Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Al Mohler has questioned the validity of a study claiming that “nearly half” of LGBT-identified Americans are religious.
The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, a pro-LGBT research entity, released a report in October titled “Religiosity Among LGBT Adults in the US,” which, among other things, concluded that 46.7% of LGBT Americans are religious.
“Nearly half (46.7%) of LGBT adults are religious — either moderately (27.0%) or highly religious (19.7%),” according to the report. “More specifically, almost one in five (19.7%) LGBT adults are highly religious (i.e., religion is important in their daily lives and they attend services weekly or nearly weekly). The remainder, 27.0%, are moderately religious.”
The report defined “moderately religious” as including “people who report that religion is important in their daily lives and attend services about once a month, seldom, or never, as well as those who say that religion is not important in their daily lives and that they attend services weekly, nearly weekly or once a month.”
In an episode of “The Briefing” podcast on Tuesday, Mohler expressed concerns about how the study classified “religious” among the respondents.
“This is the kind of social science that means it's far more social than it is science,” said Mohler. “The closer you look at this, you realize how questionable the research apparatus is.”
“This particular research takes what we can only describe as the most generous definition of what it means to be religious in any sort, in any way, by any means.”
He added that, by the standards of the study, “someone who attends religious services less than once a month is still classified as ‘moderately religious.’”
Mohler also commented on the way the study was reported on by mainstream news outlets, including an article published by NBC News on Nov. 29.
For one, he took issue with NBC uncritically citing a source that said, “[e]ven straight Americans have cited their church’s treatment of the gay community as part of the reason they’ve left.”
In response, Mohler pointed to mainline Protestant denominations that have changed their stances to support the LGBT movement while also facing a severe decline in numbers.
“If you look at the churches that have rushed to follow after and celebrate the LGBTQ revolution, let me tell you what they’re not filled with: People who are excited about their revolution,” continued Mohler. “They’re actually not filled with anyone.”
In 2018, BuzzFeed News and Whitman Insight Strategies released the findings of a poll of 880 LGBT-identified Americans which found near equal numbers of Christians and religiously unaffiliated.
According to the poll, 41% identified as either Catholic or Protestant, while 39% identified as non-religious, and the remainder responded with other religious identifications.