The Barna Group recently put out a research study regarding the “Spiritual Profile” of the GLBT community. Since its release I have been asked quite a few questions (by media and by general audiences) about my thoughts regarding their study. Until now I haven’t made any statements because I think this study does not provide anything close to the “Surprising Insights” they claim (more on this later). Also, in my opinion their usage of “Spiritual Profile” is misleading because they don’t have any amount of depth or generalizability to their study. They just overview some surface-level questions of religiosity to a group of 280(ish) people, which is a number not suitable to generalize to an entire population of people. With that said, many self-proclaiming evangelicals know nothing of the results that Barna released, so in that sense it is worthwhile to bring some thoughts to the forefront.
Last week, for the first time, I responded to some media folks who had questions about my take. The following are their questions, and the word-for-word answers I gave them via email. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what they asked, and how I responded!
For clarification, they asked 15 Questions in total. However, seven of the questions were asking the same thing, just re-worded. I responded to those seven question with combo answers to what I wrote below. When the article is published, I’ll let you all know. Here is Part 1 – four out of eight questions.
Q1. Can you summarize your experience in this particular area (Spirituality of homosexuals or Spirituality of heterosexuals and how the two compare)? What have you studied/learned/advocate? (In regard to heterosexuality and homosexuality?)
A: One thing has been very clear to me over the last nine years being immersed in the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) community—they are searching for the exact same things we are in regards to trying to figure out life and faith, and how those things relate to our existence here on earth. There is a lot of self-inflicted (and church inflicted) spiritual/religious repression within GLBT people; and as with everyone else, the more something is repressed the more it longs to feel freedom.
A: Nothing really surprised me about Barna’s findings because from my perspective, their intent was to not dig too deeply. Their questions were a general scope of religiosity, and thus, their findings highlighted an already known difference between most GLBT and straight people. Their “surprising insights” are based off of the assumption that the GLBT community does not have, or has never had a high religiosity. Unfortunately, that baseline assumption tells a lot about Christian’s general perceptions of GLBT people and their overall lack of involvement and engagement in this topic.
Q3. How is the homosexual lifestyle impacting American culture? Do you think it is different today than it has been in the past?
A: Even the staunchest critic of the GLBT community has to give credit where credit is due: Gays and lesbians can mobilize quicker, and louder than any other group of people. That’s how movement’s happen. The goal of every movement is to influence and impact culture, and gays and lesbians have done a great job of fulfilling their movement’s vision.
Q4. How do you believe one’s sexual orientation plays into their faith? Do you believe it should have a major impact/influence?
A: I think for many people identity is rooted in the wrong place. My experience has shown me that until Christians start to refocus their wholistic identity in Christ and His countercultural ways, why should the GLBT community, on their own, shift their identity away from their sexual behavior? The point of the Gospel is to reconcile God to human, and human to human. We have the God to human part down; it’s the human to human part we haven’t quite figured out yet—especially with GLBT people. Faith journeys are not meant to be walked alone. And if we’re not willing to be intentionally committed to gays and lesbians no matter what the outcome, why should we expect them to just buy into our belief system?
Part 2, questions 5-8 are coming tomorrow.