The short answer is that the best research to date indicates that GLBT people generally are religious, spiritual or not in roughly the same proportion as the general population, especially when matched for race, class, location, etc. GLBT people may be somewhat less likely to follow an organised religion, especially those churches that are openly hostile to GLBT people (which explains why there are few openly gay Christian fundamentalists), but even this can’t be proven conclusively.
The problem with research into the attitudes and beliefs of GLBT people is that there’s a kind of reverse sampling bias: GLBT people select themselves out of surveys. The reason should be obvious: Faced with the real threat of discrimination, harassment and even violence everywhere in America, including major cities, many GLBT people will refuse to self-identify as such when a researcher rings them; there aren’t that many people who will take a risk with an anonymous voice on the phone.
Which doesn’t mean that such research is impossible or without merit, it just means that the results must be viewed with a healthy dose of scepticism. Research that combines a variety of techniques is probably more valid than those that rely on only one (and telephone-only research is likely to be the least valid).
I was thinking about this today because I read about a recent study on the religious attitudes of gay people. The link was sent to me by my "e-friend" LordByron who thought it was interesting. It was, but that’s all I can say about it because the study contains this footnote:
Copyright Disclaimer: All the information contained on [this] website is copyrighted by [the folks who did the research]. No portion of this website (articles, graphs, charts, reviews, pictures, video clips, quotes, statistics, etc.) may be reproduced, retransmitted, disseminated, sold, distributed, published, edited, altered, changed, broadcast, circulated, or commercially exploited without the prior written permission from [the folks who did the research].
Got that? The folks post their results online, complete with snappy quotes from the head of the company, but no one is allowed to quote anything from it. Why bother posting anything at all? Copyright in the digital age is evolving, but this seems like dramatic overkill to me.
So, I won’t discuss that study or link to it, since the company wants it to be online but secret, nor will I even comment directly on it, lest I inadvertently shed light into their hidey-hole. That’s why I removed all identifiers in the quote above. Instead, I’ll just say that any comments I might have on the validity of the study can be inferred from what I said earlier in this post. Too bad: This topic desperately needs more rational discussion, not more lights under bushels.