UK census data has been analyzed with the findings showing that LGBT people overwhelmingly report as nonreligious,

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It’s always interesting to see the demographic connections between religious worldviews (or lack thereof) and politics. One often assumes that the more politically liberal one is, the higher the chance that they will be nonreligious.

Pew Research Center has found that 53% of “nones”—religiously unaffiliated—are or lean Democrat, with only 23% favoring the Republican Party. Moreover, some 90% of Republicans believe in God (73% absolutely certain and 17% fairly certain) as opposed to 76% of Democrats (split 55% absolutely certain and 21% fairly certain):

Religious Landscape Study, Pew Research Center, https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/religious-landscape-study/party-affiliation/

Sexuality is another demographic category that might well shed some light on the makeup of the nonreligious segment of society. The UK’s most recent census data analysis has already shown a trend toward nonreligiosity, with Christianity now a minority demographic. Now, analysts have looked at the connection between LGBT people and religiosity.

Indeed, the overwhelming majority of LGBT people have selected “No religion” on the census. This is perhaps unsurprising, but it is always useful to have data underwrite assumptions. The Office for National Statistics has reported that 62% of lesbian and gay people, 66% of bisexual people, and 63% of all LGB people ticked “No religion.”

With regard to trans people, 36% of trans people checked “No religion” but there is some concern about the reliability of these figures “due to the possibility that certain communities may have misunderstood the question” so that it’s “also not possible to precisely combine the overlapping LGB and trans figures.”

The six sexual orientation options were Straight or Heterosexual, Gay or Lesbian, Bisexual, All other sexual orientations, Not answered, and Does not apply. For those who said their gender identity is different from their sex registered at birth (“trans”), 35.7% checked “No religion,” 36.2% “Christian,” 15% “Muslim,” and 10% checked other religions.

Even given this, it is probable that around 6 in 10 LGBT (a demographic that also skews younger) selected “No religion.”

As Humanists UK has pointed out repeatedly, this is in spite of the census question for religion being a biased and misleading one:

Research shows that those ticking ‘Christian’ are frequently not religious in their beliefs or practice – for example, less than half believe Jesus was a real person who was the son of god, died, and came back to life. In general, those who tick ‘Christian’ do so because they were christened, because their parents are/were Christian, or because they went to a Christian school.

Though only 3.4% of those over 16 identified as LGBT, it is thought that the real figure will be higher given that it was voluntary and 8.5% of people did not answer the question on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Nick Balwin, LGBT Humanists Coordinator, stated of the findings:

It’s good to have these first ever results of how the LGBT community breaks down by religion or belief. That most LGBT people are non-religious is no surprise, given the history of homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia by many religious groups.

There’s been a lot of focus over the years from national and local governments and others on the needs of religious LGBT people, particularly making the point that it’s possible to be both Christian and LGBT, or Muslim and LGBT, or of another faith and LGBT. That work is generally worthwhile and commendable. But the facts that most LGBT people are non-religious, and that non-religious LGBT people might have specific needs, are often overlooked. One example of that is with respect to legal recognition of humanist marriages. We hope the Census results will mean we are overlooked no longer.

Back in 2011, Barna Research found that one of the main reasons young people were leaving the church was that “young Christians’ church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic, judgmental.” And a 2020 study found that queer Christians quit the church twice as much as others: “The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion published a report that said same-sex attraction, behavior and queer identity is strongly associated with a decision to step away from organized religion, attend church less frequently or stop going altogether.”

If God designed humanity in such a way, it seems odd that he(/she/it) would create such impediments to religious belief.

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Jonathan MS Pearce

A TIPPLING PHILOSOPHER Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, author, columnist, and public speaker with an interest in writing about almost anything, from skepticism to science, politics, and morality,...