, less religious than the general public," reads Pew press release in part. "LGBT adults who do have a religious affiliation generally attend worship services less frequently and attach less importance to religion in their lives than do religiously affiliated adults in the general public."
The data used by Pew was based off of a survey of 1,197 self-identified LGBT individuals aged 18 and above conducted from April 11 to April 29.
Pew also surveyed 31,062 individuals on the issues pertaining to religious affiliation and practice who represented the "general public" in the study.
Other findings in the survey found that 93 percent of respondents considered at least one religious institution "unfriendly" and that of those with a religious affiliation 53 percent were Protestant and 26 percent were Catholic. "Young LGBT adults are particularly likely to have no religious affiliation, a pattern that is also found among the general public. However, compared with the general public, a higher share of LGBT adults are unaffiliated across all age groups," reports Pew.
"For example, among adults ages 18 to 29 in the general public, 31% are religiously unaffiliated, while roughly double that share (60%) are unaffiliated among LGBT adults of the same age."
Justin Lee, executive director of the Gay Christian Network, told The Christian Post that he felt the Pew study "reflect a lot of my own experience in the LGBT community."
"Many LGBT people have felt a lack of understanding and love from religious groups-Christians in particular-and, as a result, they often walk away from their childhood faith and may even become very hostile to religion," said Lee.
"This means that LGBT Christians have a particularly difficult struggle. Our fellow LGBTs reject us for our faith in Christ, even as our fellow Christians often condemn us for being LGBT."
Lee also said that he believed the way to evangelize LGBT Americans and reverse the large number of religiously unaffiliated was to build good relationships.
"I think a successful Christian witness needs to be less like pushy salespeople and more about relationship building," said Lee. "On a public scale, Christians need to be more vocal in opposing examples of bullying, discrimination, and hate directed at LGBT people. We don't have to agree with someone's life choices in order to stand up for them."
Christopher Yuan, author of Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son's Journey to God, A Broken Mother's Search for Hope, told The Christian Post that he also believed the Pew's study was "accurate" and remembered having several gay friends from evangelical Christian homes.
"Some were pastors' kids and some even went to a conservative, evangelical college or university. Overall, their experiences were negative," said Yuan. "A few of my friends were asked to leave their church after simply admitting that they experienced attractions toward the same sex, without ever pursuing gay relationships."
Yuan also said that he felt the Church should "repent of homophobia " and repent of "what people in the LGBT community call 'heterosexism.'"
"Heterosexism is a bias in favor of heterosexuality and treating heterosexuality as superior. Many Christians believe that God's standard is heterosexuality," said Yuan. "God's standard is not heterosexuality, but holiness and we all are called to be holy whether we have heterosexual or homosexual feelings."
Pew's study on the religious affiliation, practices, and perceptions of LGBT Americans was part of an overall study on the LGBT community of the United States. Other topics of focus included "Social Acceptance," "The Coming Out Experience," "Marriage and Parenting," "Identity and Community," and "Partisanship, Policy Views, Values."